Since the passing of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday afternoon (September 8), the British public has entered a period of mourning. Many are making tributes and there has been an outpouring of emotion across Bristol. Most notably, books of condolence have been placed at Bristol Cathedral and City Hall.
The Wills Memorial Building, a landmark building of the University of Bristol, has also marked the Queen’s passing. Its Great George bell, which is rung only on rare occasions, joined churches and cathedrals across the country to encourage a moment of reflection. And could be heard up to 12 miles away.
For 20 minutes at noon (on September 9) it joined the likes of Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral and Windsor Castle. A team of bell ringers worked together, using its rope and a mounted wheel, to produce a louder sound than it normally chimes.
What is the Great George bell?
It is named after three ‘Great’ Georges involved with the Wills Memorial Building completion. George Oatley the building’s designer; George Wills who commissioned in honour of his father; and King George V who opened the neo-Gothic building in 1925. Great George was cast in 1924 and is considered one of the deepest-toned bells in the world.
At nearly 7 foot high and over 8ft wide, weighing nine-and-a-half tonnes, it is the sixth-largest bell in England and the largest that can be rung by hand. Great George usually only tolls on the death of a monarch or chancellor. It was, however, more recently rung for the Queen Mother’s funeral and University of Bristol’s 100th anniversary.