The Carillon

The beauty of the historic rolling hills of Valley Forge National Historical Park is enhanced by the stately presence and noble sound of the National Patriots Bell Tower, a gift of National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Completed in 1953, the tower and its carillon are living memorials dedicated to the memory of General George Washington.

The Bell Tower and Carillon

Tower Portrait h300With 58 tuned bronze bells, the carillon ranks as one of the world’s largest and most beautiful. The bells weigh a combined total of 26 tons (ranging from 13½ pounds to 8,000 pounds) and cover a range of nearly five octaves.

Many modern carillons are played electronically, but this carillon is played entirely by hand from a keyboard located in the midst of the bells. The bells do not swing, but are bolted stationary in a steel framework. Keys and pedals are connected to the bells’ clappers by a mechanical system of direct cranks, roller bars, and steel cables. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe keyboard of 58 oak batons and 24 pedals provides the carillonneur sensitive musical control of the instrument. Directly beneath the bells is the carillonneur’s studio with a piano and practice keyboard. This keyboard uses hammers to strike small metal bars rather than the bells, allowing the carillonneur to practice quietly.

justicbellIn addition to the carillon, the National Patriots Tower is also home to the Justice Bell, a full-size replica of the Liberty Bell that traveled Pennsylvania between 1915 and 1920 in support of the women’s’ suffrage movement, and a wonderful collection of over 1,400 porcelain, glass, and metal miniature bells.

 

minibells

 

Also within the tower are the names of many patriots inscribed in stone, stained glass, on brass tablets, and in a huge Book of Remembrance.

 

 

 

 

 

Carillon Ring Tone:

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Washington Memorial Chapel is home to one of the world’s most beautiful carillons—58 bronze bells, one for each U.S. state and several territories, played entirely by hand.