Sunday, February 6, 2022

Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire

Past times

Here in the UK as the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne is being marked, I thought perhaps, as I do like a public clock, it was time to post this timepiece commemorating a past jubilee. Nowadays public clocks are almost superfluous – we all carry time around with us, displayed on watches,* mobile phones, and so on, and rarely have to look up to find out what time it is when we’re walking along the street. But such features as Victorian or early-20th century clocks, if of little practical use to most people, can be something that makes an old building special, and they can be highly informative about past times and values.

So here’s a clock of 1897, on the Tolsey, a former market building, in the Gloucestershire town of Wotton-under-Edge. The clock was installed to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. Its clear faces with Roman numerals are looking good after a restoration in 2015, and the gilded scrolls, fleurs de lys, and dates, not to mention the portrait of the queen herself and the flags with which the clock is surmounted, are still standing proud and catching the eye.

In its symbols, traditional face, and use of gilding, this clock is as typical of its era as an angular, monochrome timepiece would be of the Art Deco period, or a smart watch is today. It’s unlikely that a rash of clocks will appear on our streets to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee. But I hope those who are keen to mark such events can think of something as beautiful, useful and well made as this clock was when it was bolted on to the brick upper wall of the Tolsey in 1897.

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* Men’s pocket watches were first mass produced in the second quarter of the 19th century; wrist watches, at first worn almost exclusively by women, were produced in quantity at around the same time or slightly later. Widespread wrist watch-wearing by men began in the military and became generally common after World War I.

1 comment:

bazza said...

Clocks that could move like the one mentioned in Act 2, Scene 1 of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, had not yet been invented. Cassius tells the other conspirators that the clock struck three. Of course, this anachronism may have been intentionally included as humour or even as reference to striking an attack for dramatic effect!
I do love a public clock - and I also enjoy an anachronism...
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s frightfully feckless Blog ‘To Discover Ice’