Historical information

This artifact is a large brass bell. It was retrieved from the Schomberg wreck by local divers in the 1970s. Its location at the wreck site was described as "found on the west side towards the stern" the vessel remains lying on a north-south axis, with the bow pointing towards the shore as a result the bell was assessed from this position to have formed part of the cargo.

The view that this was not a ship's bell belonging to the Schomberg is gained from two other 'Schomberg Bells' in the Flagstaff Hill collection, both of which have the vessel's name prominently etched into their outer surface. Additional indications indicate that this bell was not intended for maritime use due to the bell's rounded 'bell-curve' shape suggesting it was melodically tunable. Also the detailed basket-type fittings on the bell dome that would allow the bell to be suspended by ropes rather than just bolted to a yoke. The bell is currently on display at Flagstaff Hill, categorised as a church bell part of the Schomberg's cargo that was intended for use in a church within the Victorian colony.

As the Colony of Victoria became more established, and its population expanded with the Gold Rush and other emigration from Britain, the demand for regular religious services and permanent church buildings also grew. We will never know if this bell was a specific order or part of an enterprising bell founder's consignment of general stock to a wholesale supplier in Melbourne. A cargo manifest for the Schomberg has unfortunately never been found.


The shipwreck of the Schomberg is regarded as of significance to Victoria and is registered on the states Heritage list (S 612). The Schomberg wreck has great historical significance as a rare example of a mid 19th century large, fast clipper ship intended to transport cargo and passengers between England and Australia. The vessel that carried this bell represents the marine advances made in an attempt to break established sailing records between Europe and Australia.
Flagstaff Hill holds a noteworthy collection of artefacts from the Schomberg shipwreck. The collection as a whole is primarily significant because of the relationship the objects have archaeologically, not only to highlight the story of the Schomberg ship and later it's wrecking but have an important potential to interpret the story and progression of maritime shipping in the 19th century.

Physical description

The church bell has a standard bell-curve shape and is dull bronze in colour. A large brass bell, plain and without visible maker marks, but with traditionally intricate basket-type cast fittings for suspension from a yoke by a number of ropes or chains. Approximately 3/8 of the bell’s outer surface bears a thin layer of marine growth and limestone accretion, and there is some minor pitting and spots of light verdigris over the remainder. The bell mouth, or lip, is slightly compressed-in in two places. It was retrieved from the wreck of the Schomberg.

Inscriptions & markings