© Combe Mill Society 2016

Registered Charity Number 1111029

…….a place to discover

Combe Mill

 The Stonesfield clock. It was acquired by Stonesfield's St James the Less  church in 1743. The clock was originally made in 1543 and housed in a nearby manor. It was removed from the church in 1925 and extensively  rebuilt before being installed in Judd's Garage, Wootton-by-Woodstock.  When, Judd's garage was demolished, the clock was taken into the care of  the Museum of Oxfordshire, but released to the Combe Mill Society in September 2010 for a 5 year loan. The striking-train is incomplete whilst the going train has a rudimentary pendulum which has an unusual connecting-rod to the escapement.  The motion-work has been replaced temporarily to indicate hand indications.


Historic clocks

The Church Hanborough clock is an example of the earliest form of  pendulum clock controlled by a crown wheel and verge pallet.It had no dial or hands. Such an arrangement was not used in England before about 1660, and was soon superseded by the improved anchor escapement. This clock, however, escaped alteration and was probably made during the last quarter of the seventeenth century. Not many examples of this type of escapement are extant.

The Charlton-on-Otmoor clock. It was was made by Edward Hemins of Bicester in 1680 and modified around 1700 to bring the pendulum to the front of the clock. The clock was damaged as the result of a cradle collapse and was replaced by an electric clock.  It was brought to working order by truing the escapement arbor.  Although complete, the striking-train is not functioning.

 The St Leonards, Eynsham clock with a recoil anchor escapement was probably made about 1750 by John May of Witney and served well for some 200 years until being replaced in the 1970s. A bell has been incorporated so that the striking mechanism can be demonstrated.

The  William Leigh clock. This, initially unknown, turret clock was thought to be dated around 1810. It is now recognised as an early turret clock made by him, and dates from 1797. It is of the chair frame pegged construction with a Graham's dead-beat escapement, steel arbors and steel lantern pinions running in brass bushed pivot holes. The maintaining-power and the two-handed setting dial have recently been restored  It is now fully functioning with a dial constructed by a society volunteer.

 On display is working example of the Grimthorpe double three-legged gravity escapement which was designed for the Westminster clock (Big Ben) by Edmund Beckett Denison (later Sir Edmund Beckett and later still Lord Grimthorpe - although known as Denison throughout the building of his Westminster clock). Although the idea of a “gravity escapement” had been developing for many years, his design was so universally approved that almost all tower clocks after this period were constructed with this type of escapement as Lord Grimthorpe purposefully did not patent his idea so as to allow other clockmakers the freedom to copy it.

 Four of these clocks have been entrusted to the Society for restoration and safekeeping. The clocks represent four of the many stages of escapement development over the centuries: namely the Verge, the Anchor, the Dead Beat and the Gravity.

The museum has an interesting collection of mostly working historic tower  clocks that have been restored by society members. These include:-