Behind the Scenes Tour Old North Church

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by zabelle on December 4, 2008

Offered on the hour every afternoon during the summer this is a 60-minute chance to see what regular visitors don’t have access to. Collin was our tour guide and he was enthusiastic and made our tour very enjoyable.

We took our granddaughter Amie with us and we wanted to give her a little history of Boston.

You purchase your tickets at the gift shop next door to the church. The cost is $8 for adult and $4 for children up to 16 years old. You met your guide in the St Francis Garden, which is right behind the store.

One thing you need to know before you even considering taking this tour is that it requires a lot of stair climbing, it is not handicap accessible and it takes a good bit of stamina to climb the steep and narrow stairs to the bell ringing room.

The first stop on the tour requires climbing one steep set of stairs. It is the gallery around the upper level of the church. It houses the organ as well as seating on both sides. These are basically the cheap seats. The wealthy members of the church would have paid to sit in the lower level. Servants, African Americans both freed and slaves and poor persons would have been seated in the gallery. Actually, you have a very nice view of the church from the gallery.

We would have gone to the bell ringing room next but the bell ringers were rehearing so instead we went to the crypt.

The first thing we visited in the crypt is a columbarium. They have dedicated a whole section of the crypt to the burial of ashes. We then headed into the bowels of the church, and bowels it is, if you are claustrophobic or germaphobic don’t go on this tour. This is not some romanticized crypt this is a low ceilinged, basement with cemented over crypts in the walls all the way around. Many of them are not marked. The reason they are cemented is to keep the bodies from being removed and replaced with new bodies.

Old North Church was not a Congregational Church it was an Anglican Church. It was the parish church of General Gage and it was from the tower here that he watched the battle of Bunker Hill play out. The tower was the highest spot in Boston at the time of the Revolution, which is also, why it was used to signal the riders.

The last stop on the tour was the bell ringer’s room. These are not song bells these are sound bells. There are eight bells of different sizes and sounds. It is up two very narrow, winding and steep staircases. Up is bad, down is even worse.

I highly recommend this tour for anyone who is interested enough in the Old North Church to want to do something beyond just sitting and listen to the 15-minute talk that happens in the regular body of the church.
Old North Church
193 Salem St
Boston, Massachusetts, 02113
+1 617 523-6676

© LP 2000-2009