There are eleven true carillons in Connecticut (in addition to at least thirty chimes, tower bell instruments with less than twenty-three bells). None of these carillons uses electricity to strike the bells; playing actions are completely mechanical. Listed from oldest to newest.
Summer Carillon Concerts in Connecticut
- St. James Episcopal
Church, Danbury Click on picture for JPEG image
- The 25 bell Ella S. Bulkley Memorial Carillon is the oldest carillon in Connecticut, and is also the first carillon made in America. It began as a chime of 15 bells cast in early 1928 by Meneely & Co. of Watervliet, NY. Meneely & Co. was the first (and until recently, the only) American foundry to tune its bells to carillon bell standards. Another foundry with the Meneely name, The Meneely Bell Co., was located directly across the Hudson River in Troy, NY, and was run by cousins of the original Watervliet foundry. The Troy foundry never tuned its bells.
- Later in 1928 the Meneelys wanted to demonstrate that they
could make a well-tuned carillon, and convinced the donors at
St. James to allow them to place 8 additional bells in the tower
to make a complete a carillon. If the donors didn't like them,
Meneely would remove the additional bells and the donors wouldn't
have to pay for them. Since the bells are still there, we can
assume they liked them. Two more bells were added in 1936 to
bring the number to 25 bells. The carillon was renovated in 1987.
The heaviest bell in a carillon is called the bourdon, and its
weight is an important characteristic of an instrument. Danbury's
bourdon weighs 2,500 lbs.
- There is a summer concert series, Wednesdays at Noon during
July and August. The website mentions the carillon in the History
- Canterbury School, New
Milford Click on picture for JPEG image (18k)
- Canterbury School is an independent Roman Catholic co-ed
boarding and day school for grades 9-12 in northwestern CT. The
23 bell Jose M. Ferrer Memorial Carillon is the smallest carillon in Connecticut, as well as one of the oldest. This carillon was cast by the English foundry of Gillett & Johnston, Croydon, England. It was installed in the tower of the Chapel of Our Lady in 1931. This is an excellent example of the small carillons for which Gillett & Johnston were noted. The carillon is only played for special occasions; there is no concert series, and the website makes no mention of the carillon. The bourdon bell sounds A and weighs 1,120 lbs.
of Connecticut at Storrs Congregational Church Click
on picture for JPEG image (16k)
- The 36 bell Austin Cornelius Dunham Memorial Carillon is the only example
in this country of something common in Europe. The carillon itself
is owned by the University of Connecticut, but placed in the
tower of a local church. Mr. Dunham left a considerable amount
of land to the school, and the carillon was purchased as a memorial.
The school had no suitable tower, so the carillon was placed
in the church tower which was being built in the center of campus
at the time. In Europe, many carillons are owned by the town
or city, but placed in church towers.
- The lower 31 bells of this carillon were cast in 1931 by the same Meneely foundry that made the Danbury carillon, and is their last traditional carillon with a manual keyboard. The foundry was started in 1826 by Andrew Meneely, who learned his trade as an apprentice to Benjamin Hanks, a clockmaker and bell founder of Mansfield, so there is a strong local connection with this carillon. The bourdon bell sounds E (transposes up a third) and weighs 2,800 lbs. In April 2011 the carillon was rededicated after a much needed restoration and enlargement by Meeks & Watson. The restoration included refinishing the original keyboard (which had room for a full three octaves), cleaning and painting of the bell frame, and installation of a new radial transmission system. Meeks & Watson cast five additional treble bells bringing the instrument to a full three octaves (the low C# is the only missing semitone).
- More information is available on the church's carillon web page. There is a summer recital series. David Maker, a member of the Trinity College Guild, is Carillonneur-in-Residence. Photograph by David Maker; used with permission.
College, Hartford Click on picture for JPEG image
- Three carillons were cast for Connecticut in 1931, one by each of the three major foundries of the time. Canterbury School by Gillett &Johnston, UCONN by Meneely, and the original 30 bell Trinity carillon by Taylor, which is the only one of the three foundries still casting bells and making carillons. In 1978 the top eight of the original bells were recast, and nineteen additional treble bells added, all by Taylor, making a total of 49 bells. The installation, including a frame for the new treble bells, and playing and practice keyboards, was done by the I.T. Verdin Co.
- Ellen Dickinson is the College Carillonneur, with the Trinity College Guild of Carillonneurs.
