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Knole U3A

Industrial Heritage and Clock Making in Kent

7th November 2018

The Industrial Heritage Group have covered almost the full range of industriesthat shaped much of Kent and the surrounding Wealden area over the past four years, but a few lesser known subjects still remain to be researched. For the October meeting Alan Heyes gave an account of the Kent clock industry that thrived from around the later 17 th century to the mid 19th century. The first clocks were owned by the nobility and the church with Canterbury Cathedral thought to have had a mechanical clock installed around 1292.

The talk covered the history of clock-making in England and explained how the growing affluence of many Kent towns and villages supported some 1200 over the period, and by 1740 most towns and villages had at least one clockmaker. Sevenoaks was no exception with some 25 clockmakers known to have premises in the town over the period. The most notable of these was the Bowra clock-making family who family tree also numbered well known cricketers and even a famous smuggler who co-led the Groombridge Smuggling Gang! Some of Sevenoaks made clocks even grace a National Trust property (Quebec House, Westerham) and the Maidstone Museum.

Perhaps the most well known Sevenoaks clock is the Knole Turret clock. Unfortunately there does not appear to be a record in the Knole House archives who built it or whether it was by a Kent maker.

  • The Knole clock tower
    The Knole clock tower
  • A long case clock by the Sevenoaks Bowra family of clockmakers at Quebec House
    A long case clock by the Sevenoaks Bowra family of clockmakers at Quebec House
  • The Knole clock tower
  • A long case clock by the Sevenoaks Bowra family of clockmakers at Quebec House

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