The only eight day turret clock movement by Thomas Tompion known to exist.  A very fine and rare late 17th century turret clock movement with two-second pendulum Thomas Tompion, London
Lot 71W
The only eight day turret clock movement by Thomas Tompion known to exist. A very fine and rare late 17th century turret clock movement with two-second pendulum Thomas Tompion, London
Sold for £73,250 (US$ 114,954) inc. premium

Lot Details
The only eight day turret clock movement by Thomas Tompion known to exist.  A very fine and rare late 17th century turret clock movement with two-second pendulum Thomas Tompion, London The only eight day turret clock movement by Thomas Tompion known to exist.  A very fine and rare late 17th century turret clock movement with two-second pendulum Thomas Tompion, London The only eight day turret clock movement by Thomas Tompion known to exist.  A very fine and rare late 17th century turret clock movement with two-second pendulum Thomas Tompion, London The only eight day turret clock movement by Thomas Tompion known to exist.  A very fine and rare late 17th century turret clock movement with two-second pendulum Thomas Tompion, London The only eight day turret clock movement by Thomas Tompion known to exist.  A very fine and rare late 17th century turret clock movement with two-second pendulum Thomas Tompion, London The only eight day turret clock movement by Thomas Tompion known to exist.  A very fine and rare late 17th century turret clock movement with two-second pendulum Thomas Tompion, London The only eight day turret clock movement by Thomas Tompion known to exist.  A very fine and rare late 17th century turret clock movement with two-second pendulum Thomas Tompion, London The only eight day turret clock movement by Thomas Tompion known to exist.  A very fine and rare late 17th century turret clock movement with two-second pendulum Thomas Tompion, London The only eight day turret clock movement by Thomas Tompion known to exist.  A very fine and rare late 17th century turret clock movement with two-second pendulum Thomas Tompion, London The only eight day turret clock movement by Thomas Tompion known to exist.  A very fine and rare late 17th century turret clock movement with two-second pendulum Thomas Tompion, London The only eight day turret clock movement by Thomas Tompion known to exist.  A very fine and rare late 17th century turret clock movement with two-second pendulum Thomas Tompion, London The only eight day turret clock movement by Thomas Tompion known to exist.  A very fine and rare late 17th century turret clock movement with two-second pendulum Thomas Tompion, London
The only eight day turret clock movement by Thomas Tompion known to exist. A very fine and rare late 17th century turret clock movement with two-second pendulum
Thomas Tompion, London
Signed along the lower edge of the 12.5 inch square brass dial 'Thomas Tompion, Londini Fecit', the silvered chapter ring with single line border and Arabic numerals framing the minute band, Roman hours and inner quarter hour track, the half hour markers of the meeting arrowhead variety, with steel hands, the subsidiary seconds dial intersecting the chapter ring at XII and numbered 6,12,18 etc with every other second marked by an engraved line, secured to the frame via four substantial pinned dial feet. The heavy frame (now painted green) consisting of two upright rectangular frames with splayed lower ends united by four rectangular-section bars threaded at each end and secured by heavy square nuts. The 8-inch diameter wooden grooved barrels and steel arbors mounted within three pairs of vertical bars; the going-train bars extending above the outline of the frame to accommodate the 'scape wheel arbor and the pendulum suspension point; the strike-train bar cast in the form of a stylised Y to offer a secure point of fixing for the lower left hand dial foot, all wheels of finely finished brass with four crossings. The going train with anchor escapement and a two-part pendulum rod of heavy flat steel measuring 12 feet, 10.5 inches in length terminating in a very heavy horizontal lenticular bob of lead, 13.5 inches in height including the upright fixing bar with T-bar, the upper face with concentric line decoration and marked 1-12 to aid in regulation, the strike train with a 9.5 inch diameter brass countwheel mounted to the rear and with a curved arm with ratchet, terminating in a pair of small shape vanes. Together with three pairs of heart-shaped hands, three sets of lead-off rods and framed motion work (marked, F, Y and S), various wooden and iron pulleys, securing hooks, iron brackets and a crank winder. The frame 56.5cms high 69cms wide and 38.5cms deep (max height to top of motion work 83cms

Footnotes

  • Jeremy Evans, author of Thomas Tompion at the Dial and Three Crowns, AHS, 2003, writes:

    The turret clock from Brome Hall, Suffolk, of eight-day duration, is one of just two examples by Thomas Tompion to survive, the other being the clock from Hampton Court, Leominster, which is of 30-hour duration. It is likely that both were actually made in Tompion's work-shop, rather than elsewhere to his specifications.