- The Plumb Memorial Carillon Concert series happens every summer from mid-June to the end of August. The concerts are Wednesdays at 7pm. A free chamber music concert in the chapel at 6pm precedes the carillon recital.
- First Presbyterian
Church, Stamford Click on picture for JPEG image (15k)
- The 56 bell Maguire Memorial Carillon is the product
of two foundries. It began as a 36 bell carillon cast in 1947
by Gillett & Johnston. It was a gift to the people of Stamford
from the Nestle Company for the warm reception Nestle received
when it temporarily located its world headquarters in Stamford
- In 1968, the French foundry Paccard recast the top 15 G& J bells and added 20 more to make the present instrument (it is sometimes necessary to recast bells when adding to an instrument to provide a better match between old and new bells). The bourdon bell weighs 6,830 lbs.
- There are summer recitals and the carillon is played regularly.
Thewebsite mentions the carillon in the "Ministries"
Mark's Episcopal Church, New Canaan Click on picture
for JPEG image (15k)
- The 30 bell Dana-Barton Carillon by Paccard replaced
a 13 bell Meneely of Watervliet chime in 1962. The bourdon bell
weighs 3,130 lbs.
There are summer recitals and the carillon is played regularly.
- First Church
of Christ Congregational, New Britain Click on picture
for JPEG image (20k)
- The 37 bell Philip B. Stanley Carillon was cast by
the Dutch foundry of Petit & Fritsen, who also made the free-standing
tower containing it. The bourdon bell weighs 1,400 lbs.
There are summer recitals. The website mentions the carillon
in the Music section.
- Yale University,
New Haven Click on picture for JPEG image (18k)
- The 54 bell Yale Memorial Carillon is the heaviest
carillon in Connecticut, and, like the Trinity College carillon,
was cast by the John Taylor & Co. foundry of Loughborough,
England. It began as a 10 bell chime cast by Taylor in 1921 and
installed when Harkness Tower was built. In 1966, 44 bells by
Taylor were added to make it a full carillon. This necessitated
removing all the original bells from the tower and installing
a completely new frame and playing action. The addition was made
possible by a gift from Florence Marcy Crofut, who also gave
the money to enlarge the Trinity College carillon.
- The carillon is played on a daily basis by the Yale University
Guild of Carillonneurs, and there is a summer series with concerts
on Fridays at 7:00pm from June 21 to Aug. 16.
Church of Christ, Congregational, West Hartford Click
on picture for JPEG image (11k)
- Like several other carillons in Connecticut, the 50 bell
Stearns Carillon began as a smaller instrument, in this
case with bells from the same foundry. The original 24 bell carillon
was cast by the Whitechapel foundry of London, England, and installed
in 1969. It was rebuilt and enlarged with 26 additional bells
in 1985 (no bells were recast). This is the lightest carillon
in Connecticut, with a bourdon of only 870 lbs.
- The summer concert series is held Thursday evenings in July
at 7:00pm. The carillon is regularly played for services.
United Methodist Church Click on picture for GIF image
- The 55 bell Foreman Carillon was installed in 1986. The bells were cast by the Petit & Fritsen company of the Netherlands, but the instrument was designed, built and installed by the I.T.Verdin Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. The bourdon bell weighs 4,730 lbs. There are summer recitals.
- Drawing from Simsbury United Methodist Church bulletin; used with permission.
- Wesleyan University,
Middletown Click on picture for JPEG image (140k)
- In 2005 the "Bells of Old South College" became
"The Wesleyan Carillon" The newest carillon in Connecticut
also has the oldest carillon bells, as the original 11 bells
were installed in 1918. Those bells were cast by Mears &
Stainbank, the Whitechapel bellfoundry. In 1966, the chime was
rehabilitated and 5 new Whitechapel bells were added. At the
same time, a carillon type keyboard was added, as well as an
identical practice keyboard. Both keyboards were built by James
Akright, and had extra keys to accomodate an eventual expansion
to a carillon. Neither was equipped with a pedal board, however.
Beginning around 2001, a campaign was mounted resulting in the
addition of 8 more bells, for a total of 24 bells. No existing
bells were recast or retuned. The 1966 keyboards were refurbished,
although they still lack pedals.
- The carillon is played by members of the University's Bell
and Scroll Society, which was formed in 2000.
Except where noted, all photographs copyright Norman F. Bliss -- all rights reserved.
Summer Carillon Concerts in Connecticut
Comments & Questions:
Created 5/10/96 by Norman
F. Bliss. Modified 12/25/11