Meneely Bell, 1858

Within the first 10 years of its life, St. George’s 3rd church added a clock and bell to its steeple.   

The bell and clock are best seen from the graveyard outside the church. 

In May, 1856, the Fredericksburg News reported that the 1,510 pound bell for St Georges was “elevated to its position” into the steeple. That implies a hoist or lift but given no modern cranes or helicopter at the time it was still a job. We think it went through one of our louvres which can be opened. However, just two years later the Church felt that bell’s sound was deficient.

In July, 1858 a new bell from Meneely Bell Foundry had been ordered. The first Meneely bell foundry was established in 1826 in West Troy (now Watervliet), New York, by Andrew Meneely. Two of Andrew's sons continued to operate the foundry after his death, and it remained a family operation until its closure. The second Meneely bell foundry was established in 1870 by a third son, Clinton H. Meneely, across the river in Troy, New York.

St. George's bell arrived with a tone that was a “decided improvement” from the first one. It would be the largest bell in town. The bell was originally sent to Richmond by steamer instead of Fredericksburg. The paper quipped that the captain of the steamer displayed “an acquaintance with the geography of Virginia worthy of a member of the last legislature.” The weight was overstated in weight. Actual weight is 2,500 pounds rather than the 8,000 pounds publicized

The bell is loud enough to be heard outside of Fredericksburg. Stephen W. Sears book on the battle of Chancellorsville has this detail. "Within moments the rest of Lee's army was awakened when the bell in the tower of the Episcopal church in Fredericksburg began tolling urgently."

Since 1996, the bell has been on electric works that tolls the hour and one time for the half hour.

Pictures inside the bell tower, including the louvres:

You can listen to the bell below:

More on the Bell