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Bell Harry Tower - Canterbury Cathedral | by Umberto Luparelli
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Bell Harry Tower - Canterbury Cathedral

The tools that a master mason had to work with were limited – hammers, chisels, crude measuring devised, wooden scaffolding etc. However, for all these limitations, the professional skills shown at Canterbury are best seen in the central tower, known as the Bell Harry Tower. The ceiling, where men would have worked on their backs on top of less than stable scaffolding, is both highly decorative yet functional. The tower is 235 feet high and the weight of it is contained and distributed through the fan-shaped vaulting, which ‘carries’ the weight to the foundations. The immaculate geometric ceiling of Bell Harry is one of the great glories of medieval architecture – done for the ‘greater glory of God’.

After completion of the central tower at the end of the 15th century, a subsidence of the SW pillar prevented the hanging of a new ring of bells, but a small bell, previously rung in the NW tower and called “Bell Harry” after its donor Prior Henry of Eastry, was hung on the roof of the central tower, thereafter known as “Bell Harry Tower”.

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Taken on August 1, 2012