Ticking clocks in the East

As we wind our clocks forward in the spring and back in the autumn, here are some ticking treasures that we look after at Anglesey Abbey, which has the largest collection of clocks in the East of England.

Clock on the mantlepiece

Did you know?

The word ‘clock’ comes from the Latin for ‘bell’ – ‘cloca’ – therefore only clocks with sounding mechanisms at set intervals of time are true clocks. A silent clock without striking mechanisms should really be referred to as a ‘timepiece’.

Running like clockwork

House Steward winding a wall clock forwards

Anglesey's ticking timepieces

64 clocks and timepieces need winding at Anglesey Abbey each time the clocks change. This task can take several hours, before they're all telling the right time.

House Steward setting the time on a clock

The clock is ticking

In total, the National Trust cares for some 4,000 clocks and timepieces, of which a quarter are kept in working order, telling the correct time.

Anglesey Abbey's clock collection
The pagoda clock at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire

Pagoda clock 

Anglesey Abbey has a 3ft pagoda-shaped clock with mechanical flowers that open when it chimes. Built in London by James Cox in the early 1770s, it was exported to Beijing before finding its way back to Anglesey Abbey, where Lord Fairhaven was rather a fan of clocks and went on to collect many more.

The mantel clock at Anglesey Abbey

Mantel clock 

A meticulous time keeper, Lord Fairhaven had a love of horology and collected one of the biggest clock collections now in the care of the National Trust. Another striking clock in his collection is this 8-day French striking mantel clock, which dates back to 1880 and has a bronze bull carrying the clock face.

Miniature clock on a desk at Anglesey Abbey

Miniature clock 

Even the smaller clocks in our collection are special, like this French miniature clock in a silver case. Standing on a small square malachite covered base, this clock is engraved with Lord Fairhaven’s name on the outside door.

Striking sunburst clock

Ormolu clock 

This lyre-shaped clock was made by the Frenchman, Ferdinand Berthold. It has a striking sunburst pendulum and is made of Ormolu, which is a term that’s been used since the 18th century, for the gilding technique of applying finely ground gold to a bronze object.

Explore our collections

The majority of objects in our care are recorded on our National Trust Collections website. You'll find many intriguing items to explore at places near you