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Bournville Carillon


Installed by George Cadbury in 1906, Bournville Carillon is one of the finest instruments of it's kind in the world

What is a Carillon?

This very rare and unusual musical instrument has been in use since the 15th century and looks very much like an organ.


Carillon's have a minimum of 23 bells and played from a 'baton' keyboard.


The instrument and the carillon art are most commonly found in Belgium, Holland, France and even in the USA but are a rarity in the UK.



Bournville Carillon

The bells of the Bournville carillon are made from the customary bronze alloy of copper and tin. Centuries of experimenting has proved that this combination of metals produces the best musical tone.


The bells weigh a total of 17.5 tons, the largest being the bourdon at 3.4 tons, and the smallest being the treble bell at 12lbs (5.5kg).


Using the internationally recognised definition of a 'carillon', there are 15 instruments in the United Kingdom, but only 4 having 4 octaves of bells namely:


         Bournville;         Loughborough;

         St. Helens;         Aberdeen.


Bournville carillon is the largest in Great Britain, having 48 bells across 4 octaves.


(For full details of British Carillons go to the British Carillon Society's web site: )


How is it played?

The Carillon is played with the hands and feet, similar to playing an organ.


However, the instrument is percussive and tones are produced by striking batons on a keyboard with hands in the form of a fist.


Wide variations of expression are possible dependant upon the force with which each key is struck and hence there is the ability to produce sensitive music.  


Playing the carillon requires a considerable expenditure of energy.

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