Grandfather Clocks Chime History
Posted on October 15, 2011 | By clockde
Arranged from George Fredrick Handel’s aria, “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth,”
and best known as the chimes of Big Ben, this four-bell melody is the most widely
used in modern clocks.
These chimes were made famous by a person rather than their location of St. Mary
Le Bow in Cheapside, London. One day, a penniless boy named Dick Whittington
heard them as he ran away to escape drudgery as an ill-treated houseboy. The chimes
seemed to call him back with promises of success. He returned and persisted; later
becoming Lord Mayor of London.
St. Michael’s Chimes
Although the bells were cast in London, they were installed in St.
Michael’s Church in Charleston, SC, in 1764. During the Revolutionary War, the city
was captured by the British and the bells returned to England. After the war, a London
merchant returned the bells to Charleston. In 1823, cracks were discovered in the
bells and they were returned to England to be recast. During the Civil War, the bells
were sent to Columbia for safekeeping, but were damaged in a fire set by Sherman’s
army. After the war, the bells made a third trip to England for restoration; and were
reinstalled in the St. Michael’s Church steeple in 1867, where they remain to this day.
The Clock Depot offers many grandfather clocks with the St Michaels melody. They can be seen at grandfather clocks at The Clock Depot.