top of page

The eight bells were cast by John Warner & Sons Ltd at Spitalfields, London in 1862. They were cast for the 1862 International Exhibition, London.


Funding for the bells was the work of Mrs Selwyn aided by Lady Lucy Herbert and her friends.

They arrived in Auckland in 1863, aboard the good ship "Nimroud", and hung for many years in a wooden tower at Bishopcourt, Parnell. No. 4 bell was returned to London and recast by Warners in 1883.


In 1906, the bells, in their original oak frame, were re-installed in the tower of St Matthew-in-the-City. 

By 1970, much of the original woodwork was in a bad state, fittings were badly worn, and No. 2 bell had been cracked for many years. The bells were dismantled and returned to London for major overhaul. As the Warner Foundry was no longer in existence, restoration work was entrusted to The Whitechapel Bell Foundry. This foundry was established by Robert Mot in 1570. No. 2 bell was recast in 1971 in the presence of Dean Martin Sullivan of St Paul's Cathedral, London. This seemed particularly appropriate, as Dean Sullivan was an Aucklander by birth, and a former curate of St Matthew's, Auckland. This bell was named "Peace". Tom Sullivan, brother of the Dean, and a member of this church, was also present at the Foundry for the recasting.


No. 4 bell. Two weeks after the dedication in April 1972 of the reconditioned peal, the stay broke on this bell jamming itself between the frame and the bell. The bell was cracked and had to be returned to be recast. This bell was named "Joy". 


The octave was retuned on the "Simpson" principle, during which process, the note of the tenor was lowered to E flat. Modern cast iron headstocks were fitted, and complete new fittings supplied.


A new steel bellframe was constructed by Gensteel Engineering Ltd of Onehunga. This frame was assembled in the tower, preparatory to rehanging the bells. The cost of the new bellframe, and rehanging project was undertaken by voluntary labour, under the general direction of the Consulting Engineer, Mr David Caldwell.


 BELL          WEIGHT          WEIGHT kgs          NOTE          DIAMETR


Treble           6-3-19                 350                     Eb                     30.13" 

2                    6-0-16                 312                     D                  31.00"

3                    8-0-3                   408                     C                     32.88"

4                                              7-3-9                   398                     Bb                35.00"

5                 11-1-10                      576                              Ab                38.13"

6                 13-2-5                           693                                      G                  39.38"

7                 15-1-20                          784                                                   F                                           43.38"

Tenor         20-2-12                                  1047                                      Eb                47.88"


The figures shown in the WEIGHT column are Avoirdupois – cwt. qr. lb.


Post Script regarding the Bishop Selwyn Bells.


“With the building of St Matthew’s Church in Hobson Street in 1905, the decision was made to lend the bells until a satisfactory solution was found for the Cathedral. A ‘Memorandum of Agreement’ was drawn up between the General Trust Board of the Diocese and the Vicar, Vestry and parishioners of St Matthew’s to ‘lend to the parishioners the eight bells which at present hang in the Cathedral Library’, with the Board determining the return of the bells after giving St Matthew’s twelve months’ notice, presumably when the Cathedral belfry was built. 

However in 1970, with the passage of time, it was decided that the bells were to be gifted to St Matthew’s, where they now remain.

The question of Cathedral bells remain one for the future, once there is a place for them to be rung.”


“The Cathedral Builders of Holy Trinity Parnell” by Frank Wright, 2011

St Matthew-in-the-City's Bellringers, January 2017

bottom of page