The Oldest Working Mechanical Clock

Posted on April 13, 2014 by Gary Carruthers

The Cathedral, Salisbury, 12th April 2014

Completed in 1258, Salisbury Cathedral is one of the oldest surviving church buildings in England, and an excellent example of the Early English Gothic style.  In the corner, largely unnoticed by most visitors, is what looks like a Turner-prizewinning piece of abstract sculpture.  (First picture below)

But it isn't.  Dating from 1386, it is the oldest working mechanical timepiece in the world.  The verge and foliot mechanism ticks every 4 seconds.  Or should do - it was running a bit slow when I inspected it.  It was made before clock dials were in widespread use, so it only discloses time as an hourly chime, via a bell in the eaves.  (Second picture.) 

Those were the days - when milliseconds didn't matter.

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