electric butler bells

Downton abbey doorbell I had built

hdb bto renovation process

When wifey and I received our keys to our BTO, these are the doorbell wires at the kitchen entrance that connects to the switch at the front door.

hdb bto renovation process

It has no power and were only cables that connect the circuit. Electricity would have to be provided by batteries in the doorbell.

cuckoo clock singapore

It wasn’t until the final phase in the renovations that I really thought about the doorbell to install for our home.

With this panel of wall eventually looking like this, with our cuckoo clock mounted, installing a simple white doorbell that enthusiastically calls “eno, eno” with a digital sound would be a tragedy.


Hence, I embarked on a search for a doorbell that befits the design of our home. It was then that I remembered the existence of the Victorian era vintage style doorbell, called the Downton Abbey doorbell or butler bell.

In its time, the Downton Abbey doorbell comprised mainly the bell and a pulley, and was placed near the door. A guest would pull or push a spring lever at the front door, and the pulley would displace the bell from its position of rest and finally bounce back, ringing the bell.

However, I can’t drill a hole through the wall where my front door is, to install the push/pull lever. Furthermore, I would like the bell to be where the doorbell wires emerge, at the center of the house. Therefore, I needed to have an electricity operated version of the butler bell.

The engineer friend

I turned to a friend who runs a mini factory specialising in custom jobs like this doorbell project. Apart from the bell I had, he had to make the rest of the doorbell.

Long awaited! Though it really wasn’t that long.

The carpenter friend

Getting a feel of the size of my doorbell.

The base plate and circuit box are built using wood stripped from a discarded shelf.


Brought the base plate home to ascertain the position of our doorbell.

Cut out a paper model and taped it onto the wall above our cuckoo clock.

Cross markings are made on my paper model to coincide with the grout between the tiles. Holes have to be pre drilled into the wooden base plate for the screws.

Parts falling short of expectations

My doorbell was working great till it stopped working suddenly. The battery pack had broken with cracks all over it.

Taping didn’t work.


Fine tuning my doorbell

downton abbey doorbell

Friend, who built the circuit board and the bell group, programming the number of swings in order that the bell dings a decent number of time and eventually stop.

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