The Swaying Pendulum of Sound

While the rich revolutionary history of King’s Chapel is often spotlighted, few visitors ever encounter the interesting architectural finds within the 257-year-old building. Seek them out as they make for great discoveries while on tour.

From the beginning, the present building made architectural history. It was the first granite structure in the colonies. To preserve the church’s claim to the property, the present building was constructed around the first wooden church, and after completion the wooden church was removed through the windows of the present building.

Inside the church, the pulpit and internal rows of pews hail from the original building. Each pew is unique to its owner, constructed specifically for the family that occupied it. Visitors can ask our guides to demonstrate some specialties, including hidden bookshelves and smugglers boxes! But one of the most dominating features of the church is the sounding board, installed over the pulpit in 1838.

A sounding board is the very large, flat-bottomed, ornate and mysterious-looking structure hanging precariously like a suspended lid over the pulpit in historic churches. It is not, as some have called it, a “preacher snuffer!” Before the technology of the microphone, sounding boards were acoustical instruments, bouncing the minister’s voice to the very back of the church. Until recently In King’s Chapel, the only item holding up the massive sounding board was a small iron pin, no bigger than an iPhone. This is probably why our ministers only spend about 15 minutes of the service under this swaying pendulum of sound!

Sounding Board Over Pulpit in King’s Chapel Credit: King’s Chapel Freedom Trail Program

Sounding Board Over Pulpit in King’s Chapel
Credit: King’s Chapel Freedom Trail Program