Recent links of note:
“Campaigners lose fight to save 450-year-old Whitechapel Bell Foundry”
Emily Scully, Daily Mail
In the daily life of modern man, bells have become pleasant, but for the most part superfluous, ornaments. Yet it was the practical necessity of bells in the pre-modern era—to summon, alarm, and keep time—that imbued such bells as the Liberty Bell, the bells of St Mary-le-Bow, and Big Ben with their symbolic import in culture. These examples are all worthy contenders for the most storied bells in history, and they all share a common origin in London’s Whitechapel Bell Foundry, opened in 1570 and Britain’s oldest extant factory until its closure in 2017. That closure has now been made permanent by the recent and final approval to convert the premises into a hotel.
How many of the bells from the nursery rhyme “Oranges and Lemons,” that famous roll-call of London chimes, are Whitechapel bells, I wondered? By my count at least half. Digging back, I recall that the change-ringing bells that greeted me every day at my alma mater were Whitechapels as well. Read the Daily Mail’s report on the foundry’s closure, and see if a Whitechapel bell hasn’t rung from a church or bell tower near you. You might be surprised.
“Cerne Abbas Giant—Dorset’s enormous chalk figure—was Saxon, new study finds”
Maev Kennedy, The Art Newspaper
The 180-foot-long Cerne Abbas Giant looms from a hillside in West Dorset, England. The giant is one of a number of enigmatic chalk figures scattered throughout the British Isles, some dating back to the Stone Age. The earliest written record of the figure dates to an invoice from a church warden who carried out repairs in 1694 (“for repairing ye Giant, three shillings”), which led some to speculate that the prodigiously endowed giant was perhaps a seventeenth-century attempt by a mischievous Royalist landowner to thumb his nose at Oliver Cromwell and the Puritan Roundheads. As Maev Kennedy writes in The Art Newspaper, groundbreaking new technology has finally revealed the giant’s origin in the Saxon Middle Ages—raising more than a few new questions as well.
“Music for a While #45: Spring, sprung, sung.”
Jay Nordlinger, The New Criterion’s music critic, talks music—but, more important, plays music.
“Poulenc at the organ,” by Jay Nordlinger. On a performance by Paul Jacobs & the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, of the organ concerto by Francis Poulenc.