Keeping Time

The house closed to the general public at the start of October, which means the conservation work has begun for the house team. A lot of what happens when our doors are closed is conservation work: we no longer need to turn on lights or open shutters, both of which contribute towards UV & light damage, and there is much less footfall on our rugs and floors, meaning the house and its collections get a much-needed rest. Before that can happen though, we have to clean, cover and check everything, as well as carry out any conversation work.

Earlier in October, we welcomed horologist (clock specialist) Duncan Greig to Godinton. Winding the clocks is one of the intern’s jobs, and given Godinton has eight clocks in its showrooms alone, there’s quite a bit of work involved. Even in my short time here so far, I have become increasingly familiar with the quirks of each clock as it is wound: some of them can be quite temperamental and several are quite fragile.

Duncan’s visit meant some of the less-reliable clocks were finally repaired and adjusted, and most importantly, in his last visit, he took apart our Louis XV gilt ormolu clock, which hangs in the Gallery. Firstly, the base of the clock was attached more firmly to the wall as the clock is remarkably heavy! Secondly, the whole clock was taken apart. Whilst Duncan sorted out the mechanism, Sally and I cleaned the exteriors – the gilt, the lacquer and the glass – removing quite a few years build-up of dirt, dust and grime in the process! Whilst the clock itself was French, made by a Parisian clockmaker, various parts of it had been replaced in the English style, suggesting the clock has an interesting history. This was bolstered by the fact that we also found some faint markings/stamps on the clock’s woodwork – hopefully we will be able to decipher them at some point…

Duncan eventually reassembled the newly cleaned, much more accurate clock, and much to our delight, it looks (and works!) much better. We’re looking forward to welcoming Duncan back in November to continue working on our clocks, and very much looking forward to having them all striking in unison once more!