The name Tantony is derived from St Antony of Egypt (251-356) who was an immensely popular saint in the Middle Ages. The diminutive of his name ‘tantony’ was given to the smallest of the bells of the peal.
The Tantony bell at Lichfield Cathedral is believed to have been cast around year 1500 and was likely installed in Lichfield Cathedral during the post English Civil War restoration by Bishop John Hacket, around 1666-1667. After many years of daily use the bell was in need of extensive repair along with the fittings that suspended it in the central tower.
Now that the bell is restored, it will be moved back to the Cathedral on Thursday 20 January. Visitors will be able to see it displayed on the central altar platform in the Nave until it is installed in its proper place in the central tower on Monday 24 January.
Jonathan Townsend, Assistant Clerk of Works at Lichfield Cathedral said: “Bishop John Hacket is known in Lichfield Cathedral as the great restorer of the cathedral; his memorial tomb is clear for all to see in the south quire aisle. What is less well known is that he was also a member of the Ancient Society of College Youths, a London based bell ringing society still very active today. According to ASCY records, John Hacket was member number 39. Records show he was keenly involved in placing bells in Lichfield as part of his great restoration and it seems likely he sourced the Tantony bell and placed it in the central tower.
It has been a privilege to be involved in the project to refurbish the bell and its fittings, for me it is a tangible link to the past – just think how many people have heard this very bell ringing since its installation here c. 1667, some 42 years before Samuel Johnson was born in the city within earshot of the bell. It also represents a link to the ASCY, I am member number 8278 and feel proud to see the bell return to the cathedral where a fellow Society member heard and perhaps even rang this bell 355 years ago.”
The Tantony bell will be available for visitors to view during usual visiting hours and thanks will be given for its restoration during the Sunday Eucharist service at 10:30am on 23 January.
Photo credits: Lichfield Cathedral Photographers
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