Christ Church and St. Michael’s Bell Tower Celebration – September 23, 2017

 

Video of the Bells Ringing

Photos from the Celebration

 
As far back as 2015, Christ Church and St. Michael’s began work on restoring the bells, known as the Jefferies Chime.

Last year, Bishop Gutiérrez met with members of Christ Church and St. Michael’s, whose relationship with the Diocese needed healing, and listened to their concerns. He was moved by their desire to restore the bells and the bell tower that housed them and promised to fix them.

Over time, our Bishop worked diligently to reestablish trust with the members of the Christ Church and St. Michael’s, going to Standing Committee, and eventually receiving approval for the funds needed to restore the
bells.

Work on the bells continued through 2016 and 2017 and they were finally played again in August! (see video) We are now building up the church, strengthening relationships, and celebrating this wondrous occasion on September 23, 2017 at Christ Church and St. Michael’s at 1 p.m. We invite you to attend what promises to be a blessed occasion.

 

About the Bells

The Jefferies Chime is an instrument of ten hand-rung tower bells at the corner of McCallum and West Tulpehocken Streets in the Germantown section of northwest Philadelphia. The bells were given in 1899 by Elizabeth B. Jefferies in memory of her husband, Edwin Jefferies, who had been a vestryman for 25 years at what was then Christ Church, Germantown.

Edwin Jefferies died at the age of 83 on March 28, 1899 (the day before his wife’s 86th birthday). She had the chime designed, cast, and installed by Wednesday, December 13, 1899 when it was dedicated. The bells were played for the first time on Christmas Day, Monday, December 25, 1899 so the chime rang out the last Christmas of the 1800’s and rang in the first New Year of the 1900’s a week later.

The bells were cast and installed by the Meneely Bell Company of Troy, New York. The total weight of all ten bells is 7,672 pounds. The largest (tenor) bell weighs 2,004 pounds and the smallest (treble) bell weighs just about 200 pounds. (For comparison, the Liberty Bell originally weighed 2,080 pounds.) The Jefferies Chime has not been modified in any significant way since its installation in 1899. The bells are still hanging from the original wood framework (bellframe) and are played from the original chimestand (console).

On Palm Sunday, March 29, 2015, the playing of the bells of the Jefferies Chime honored Elizabeth Jefferies birth on March 29, 1813, two hundred and two years ago. Elizabeth Jefferies birth ties back into the founding of this country. When she was born, signers of the Declaration of Independence were still alive, among them Thomas Jefferson and John Adams who both died on July 4, 1826 when Elizabeth was 13 years old.

Elizabeth B. Jefferies was an extraordinary woman. In addition to her longevity (she died on her 101st birthday, almost two years after the Titanic sank) she was apparently a woman of action. Her husband died the day before her 86th birthday on March 28, 1899. By December 13 of that year, the chime of ten bells had been designed, cast, and installed by the Meneely Bell Company of Troy, New York. They were in place and ready to be played to announce Christmas 1899 and welcome in the new year of 1900.

March 29, 2015 marks the 116th year since the Jefferies Chimes were installed that Elizabeth Jefferies’ birth date has been commemorated.

The chimes in this tower are to be rung annually on June 20th the anniversary of the birth of Edwin Jefferies in whose memory they were erected also on March 29th the anniversary of the birth of his wife, the donor Elizabeth B. Jefferies.