If only clockmakers could turn back time…


A good time is often had by all our visitors, but not many of them love our clocks chiming day and night, giving them a hard time sleeping. We, on the other hand, absolutely love the sound of the chimes. Even in our bedroom we have one chiming.

The love for clocks is shared by both of us and my husband was raised with them, initiated in the art and mystery of clock making, as his father was a clockmaker. In the old days sons frequently followed their father in his particular trade or profession, my husband followed his dad’s hobby, becoming a mechanical watch / clock making expert. When my husband’s father died, he had over ten thousand pounds worth of clocks laying around. Most of them were sold to dealers and the money given to his wife.


This is the time to write about clocks, as here in Europe the old saying “Fall back and spring forward”, will help us to remember to change our clocks correctly for wintertime. Sleep lovers will be rewarded, as time is on their side, clocks go back, giving them an hour extra in bed! Many others will moan, as changing the clocks in autumn, will make evenings darker earlier!


The main picture of this post shows the first clock he ever made: his best clock ever made, according to my husband. When the clocks went back, my husband’s father was very busy because people weren’t supposed to rewind old clocks by moving the hands. It disrupts the chiming on the clock, so he had to go round and sort out all the clocks people messed up by turning them backwards.

So if you have an old clock, here is how to change time on it and not ruin your clock:

  • Fall back: Biggest mistakes happen then! All you have to do is: stop your clock for an hour (stop the pendulum swinging for an hour) and then start it up again by gently swinging the pendulum. You’ve done it ok then.
  • Spring forward: You can wind the hands forward, but if it is a chiming clock: you have to stop it at every quarter to let it chime. That’s the right way to do it and not damage the clock at all!


When my husband’s father retired, he started clockmaking, as he loved messing about with clocks. He used to do watches, but they became too small for his eyesight, so old clocks, grandfather’s clocks became his real hobby. His wife helped him doing the cases or making the wood finials for them and gluing them to the cases. As a real cabinetmaker, he engraved his name on the clock dial (clock blade), claiming credit for the completed clock. Mind you, being a member of the British Horological Institute, he had to show off quality of workmanship, pass tests, whenever they came to inspect his work.

The following picture shows a clockface made by my husband, all painted in off white and Indian ink:


It was only a matter of time before he taught my husband the mystery of clock making ( the Latin word “ministerium” means craft), clock restoration, maintenance: how to take apart a clock and put it together again, clean them and mend them. Just as his father, he liked doing it, a bit of woodwork, a bit of metal work and technical drawing. Hopefully this knowledge will never get lost in the mists of time!


Nineteenth century grandfather clocks are the tall-case clocks. Grandfather’s clocks were produced in bigger quantities and were more cheaply then any other after 1800, thus becoming more affordable to more people.


My dad gave me his old pocket watch, another heirloom treasure in my house, avoiding me to race against time.

Did you know that in England, the clock in Big Ben, in the Houses of Parliament, is driven by weights. Amazingly the weights are old English pennies. If you want to see old surviving clocks in France, Rouen is the place to be. The clock there dates from 1389, striking the hours with a mechanism for chiming on the quarter hour. Allow the error in time, measuring for about half an hour per day. The word “clock” actually comes from the French word “cloche” (bell).

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) was the first reported person to wear a watch, attached with a piece of string to his wrist. It was Monsieur Passemont, a French clockmaker, who in 1746 made a clock, which was the first in the world to take account of a new millennium, having dials that revealed the date of the month in any year up to 9999. It was purchased by Louis XV in 1749 and you can still see it ticking away in the palace of Versailles nowadays! The clock is adjusted by hand as it loses a minute a month.


If you could turn back time… what would you do or change? Then again my husband always says: “If ifs and ands, where pots and pans, we would all be tinkers” or ” If wishes were fishes, we would all be fishermen”.

“Reaching for the stars to give them all to you! Enjoy the song I found on You Tube and the beautiful picture ( although the spelling could be better, but I can’t change that) !

But also keeping time, so aware it’s time to call it a day, hoping you don’t think about time too! Catch me later


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *