It was the Anglican clergyman and poet John Donne who

Every man’s death diminishes me
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Now the bell at Canterbury Cathedral – mother church of the
Anglican Communion - is tolling each day to remember the
global victims of the coronavirus pandemic and the health
staff who care for them. The cathedral decided to toll the
bell as a sign of solidarity with people around the world and
an expression of the hope that the global community can get
through this time together.

Tolling the bell known as Harry, the cathedral’s oldest bell,
began on Maundy Thursday, 9 April, and has been rung for
two minutes every day since at 8pm British Summer Time.
The daily toll will continue until the threat from the virus

It is the first time in its history that the bell has been rung
daily in this way. In order to abide by lockdown restrictions
in the UK it is not being run by a bell ringer but a timer has
been set up to automatically toll it at the same time each

Harry sits in the central tower, known as the Bell Harry
Tower, of the cathedral and was cast in 1635 by the Joseph
Hatch bell foundry in Ulcombe, Kent. It replaced the
original 14th century bell named after its donor, Prince Henry
of Eastry.

The dean of Canterbury, Robert Willis, said:

“Communities around the world have embraced the idea of
clapping hands to thank publicly healthcare staff and other
frontline workers at this time. We all know that their vital
work is undertaken at great personal risk to themselves.  The
bell of Canterbury Cathedral will lend its voice to this
display of gratitude and also mark a moment to pause and
remember those who have died.”

The cathedral team has encouraged people who live within
earshot of the bell to record it tolling and share it with others by posting the sound online.
As well as commemorating those affected by the pandemic,
it will also act as a reminder of the 1,400 year old building
to people who are unable to visit at the moment, either as
worshippers or tourists. The cathedral was due to host events
during the 2020 Lambeth Conference but this has been
rescheduled until 2021.

Several events had also been arranged for this summer to
mark the 850 th anniversary of the murder of St Thomas
Becket in the cathedral and the 800 th anniversary of the
transfer of his relics from the cathedral crypt to his shrine.
The shrine attracted thousands of pilgrims and were the
inspiration for Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, written
in 1387. It was eventually destroyed on the orders of Henry
VIII in 1538 during the Reformation. In recent times its site
still drew pilgrims and was marked by a burning candle
while depressions could be seen in the stone paving made by
the knees of pilgrims through the ages. Allowing planned
events to go ahead depend on the British government’s lockdown arrangements.