[ACNS, by Staff Writer] The global victims of the Covid-19 pandemic and the frontline heath staff caring for them are being remembered daily in the mother church of the Anglican Communion. Officials at Canterbury Cathedral began tolling “Harry” – the oldest bell in the cathedral – at 8pm BST (7 pm GMT) every night since Maundy Thursday (9 April). It will continue daily until the threat from Covid-19 recedes.
It is the first time that the bell has been rung daily in the way. To comply with movement restrictions in the UK, the bell is being tolled remotely using a timer; so that no staff will be present within the 1,400-year-old building.
The current Harry bell was cast in 1635 by the Joseph Hatch bell foundry in Ulcombe, Kent. It is named after Prince Henry of Eastry – the 14th century donor of the original 343 kg bell. It sits in the central tower of the cathedral, which is known as the Bell Harry Tower.
“Communities around the world have embraced the idea of clapping hands to thank publicly healthcare staff and other frontline workers at this time”, the Dean of Canterbury, Robert Willis, said. “We all know that their vital work is undertaken at great personal risk to themselves. The bell of Canterbury Cathedral will lend its voice to this display of gratitude and also mark a moment to pause and remember those who have died.”
A cathedral spokesperson added: “It is hoped that the familiar sound of this bell of the 1,400-year-old Cathedral will be a comfort and source of strength for all who hear it; a symbol of continuity, solidarity and reassurance that we will, as a global community, get through this dark time together.
“To this end, the Cathedral is encouraging everyone within earshot to record the tolling of the bell from inside their homes each evening and post it online to share with their friends and families wherever they are.”