[Bell Historians] French clocks.

Frank King Frank.King at 3HTh8fwOk7pH3RRHybVWCH83nu28DmK0Nhlw2V0vhzkMRh7nuK43Tg1RcS_G1mJ8vPmPcI8ZIbLaOBm3VRps2Ddq.yahoo.invalid
Tue Oct 30 08:17:42 GMT 2007

> Why is it that some French clocks strike the
> hour twice?

I don't think there is anything special about
the clocks being French.  Clocks that strike
twice are not common but are not confined to

A well-known English example is the clock of
Great Court in Trinity College, Cambridge.
This is well known because of the associated
challenge: Can you run round Great Court in
less time than it takes the clock to chime
and strike 12?  You are allowed to include
both lots of striking.

[I tried it at midnight once with two other
ringers.  I came second, about two yards
behind the winner who was about 30 yards
short of completing the run on the last
stroke of the second lot of 12.]

The explanation for the this clock striking
twice relates to one of the many livings that
Trinity is responsible for.  The relevant
Church has a clock that Trinity took as the
model for its own clock.  In perpetual
acknowledgement of this, the Trinity clock
strikes ones for Trinity and once for the
other Church.

The Trinity clock has four trains.  As well
as the going train and the chiming train there
are two separate striking trains.  This means
four lots of weights to wind and the winding
is still done by hand twice a week.  One of
the College Engineering Fellows is entrusted
with this task.

In Italy, many clocks strike after each quarter
so you know which hour you are in.  Such clocks
therefore strike four times each hour.

I suspect that there are almost as many
explanations for clocks striking more than
once per hour as there are such clocks.  The
Town Hall clock in Bristol has two long hands,
one for indicating Bristol time and one for
indicating new-fangled Railway Time.  I don't
know whether the clock strikes twice but that
would be another possible excuse.

Frank H. King
The University Bellringer
Cambridge, U.K.


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