Dorrin K Mace, Horologost

Dorrin K Mace, Horologost
The Clock Man in a pensive moment

Friday, March 30, 2012

Tales of the Chimes

Many times customers will enter the shop and while we are examining their clocks for an estimate, they ask us about the chimes.  This week we look as the story behind some of the most famous clock chimes

Westminster Chimes
The world's most famous chimes are the Westminster.  Nearly everyone associates the Westminster chimes with the Clock Tower (also known as the 'Big Ben Tower' ) at the House of Parliament in London. Originally, however, they were fitted to the clock of the University Church, St Mary's the Great, in Cambridge, England.  The words to this beautiful chime come from one of G. F. Handel's famous musical compositions, "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth" and could be our daily prayer:

"Lord through this hour,
Be Thou our guide
So, by Thy power
No foot shall slide."

Whittington Chimes
The famous Whittington chime is derived from the Church of St. Mary's le Bow, in Cheapside, London.  The legend is that Dick Whittington, running away from ill treatment as a house waif, seemed to hear the chimes say, "Turn again- Whittington, Lord Mayor of London Town."  Dick turned back to eventually serve three terms as London's Lord Mayor of London Town.

St. Michael Chimes
The story of the St. Michael chimes are one of adventure and perhaps have more significance to the United States since their history is really a part of our heritage.  The bells were cast in London and installed in St. Michael's Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 1764.  When the British took over the city during the Revolutionary War the bells were taken by them back to England.  A Charleston merchant bought them in England and shipped them home to America.

In 1823, cracks were found in some of the bells and they were returned to London to be recast.  In 1862, during the siege of Charleston, the bells were moved to Columbia for safe-keeping but Sherman's army set fire to that area.  Only fragments of the bells were found to be returned to London once more, where the original molds still stood.  In February, 1867, the bells were again installed in St. Michael Steeple and on March 21st, joyously rang out, "Home again, Home again from a foreign Land."

Winchester Chimes
 Winchester chimes have a very interesting history.  The Norman conquerors of England did not like the fantastic cathedral chimes of the Saxons, so Bishop Walkilin, a kinsman of William the Conqueror, demolished and rebuilt the Winchester chimes in 1093. The cathedral's central tower, which contained the chimes, fell in 1107 but soon was rebuilt.  This edifice forms a substantial part of the present cathedral, located in Hampshire, England.  The lyrics of the Winchester chime are:
"O Art Divine, exalted blessing!
Each celestial charm expressing!
Proudest gift the gods bestow
Sweetest chimes that mortals know."

1 comment:

  1. Very cool of you to provide this insight into what my inherited Daneker President plays to me throughout the day. I play the chimes no more since I discovered the brass chime wheel teeth are stripped/broken which explains why the chime weight was dropping suddenly throughout the day. I contemplate my options of replacing my URGOS 3/20 movement or getting it repaired. The clock had not run for years, but after a 6.1 earthquake in American Canyon, CA I noticed it was running again. I continue to run the clock (no chimes) as it continues to keep accurate time with its steady tick tock and swinging pendulum. Currently I am researching as much about Daneker clock movements. Your blog has been very informative. A few sites have mentioned Daneker also used Mauthe movements. I will see if this is the name of the company that made movements in England that Daneker used for some of its customers. Thanks for sharing your passion for clocks with us.


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