Thursday, September 6, 2012

Day 4: Paul Revere & the Old North Church {Boston Tour, Part 4}

My next stop in Boston is much more recognizable. Even if you've never visited Boston, I'm sure you've heard of this poem before:

"LISTEN, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year."

That would be the first stanza of "Paul Revere's Ride," a famous poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow about the fateful night of April 18, 1775 in which Paul Revere, a Patriot and silversmith by trade, alerted Colonial militia of approaching British forces before the battles of Lexington and Concord (the first battles in the Revolutionary War). 

But what does my next stop have to do with Paul Revere? This is the Old North Church, where Revere told three Boston Patriots to hang two lanterns in the steeple on the night of April 18, 1775 to warn Patriots in Charlestown (across the Charles River that divides the Charlestown section from the rest of Boston) that the British Army was coming. Upon seeing the two lanterns, the Patriots in Charlestown would then be able to ride over to warn Lexington. Although Revere did ride over to Lexington himself at a later point, having back-up riders from Charlestown was a good idea in case Revere was arrested and couldn't make the trip himself. 

The two lanterns were hung for less than a minute, so that British occupying Boston wouldn't notice the obvious signal. Militia in Charlestown had been told to look for signal lanterns. But why were there two lanterns? Longfellow's poem is famous for this line, "One if by land, and two if by sea." Hanging only one lantern in the steeple of the Old North Church was supposed to have meant that the British were coming by land. Hanging two lanterns in the steeple, as was done, meant that the British were coming by sea - in other words, the British troops were crossing the Charles River in boats instead of marching over Boston Neck and the Great Bridge. 

This is the Old North Church, otherwise known as Christ Church in the City of Boston. Located in the North End, it is an Episcopal parish and the oldest active church building in Boston (it was built in 1723) : 


This plaque rests on the steeple of the church as a reminder of Paul Revere's ride :


Here I am with the church steeple! This was at a VERY difficult angle to shoot from, so consequently, the photo isn't the best:


According to this map of the Old North Church grounds, there is a lot more than just the church to see! There is a War Memorial, 18th century gardens, and the Parish House, to name a few. That being said, I didn't have the time to see anything but the church!


This is one of the sites on The Freedom Trail, which I talked about in an earlier blog post


This is the inside of the church. I was standing in a pew at the front and looking at the rear. Isn't the organ lovely (it's from 1759)? 


Do you see these four mounted angels? {Click on the picture to make it larger.} They are STOLEN property! Here's the scoop: These hand-carved wooden angels were made in Belgium for a Catholic church in Québec, Canada. A pirate ship attacked the ship carrying these angels as they were on their way to Québec, and the pirate captain (Thomas Grucy) was a member of the Old North Church. Grucy gave his church a gift that was not his to give! The Old North Church, upon finding out that the angels were indeed not theirs, contacted the Catholic Church in Québec. The real owners allowed the angels to stay in Boston, which is why they are (of course!) in this photo : 


Here I am in one of the box pews. Box pews were common in Protestant England and New England churches from the 17th to the 19th centuries. The high walls kept cold drafts out of the seating areas in the unheated church building. People would often bring a heated brick or stone in a foot-warmer to place in the center of their pew. 

Each box pew is labeled with the name of the person (and their family) who is allowed to sit there - the more status you had, the more up front you were. There is even a box pew in the back that is "For strangers and wardens." This had me laugh because, in some churches today, people fight over the back pews. The front pews are last to be filled! 



~ Sophie

3 comments:

Sara said...

You looks so pretty! I am always impressed by your amazing fashion sense. (Speaking of style, which leads me to shopping, I am going shopping soon. Sorry to get off topic.)

Anyways, I just love your Boston tour. We have been learning about Paul Revere a lot in school. We haven't talked about his midnight ride yet, but we are discussing his Boston Massacre engraving. I just did an essay on that tonight.

Much love,
Sara

QNPoohBear said...

Longfellow made a lot of stuff up. did you learn that Paul Revere was captured and another man went on to warn the people? Did you hear the story about the young sexton who had to sneak past his sleeping mother to hang the lanterns?
QNPoohbear + Susanna <-- history nerds

all4dolls said...

Sophie, you have done an amazing job of telling us about your adventures in Boston and I am learning a lot! This could be a whole history class!!!

~ Kiki

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