Lacquered tin violoncello. Wooden scroll and pegs, crudely made, wooden neck which is bolted to body with a heavy metal screw. Table is made from three pieces of tin either welded or soldered together. Strings are of twisted gut and possibly also from twisted cord. Wooden bridge, metal tailpiece.
This instrument was played by members of the Hills family in the band at St. Lawrence's Church, Caterham, Surrey. It was subsequently exhibited in nearby St Mary's Church, built in the 1860s after St. Lawrence's was abandoned as being too small for the population. The instrument was described on the exhibition board there as a 'bass viol', a common name for the copper or tin violoncellos played in churches (MacDermott), also known as 'church basses'. MacDermott, K.H. 'The Old Church Gallery Minstrels' (London: 1948) describes a violoncello used in a church band made of sheet iron in the Devizes Museum, and copper violoncellos in other church bands (p.27).