Lloyd’s Lutine Bell

“Chip, is there just a good luck angel that is amused by you and sits on your shoulder?” Someone very close to me once told me that a long time ago. While preparing this blog post about my visit to the Lutine Bell at Lloyd’s yesterday, I thought about her words.

My thoughts about the past criticism of my luck were caused by an article, The Historic London Bell That’s Off Limits To The Public:

There are only two ways for the public to see the Lutine Bell stationed in pride of place in Lloyd’s underwriting room: hoping that Lloyd’s takes part in the next Open House London, or if you know someone who works there, they can arrange private tours. Otherwise, you’re sadly out of luck when it comes to getting a glimpse of this piece of nautical history.

. . . .

The bell began life on French naval frigate La Lutine, which was captured by the British at Toulon in 1793. The ship was consequently renamed HMS Lutine and sailed under the British flag for six years as a battle ship and then as a transport ship until its final voyage to Germany in 1799.

On 9 October 1799, HMS Lutine was transporting a vast sum of gold and silver insured at Lloyd’s and bound for Hamburg, when the ship was blown onto Dutch sandbanks and wrecked. Of the 240-strong crew, only one survived, and the entirety of the ship’s cargo was lost. It was a huge blow for Lloyd’s financially, but it also cemented the company’s reputation for settling even the most incredible losses.

Many attempts were made to recover the cargo with limited success, but in 1858 the bell was recovered from an entanglement of chains and eventually came to be hung in Lloyd’s underwriting room in the Royal Exchange. When Lloyd’s moved to Leadenhall Street, and then to Lime Street where it is today, the bell moved with it.

The bell had a very important purpose at Lloyd’s. When overdue ships came in safely, the bell was rung twice to sighs of relief from the underwriters. If a ship was lost, the bell would ring once. This way, everyone knew the fate of the ship and the cargo they had insured at the same time.

So, just to see this bell is something fortunate. To my way of thinking, if a lucky angel were really on my shoulder, the two of us would have found the gold and silver on the sunken Lutine. My lucky shoulder riding friend and I would take that treasure and make more in Monaco.

But if you look at it another way, I am glad that none of the boats I have sailed had a bell rung for them. So, maybe that angel needs a little more love from yours truly.

Thought For The Day

My own luck has been curious all my literary life; I never could tell a lie that anyone would doubt, nor a truth that anybody would believe.
—Mark Twain
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