List Description was amended on 24 January 2011
991/2/40 THORNHILL ROAD
09-JUN-1982 St Omer Barracks
THE SEBASTOPOL BELL
(Formerly listed as:
St Omer Barracks
THE SEBASTOPOL BELL)
Commemorative monument of the Crimean War; a finely cast, bronze, Russian church bell.
DESCRIPTION: Large bronze church bell, weighing 17cwt 1qtr 2lb (877.25kg). It is finely cast with surface decoration in relief: a lower band of raised lozenge within entwined cord and lace-like continuous pattern, separated by double raised bands from an upper register of paired coronate and angel motifs. It is housed in a modern, purpose-built, open-sided, wooden structure resembling a belfry standing on a concrete base, into which is set an original C19 brass plaque, inscribed 'The Sevastopol Bell'.
HISTORY: In 1852 approximately 8000 acres of low cost heath at Aldershot were purchased as the site of the first permanent training ground for the Army, large enough to run regular summer exercises for 10 to 12 battalions at one time. Here the new railways could provide easy access to London, Dover and the main naval arsenals at Chatham, Portsmouth and Plymouth. In February 1854, work had started on the construction of the barracks, and by 1856 North and South Camps, (later to become Stanhope and Marlborough Lines), consisting of regular grids of wooden huts, had been erected. Permanent barracks, named the Wellington Lines, were built between September 1854 and 1859. The lack of a wall around the barracks, formerly considered necessary for separateness and security, was an innovation and emphasised the difference between Aldershot and previous barracks, with their civil policing role. Aldershot was the first of the large-scale camps, followed by Colchester and Shorncliffe, and it included some of the earliest examples of a garrison church, library and gymnasium. Today there are only isolated buildings, and the overall plan of the camp has been lost to post-war redevelopment.
The Sebastopol Bell was one of two bells, taken at the end of the Crimean War (1853-56) from the clock tower of the Church of the Twelve Apostles, Sebastopol. Sebastopol is famous for the desperate siege of that city (September 1854 to September 1855) which had been the main naval base for the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Both bells were cast by Nicholas Samtoun of Moscow but the date of casting is unknown. The bells were first put on display at the Woolwich Royal Arsenal in 1856. One bell was then removed to Windsor Castle (where it still remains), whilst this second bell was located next to the Time Gun at the top of Gun Hill, Aldershot Barracks. It was hung in an open wooden frame overlooking south camp, as shown in a contemporary watercolour by George Housman Thomas,'The Bell from Sebastopol at Aldershot, 1856', held in the Royal Collection. In 1879 it was moved to the clock tower of the Army's newly opened Cambridge Hospital, where it remained until 1961. It was then moved once again and erected at the Garrison Officers' Mess, Hospital Road in 1978, and has since been relocated in St Omer Barracks.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION:
The Sebastopol Bell, a trophy of the Crimean War taken from a church in the Siege of Sebastopol in 1854-55, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: an unusual commemorative war monument - an exotic foreign artefact seized as a trophy on campaign.
* Rarity: a rare example of a monument commemorating the Crimean War.