Wells Cathedral clock mechanism given pride of place at Science Museum

August 18 2017
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A CLOCK mechanism from Wells which is one of the oldest clock mechanisms in the world, together with a clock used to make some of the world’s first urban climate studies, are being moved to prime new display positions at the Science Museum, London.

The redisplay of the Wells Cathedral clock mechanism and the barograph clock by Alexander Cumming will enable these two highly significant mechanisms to be seen in the wider context of the history of industrialisation.

The Wells mechanism is now one of the oldest in the world and a profoundly significant medieval British artefact. It is thought to have been constructed by the same makers as the clock at Salisbury Cathedral which, dating from 1386, is the oldest known surviving clock.

The Wells clock mechanism has been displayed in South Kensington since the late 19th century, when it was replaced at the Cathedral by a newer device. It was lent to the Science Museum by the Chapter of Wells Cathedral. Visitors to the museum will now able to observe more clearly than before the clock chiming the quarter hours and striking each hour as it has done for most of the last 600 years.

Canon Andrew Featherstone, Chancellor of Wells Cathedral, said: “Wells Cathedral clock’s original works are a true wonder of medieval craftsmanship. We are delighted that visitors to the Science Museum will now be able to better appreciate the clock’s unique mechanism in such a prominent new display. Visitors to the Cathedral are still able to admire the clock’s face with its unique dial representing a view of the universe, with sun and moon revolving round a central fixed earth, and jousting knights.”