Timely exhibition of clock making in Lewes

Exhibition of Lewes Clocks at WF Bruce, Lewes.
Exhibition of Lewes Clocks at WF Bruce, Lewes.

A fascinating exhibition about the history of clock making in Lewes will open tomorrow (Saturday December 6) at W.F.Bruce Antique Clocks.

Lewes was a regional centre for clock making in the 18th century and early 19th century which saw intense competition between makers in terms of quality and creativity.

The exhibition The 12 Clocks of Lewes will span more than 100 years of the in dusty from 1715to 1830 and closes on December 20.

Antique clock expert Bill Bruce said: “The research for this exhibition has taken us from the son of a barber in Cliffe, Lewes to Benjamin Franklin, who was to become President of the United States and is a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of clockmakers in this town.”

This new exhibition is a unique opportunity to see a diverse collection of clocks by several generations of clockmakers from the town.

Highlights of the exhibition include a rare 8 day longcase clock by clockmaker Richard Comber, the son of a barber in Cliffe.

He was a maker who was highly respected during his lifetime and his clocks are still avidly sought by collectors today.

Comber was apprenticed to William Kemp, a clockmaker who worked in Lewes for more than 40 years, taking on eight apprentices.

The exhibition includes a fine 30 hour longcase clock by William Kemp from c.1770.

Other clocks of interest include one by Samuel Ollive, brother-in-law to the famous political activist, Thomas Paine.

There is also a fascinating example by John Barnett, which still carries its original trade label (below).

John Barnett took Edward Reeves on as his apprentice in 1837. Reeves went on to become a photographer and in 1858 Edward Reeves Photography was founded, a family business which still exists today, run by his descendant Tom Reeves.

The earliest clocks date back to the Ancient Egyptian period. The oldest sundial ever discovered dates from 1500BC.