Restoring Time for the Millennium

From the 2000 Newsletter

The passing of time is very much in the forefront as we enter the new millennium, so it is very fitting that the Lantern clock in The Bidwell House Museum collection be put back in working order. Thanks to the generosity of museum member and antique clock restorer, Bob Schneider, we have done just that.

The c 1745 Brass Lantern clock was made in Lavenham, England and attributed to a clock maker named Thomas Watts.  It graces the south wall of the dining room.  Since it has been restored, the movement of the pendulum and the lovely sound of its chimes bring life into the room and has delighted many visitors.  These chimes ring on the hour and require winding every 24 hours. The clock sports a minute hand as well.  Early versions had only an hour hand.  The addition of motion-work to allow the fitting of a minute hand usually came later. The Lantern clock (also referred to as ‘Cromwellian’, ‘bedpost’ or ‘birdcage’ clock) appeared in England around 1600 and was the first English clock style to be produced in any numbers.

The clock is seen on the wall of the dining room between the windows

These early clocks were made by. blacksmiths or locksmiths. The trade of clockmaker was new and not yet developed sufficiently for recognition in its own right.  This came about in the summer of 1631 when Charles I granted a charter of incorporation to a group of London clockmakers.

The popularity of Lantern clocks continued through the 18th century, even as the tall case or grandfather clock as well as the spring driven table or bracket clock were developed.  Actually, Lantern clocks were produced through the Victorian era.