Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Big Ben & Fat Peter

If you were to ask what musical sound has been heard by the greatest number of people, the answer would most certainly be the sound of a bell. Bells have called men to work and to war, children to school, and have rung out joyful news and tolled in sorrow.

At Campania, Italy, in 400 A.D. Bishop Paulinus had a large copper bell hung in his church and rang it to summon his parish to worship. It was the first church bell. Before that, men where hired to ring hand bells in the streets, similar to our colonial town criers.

From Italy, bell making was introduced to England. Many noblemen had private chapels and they were eager to hang fine bells in the towers. It became a tradition for the nobility to present bells to the abbeys and cathedrals. Big Ben, England's most treasured landmark, is actually the name of the bell inside the tower, not the clock tower itself.

Pictured is the bell in the Cologne Cathedral, in Germany. Known affectionately as "Fat Peter", it was cast in 1922, weighs 24 tons and is the largest free swinging bell in the world.

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