What is the first sign that winter is over? For the staff at Upton Hall it is the sound of clocks striking! It may not be widely realised outside the walls of Upton Hall but during the winter months the clocks are stopped and a silence descends on the building.
From the end of February curator, Alan Midleton, begins checking each clock to make sure it is in working order and then starts the winding, a weekly task throughout the summer months; as each clock begins to chime it is as if the whole building is waking up. By the end of March, when the clocks change to British Summer Time, all is ready for the public to wonder at the fabulous collection of clocks and watches built up over 155 years.
Mothering Sunday the 30th March is the date this year when visitors will be welcome to see the original Speaking Clock, dating from 1936; timepieces dating from the mid 17th century to the innovative triple pendulum designed by members to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the British Horological Institute in 2008, and the beautiful and very intricate detail in the movements of pocket watches.
Also undergoing restoration during the winter have been the watercolour paintings by Thomas Wright, builder of Upton Hall. These were only acquired in October last year and being views of England, Wales, Switzerland, Austria and Italy represent Thomas’ travels in Europe at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century.
Although on display for the October Open Day they were in need of some work to ensure there was no further deterioration. This has now been completed and the paintings, framed, will once again hang in the house Thomas built to display works of art.
Throughout the day knowledgeable experts will be on hand to answer any questions visitors have on horology, the BHI collection, Upton Hall, and membership of the British Horological Institute.