St Mary's Lowe House Carillon

Few people in St Helens could have failed, at some time or other, to have been stopped in their tracks by the sheer tonal beauty of the bells of St Mary’s, Lowe House, whether they be sounding out the cheerful bells of Christmas, or a splendidly rendered version of some religious or celebratory tune.

Carillons range in size from two to over six octaves, or from a minimum of 23 bells to as many as 77. A range of four to four and one half octaves (47 – 56 bells) is most desirable since almost all carillon music can be played on such an instrument (by comparison a piano has 88 notes, whilst an organ keyboard has 61). Most contemporary carillon music and much historic music is written for carillons with a range of four or more octaves.

The carillon at St Mary’s, Lowe House is one of the largest in the British Isles with 47 bells. The largest bell weighs 4 tons 4cwt. It is known as the “Thanksgiving” Carillon because it was erected in the centenary year of Catholic Emancipation and therefore is a celebration of religious freedom.

The bells are played by hand for which purpose a clavier of keyboard is provided, not unlike that of an organ.

This blog's author works next to the Church and what a joy it is during Summer afternoons to be able to stop for a few minutes and listen to the Carilloneur practising for upcoming services and recitals. In the heart of town, to be able to hear such cheerful and uplifting music is a rare gift indeed.

This short extract is reproduced from the website of St Mary's Lowe House Church. It is an extensive site and contains an excellent article on the full history of the Carillon and its arrival in St Helens in 1929, an event attended by many thousands of people.

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