Tavern clock

A round-dial tavern clock by George Bennett of Greenwich. The black-painted wood case has a 736.6 mm black-painted dial with gilt figures. The case is 1397 mm high. It incorporates an eight-day timepiece movement driven by a falling weight and controlled by a pendulum and anchor escapement.

Tavern clocks such as this, with their large dials, were commonly installed in taverns, coaching inns and other publicly accessible places, giving travellers access to the right time or allowing them to set their watches. They were also often seen 'below stairs' in great houses.

Many date the invention of the tavern clock to 1797, when William Pitt the Younger imposed a heavy tax on timekeepers. In response, it is said that tavern-keepers commissioned clocks like this one to accommodate public need. Tavern clocks are therefore often known as 'Act of Parliament' clocks.

However, this type of clock existed from the 1720s and was popular throughout the 18th century. Public outcry forced Pitt to repeal his tax the following year, so the only real effect of the Act was to furnish a convenient name for a very popular type of clock. .

Object Details

ID: ZAA0072
Collection: Timekeeping
Type: Tavern clock
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Bennett, George
Date made: 1802-1811
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Overall: 2000 x 600 x 200 mm
Parts: Tavern clock

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