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When time stood still for Hatherleigh

As some of you may have noticed, our beloved church clock is currently missing from its usual position on the church tower. On the 12th October 2023 the turret clock, together with the clock face were carefully removed from the tower. 

With renovation works in the tower in full force, it was necessary to remove the clock to protect it from being damaged. Such works create a lot of dust and debris, which could contaminate the delicate inner workings of the clock. The removal of the clock was also necessary in order to allow the bells to be lowered to the ground floor from the belfry above the clock room. 

This required precision work from one of the country’s top specialists – we enlisted the help of Symon Boyd, of Timsbury Clocks

Symon has over 42 years of experience, and is a fellow of the British Horological Institute. With our clock in safe hands, Symon was happy to take up the challenge of dismantling the clock and safely lowering all the pieces to the ground floor, along with the clock face.

Take a look at the time lapse video and photos of the clock being dismantled as part of the maintenance and restoration work. 

Dismantling of the clock
Removal and lowering of the clock face

The turret clock was manufactured by J.W. Benson of London, and was installed in 1929. The clock takes the form of a cast iron flatbed movement, with hour strike & quarter Westminster chimes, it drives the single dial with an anchor escapement with pendulum action. 

It is thought that work to adapt it from a manual winding system to an automatic winding system was completed after the restoration of the clock following the 1990 storm damage, which brought the spire down through the main roof. 

It has not left the tower in over 94 years – meaning that this will without doubt be the first time it has been absent in virtually all of our lifetimes. 

As part of the wider programme of restoration work currently being undertaken at St. John’s, this opportunity is being used to give Hatherleigh’s faithful clock some much needed TLC. Over the coming months the clock will be carefully cleaned and inspected, the clock face will be repainted, before being returned to its home in the tower in 2024. 

Our Thanks

We would like to take the opportunity to extend our warmest thanks to those who have generously donated funds to enable us to continue with the ongoing restoration of the church. 

Made possible with Heritage Lottery Fund

These include Heritage Lottery Fund, Garfield Western Foundation, Hatherleigh Moor Management Committee, Hatherleigh Bellringers, ‘All Churches’, Devon Historic Churches, Archdeacon’s Fund, legacy giving, church fundraising, and donations from individuals. 

Without these funds, none of what we are doing would be possible. Our thanks also go out to Marian Southwick who has worked tirelessly to coordinate and submit the many grant funding applications needed to make the restoration work at St John’s Church possible.  


We’d also like to thank the volunteers from the bell ringers; Mark Wonnacott, Ian Grantham, Richard Harrison, Garry Bater and other local volunteers such as Robin Wonnacott who turned up to offer their support. 

Alongside this we extend our thanks to Jeff Webb, Isabella Whitworth and Richard Burrow who photographed and recorded the removal of the clock as part of the ongoing Heritage Lottery funded project.