    A view of Brome Hall, Suffolk, one of the seats of the Cornwallis family, was drawn by Knyff, engraved by Kip and published in 1708 (Britannia Illustrata), and on the façade of the central tower can be seen no fewer than four central roundels. One of the four clearly accommodates a clock dial – a hand is visible (or are there two?). An anonymous late 18th.c. view of the house also shows the tower and clock dial which, by that date, does seem to have had two hands. An indication that there was indeed a clock at the house at a much earlier date comes in the form of a fine 16th century bell bearing the cast inscription Thomas Cornwaleis me debet 1592, above a stag lodged regardant – the Cornwallis crest. This bell may well have been ordered in the 1590s to work with a clock at the house, and it was later used with Tompion's movement in the stable block.

    Can it be shown that the clock visible in the Kip engraving was Tompion's? R.W.Symonds suggests it was ordered from Tompion by Charles, the 3rd Baron Cornwallis of Eye in about 1690 to replace the Elizabethan clock, and that it was supplied with three dials for three sides of the central tower (Furniture Making in Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century England). Cornwallis is said to have been 'in the especial favour of King William', and was his 1st Lord of the Admiralty 1692/3; he died in 1698. Symonds was happy to accept that the three dials would have been on the same level as the dial shown in Kip's engraving, but this is debatable because in such positions the side dials are likely to have been obscured by the wings of the house. In addition, the later sketch seems to show moulded stonework at the side on that level, though this is not conclusive because the sketch could be deceptive.

    Some contemporary accounts have survived but they are insufficient to prove that the clock was acquired directly from Tompion. Those for the period 1665-1689 are missing, and, as the clock is believed to have been made nearer to the mid 1680s, those are the ones which are most likely to have revealed details of its acquisition. There is no mention of its acquisition during the period 1689-1720, but these accounts do show that a turret clock was in use in 1699. Two payments were made that year for repairs to the 'Great Clock' - to Richard Page in January, and John Kett in November, but it is not known whether this was Tompion's clock, or an earlier movement. It seems most likely that the 'Great clock' had been installed before 1689, and if this was Tompion's movement then the missing accounts might have confirmed its acquisition. Did they contain a payment to Tompion? This might fit in with the clock's suggested date of 1686-8 - this based on the style of the chapter-ring and signature when compared with those of numbered domestic clocks.

    Brome Hall was purchased by Matthias Kerrison after the death of the last Marquis of Cornwallis in 1823, and in 1840 Kerrison's son, General Sir Edward Kerrison, Bt., carried out extensive remodelling, removing the Elizabethan wings as well as the top of the central tower. It would have been at this point, if the Tompion movement had, indeed, been in use in that tower, that it was removed to a red brick turret over the entrance to the new stable block, where it was set up with three lozenge-shaped dials and the 16th.c. Cornwallis bell. Here it remained until its removal for sale on 23rd June 1953.

    It is also possible, of course, that the clock was acquired for an earlier, 17th.century stable block of which no view is known. Alternatively, it might have been acquired for Brome in the first half of the 19th century for use in the new stable block and combined with the Cornwallis bell which had been removed from the dismantled central tower. If the clock had come from elsewhere it could, conceivably, be one of those known from manuscript sources, but evidence suggests this is not so. Its lead-off work, for three dials, is believed to be original – they are marked F. S and Y – perhaps for front, stable (or side?) and yard?, and none of the four known from manuscript sources can be shown to have had three dials.

    Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that Charles, the 5th Baron Cornwallis held the most senior appointment at the Tower of London, 'The Constable of the Tower' from 1740 until his death in 1762, and it is known that Tompion installed a turret clock there in 1674. That clock, however, is also believed to have had just one dial, and is believed to have been in use at the Tower until about 1780, and in any case it is unlikely that the Brome clock could be as early as the 1670s.

