Bell Jack in Profile

English Heritage

English Heritage

This rather imposing figure, found at Context Columbia Market, Bethnal Green, would have sat with 7others of his ilk on top of bell tower in an indoor market commissioned by Angela Burdett Coutts.The origin of the term bell jack is relatively unknown but each figure when viewed from the ground would appear as though they were ringing the bells when the bell tower chimed.

The figure which is carved from walnut is painted black, they were commissioned to appear as 17 th century Dutch market traders. The dress worn links back to the original function of the building.

As with a lot of the collection in the Architectural Studies Collection, the Bell Jacks and the building of Columbia Market were bombed during the Blitz, the building received extensive damages and the decision was made to salvage the remaining bell jacks and turn the market buildings into social housing, later offices for works. To this day there remains a small flower market held every Sunday on the grounds of the once towering Columbia Market.

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  • Title: Bell Jack in Profile
  • Date Created: Late 18 th century
  • Location: Wrest Park Collections Store, Wrest Park Collections Store
  • Medium: Walnut

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