The common idea is that they were made beside or near the church they were going to be hung in, by itinerant bellfounders. Not just according to a Shire book, mentioned in a previous post, but also according to the BBC TV program “Tudor Monastery Farm”, or rather, someone who was doing some bell making who was featured in the program. Also someone I respect for their depth of knowledge on their own specialist topic, on a certain forum, also made the same sort of statement when I brought it up, indicating the idea is widespread.
As you know I rather like finding out if commonly held ideas are right or not. In this case, I have a much better and more interesting answer than “They were made on site”.
Firstly, the evidence for it is, when you actually look carefully, rather mixed. Trevor S. Jennings book “Temporary Site Bellfounding technology and the itinerant Bellfounder’s technique” (henceforth TSBT) lists several pages of known temporary bells, but as I pointed out in my previous post, only 37 of them seemed to be medieval, despite thousands of medieval bells surviving. A lot of those featured are either 12/13th century, or 16/17/18th century, and frequently made in places far away from towns, such as Cornwall. (of course we won’t know of all that were made 600 years ago, but it seems odd that such a small number are known of and why the odd distribution over time?)
So the question is, what other evidence exists? The answer is, shedloads!