For November 8, 2010


You may be familiar with the town clock set above the Old Market House half way down Steyning High Street. What you may not realise is how large it is. Stand in front of one of the three clock faces with your arms stretched wide and you might just be able to grasp it firmly enough to lift it. We know this because one of the old clock faces has just been put on display in Steyning Museum.

The old wooden clock faces were taken down in the 1980's and replaced by fibreglass alternatives. The woooden faces were fairly rotten and broken into several pieces but the museum has been able to resurrect one of them in fairly good order.

How long the old faces had been in place is not known. They had certainly been repainted many times over the years but it is a little unlikely (though not impossible) that they were the originals put there in 1848 when the clock was changed from a two face clock sticking out over the street into the three face clock we know now.

The 1848 conversion was done by Davey & Sons of Lewes and, quite by chance, the museum has recently received a letter sent in 1848 from Davey to John Durrant, a plumber and glazier of Steyning. The letter, which was donated by a descendant of John Durrant, asked detailed questions about the dimensions of the clock and some of its working parts in preparation for the work that needed doing. The surprising thing is that not only was Durrant a plumber but Daveys were also plumbers and glaziers. There were Lewes and Steyning clockmakers but the major conversion of Steyning's town clock seems to have been masterminded by plumbers!

The original two face clock was thought at one time to have come from the Duke of Norfolk's estate at Michelgrove in 1829 but recent research indicates that this is unlikely. The mechanism is a substantial turret clock first made by Thwaites (still clockmakers to-day) between 1740 and 1780. Whether it started its life in Steyning in the original market house, which was in the middle of the street by the current post office, or was brought in second hand later on is unknown.

Now this reminder of part of our history is set up in the Museum - but it's not easy to find. Good hunting.

Steyning Museum is open 5 days each week - 10.30 to 12.30 and 2.30 to 4.30 (4.00 October to April) on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday plus Sunday afternoons and Bank Holiday Mondays.

Jill Kemp,
Publicity Officer,
The Museum,
Church Street,
West Sussex
BN44 3YB
Telephone: 01903 813333

Clock Face


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16th August 2021