Periodically I drive into Boston just to search out Hidden Gems, find animal statues for the bronze menagerie series and locate other places in the city to write about in my Thursday blog posts.
I wanted to write a suitably spooky pre-Halloween post today but the odds have not been in my favor lately. First I looked on the King’s Chapel website to find the times of their Bell and Bones Tour. Check. I left the house on time. Check. I arrived in Boston in plenty of time for the 1:00 pm tour. Check.
Park and Walk
Next stop: Park in the Boston Common Garage and walk to King’s Chapel. The sign said, “Garage Full.” Hmmm. I took advantage of stopped traffic on Beacon Street to use my parking app and find the nearest garage that, on a weekday, did not require a mortgage, a down payment and my first-born child. Then I used Google Maps to get there and actually found a space right away. Check.
Stymied at King’s Chapel
I hiked from my distant garage to King’s Chapel on Tremont Street to buy a ticket for the 2:00 pm tour and still have time for lunch Check.
Here’s the conversation that ensued with the nice, very polite young woman at the desk.
Me: “I’d like to buy a ticket for the 2:00 pm Bell and Bones tour, please.”
Her: “Oh, I’m so sorry,” the crypt is closed today.”
Me: “It doesn’t say that on your website.”
Her: “It happened recently. It’s closed for cleaning. It’s best to call in advance.”
Me: “Understood. I’m a blogger and I want to write about the crypt. Today is the only day I have to do the tour.”
Her: “I’m so sorry but it’s best to call in advance.”
Sigh. It doesn’t say that on the website either. BTW: The same thing happened to me last week at the Old North Church where private tours were booked all afternoon and I couldn’t get in. Instead I went to Copp’s Hill Burying Ground. King’s Chapel is less popular with tourists, though, so I thought this might be easier. Not so much.
A Not-So-Quick Lunch
I bought a ticket for just the Bell part of the tour and went to the Panera Bread across the street for a quick lunch in the half hour before the tour started. With no line at the counter I walked up and order a soup-and-sandwich two-pick. Check. Then I turned and saw the mob of people waiting for their orders to be filled. Sigh. I could tell this was not going to be the quick and easy lunch that I expected.
Finding a table I sat and waited for my buzzer to jitter around. And I waited. An employee brought my lemonade. Check. Then I waited some more. I looked at the time. Now I had 20 minutes. Then 15 minutes. Finally I got up and went to the counter and found my order sitting there. A very polite employee explained that he was just about to bring it to my table. Check. I ate fast and returned to King’s Chapel.
The Paul Revere Bell
The half-topic tour, given by a well-informed docent named Will, was fine. A nice couple from Tennessee and I climbed the stairs to the choir loft then up the tower to the bell room. The wooden staircase and the stone walls provided a somewhat spooky atmosphere, although not exactly what I was hoping for. It’s a short climb because King’s Chapel ran out of money and never added the full steeple that had been planned.
Originally cast in London in 1722, this instrument is called the Paul Revere Bell because Paul Revere and Sons recast it in 1816 after the old one cracked. The largest and last bell of the 400 he cast, Revere called it “the sweetest bell we ever made.” (You can hear it ring on YouTube). It tolled his death in 1818. King’s Chapel rings the bell three times a week, on Sundays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Because of the stresses placed on it, the bell’s yoke has to be replaced every 40 to 50 years. This one was cast by the Henry Perkins Co. of Bridgewater, MA in 1967.
I’ll go back to both churches another time and try again. By then I hope that things go more smoothly. Maybe they’ll even be spookier.