VULLIAMY TURRET CLOCK

The turret clock at Thicket Priory was designed by Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy who was regarded as one of the finest clockmakers in 19th century Britain. He succeeded his father as head of the firm and Clockmaker to the Queen. The thicket turret clock is very unusual in that it has 3 faces.

The Vulliamy’s were a family of clockmakers of Swiss origin. The family firm obtained the appointment of Clockmakers to the Crown in 1742, which it held for 112 years. Benjamin commenced the study of horology at an early age . He designed over clocks for several important buildings, including The Quadrangle clock at Windsor Castle, the Royal Mews clock at Buckingham Palace , the victualling yard at Plymouth, churches at Norwood, Leytonstone, and Stratford, St. Mary’s Church, Oxford University, and the cathedral at Calcutta. The clock at the post office, St. Martin’s-le-Grand, was one made by Vulliamy for the Earl of Lonsdale. Benjamin also produced designs for Big Ben, however after a dispute over his fees and to his great indignation Edward Dent was chosen instead.

Vulliamy was a man of considerable ingenuity, and introduced several peculiarities and improvements into his clocks. Vulliamy was a man of refined taste in art, and possessed no small knowledge of architecture, paintings, and engravings. His library was extensive and well chosen, especially in that portion which related to his profession, and he possessed a valuable collection of ancient watches. He enriched the libraries of the Clockmakers’ Company and of the Institution of Civil Engineers. To the company he also gave numerous models and specimens of clocks and watches, and to the institution he presented in 1847 the works of a clock made by Thomas Tompion about 1670 for Charles II, by whom it was given to Barbara Palmer, 1st Duchess of Cleveland. On 1 March 1850 he exhibited to the Royal Archæological Institute six carvings in ivory by Fiamminge. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society on 14 January 1831, and retained his connection with the society till his death.