Holly Windle stands in the belfry of the First Congregational Church in Wilton. While fixing the rope used to ring the bell, she and Richard Rames discovered it was cast in 1869. Further research revealed it was made at the foundry once owned by Paul Revere in Boston, Massachusetts. Submitted photo

WILTON — Members of the First Congregational Church recently discovered the bell that is rung for Sunday services was cast in 1869. Further research has revealed it was made at the foundry once owned by Paul Revere in Boston, Massachusetts.

Holly Windle and Richard Rames of Minneapolis, Minnesota, who spend their summers at their camp on Wilson Lake in Wilton, also found long-forgotten relics when they climbed to the bell tower to put a rope back on the wooden pulley used to ring the bell.

They ascended the tower via two wooden ladders.

Richard Rames climbs a ladder to the belfry of the First Congregational Church in Wilton to put the rope back on the pulley used to ring the bell for Sunday services. Submitted photo

It afforded them a “nice view of the ancient construction, with large wooden pegs,” Windle said. “We had to squeeze through the opening to the small tower where there is little room to maneuver.”

Their climb also led to finding decades-old items and evidence that bats once inhabited the space.

“There’s a large room with a few interesting storage items as well as plastic sheeting and pans for potential roof leaks,” Windle said. “Lots of ancient bat droppings, particularly on the two ladders.”


Among the treasurers were old pews, large architectural finials and an old chicken BBQ sign.

“The inscription around the top of the bell sure sent me off on a Google search,” Windle said. “Looks as if this was cast in the heyday of new church bells for New England. The bell is inscribed as having been made by Wm. Blake & Co, formerly H. N. Hooper of Boston, A.D. 1869.”

“The website for our church says that the roof collapsed under the weight of snow in March 1869, which prompted the construction of a new church, completed a year later. That tallies with the idea that the bell was made for that new church!” Windle said.

William Blake was an apprentice of Paul Revere III, grandson of Paul Revere, according to an article on the Paul Revere Foundry at help.chimemaster.com. Henry N. Hooper also apprenticed at the Boston foundry and eventually bought it, establishing Henry N. Hooper & Co.

The bell hanging in the tower of the First Congregational Church in Wilton was cast in 1869 at the foundry once owned by Paul Revere in Boston, Massachusetts. Submitted photo

Hooper was well known for his highly prized bells and chimes dating from 1838. His many clients included the San Francisco Fire Department and the fog bell displayed at the Monhegan Island Museum and the subject of the Jamie Wyeth painting “Bronze Age,” according to Wikipedia.

Blake operated the foundry starting in 1868, supplying bells to churches in New England, Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and New York City Hall, according to Wikipedia.

The age of the Wilton church bell makes it likely is was not tuned.

“Many years ago, cast bells were never tuned,” according to Verdin.com. “When a foundry cast a bell, they made a bell that was a certain weight, a certain size, a certain diameter, a certain thickness and that bell would be a specific note. By today’s standards, when a bell is cast, metal is removed out of the bell in order to be able to tune the bell properly.”

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