21 December 2012
Ages ago, I saw a programme on Granada TV about Chatsworth and was impressed by everything I saw, but I particularly remember a shot of the house clock winder walking down a long corridor with a large ring of clock keys jangling from a ring. I was slightly surprised that such a house, especially a very large one where a lot of people already worked, needed a clock winder as well.
When we had restored all the clocks (26 in all, excluding the Turret clock described earlier) at Eastnor, I was confident that our house team would be able to do the job or that I could fill in when they were not available. For some of the time, it worked all right. There was a soothing tick-tock in the rooms where the clocks were, and when they reached the hour, there was a satisfying cascade of bells, perfect synchronisation obviously not being possible.
But as our business grew, I noticed that the winding job, quite rightly, was not being given priority over the needs of customers and visitors. Clocks stopped, and sometimes, annoyingly, eleven hours behind the correct time, so it took a while to wind them forward. Going away for an hour to avoid the chore often led to the job being forgotten.
I then accepted that a clock winder was necessary after all. We placed an advertisement in the window of the jewellery shop in Ledbury, Gaynans where Peter Judge, the owner and resident clock and watch repairer, told me he had started his career winding clocks in a big house in Cheshire, so he knew what we needed. There was not an overwhelming response, but luckily Chris Powell, an excellent clock repairer with a workshop on the estate, said he would do it, probably, he said, because he did not want anyone else to.
He started work in the spring, and it has gone very well as he is monitoring performance and making adjustments as he goes along. The image shows Chris at work in the Gothic drawing Room. I hope our guests observe that all our clocks are running as I certainly do.
JH-B 21st December 2012