The first clock was of course the sun, and the position of the stars in the night sky.
The first recorded mention of the sun dial was in 742 BC. There is, however, evidence of use of the sun dial as early as 2,000 BC! The carved stone on the left (bring your own stick) is from the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland.
By 330 AD Sand glasses were thought to be in use, the example I have shown is from 1830, as the hand-blown glass was very fragile, and few survived. These used to be made in different sizes to measure different amounts of time.Some could be large enough to stand on the ground and require servants to lift and turn them.
Candles with the wax scored to mark the time were widely used in poorer households who could not afford a sandglass, or sometimes candles fixed to a marked plate as in the example on the left. There is evidence that Alfred the Great used a candle clock in 885AD.
In 1490 the mainspring was invented by Peter Hele, or Henlein, a locksmith of Nuremburg. About this time the small domestic, or table clock made its appearance, but these were expensive items and the previous more homespun methods of measuring the time continued to be used by most people.
Here is a fabulous example from www.metmuseum.org. Made as a 'masterpiece', (a requirement for admission to the guild of master clockmakers in Augsburg,) this clock strikes the hours and quarters and displays no less than three systems of counting hours: French hours (I–XII), Italian hours (1–24, beginning at sundown), and Nuremberg hours (divided into daylight and night hours, which vary in number according to the season of the year). Complex!
In 1541 an astronomical clock was fixed in one of the towers of Hampton Court Palace.
By 1610 Glass was able to be moulded to form as a protective cover for watch dials.
In 1657 Christiaan Huygens, a Dutch Physicist, made the first pendulum controlled clock, and grandfather clocks began to make their appearance in wealthier homes. The two kinds of movements are 30-hour and eight day, which indicates how long before the clock has to be wound with a key. The melody, bell, chime or gong sounds on the hour in the eight-day clocks and on the hour and half hour in the 30-hour clocks.
1765 The centre Second hand became common. Here is a lovely '8 Day' mahogany long-case clock dated around 1835 with a decorated arch dial. Often the painted dials depicted mythological scenes, or the four seasons.
Around the middle of the 1800s, the spring-powered movement developed, paving the way for a variety of smaller clock cases. Many different materials were used in clocks. Wood was popular, including mahogany, oak, pine, walnut, and cherry.
1858 The British Horological Institute was founded - an association of Clock and Watch Makers for the purpose of advancing their art, and "The Horological Journal," the oldest periodical dealing with the craft, was started.
1880 Greenwich Mean Time became the standard time for the whole of the United Kingdom.
Oh my word! Is that the time? Two thousand years has gone by and I hardly noticed. Must get on with some writing!
And just in case you're interested in the English Civil War, orchids, obsession, adventure and romance, here's my book, The Lady's Slipper - out now, and featuring the turning of many sandglasses, the occasional church chime and the loud tick of a pendulum clock.
Amazon have just reduced it on Kindle - whoot!
'Rich and haunting' Reading the Past
'Riveting narrative' For the Love of Books
'Highly Recommended' Historical Novels Review
'Top Pick!'RT Book Reviews'
'Great read for lovers of sweeping historical fiction!' Night Owl Reviews
'Utterly captivating' Karen Maitland, author of The Owl Killers
Thanks for Reading - Deborah x