Wymondham Abbey tower clock
This turret clock was made in 1724 by
Richard Page of Norwich and installed in
the west tower of the church. For over 200
years its mechanism struck the hours on a
bell housed under a small cupola on top of
the tower. There was never an external
clock face. The small dial you see on the
mechanism helped the man who wound the
clock to regulate the time accurately. The
brass plaques record dates when the clock
was repaired. It has not worked for over
sixty years and was removed in 1967.
The clock is known as a 'side by side birdcage'
mechanism, made of wrought iron in a wooden
frame. We do not know its exact position, as the
last person to operate it is no longer alive. The
illustration explains how the mechanism worked.
It was powered by two heavy stone weights.
Winding it was a very hard job, not least climbing
many steep steps up the tower. The original
pendulum was over two metres long and
swung every one-and-a-half seconds.
In the days before most people had accurate
watches, local people depended on this clock
to know the time. Until the invention of the
telegraph and the coming of the railways in the
1840s, time was not standardised throughout
England. Wymondham time was therefore some
minutes earlier than, say, the time in Plymouth.
Wymondham Abbey is one of the grandest religious buildings in East Anglia. It’s a magnificent Norman church established in 1107 as part of a monastic foundation. It was later enlarged and embellished with a particularly fine angel roof. The famous gilded altar screen by Ninian Comper is among its many splendours. The unusual twin towers are a prominent local landmark.
But its more than an ancient treasure chest. It’s an active and lively parish church, with services every day and plenty of events and activities throughout the year.
The Abbey is open almost every day of the year with stewards on duty and a well-stocked shop on site. There are new Lottery-funded Abbey Experience displays.
We arrived by train at Wymondham Abbey Station from Dereham and were met by our guides who gave us a short talk while we had refreshments follows by a very interesting and informative tour of the Abbey.