Friday, 27 April 2012

Friday My Town Shoot-out - Time

As usual I have wandered away from home. This time I am in my younger daughter's town of Exeter.

This clock is in the Cathedral in Exeter in England. It is one of a group of famous 14th- to 16th-century astronomical clocks to be found in the West of England. Others are at Wells, Ottery St Mary, and Wimborne Minster. The main, lower, dial is the oldest part of the clock, dating from 1484. The fleur-de-lys 'hand' indicates the time (and the position of the sun in the sky) on a 24-hour analogue dial. The numbering consists of two sets of I-XII Roman numerals. The silver ball and inner dial shows both the age of the moon and its phase (using a rotating black shield to indicate the moon's phase). The upper dial, added in 1760, shows the minutes.

The Latin phrase Pereunt et Imputantur, a favourite motto for clocks and sundials, was written by the poet Martial. It is usually translated as "they perish and are reckoned to our account", referring to the hours that we spend, wisely or not.

The original clockwork mechanism, much modified, repaired, and neglected until it was replaced in the early 20th century, can be seen on the floor below.

The door below the clock has a round hole near its base. This was cut in the early 17th century to allow entry for the Bishop's cat to deter vermin that were attracted to the animal fat used to lubricate the clock mechanism.

If you would like to see what other members of the gang have found for this Friday My Town Shoot-out please click on this FMTSO link.


  1. Such a fascinating look at the Exeter clock. In the days when it was built, clocks were not just instruments to tell time, but were pieces of art as well. I love the moving fleur-de-lys "hand" to track the hours. Makes my little Timex watch look very prosaic in contrast!!

  2. I need technical advice, when I try to post photos, most of the time, I get this.

    Information from this secure page will be submitted to a page that is not secure on

    Submitting sensitive information is strongly discouraged.

  3. Okay... a blog written by an Englishman. I'm not having any trouble with the accent, which I alternately find fascinating when I don't care what's being said, and vexing when I'm glued to the conversation. This is often true with a television program that Main Lady and I watch called Masterpiece Theater, where we watched and enjoyed Downton Abbey. When we discovered that the pile they shot the show in was real we could hardly believe it. Imagine living in a castle like that - incredible!

    The word you liked earlier - peeps - made a resurgence in popularity due to a card game called Nuclear War. The idea being that each player had his own country and began building his own nuclear stockpile, and sooner or later someone would take offense at an imagined insult and so begin the nuclear war. The population was represented by cards of various values, such as 200 million, 100 million, etc., the number being the amount of the population. When a bomb went off, you lost population and would sometimes need 'change' for a population card. Sooner rather than later everyone began referring to the card count as 'peeps'; short for people, you see.

    "Can you give me change for a hundred million peeps?"

    Great fun!

    I am a blogger as well. You can stop by and read or not as it amuses you to do so. I'm not a typical Yank. For one thing I drink too much.

    I found your blog via vicomtesse and enjoy reading it.

  4. Love the door-with-kitty-door! How great! And the worn step.... sigh...

  5. I like the idea of the bishop's cat roaming the cathedral to his or her own liking - and the fact that people did not just see the rats killed for the sake of getting rid of them, but to make use of their fat (and, no doubt, other parts).

  6. Great post. I remember the clock well. My Latin such as it is got the 'lost' but couldn't reconcile the 'perished' with the dictionary 'responsible'. It puts everything into context - over 500 years old. Thanks CJ.

  7. What an interesting old clock. Nothing at all like that over here, although we do have quite a few clocks in public places in town. I love the little cat entrance - very practical.
    I used to live near Exeter - in Ontario!

  8. That clock is beautiful! It reminds of the astronomical clock in my hometown of Muenster. I go see it in the cathedral every time I am there! I hope you are doing well, John. We are enjoying summer temperatures and no humidity - perfect days!! xo Silke

  9. Welcome, Mad Jack. Just been over to your blog. Good fun!

    Ann - it's the settings on your computer. They are set to very secure. There's absolutely nothing to worry about it warns you about sites that are perfectly safe as well as dodgy ones.

    (You may be able to adjust it by going to Control Panel - Internet Options - Sceurity and chnaging it from High to Medium/High.)

  10. I found this post both fun and interesting. Great clock.
    I have a watch that I bought 5 years ago that has stopped working and this clock is from the 1400s - incredible.

  11. A superb clock and with a great history. The cat hole is a very practical addition.

  12. That's one fascinating clock!

  13. A fascinating and beautiful clock. Great post.

  14. And I thought I had posted a weird clock. But, blimy (to use what I think might be an Englishism) your clock is the piece de resistance (to use a Frenchism that we Americans have adopted).

  15. What an interesting clock! I like the blue color and wood trimmings of the clock, and the architectural details of the Cathedral. Greetings from Pleasantville, NY :)

  16. Magnificent! I could never come up with a clock like that over here in the US...everything is too new. Although we do have some 2,000 year old burial mounds near here (has the meme done 'graves' yet?).

    I love that you gave us all the info about the clock and not just photos. And, everyone seems to be getting a kick out of the kitty door :)

  17. If ever I had imagined such a thing, I'm sure in my younger days I would have dreamed of owning a clock with a cat door. (I'm too old to be so imaginative these days.) Fabulous clock!


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