Carillon dedicated to the memory of Leonidas Polk


Legacies Classification
Memorial Object
Memorial Type
Memorialized Subject
Carillon dedicated to the memory of Leonidas Polk
Background and Context
To celebrate the centennial of the University of the South in 1958-1959, devoted Sewanee alumnus William Dudley Gale, III, gave a magnificent carillon in honor of his great-grandfather, Leonidas Polk, who was first Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana (1841) and key founder of the University (1858). Born in Nashville, Gale received his BA from Sewanee in 1920. He was an insurance executive and a longtime and influential member of the University’s governing Board of Regents. He was a generous benefactor of the University, anonymously giving numerous scholarships to Sewanee students and his largest bequest, the carillon. “Sewanee,” he explained, “is the ideal place for bells.”

The memorial plaque at the base of All Saints’ Chapel’s soaring Shapard Tower, from where it rings out, includes a critical element that explicitly links Polk, the University of the South, and the southern Episcopal Church in the glorification of the Lost Cause and the defiance of contemporary challenges to the Jim Crow order of the South. The plaque honors “Bishop-General Leonidas Polk,” joining his service to God and the Episcopal church with his military service to the Confederacy. It underscores his religious devotion and military valor and omits his enslavement of hundreds and going to war in defense of slavery. In this way, the memorial says more about the racial politics of the 1950s than it does about the career of Polk the bishop, Confederate general, and enslaver.

The carillon consists of fifty-six bells.
Physical Description
Located in Shaphard Tower, which is part of All Saints' Chapel. There are fifty-six bells that altogether weigh approximately twenty-three tons and cost $65,000 at the time of donation. Eighteen of the fifty-six bells are inscribed to honor both members of Gale’s family and the "Holy Family." The bells were cast in France by Arthur Lynds Bigelow, and he supervised the installation of each individual bell.
Memorial Inscription
To glorify God, to Bishop-General Leonidas Polk and to Sewanee, my alma mater this carillon is dedicated
William Dudley Gale III, Class of 1920
Creator/Participating Person(s)
Bigelow, Arthur
Date created, installed or dedicated
12 April 1959
Funded by
Gale, William Dudley, III
Location: Institution, City, State

Position: 693 (8 views)