Our Grandfather Clock

Time waits for no man … or woman. The grandfather clock in my parent’s house stood in the corner of the dining room from the time of their marriage. This antique clock was a bargain at the purchase price of £5 at an auction when they first set up home and nearly 60 years later the grandfather clock is still a much loved part of the family. When they bought it, it was a pile of pieces on the floor of the auction house but my father did some clock repair on it and managed to get it working. I remember using the gap behind the grandfather clock for hide and seek (until I grew too big) and hiding my grandmother’s handbag in the case so she couldn’t go home one day! The gentle tick tock has been a comfort on many occasions, particularly on sleepless nights, the unmistakable grandfather clock chime letting me know the time without having to disturb anyone else. Children and grandchildren have all peeked inside to watch the pendulum swing or to watch Grandad going through the ceremony of winding the weights up each week at precisely 7.25 am on a Sunday. This was the only time in the morning he could fit the key into both the keyholes on the face because only then were the grandfather clock hands in the right place!

The grandfather clock has had its moments though! The mechanism has become temperamental with age and has undergone clock repair a number of times. When my parents moved 20 years’ ago, the grandfather clock went with them and they decided to have it cleaned and refurbished. The specialist who came to see it was intrigued because the case was a ‘modern’ one (remember this is an antique clock and probably means early 20th century). He was interested enough to take a photograph of the movement and send it to the British Museum. The response from the British Museum was a real surprise. Our much loved grandfather clock really wasn’t a grandfather clock at all! It had started off life as a wall clock, but it must have been a very large one.

The maker of our grandfather clock was a Dutchman called A. Fromanteel although we are not sure which one, the father Ahasuerus who came to England in 1620 and developed the pendulum clock in 1658 or Abraham, it certainly has a much finer pedigree than we do! From very scanty research on the internet we have found out that the Fromanteel family were innovators and were the first to produce a clock that was accurate and not affected by the weather. Each clock that they built had some new feature on it. Our own grandfather clock has a pillar movement although I know that the date feature no longer works.

Has this information made a difference to us? No. To us it is still the grandfather clock of our childhood, a comforting reminder of happy memories and life and time moving on.

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