Bell Ringers Jug, Newcastle-under-Lyme

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Date:1845

Description:Bell ringing can be thirsty work and in order to give the ringers the strength to carry on a tradition was established to pay them with ale!

This jug is made of earthenware and is quite large, measuring a mighty 35cm tall, and it would have held plenty of ale.
Traditionally, the Mayor provided the ale from the Three Tuns pub, situated close to the church. It is recorded that in 1825 the bell ringers drank 150 litres of beer at the Mayor’s expense. The Mayor continued to pay for the bell ringers’ ale until1833 when it was resolved that the town council should pay.

The bell ringers account book records all the official ringing occasions from 1843 to 1863. It states that in 1846 ringers were paid two pounds and a jug of ale to ring in the new Mayor. They also rang for births, deaths and marriages and for local and national events such as the opening of the new church at Chesterton and the Battle of Alma at the start of the Crimean War.

The names of bell ringers usually appear on the side of their jug and ours is no exception. The names appear in white having been scratched through the brown slip layer on the jug using a technique called Sgraffitio.
The names of the ringers can be found among those noted for payment in the bell ringers’ book, alongside several payments for ringers from the Union Workhouse. However, the names of the men recorded on the jug were all burgesses of the town and so they would have been significantly better off than the ringers from the workhouse.
The makers name ‘C H Bayley’ and ‘9 November 1845’ can be found on the underside of the jug. We do not have any additional information relating to this particular potter but as Newcastle-under-Lyme is near to Stoke-on-Trent, it is quite likely that it was made in the Potteries and that C H Bayley was a relative of Samuel Bayley, one of the names listed on the jug.

The jug and the two books were donated to the museum in the 1950s having been passed down through the family of bell ringer William Bayley, also named on the jug.


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Donor ref:Tm7619 (22/25870)

Source: Brampton Museum and Art Gallery, Newcastle under Lyme

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