The upper levels of the tower urgently need repair!
Join us in Taking Back Time next Spring. Help us restore them, with the unique Benjamin Vulliamy clock faces and mechanism, bringing time and heritage back to life at St. Barts.
Saving and preserving this wonderful landmark for the future.
Chris McKay, Author of the Turret Clock Keeper’s Handbook, says that our clock, which was designed and installed in 1833 by by Benjamin Vulliamy, is “quite unique”.
The Vuliamy family was one of the most important London clockmakers for a century from 1750 to 1850, making clocks for successive monarchs. Benjamin Lewis (1780-1854), our architect’s brother, was elected Master of the Clockmaker’s Company five times between 1821 an 1847, and was clockmaker to King George IV, King William IV and Queen Victoria. Lewis supplied clocks to many government offices and royal palaces, but the firm also made a variety of beautiful range of timepieces and clocks for private houses.
The two clock faces are the original slate dials, mounted to the tower when installed with the movement. Mechanically, the clock is in very good condition, except for surface corrosion to both iron and brass work, so restoration and re-instatement should be straightforward.
We removed the clock faces some time ago as they had become dangerously unsafe. From May 2019 we intend to:
- Restore the upper levels of the tower, internal and external, together with repairs to nave roof parapets, and dormer entrances. Install electricity and LED lighting within the upper levels. Dismantle the clock mechanism, along with dial motion, bell hammer & cranks, and display them to the public in a temporary case.
- Remove the slate clock faces for conservation.
- Install the conserved slate clock faces.
If sufficient funding is in place we will at the same time:Conserve the clock mechanism and original casing (fixed within the tower) and, after public display, re-connect it to the clock faces (with automatic winding with battery back up, plus webcam).Consult with the local community about re-instating (limited) use of the chimes.Install an additional access ladder from Nave to Chancel roofs.
We will hold a series of events and lecture etc around the displayed clock mechanism and plan to develop a school project with teacher resources, freely available through our website. Because of the rarity of the clock mechanism our preferred contractor will offer an apprentice the opportunity of working on the project.
TAKING BACK TIME is one phase of a long restoration process and we have recently completed urgent work on the roofs and drainage of the Sacristy (Vicar’s Vestry) and Choir Vestry with help from the Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund.
In the future we plan to:
- Restore lower level masonry, timber and windows
- Restore the under-used and dingy crypt, making it accessible for real community use.
- Access: this project improves access between high tower levels, but reaching that point is still very difficult. We want to re-instate full internal access using old, lost, features and creating new ones to improve our ability to monitor and maintain this wonderful building for future generations to come.