The Church Clocks
1917. The Caretakers of the Ancient and the Modern Clocks in the old Parish Church Steeple, in Town.
I wonder how long the clock has given the time to the inhabitants of Rushden, and to the strangers passing by?
I think the date of the first clock we know of would be about the year 1500. This, which was at Rushden, is now at Wimmington Church, and was put up at Wymington about 1735.The second clock from Rushden Church is now at Hargrave Church, and I suppose went there about the time the present one was put up by Gillitt and Bland.
About ten years ago I found embedded in the ground in the Churchyard a rough heavy stone with a strong iron ring set in it with lead. Mr Fisher told me it was an old clock weight, and no doubt belonged to one of the old church clocks, most likely to the first clock mentioned, I should say. This is now in safe keeping (in the organ). I do not think that clocks in churches are particularly old (although there are many exceptions). There is a very old one in Peterborough Cathedral. There may be many about 200 or 300 years old, but what I do say is this: One often finds that money has been left to the bells, but, as far as I am concerned, I have not met with mention of money being left to a clock. I saw a portion of the old clock in Shelton Church a few weeks ago, which seemed to be rather ancient. But to come to the point. The earliest mention I have found of a clock in Rushden Church is in
1813 (104 years ago) Jno. Packwood office at Church £4 10s., the ringing noon, 8 and 4 and clock attending.
1817 Dec: paid James Hewitt for attending the clock 8s.
1818 Mr Allen. Feb. 24 for seeing to clock 17s.
1818 Paid F. Mee’s bill, £4.4.7.
1819 Apr.22 Paid Mr Mee’s bill £2.8.4.
1819 Turnbull (dial), Sep. 30. bill for repairing dial. £2.16.6
1819 Pomeroy paid for do. £1.15
1820 Apr. 8. Paid Fra. Mee’s bill, £2.8.4.
1820 Nov. 7. Paid for Clock hammer 5s.
1827 Paid Fr. Mee for repairing the Church Clock 17s. 6d.
1837 Settled for attending Church Clock to Oct. 29.St. Luke. 13s. 6d.
Account of Francis Mee vary from the year 1819 to 1837 from £4.4.7 to 13s. 6d.
1838 Paid Hewitt to Saint Luke Oct. 29 do. £1.
1840-1 James Hewitt £1.10.0.
1848 Sept.4. Attending to Clock quarter year 5s.
1851 Jos. Packwood, attending to Clock £1
1851 Pettitt for painting Clock, £3.7.6
1851 Knight for carriage of do. 4s. and Mee helping to put up Clock 2s.
1851 Thos. Margetts for taking down and putting up do. 8s.
1852 Easter. J. Packwood for attending to Clock £1
1869 June 23. Harris, repair to Clockand assistant putting up the Clock ?
1871 Ap. 22 (from Easter 1870). Harris’s bill for Clock 10s.
1870 Ap. 20. Fisher’s bill 3s. 6d.
1871 Ap. 22. Fisher’s bill £2.11.3
1872 Easter. Fisher, Clock £2.10.0
1917 June 30. Mr Fisher retires after 47 years good service
1917 May 30. Mr William Ginns appointed, he takes office on July 1st
Mr Ginns having three sons, it may continue in the family for a century.
The present Clock and Chimes were made and put up by Messrs Gillott and Bland of Croydon in 1879. A view of the old dial was given in the “Argus” of July 21st 1916. The date upon it is 1868. John and Joseph Packwood were Clerks of the Parish. I think Joseph Packwood ceased attending to the Clock when Francis Mee commenced, although Packwood retained his other office. (Mr Fisher died this day, Friday, July 6th 1917, only 6 days after he retired from attending to Church Clock although he has been ill some time). James Hewitt is mentioned as Clockmaker in Rushden from 1817 to 1858 (41 years). His name is connected with the Church for 24 years. I believe Allen and Harris were watchmakers at Wellingborough. A Francis Mee was one of the Overseers of the Poor in 1730, so it must have been Francis Mee Junior who attended to the Clock from 1818 to 1837 (19 years). Turnbull (I fancy) was in business at Wellingborough. Pomeroy I know nothing of. Mr Fisher, of course, is a well known person, having attended to most of the principal clocks in the district for a great many years. May he live long yet. I quote two verses from a poem written on the old Church Clock in 1875 by an unknown author to me:
Why am I doomed to rust away in silence and neglect?
I ought to toll the hours of day in striking loud effect.
But now I’m hid from all the world in this dark dreary place,
I really think my lot is hard, too, in my case.
My Rushden friends who long to hear the tones so many like,
All know I never work so hard as when I am on strike.
But is I am to silence doomed, I’ll tell you very plain,
I hope soon, Squire and Parson both may be too late for train.
This account of mine appeared in the Rushden “Argus” June 12, 1917. Joseph Enos Smith, Organist Parish Church.
Since writing the latter account about the Church Clock I have found 3 very Ancient Stone Clock weights. Mr William Packwood, builder, who saw my account in the paper (“Argus”) told me that he had some old Clock weights, he shewed them to me, they were in his builders yard up the Newton Road opposite to his house, one was propping his gate open (leading into the yard), the other two were in the shed. Two of them were upright almost the shape of a loaf and are iron-stone with a ring at the top in each of them, the other was a white flat stone something in the shape of a cushion, with a hole in the centre where a rope (or chain) used to go through. He gave me this one and one of the ironstone, they are now (August 31, 1917) in my shop in Church Street. I want to arrange a “Museum” somewhere about the Church, over the N. Porch, or behind Pemberton’s Monument. Packwood took them out of the Church about 1866 during alterations or repairs.
Joseph Enos Smith, Organist