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Whittington chimes is the name of a clock chime melody, also called St. Mary's. The melody is usually the secondary chime selection for most chiming clocks, the first being the Westminster. It is also the one of the two clock chime melody that have multiple variation, the other being the Ave Maria chimes.
Dick Whittington story
The customary English theatre story, adapted from the life of the real Richard Whittington, is that the young boy Dick Whittington was an unhappy apprentice running away from his master, and heard the tune ringing from the bell tower of the church of St Mary-le-Bow in London in 1392. The penniless boy heard the bells seemingly saying to him "Turn again Dick Whittington". Dick returned to London upon hearing the bells, where he went on to find his fortune and became the Lord Mayor of London four times.
According to tradition, Whittington used the tune as a campaign song for his three returns to the office of mayor. A short version of the campaign song goes:
- Turn again Dick Whittington,
- Right Lord Mayor of London Town.
Chimes of St. Mary le Bow
The Whittington Chimes are less well known than the Westminster (Cambridge) chimes, despite being much older. The chimes are found in many early English bracket and longcase clocks. The melody was not given the name "Whittington Chimes" on domestic clocks until the late Victorian period onwards.
The bells in the tower of St. Mary le Bow all have inscriptions on them; the first letters of each inscription spell out:
- D W H I T T I N G T O N
Bawo & Dotter Chimes
One of the Whittington chime variation is also known as the Bawo & Dotter chimes, and is usually found on many older German movements such as early models of Junghans grandfather clocks. This version of the chimes is remarkably different and unique from the other three variations; only the first-quarter melody remains the same with the other variations.