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christened in a ships bell

m100

Newbie
Hi folks,
Can any one help with this?
Does anybody know of the tradition of the ships bell being given to the first child christened in it?
I am trying to aquire the one I was christened in which just now resides in an RAF officers mess collecting dust.
Any help would be fantasticly recieved.
Cheers in advance
 

Purple_twiglet

War Hero
Moderator
Nope - but anything such as this would remain HMG property until disposed of. Its not a tradition I've ever heard of, and I'm afraid its highly unlikely you'd stand any success trying to secure it from the RAF as its not within their gift to dispose of it.
 

Spare_Rib

Lantern Swinger
Have you tried getting some advice from the RN Trophy Centre? Ship's Bells are classed as trophies and therefore 'owned' by the Trophy Centre - they will have loaned the bell in question to the RAF mess (for a small annual fee to cover insurance). I'm afraid I'm a bit dubious about the bell being given to the first child christened in it. I've seen a few engraved bells in the Centre which are still considered trophies and therefore MOD property. Contact details are: RN Trophy Centre Hardy Block, HMS Nelson HMNB Portsmouth PO1 3HH Tel: 023927 23878.
 

Wightsparker

War Hero
M100 - why do you think that the specific bell in which you were christened is with the RAF?
It's possible, of course, but ships frequently had more than one bell. From time to time, ships' bells do come up for sale by MOD, and it is possible that the bell you are talking about was bought by someone in the Crabs when it became surplus to requirements.
I suppose it's also possible that a bell was passed to the RAF by an affiliated ship when it decommissioned - but like Purple Twiglet I've never heard of a tradition where the bell becomes the property of the first child christened in it.
Have you approached the Crab unit where you think the bell resides? Is there still a readable inscription referring to your christening? If there is, at the very least you could ask for a photograph of the bell/inscription - and if some people are to be believed then the RAF PR machine will leap at the opportunity to get publicity! ( Bear in mind, though, that any inscriptions may have been erased by years of use.....)
If you think the Crabs actually own the bell, make them an offer!
 

m100

Newbie
Its at RAF Boulmer. I work there now as a civvie on the SAR sqn. Been over to the Officers mess and taken pictures of it and the engraving of my name. I've seen a couple of threads on a different site reffering to the bell being given to the christened child for 'safe keeping' and seen a few on US Navy sites stating that this tradition came from the Royal Navy. If I could get enough 'evidence' then they may be more willing to pass it on to me
 

m100

Newbie
Spare_Rib, contacted them in 2004 when the ship was originally decommissioned but they weren't too forthcoming with any info, at the time they were saying it was up to the Captain what happened to it at the time and I couldn't get hold of him. Cheers though, will try them again as personel are bound to of changed since then
 

Purple_twiglet

War Hero
Moderator
To be honest i think you are wasting your time. Bluntly dont you think its incredibly selfish to try and secure ownership of something that in doing so prevents others from seeing and appreciating it?

Let it go and move on.
 

sweetpea

War Hero
Hi folks,
Can any one help with this?
Does anybody know of the tradition of the ships bell being given to the first child christened in it?
I am trying to aquire the one I was christened in which just now resides in an RAF officers mess collecting dust.
Any help would be fantasticly recieved.
Cheers in advance

Why would a ships bell be entrusted to the first child to have been christened in it? That does not make sense!
Your only affiliation with the ship is that of a civilian, whose parent served aboard the Royal Naval Ship. Your parents were fortunate enough to enjoy the tradition of having a RN christening for you, but this gives you no rightful claim to the ships bell itself.

Ships bells are often ceremonially presented to the town/namesake of the ship, ie, HMS Liverpool, HMS Manchester, etc, whose crew have usually been given 'The Freedom of the Town'. Organizations such as the Royal Naval Association are also recipients of ships bells, along with other groups who have a RN connection, ie, Sea Cadet Units.

When a ship is decommissioned the bell is decommissioned with it, however, the bell still remains the property of HMG until disposed of - often passed on to any of the above mentioned, or in some cases, sold off to private buyers. I do not know where RAF Boulmer fits in here, perhaps there is a connection between RAF Boulmer and the RN, or maybe the bell was a private purchase? Either way, your claim on the bell is for personal reasons only, but if, as you say, the bell is not in use and is gathering dust, there is absolutely nothing to stop you from seeking out the owner to offer to purchase it. Please bear in mind that your name may well appear on the ships bell, but you do not have a rightful claim to it.

I wish you luck.
SP.
 

Seaweed

War Hero
Book Reviewer
Pusser used occasionally to sell off old bells. I bid for one long ago via an AFO advertising them but was pipped by someone else - an ex-CO would probably have had priority.

Long ago a neighbour had the bell of HMS Courageous hanging outside his house. How he obtained it I don't know. Other bells get presented on paying off - I saw an HMS Kent bell on Kent records office in Maidstone. HMS Newfoundland's bell was presented to the Dockyard Church in Singapore & I do wonder what happened to that.

The County-class GMD HMS London inherited a massive solid silver bell that between ships, with other HMS London silver, was held for safekeeping by the Mercers company in the City. Names of babies christened in it were engraved round the inside of the rim.
 

tommo

War Hero
I have heard through my time, that when a ships bell goes to auction (mod selling off) that only those christened (i.e names on the bell) could bid for it.

I have heard this dit on a few occassions from various. However I have never seen anything laid down, and could be nothing but one of those dits made up but has followed across the fleet
 

tommo

War Hero
More than likely "never let the truth get in the way of a good dit" but it's what I've always heard but never seen proof
 
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