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Grayson Perry’s End Of Covid Bell

June 21, 2022
by the gentle author


Installation at the Royal Academy

The Royal Academy Summer Show opens today which features the public debut of Grayson Perry’s ‘End of Covid Bell’ that he made in support of our ongoing campaign to Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

This is the first of an ambitious series of projects devised to establish the centrality of bells within our culture, recognising their long history in marking time, mourning death and celebrating life. Grayson’s bell was cast under the auspices of ‘The London Bell Foundry,’ the company established to take over the former Whitechapel Bell Foundry and re-open it as a working foundry.

“I’ve always wanted to make a bell,” admitted Grayson, “it is one of the categories of objects that are traditional and potent. This bell I conceived as a memorial to the dead of the pandemic, it is covered in what looks like an aerial view of a multicultural cemetery. It also features a doctor and a patient. It could also be rung as a celebration that we have survived.”

Nigel Taylor – who was foreman at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry for forty years – worked closely with Grayson, tuning the bell to ensure that it delivers a suitably resonant chime. Without access to the foundry in Whitechapel, the bell was fabricated by Factum Arte in Spain, cast by Pangolin Foundry, Gloucestershire and tuned at Nicholson Engineering in Dorset.

After the Royal Academy, we hope to transfer the bell to the Royal London Hospital, where those who experienced bereavement due to Covid can come to toll it in commemoration of their loss. We would like the bell to undertake a tour of major hospitals throughout the country next year.

Meanwhile down in Whitechapel, the historic foundry buildings sit forlorn, unaltered and occupied by property guardians indefinitely. Post-Covid, it is evident that the boutique hotel proposal is no longer viable. The developer’s commitment to employing the old foundry buildings as workshops for local people – which we believe they entered into to make the planning application acceptable – renders the notion of an upscale hotel at the rear problematic at best.

Grayson Perry’s maquette for his ‘End of Covid Bell’

Rob Ryan’s logo for The London Bell Foundry

You may also like to take a look at

The Fate of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

So Long, Whitechapel Bell Foundry

The Secretary of State steps in

A Letter to the Secretary of State

14 Whitechapel Bell Foundry Poems

Rory Stewart Supports Our Campaign 

Casting a Bell at Here East

Save Our Bell Foundry

A Bell-Themed Boutique Hotel?

Hope for The Whitechapel Bell Foundry

A Petition to Save the Bell Foundry

Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Adam Dant’s Bells of Whitechapel

Dorothy Rendell at Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Pearl Binder at Whitechapel Bell Foundry

John Claridge at Whitechapel Bell Foundry

9 Responses leave one →
  1. keithb permalink
    June 21, 2022

    The physics behind bells is surprisingly complex. I’m wondering if the various pieces modelling the graves in the graveyard attached to the main form of the bell modulate the tones at all – perhaps the high frequency harmonics. Mr Perry does pick enduring themes for his art – the idea of bells marking stages of life is genius. Some oncology wards have a bell that patients are encouraged to ring when they complete a course of treatment.

    Strange is it not how developers are always in a tremendous hurry? Impatient with any form of reflective planning process that actually engages the people who will have to live with the development they forge ahead and demand realism. Then the site is left for years… in fact *decades* for some sites in Birmingham. Best of luck to the old Foundary.

  2. Jan Perry permalink
    June 21, 2022


  3. Marcia Howard permalink
    June 21, 2022

    What a fitting and moving tribute. Well done Grayson Perry.

  4. Nita Heaton-Harris permalink
    June 21, 2022

    What wonderful by a wonderful artist also the place it will be hung

  5. Robin permalink
    June 21, 2022

    Grayson Perry’s magnificent bell makes even more evident the tragedy of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. A tragedy that could so easily have been avoided if only public officials had actually done their job of listening to their constituencies. Instead, they listened to corporate money. None of them should ever be allowed to forget their dereliction of duty.

  6. Su C. permalink
    June 22, 2022

    I love this moveable reminder of all we’ve been through in the last 2.5 years. This bell is lovely. It reminds me of the facades on the great cathedrals around the world, adorned with the lovely grotesques and emblems of the time. I would by a small-scale cast bell of this, if one were made available.

    And I will continue to send positive thoughts and hopes for a renewed bell foundry.

  7. John Burt permalink
    June 22, 2022

    News of the closure of Whitechapel came as I was in the middle of project-managing the restoration (supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund) of the tiny, 12th-century Myndtown Church in the Shropshire Hills. As part of the project, I undertook some research into the two small bells hanging in the bellcote and was amazed to discover that one of them is probably the third oldest of the 65,000 bells in the national bells register. It was eventually dated as being “no later than 1150” by three experts.
    Now that there is new hope for saving the Whitechapel foundry (and not by the ridiculous notion of a bloody “boutique hotel”, I am wondering how Grayson Perry’s newest national bell and the one at Myndtown might join forces in support of the cause.

  8. christopher nevile permalink
    June 22, 2022

    I wonder if there is anyone who owns a property very near the site of the old Bell foundry who could be prevailed upon to take, hang and strike a replica of Grayson’s Bell. Very Regularly. ?
    As a Hotelier I know that being woken at 6.30 by the tolling of bells does not lead to very positive reviews from hotel guests.
    Serve the beggars right it would.!

  9. Heather Fenton permalink
    June 23, 2022

    What a brilliant idea! If the bell does go to various hospitals, please don’t forget us here in Wales! Alternatively perhaps it could go to one or more of our six cathedrals…?!
    Heather, (From the cathedral City of St Asaph!)

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