Rufford Abbey bosses prepare to change historic clock tower

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With clocks going forward one hour this weekend to welcome British Summer Time, many people will be able to adjust their digital clocks at the touch of a button.

But staff at Rufford Abbey Country Park are preparing for the six-monthly visit up the historic abbey’s clock tower to manually alter the clock hand to display the correct time.

The clock has two faces and is located six storeys up and is accompanied by a bell which rings on the hour, It adorns the south end of the former stately home, and is accessed via a small wooden door, spiral staircase and wooden platform.

The clock’s mechanism is set on an old table platform made of large squared timber. Putting the clocks forward involves turning a small lever on a miniature clock dial 24 hours plus an extra hour. Putting the clocks back in the autumn, is somewhat more straight forward, as the pendulum can be stopped for one hour to allow the dial to adjust to the correct setting.

Paul Norton, Project Officer for Nottinghamshire County Council which manages Rufford Abbey Country Park, said: “We are privileged to have such a historic clock on the site and it is always of interest when we need to change the time. “In the 1800s, it did become more fashionable for clocks to appear in residential buildings, but the amount of private properties which owned their own clock and tower, especially in Nottinghamshire, would have been quite scarce. It certainly looks grand from the courtyard of the abbey.”

The clock was manufactured by John Thwaites of London in 1802 and features a birdcage style frame constructed from cast iron and bars, and also features various wheels and arbors and a time barrel. The striking action of the clock is controlled by a ‘rack and snail’ system.

Although the clock was made in 1802, it was only installed in the clock tower at the abbey sometime between 1837 and 1840. After the clock was renovated in 1997 by clock experts Haward Horological, the clock bell was able to be heard again, after many decades of silence.

Picture caption: Duncan Hancock, Nottinghamshire County Council country park ranger in the clock tower at Rufford Abbey, with a second image showing the clock.