    From available evidence, it seems most likely that the clock was acquired by Charles 3rd Baron Cornwallis, possibly between 1686-8, but before 1689. It was probably installed with its three dials in the central tower, or possibly in the smaller turret which can be seen at the back of the house in Kip's view – it too has a cupola (with a bell?)?

    Repairs at Brome Hall.
    January 1st 1698[/9].
    To Richd Page for Repairing ye Great Clock ye Kitchin Jack and other Jobbs, £2:05:00 [Suffolk County Records Office, Iveagh papers, HA 411, Box 5 No.17 1698/9].

    Repairs at Brome Hall.
    November 25th 1699.
    To Jno Kett for mending the stricking pt of ye gt Clock, £00:04:00
    [HA 411, Box 5 No.17 1698/9].

    The drawing is very interesting; it shows how accurate Knyff and Kip were and it seems to show that a section below the cupola was removed by the time the drawing was made. It also shows that it is most unlikely that a clock would have had three dials when installed in the tower, because the capitals of the third level of pillars - level with the centre of the dial - seem to be incorporated with mouldings which extend back along the sides of the tower - in exactly the places where one would expect to find the side dials. So perhaps the side dials were not supplied until the clock was installed in the stable-block?

    Of 8-day duration the clock is made up from eighteen forged iron bars, the frame measuring 39" high to the top of the lead-off bearing by 29" wide and 21" deep. The frame is now painted green. The ends of the frame, like those of the Hampton Court clock, are one-piece rectangles forged from two long and two short bars, through which the horizontal side members are nutted. Trains, motion work and lead-off bearings accommodated between three sets of nutted pivot bars. Side-by-side 3-wheel trains, the grooved wooden barrels, extraordinarily, with stop-irons – it seems the clock originally had stop-work. Going train with anchor escapement and 13-feet 2-seconds pendulum. The extraordinary calibrated semi-spherical lead pendulum bob, believed to weigh 150 lbs, is threaded onto the rod at its centre; assuming that there was an indicator, this is now missing. Striking train with count-wheel for hours only and with fly positioned outside the frame. The trains are planted the opposite way round to those of the Hampton Court clock. All of the wheels - including the count-wheel, the barrel ends, the bushes and the setting dial are of brass whilst the arbors, levers and pallets are of steel. Spare holes in the frame probably accommodated maintaining-power and stop-work components. The lead-off work and the cranked winding key are possibly original. When in use in the stable block at Brome it was married to the Cornwallis bell, dated 1592.

    The 12½" setting-dial signed Thõ Tompion Londini Fecit has four feet, a coarsely matted centre and a silvered chapter-ring two inches wide and of 11½" diameter. It is otherwise plain and was never drilled for spandrels. Silvered subsidiary seconds ring cuts into the chapter-ring, but this is an original feature, the numerals having been engraved accordingly. This size of dial was not used on his domestic clocks at any date. Original sturdy blued-steel setting hands. The styles of signature, Arabic minute numerals, and half-hour marks are most closely comparable to those of his longcase clocks numbered in the low 100s, such as no.122.


    Sold at the sale of contents of Brome Hall on 23rd June 1953.
    Exhibited, Science Museum, London, 9:1954.
    Sale of Nine Clocks, Sothebys London 29:5:1982, lot 6

    Literature:
    R.W.Symonds, Furniture Making in 17th and 18th century England, p.228-232 and figs 319-28.
    A.J.Nixseaman, Brome Hall Votive Clock and Bell, East Anglian Times, 9:1953, 18:6:1954 and 25:6:1954.
    R.W.Symonds, Thomas Tompion's Turret Clock, Horological Journal, 2:1954, p.85-7, 3:1954, p.172, 4:1954, p.243, and 6:1954, p.376, followed by the report, 7:1954, p.456, of an Antiquarian Horological Society meeting held at the Science Museum, when it was the subject of debate. It continued – ibid. 8:1954, p.507. There is also a report of the AHS meeting in Antiquarian Horology, 9:1954, p.50. Today, in light of the fact that Tompion is known to have supplied such clocks, there should be fewer doubters.
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