My first London clock, Richard Fennel 1710 ish?

charlie25

Registered User
Apr 19, 2012
7
0
1
What an interesting thread, I recently purchased a longcase by Richard Fennell, which is also my first London Longcase. It's an 8 day with an 11 inch dial, with the orginal 4 pillar movement, an aperture count wheel strike, (meaning that the wheel train is very similar to novicetimekeeper's clock).
Sadly the escapement is incomplete the pallet frame, arbor and crutch are missing, but apart from weights, the rest of the clock is there; including what looks like the original pendulum, hands and wheel work.
It came with an early Chinoiserie case with a later hood.
Making a new escapement, whilst time consuming is not difficult and the case although structurally sound has seen better days.So I am thinking of sorting out the hood details and black lacquering (properly) the case, apart from the door where the decoration is in good condition.
All the photos on here are really useful and will allow me to remake the escapement.
I will post some photographs, I think this one dates from the end of Fennell's career, it has female head spandrels ( original) a very finely engraved dial, in great condition with low fleur de lys half hour markers, a fairly small minute ring, no half quarter hour markers and the 5s don't have massive flourishes. Without knowing he was not heard of after 1706, I would suggest this dial is 1705 to 1710. The signature is Richard Fennell Fecit Kensington.
The movement has very small bun collets and fine finned turned pillars.It also came with a pair of pulleys, unusually fully crossed out with rings beautifully detailed and look original.
I will post pictures and news of how the restoration goes.
 
Last edited:

novicetimekeeper

Registered User
Jul 26, 2015
10,953
876
113
Dorset
Country
Region
Pictures would be great, will be interesting to compare. is yours rack or countwheel?

I have never seen crossed out gut wheels that were original to an English longcase, especially not one as early as this but that does not mean it isn't a possibility. Mine did not have the original gut pulleys.

This seems a lifetime ago now, I have several London clocks, though only two more longcase.
 

charlie25

Registered User
Apr 19, 2012
7
0
1
Pictures would be great, will be interesting to compare. is yours rack or countwheel?

I have never seen crossed out gut wheels that were original to an English longcase, especially not one as early as this but that does not mean it isn't a possibility. Mine did not have the original gut pulleys.

This seems a lifetime ago now, I have several London clocks, though only two more longcase.
Thanks for the message, It has an inside count wheel strike but with an aperture in the back plate for the lever, so the count wheel lies between the great wheel and the back plate. I have seen a few of Fennell's clocks with this arrangement and one very early one with a proper external count wheel . The lever and aperture mean that the centre wheel drive to the third wheel cannot be against the back plate so like yours the wheel is moved to the front.
The gut line pulleys I originally thought were victorian till i studied them carefully, they are much earlier and are made to a high standard. I once saw a similar set on a Longcase by Michael Knight one of Tompion's apprentices whose work is virtually unknown, probably because it's widely believed he made clocks for his former master to sign.
 

novicetimekeeper

Registered User
Jul 26, 2015
10,953
876
113
Dorset
Country
Region
That supports what Peter said about mine when he worked on it, that it wasn't originally rack but external countwheel. He believed it was probably changed during the original build but had already had the plates laid out for external countwheel. Perhaps the customer had seen a clock with a pull repeat and decided he wanted that on his new clock. Then the slot in the plate was filled so as not to leave a hole.
 

charlie25

Registered User
Apr 19, 2012
7
0
1
That supports what Peter said about mine when he worked on it, that it wasn't originally rack but external countwheel. He believed it was probably changed during the original build but had already had the plates laid out for external countwheel. Perhaps the customer had seen a clock with a pull repeat and decided he wanted that on his new clock. Then the slot in the plate was filled so as not to leave a hole.
That supports what Peter said about mine when he worked on it, that it wasn't originally rack but external countwheel. He believed it was probably changed during the original build but had already had the plates laid out for external countwheel. Perhaps the customer had seen a clock with a pull repeat and decided he wanted that on his new clock. Then the slot in the plate was filled so as not to leave a hole.
IMG_8186.jpg IMG_8187.jpg IMG_8190.jpg IMG_8191.jpg IMG_8193.jpg IMG_8194.jpg
 

charlie25

Registered User
Apr 19, 2012
7
0
1
Here are a few pictures not great quality, I can see the shadow from the window on the back plate of your clock on the auction details, it's virtually identical to mine so maybe yours was the same with an internal rear mounted count wheel which would also explain the unusual centre wheel with third wheel drive at the front.
 

