A Ship's Bell Gives Your Front Door a Nautical Vibe

by Digby_Adams

Let your visitors announce their presence at your front door by ringing a brass ships bell.

Everyone has a doorbell, right? Nope. My husband and I live in a 19th Century farmhouse on the coast of Maine. It was built by an daring sea captain captain who sailed the world several times. Obviously, it was built long before electric doorbells. The good old captain hung a brass ship bell by the door so that people could let him know they were there.

We bought the house several years ago and are rebuilding it board by board. About the only thing we haven't had to think about replacing or fixing is that ship's bell. I'm sure it's as loud as the day it was first hung by the door.

We don't know for certain if our sea captain hung a ships bell that he took from one of his vessels. He was a frugal Yankee, so there's a good chance that he did - or at least took one from another ship. I have seen many boat owners, take the bell from their boat before they sell it. It's a sentimental item that performs a function and reminds them of happy memories on the open seas.

Boat Owners Can Hang Ships Bells from Their Own Crafts

A Ships Bell on the Bow of a Boat
A Ships Bell on the Bow of a Boat

A brass bell is heavy. Therefore you've got to be careful when you hang it from your house. You don't want it falling on anyone after all. You've also got to expect people to really bang away at it. There's a large rope or chain that's attached to the clanger. People, especially small children and my father-in-law, love to bang away at it. 

While our Captain just hung his brass ships bell without any other adornments, people often make this part of a nautical decor vignette. They will hang a ship's wheel near the brass bell or even put it on the front door. 

There are also metal and wood silhouettes of ships that can be displayed near the ship's bell as well. It's not necessary to live on the seacoast to hang a brass bell by your door. Many retired Navy members and merchant marines love nautical decor. They often have local artisans make a painting of their favorite ship on a shingle or piece of wood and display it near the ship's bell. 

Brass Ship Bell

Add a Touch of Nautical Decor to Your Front Door

Cutty Sark Ships Bell

The Cutty Sark was one of the last clipper ships to be built
The Cutty Sark was one of the last clipper ships to be built

My husband loves the front door ship's bell so much, that he decided to put one in the backyard near our barbecue. That way he can summon people when he's finished cooking. I have to admit that it does get people's attention. We have a croquet court and the games can get pretty vicious, but when we hear that brass bell, we know it's time to calm down and head for the chow. 

We had to be a bit creative when we hung this ship's bell. The barbecue grill and picnic tables are in a grove of trees. So we hung the brass bell from one of the limbs. It has a long chain on it, so it can be rung. It's a very large tree and there's a swing on another limb. My nieces and nephews have already made a game of swinging high enough to grab the chain and ring the bell. 

We also had to move the barbecue grill, because the metal chain was getting hot when a lot of cooking was going on. Now we have the grill, the brass clock, and the tree swing all safely organized. Nothing will burn down and no one will get burned. The ships clock is secure so that it won't fall off the tree. 

Vintage Brass Ship's Bell

Ships Bells for Sale on eBay
Updated: 07/10/2014, Digby_Adams
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Digby_Adams on 07/10/2014

Yes it is. We figure the projects will outlive us, because we are on a very tight budget and do most of the work ourselves.

ologsinquito on 07/10/2014

I admire you for having the tenacity to restore an old house. That must be quite a project.

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