October - Time and the Myddeltons...
Chirk Castle has clearly stood the test of time, and its timepieces have stood the test of many generations. Walk through the State Rooms and the silence is broken only by the steady, reassuring tick of a long case clock; both cafe and Servants’ Hall are watched over by the broad faces of ‘Parliament’ clocks, and the courtyard is overlooked by a square-faced, eighteenth century clock which has witnessed countless seasons.
On your visit, look out for the following, and take time to reflect not only on their longevity as efficient, working pieces, but on the skill of the long-forgotten craftsmen who created them.
Probably the most noticeable clock at Chirk Castle is the eight-day striking fixed turret clock in the courtyard, dated to around 1750 - unusually the date ‘1609’ on the face does not refer to the clock’s age!
The Dining Room boasts a fourteen-day, striking Louis XV boulle bracket clock, with ‘Charles Balthazar, Paris’ emblazoned on the centre panel. Dated 1750, this still has its original French escapement.
Enter the Saloon and see, positioned on the mantelpiece, a matching serpentine wooden stand and eight-day striking French ormolu mantel clock, by Boursier Junior, dated c. 1860: decorated with trophies and musical instruments, the case is inlaid with Sevres-pattern porcelain panels of flowers and cherubs. Unfortuntely, the glass dome is missing from this lovely piece, but the white enamel dial is inscribed ‘Elve. De Lepaute A Paris’.
Two further mantel clocks may be seen as you pass through the Drawing Room: one is of delicate rococo porcelain with ormolu mounts and with an urn finial, dated 1890 – 99, and the other is a French, eight-day striking piece, with blue porcelain case decoration with white and gilt panels. This is dated slightly earlier, to about 1870.
The Kitchen and the Servants’ Hall contain two ‘Act of Parliament’ clocks, designed so all could see the time without being taxed for the privilege: the Servants’ Hall clock is dated 1763, with a square dial, numerals and pierced brass hands.
The Kitchen clock has an eight-day movement, and is signed by Samuel Phillips of Oswestry, 1780 – it has a round, stained-pine dial with lacquered brass hands, and a mahogany case.
One of the oldest time-pieces at the castle is also one of the smallest: on loan from the family of Mr Albert Unwin, House Carpenter to Lord Howard de Walden, we have a pocket watch dated 1727. We are particularly proud of this piece, which was once owned by a Chirk Castle veteran of the First World War.