Clocks, sundials and bells – Feature Fridays

November 27 2020 | Castle Garden History

Clocks, sundials and bells is the theme for this week’s #FeatureFridays with Historic Houses.

Located in the Inner Hall, visitors can see a replica of the original clock reputed to have been given by Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn on the morning of their marriage in 1532.

The original clock is said to have been given to Horace Walpole by Lady Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Germain and placed in his collection of curiosities in the Library at Strawberry Hill, c.1747-95.

It was then bought by the Keeper of the National Gallery for Queen Victoria at the sale of Horace Walpole’s collection in 1842. It was subsequently put on display in the ‘Panel Room’ at Windsor Castle.

The original clock remains in the Royal Collection and is a wall hung clock mounted on a gilt metal bracket and with a glass dome. The top is pierced with foliage and scrolls containing the bell, surmounted by a leopard holding a shield with the Royal coat of arms and Garter.

Hever Castle’s replica clock is also featured in the film Anne of the Thousand Days. It was loaned by former owner William Waldorf Astor to the production company for Henry’s desk in a scene where he signs Anne’s death warrant.

The first domestic clocks, in the early 15th century, are miniature versions of cathedral clocks – powered by hanging weights, regulated by escapements with a foliot (primitive balance wheel), and showing the time by means of a single hand working its way round a 12-hour circuit on the clock’s face. By the middle of the 15th century the spring-driven mechanism had been developed.

Hever Castle has one sundial in the grounds, in the Tudor Chess Set garden which is situated in the Tudor Garden. It is an armillary sphere sundial dating back to 1710.

This astronomical instrument was used to measure the altitude of the sun, moon and stars from which it was possible to estimate the time and latitude.

The sundial is also featured in Anne of the Thousand Days. It is very similar to the astrolabe (time piece) that Anne drew in the Le Temps Viendra Book of Hours on display in the Castle.

The only bell on the estate is the one hanging outside the Astor Wing, the Edwardian extension to the Castle which is now a luxury 5* bed and breakfast. It was the original Astor Wing Fire Bell.

If you enjoyed this item on clocks, sundials and bells, then why not discover the previous #FeatureFridays news items:
Stained glass
Weddings and betrothals
Herb gardens
Armour and costumes
Musical instruments
Secret passageways
American Connections
Priest Holes