Let History Ring: Casting A New Ship's Bell

Join Us Labor Day Weekend for this FREE, family friendly event!

Additional programming with Museum admission!

August 31 - September 1, 2019
Plimoth Plantation
137 Warren Avenue, Plymouth, MA 02362

Join us for a festive weekend that kicks off a series of homecoming events for the newly restored Mayflower! This one-of-a kind event features the casting of a magnificent new ship's bell – from the passing of bronze ingots and pouring the mold to breaking it out and ringing the bell for the first time by honored guests. Plimoth has partnered with The Verdin Company – a world-renowned pioneer in cast bronze bells – to bring the world’s only traveling bell foundry to the museum for a fun and educational opportunity. Enjoy food, music, and activities for children – all free to the public – plus special programming inside the Museum!

Once the bell is complete, we are thrilled that Mayflower Moving, the most recognized name in moving, will provide white glove transportation service straight to the ship Mystic, Connecticut for installation on Mayflower prior to her official launch on Saturday, September 7, 2019.

What’s a bell casting?

Visitors can watch the process unfold live with expert narration, from the passing of ingots and veterans’ medals to pouring and casting the molten bronze at dusk in a custom mold. On September 1, the bell will broken out, polished, dedicated, and rung for the first time during a special ceremony featuring honored guests. Throughout the weekend, the community can enjoy local food trucks, entertainment, and family-friendly activities. While the festival is free to the public, you’ll want to extend your experience with a visit to the museum itself to experience special programming in the 17th Century English Village and the Wampanoag Homesite, as well as our waterfront exhibit and the Plimoth Grist Mill.

Why does Mayflower need a new bell?

Maritime lore has it that a ship’s bell is its very soul, so ensuring that the second Mayflower sails into the future with a bell that is worthy of the inspiring stories she tells is no small detail. When the historic square-rigger first arrived in Plymouth Harbor in 1957 after a transatlantic journey, she featured a bell cast in 1638 that is now on display for visitors to see at Plimoth Plantation since it is no longer suitable for use on the ship. Donated to Project Mayflower by the people of Brixham, England, where Mayflower was built, the bell was likely cast in Essex, England by Miles Graye, a well-known bell founder of the period.

Beyond superstition, bells play an essential role in organizing time at sea. “Setting the watch” is the process of dividing the ship’s crew into several groups tasked with manning the helm, navigating, trimming sails, and keeping a lookout while the others rested. Eight bells are struck during a four-hour watch, letting the sailors know how much of their watch had passed. Ship’s bells also alert other vessels in foggy weather and sound an official end of watch marking the passing of a sailor.


Andrew Carter 

Lou Jannetty

 Churchill & Sons



Email rkluin@plimoth.org or call 508.746.1622 ext. 8210
for more information about these exciting opportunities.