All GP grandfather clocks now working

05 Dec 2017

Jo Rayner winding Simon de Charmes clock

For the first time, every grandfather clock in the important Gershom Parkington bequest is now in working order and on display at Moyses Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council is trustee of the collection, (valued at £8 to £10 million)which was bequeathed to the borough by Frederick Gershom Parkington in 1953 in memorial to his son John, killed in the desert campaigns of World War Two.

Heritage Officer Alex McWhirter explains

"Our ambition is to display all that is possible from the Gershom-Parkington bequest. Some of the collection is just parts and there are also timepieces that have not worked, possibly since they were first acquired. We are using these pieces and the generous bequest to bring as much as possible back to life. We have spent a little shy of £4000 on the challenging task of restoring the remaining three GP long case clocks with the result that every long case clock is now working and on display for public enjoyment and research".

One of the clocks is the heavily engraved Daniel Johnson long case, the collection’s earliest example of a quarter striking long case, dating from the last quarter of the 17th Century.

Considerable works were also undertaken to restore the De Charmes long case. Simon De Charmes was a Huguenot refugee who became a very eminent clockmaker (the Museum of London has a watch). He was so successful that he built himself a Hall in Hammersmith known as Grove Hall, allegedly where the name Hammersmith Grove comes from. The paperwork suggests that when this example was bought it was little more than a case and a movement, and probably acquired with the intention of restoring such an eminent example. The work undertaken meant a pendulum had to be made and two weights also had to be made.

The long case clocks have now joined all of the Augsburg clocks, bracket clocks, watches and dials on display.

Cllr Jo Rayner, Cabinet member for Leisure and Heritage at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said,

"The borough has an extensive collection which is actively restored and conserved by the Museums Accredited Heritage Service for the benefit of the public. I’m very pleased that people have the opportunity to see and enjoy the treasures we have.”


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