Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Large Bells Information/Help GH Holbrook Bell

Viewing 2 reply threads
  • Author
    • #12584

      Hello. I am new to the forum so forgive me if I am posting in the wrong section. I recently removed a bell from my church. I searched online and could not find any history or information on this type of bell specifically. I did however send pics and specs to Brosamer Bells for an appraisal. Not sure if he gives anything else other than a suggested value. Anyway the bell in question is a 1834 27″ (lip to lip) bell. The inscription reads CAST BY G.H. HOLBROOK MEDWAY. MASS. under that it says GOD IS LOVE. Is this a “special” bell? I could not find any other bells with God is Love. Why? Any info/history or other comments would be welcomed and appreciated. Thank you,

    • #18013
      Carolyn Whitlock

      Dear Craig1980,

      A business acquaintance of mine sent me a one-page write-up about Holbrook Bells, knowing that I am involved with the American Bell Association. Unfortunately, there is no source for this information. Here’s what it says:


      Millis was once the bell capital of the country. Four generations of Holbrooks cast over eleven thousand bells in East Medway between the years 1816-1882. The musical talent of the Holbrooks enabled their bells to have a unique and beautiful sound.

      In 1816 Major George Holbrook, who had been an apprentice to Paul Revere in a bell foundry, secured a contract to cast a bell for the new East Medway meeting house. This bell of 1,280 pounds cost $535.00 and pealed its first notes May 13, 1816.

      This first bell was cast in a shed in the rear of a building at 1031 Main Street. The melting furnace was built out of condemned bricks from a neighbor’s brick kiln. So many people wanted to observe the unique sight of the casting of this bell that the sides of the building were taken down in order that the people might see.

      In 1823 Major Holbrook and Colonel Holbrook, father and son, bought land and built a factory, blacksmith shop and furnace on what is now the southwest corner of Spring and Main Streets (across from the library).

      Between 1816-1882 over eleven thousand bells were cast by the Holbrooks. They were sent to the Sandwich Islands, British Provinces, Mexico, and all parts of America. They were made for Harvard University on seven different requisitions, for Yale, Dartmouth, Bowdin, Tufts, Brown, Trinity, William and Mary, Amherst, Dean Academy, numerous light houses, and town halls.

      In 1828, they cast eight bells for California. These were sent by clipper ship around Cape Horn and now hang in the old Plaza church of Los Angeles, the Santa Barbara mission and the San Gabriel mission. Hides and tallow from the mission stores were taken in pay for the bells.

      In 1827 Holbrook, guided by Thomas Jefferson’s specifications, cast the bell which hung in the Jefferson Rotunda at the University of Virginia until 1886, when, like the Liberty Bell, it developed a crack and was retired.

      The Millis bell was cast in 1855 to replace the 1816 bell in the East Medway meeting house, the Parish reluctantly giving back to the Holbrooks the first bell they had made in 1816.

      Most of the bells in use in churches within a radius of twenty miles of Millis were probably made by the Holbrooks, with the following words cast on them: “I to the church the living call, and to the grave do summons all.” They have tolled through the years. Records say, “nine strokes for a man, six strokes for a woman, and three for a child.” This was followed in quick succession by strokes which gave the age. For many years the church bell was the only fire alarm.

      The Holbrook Bell Foundry was in operation until September of 1882 when Edwin H. Holbrook closed down his business, leased his blacksmith shop to Jeremiah H. Shannon, and moved to Washington, D.C.

      Source: Unknown

    • #18014

      The God Is Love inscription was more than likely a special request by the church when the bell was ordered. Enter Holbrook in the search (top of this page, right side) to read other posts. We would enjoy seeing a photo of your bell.

Viewing 2 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.