Revere Bell



The Revere Bell was presented to St Andrew’s Church in 1843 by Maria Revere Balestier, wife of Joseph Balestier, the first American consul to Singapore. The bell now resides in the Singapore History Gallery of the National Museum of Singapore.

History
In 1843, the Revere Bell was presented to St Andrew’s Church by Revere. She was the daughter of anti-British American patriot Paul Revere, and wife of Balestier, the first American consul to Singapore.1 The bell was given to the church on the condition that it would be rung for five minutes every night, immediately after the firing of the 8 pm gun to announce the start of curfew hours.2 As early Singapore was unsafe after dark, warnings were sounded during the curfew to remind sailors to return to their ships and residents to be vigilant.3

Revere died on 22 August 1847.4 The sounding of the bell at 8 pm every evening continued until St Andrew’s Church was demolished in 1855, but resumed before the completion of the new church building that replaced it (now known as St Andrew’s Cathedral) and the first service held in October 1861. The regular 8 pm alert was discontinued in 1874.5

The Revere Bell was used in the church until 6 February 1889, when it was replaced by a new peal of bells presented by the family of J. S. H. Fraser.6 The Revere Bell was then placed in storage in a Public Works Department facility at Kandang Kerbau.7 In 1911, the bell was lent to St George’s Garrison Church at Tanglin Barracks. It was later moved to the Royal Engineers storeyard when it cracked beyond repair.8

In September 1937, the damaged bell came to the attention of the authorities at the Raffles Museum (later known as National Museum). Archdeacon Graham White donated the bell to the museum, where it was cleaned and burnished. The bell was then placed near the museum entrance for a number of years.9

In January 1997, the National Museum lent the Revere Bell to the United States Embassy in Singapore.10 It sat in the embassy lobby for some years, until the museum completed its major restoration and renovation works in 2006. The bell was then returned to the museum in a commemoration ceremony in May that year. It is now part of the permanent exhibition of the Singapore History Gallery at the National Museum of Singapore.11

The Revere Bell in Singapore is one of the estimated 134 bells still in existence that were cast by the Revere Foundry and which bear the Revere name. It is the only one located outside of the United States. The bell is regarded as an indication of the presence of Americans in early Singapore, as well as a symbol of the close ties between the United States and Singapore.12 The bell has been viewed by visiting American dignitaries, including Thomas (Tip) O’Neill, the first Speaker of the United States House of Representatives to visit Singapore in 1983.13

Description
The Revere Bell measures 81 cm in height and 89 cm in diameter, with a clapper beneath it.14 It was cast in the Revere Foundry of Boston, Massachusetts, the United States, by the Revere Copper Company, in the tradition of the Revere bells cast by Paul Revere. These bells were known for their clear mellow tones.15

The Revere Bell bears the inscription: “Revere Boston 1843. Presented to St Andrew’s Church, Singapore, by Mrs Maria Revere Balestier of Boston, United States of America”.16



Authors
Vernon Cornelius-Takahama & Joanna HS Tan



References
1. Baker, J. (2005). The eagle in the lion city: America, Americans and Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books, pp. 69–70. (Call no.: RSING 303.4825957073 BAK)
2. Davies, D. (1956, March 18). Balestier’s plantation was a flop. The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 173. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU)
3. Hooi, C. (1976). The Revere Bell and the Balestiers. Singapore: National Museum, pp. 1, 9. (Call no.: RSING 327.0924 HOO)
4. Davies, D. (1956, March 18). Balestier’s plantation was a flop. The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Hooi, C. (1976). The Revere Bell and the Balestiers. Singapore: National Museum, pp. 1, 9. (Call no.: RSING 327.0924 HOO)
6. Lee, E. (1990). Historic buildings of Singapore. Singapore: Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 27. (Call no.: RSING 720.95957 LEE); Hooi, C. (1976). The Revere Bell and the Balestiers. Singapore: National Museum, pp. 1, 9. (Call no.: RSING 327.0924 HOO)
7. Anak Singapura. (1937, April 15). Notes of the day. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Balestier bell finds a home. (1937, October 17). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Balestier bell finds a home. (1937, October 17). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Baker, J. (2005). The eagle in the lion city: America, Americans and Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 70. (Call no.: RSING 303.4825957073 BAK); Balestier – first US consul to S’pore. (2005, December 29). The Straits Times, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Sidhu, K. (2006, November 20). Friendship that turns full circle. The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. AmCham. (2015). The Balestier series. Retrieved 2017, May 12 from The American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore website: http://www.amcham.org.sg/balestier-series/
13. How a Revere bell came to Singapore. (1983, April 5). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Hooi, C. (1976). The Revere Bell and the Balestiers. Singapore: National Museum, pp. 1, 9. (Call no.: RSING 327.0924 HOO); How a Revere bell came to Singapore. (1983, April 5). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Hooi, C. (1976). The Revere Bell and the Balestiers. Singapore: National Museum, pp. 1, 9. (Call no.: RSING 327.0924 HOO)
16. Hooi, C. (1976). The Revere Bell and the Balestiers. Singapore: National Museum, pp. 1, 9. (Call no.: RSING 327.0924 HOO)



The information in this article is valid as at 2010 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.


 

Subject
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Religious Buildings
Architecture and Landscape>>Architectural Styles
Architecture
Church bells--Singapore
Arts>>Architecture>>Religious buildings
Anglican church buildings--Singapore
Religious buildings