Wednesday, 30 October 2013


Most churches have a clock on the tower but some church timepieces are a bit unusual.

A  Saxon  sundial

One of the greatest treasures of St Gregory’s Minster in Kirkdale near Kirkbymoorside in North Yorkshire, is its  Saxon  sundial,   situated over the doorway of this lovely old church.  It is marked with the 8 hours of the Saxon day and bears the inscription:  This is day’s Sun marker at every tide.


St Gregory's Minster



A  single  handed  clock


On the east face of the fine 15th century tower of St Michael’s church at Coningsby in Lincolnshire, is the largest  one handed clock in the world.  This brightly coloured dial measures 161/2 feet in diameter, and because of its size it is still possible to tell the time with reasonable accuracy despite it having only the one hand.   The pendulum is so long that it swings only once every two seconds and the weights are huge stone blocks.


Coningsby Church

 © Copyright Richard Croft and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
I am grateful for the use of Richard's Geograph photograph.




Extra  time


Time goes by at a leisurely pace in Old Brampton near Chesterfield in Derbyshire.  One of the reasons for this is probably due to the fact that the church clock has 63 minutes marked on it.   Perhaps the man who painted the clock face spent too much time at the George and Dragon opposite.

                                                                         Old Brampton church
Meanwhile the church clock of St Mary Magdelene at Whitgift in East Yorkshire bears Roman numerals to the value of 13-o-clock instead of the usual 12!  The explanation for this anomaly is that in 1919, when the present clock was installed, it was found that the hands failed to synchronise exactly with the figures on the dial.  Rather than remove the clock movement, it was decided to paint out the second 1 in the X11 originally gilded on the face, and to place another 1 further to the right.   In some obscure way this was expected to alleviate the problem.  The story continues, that the paint was said to be of such poor quality that the covered 1 began to show through again, thus filling the gap to produce X111.

Whitgift Church

The clock face has been replaced and still has the X11. The original is now presered inside the church.

The orginal clock face


A  Victorious  clock


One face of the church clock at Baslow in Derbyshire uses letters instead of the usual numbers, and reads :        VICTORIA  1897.
Baslow Church





The clock gives a message


A plaque below the clock on the tower of the church at Whixley in North Yorkshire reads: 


I serve thee here with all my might
And tell the hours by day and night

Therefore by example take by me

And serve thy God as I serve thee
Whixley Church


The  fifth  clock


All Saints church at Thornton Hough on the Wirral has the usual clock face on each side of the church tower.  However there is an additional smaller clock face on the eastern side.  After the local squire had built the church and indeed had the clock faces installed, he found that he couldn’t actually see the clock from his residence, Thornton House.  He soon remedied this by having the smaller clock face placed where he could see it, and all was well.

The copyright on this image is owned by E Pollock and is licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.
 I am grateful to E Pollock for the use of his photograph although the fifth clock is on the eastern face.

Small time


There is no clock on the tower of South Cliff Methodist Church at Scarborough, but by close inspection of the tower high up between two small windows on the front face, two small white discs can just be seen.  They are in fact two old pocket watches and despite the fact that there is no glass in them, the faces are still white and one of them still has some Roman numerals on it.   One story is that they belonged to two sisters, benefactors of the church, whilst another version is that they belonged to a husband and wife who were somehow involved in the building of the church in the 1880’s.  The fact is that nobody seems to know why the two watches were placed in such a position – it was undoubtedly impossible to tell the time from them from down below.

South Cliff Methodist Church


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