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Old North Church December 6, 2010

Posted by flashbuzzer in History.
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I recently visited the Old North Church in Boston. This church is best known for its prominent role in the events of April 18, 1775, when two lanterns were hung in its steeple to warn militiamen in Charlestown that British soldiers were on the move to Lexington and Concord.

Here are two nuggets that I gleaned from my time at the Old North Church.

1. The identity of the person who hung the lanterns in the church steeple on the evening of April 18, 1775 remains controversial. Many people believe that this honor belongs to the church sexton, Robert Newman. Newman was the only person who had a key to the church, and he lived nearby (note that the British were enforcing a curfew in Boston at that time). Others believe that this honor belongs to John Pulling, a militiaman who was also a member of the church vestry. Historian David Hackett Fischer, who wrote Paul Revere’s Ride, believes that both men actually took part in this famous act.

2. Box pews were common in Episcopal and Anglican churches from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Parishioners would actually pay for the pews that they occupied during Sunday worship services. The relatively expensive pews were located along the center aisle at the front of the sanctuary, while less expensive pews were located at the rear of the sanctuary and were reserved for wardens and strangers. Box pews were usually enclosed by high walls, as churches were usually unheated; parishioners would bring heated bricks to serve as footwarmers during the worship services.

I enjoyed wandering around the church and perusing various curiosities, including a wall-mounted list of the church’s rectors dating back to 1723, when the church was built. I also enjoyed seeing the box pew that Thomas Gage occupied during his tenure in Boston.

I don’t have any quibbles at this time, which is neat.

Overall I would consider the Old North Church to be worthy of a short stopover before continuing on the Freedom Trail.

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