novicetimekeeper

Registered User
Jul 26, 2015
10,953
876
113
Dorset
Country
Region
There is no sign of a countwheel on the greatwheel so it never got that far.
 

charlie25

Registered User
Apr 19, 2012
7
0
1
I wondered that too. The fixing screws are quite substantial screwing in too the great wheel itself, so it looks like the rack was added by the maker originally. Thanks for your help I really appreciate it.
 

novicetimekeeper

Registered User
Jul 26, 2015
10,953
876
113
Dorset
Country
Region
I wondered that too. The fixing screws are quite substantial screwing in too the great wheel itself, so it looks like the rack was added by the maker originally. Thanks for your help I really appreciate it.
That's the conclusion we came to. The clocks would have been made to order, far too expensive to make for stock. The client may have changed the spec partway through resulting in the need to reverse some work already done to the plate.
 

novicetimekeeper

Registered User
Jul 26, 2015
10,953
876
113
Dorset
Country
Region
I don't know the reason, but rack strike was not taken up early by London makers as far as I can see. Look through the Gretton book and he stuck with countwheel, and most London clocks you see of the period are countwheel. However provincial makers seem to have been earlier adopters, I have a Dorset made clock of the period with internal rack.
 

charlie25

Registered User
Apr 19, 2012
7
0
1
I have a clock made by George Yeates of Maldon Essex. He moved there in 1742 and died in 1746. This is a pure London movement with internal count wheel strike, beautifully detailed and appears totally original, pendulum weights hands - the lot. The interesting thing about this movement is that the going train has been bushed and repaired well but shows clear signs of use. Whilst the strike train has no re bushing at all and even the fly pinion looks like really good. It is silent in my house as I have a rack striker with no strike/silent and i think it has been silent for a lot of its life. Maybe until strike/silent mechanisms on rack strikes were common there may have been a preference for a movement that could be silenced easily. Plus having got a winning formula I think the clock makers were a pretty conservative bunch in London. Fennell was unusual as rear aperture count wheel strikes are rare.
I don't have the Gretton book but will put it on my wish list. He has always interested me as his Master Humprey Downing was a Blacksmith clockmaker who was thrown out of the Blacksmiths company and never joined the Clockmakers Company (CC), although he bound his apprentices to the CC. Gretton was fiercely loyal to the CC actively involved in their petitions to stop members of other City Companies from making clock and watches.
Finally thinking about it, I suspect a count wheel strike was cheaper and easier to make, maybe that is the answer.
 

charlie25

Registered User
Apr 19, 2012
7
0
1
I think yours is earlier, the half hour markers suggest this as well as the half quarter markers. I have looked at a few of his clocks on the net (longcase and table ones) and he seems to have used two engravers both excellent craftsmen but there are differences in style irrespective of when they were made. The use of female head spandrels on my clock (which look very original)suggests to me 1706 at the earliest. I am in central London next week and will visit the Metropolitan Archives for any further information. Ancestry lists a death of a Richard Fennell in Middlesex around this time so we may find out more about him in later life.
 

novicetimekeeper

Registered User
Jul 26, 2015
10,953
876
113
Dorset
Country
Region
The half hour marks on mine are the same as those on a Gretton clock so it seems likely they shared an engraver at some point.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
165,541
Messages
1,441,097
Members
86,287
Latest member
Appel
Encyclopedia Pages
1,101
Total wiki contributions
2,873
Last edit
Weekly News 7/7/19 by Tom McIntyre