Ringing in Christmas ~ The Story of the Steeple Bell at First Parish on Bedford Common

December 23, 2021

~ Submitted by Sharon McDonald  – Town Historian

If you listen this Christmas morning at 10 am, you will hear the peal of a bell shimmering out over the Common. It comes from the steeple of the Unitarian Universalist Church and marks both the holiday and memories of loved ones gone.

Here is its story:

The first bell was hung there in 1817 when the church was built. According to an old story, during the Civil War someone celebrating a Northern victory whacked it with a hammer and it cracked. There was no repair; it had to be taken down and sold for scrap metal. The steeple was silent for 65 years.

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 In 1926, George Blinn a lawyer and a prominent member of the community died. His widow, Clara presented a huge bell to the church in his memory. On it was engraved “To live in the hearts of those we leave behind is not to die.”

Mrs. Blinn called it a Christmas bell, for it was hung on December 22nd. She requested that, in addition to its regular tolling, it be rung every Christmas morning.

At its dedication, she said This bell is presented with deep gratitude for precious memories of the past, and may all that you hear be ringing in great happiness for you… for all the years down the ages.


Bedford Common ~ Christmas Eve, 2019
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Rachel Lewis Murphy
December 26, 2021 12:44 pm

I lived in Bedford for over 50 years and never knew why the Bell was rung on Christmas morning. Thank you, Sharon. What would Bedford be without you?

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