Ring the bell for tea, Kitty!

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.


About Steve Caplan

I am a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska where I mentor a group of students, postdoctoral fellows and researchers working on endocytic protein trafficking. My first lablit novel, "Matter Over Mind," is about a biomedical researcher seeking tenure and struggling to overcome the consequences of growing up with a parent suffering from bipolar disorder. Lablit novel #2, "Welcome Home, Sir," published by Anaphora Literary Press, deals with a hypochondriac principal investigator whose service in the army and post-traumatic stress disorder actually prepare him well for academic, but not personal success. Novel #3, "A Degree of Betrayal," is an academic murder mystery. "Saving One" is my most recent novel set at the National Institutes of Health. Now IN PRESS: Today's Curiosity is Tomorrow's Cure: The Case for Basic Biomedical Research (CRC PRESS, 2021). https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/entity/author/B006CSULBW? All views expressed are my own, of course--after all, I hate advertising.
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4 Responses to Ring the bell for tea, Kitty!

  1. cromercrox says:

    I think I am probably the only one in the world who loathes the BBC series with a vengeance. Every time I see Jennifer Ehle’s smug face I want to punch it. And the Colin-Firth-stripping-off-in-the-fountain is so un-Jane-Austen it makes me wince. Give me the recent film with Keira Knightley any day.

  2. Heh. I was just discussing with she-who-is-not-called-Mrs.-Wintle the other day how we haven’t watched P&P for a while and should start the whole series again. I greatly enjoy it, although I find Mrs. Bennett a bit hard to take in large doses.

    Henry – FWIW I also like the Keira Knightley movie.

    As for bells… the carillon in the Soldier’s Tower here on the U of Toronto campus is also used for concerts in the summer… I’ve never managed to get to one but you’ve reminded me I that I should, so thank you.

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