Mr Frederick Sharpe


The late Frederick Sharpe, FSA, was one of the World's leading authorities on the history, technology and music of bells. For many years he was a consultant expert on the subject and inspected many hundreds of towers and belfries. He also researched and wrote books on the church bells of Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Herefordshire, Cardiganshire and Radnorshire, and was a frequent lecturer to professional, learned and other bodies.

In the course of his life he collected a unique body of material. His library of books on bells and ringing is very extensive. He acquired several comparatively small bells of various periods from the Middle Ages on. There are plaster casts and rubbings from bells; items of bell fittings and gear of various ages; photographs and information mounted for display in exhibitions, and slides for lecturing. The details of many hundreds of tower inspections are filed in loose-leaf books, all in his beautifully legible handwriting, and many hundreds of photographs are similarly mounted and arranged, those (the majority) of his own taking being accompanied by their negatives.

In addition, Mr Sharpe collected a unique set of handbells. There are over 200 of them and they include the work of almost every known handbell founder in England since 1600. About half of these he tuned into a chromatic set, filling in the gaps with bells which he had cast specially; these he fitted out and used for recitals in the hands of the Launton Handbell Ringers whom he trained - one of the best-known handbell bands in the country. The rest remained in his collection, and all are carefully listed and recorded with their provenance and probable dates. The Launton Handbell Ringers use a large repertoire of handbell music, much of it discovered by Mr Sharpe or arranged by him.