My family and I are big fans of Jane Austen. We particularly like the mid-1990s BBC version of Pride and Prejudice featuring Jennifer Ehle and a rather youthful-looking Colin Firth. Having seen the series a gazillion times, the hysterical voice of Mrs. Bennett (Alison Steadman) shrieking at her daughter “Ring the bell for tea, Kitty!” has become somewhat of a family joke. Every doorbell, church bell or chime elicits the phrase like a Pavlovian reflex.
So it was not unexpected that “Ring the bell for tea, Kitty!” left my lips as I entered Omaha’s Lauritzen Botanical Gardens a few weeks ago and encountered a rather unusual looking assembly of all sizes of bells in a contraption that I learned was known as a Carillon.
Little did I know that I was in for such a musical treat, as the carillon was played beautifully by a local musician who trained playing the chimes at one of Omaha’s local churches. The owner of the carillon explained that the bells were made by the Royal Eijsbouts Bell Foundry in the Netherlands back in the early 1990s. Apparently, huge numbers of bronze church bells were destroyed by the Nazis in World War II, as they systematically moved through occupied Europe and melted down bell after bell for their munitions factories. This in turn generated a market for bell factories post WWII.
I include here only a sampling of the beautiful chimes that we heard, but for those interested, there are many videos available online.
One of only 2 carillon in the US.