The Clock Tower is unique in the country and still serves as a popular informal meeting place in the heart of the city of St Albans.
Help Wanted !! Volunteers from the Civic Society open the Clock Tower for visitors during alternative weekends* from Easter to the end of September and on other special occasions, such as the switch on of the Christmas lights. We have a valued group of people who help with this, and anyone who could give some time to go on the rota would be very welcome. Visitors come from around the world and it is very rewarding to meet the variety of people who come to climb the 93 spiral steps to the top. More volunteers are always welcome, please contact Jill Singer on 838965 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Dawn Wheeler on 865652.
Clock Tower photo competition - Clockateers saw the results of the photo competition that ran at the beginning of 2014. The entries were all excellent, and are reproduced here.
Background. Built in 1405, the Clock Tower of St Albans is the only medieval town belfry in England, and was raised by the townsmen to assert their freedom, power and wealth in the face of the premier abbey in the land (now of course St Albans cathedral). Sited on slightly higher ground, the citizens’ Tower looked the Abbey in the eye. In former years it has also been a shop, as well as a government telegraph station during the Napoleonic wars of the early nineteenth century.
The Tower’s original bell, weighing one ton with a diameter of one metre (some 47”) and named Gabriel, is still in place. It would sound the Angelus and the evening Curfew as well as giving the alarm in case of “fire or fray” and sounded the alarm at the First Battle of St Albans in 1455.
The Tower is 19.6m (64’) high at the parapet. A flight of 93 narrow steps connects the ground floor through the two upper floors to the roof, from where there are fine views of the Abbey, the Roman town of Verulamium, and the historic city of St Albans.
Although the Tower’s original clock is missing, the 1412 reference to “le clokkehouse” shows that it was indeed there from the beginning, with the clock keeper striking the hours indicated by the clock. The present clock dates from 1866, and uses a mechanism invented by Lord Grimthorpe – restorer of the Abbey and designer of the mechanism of the clock for Big Ben at Westminster. * we share this voluntary activity with members of the "Arc and Arc" - officially the St Albans & Hertfordshire Architectural & Archaeological Society (www.stalbanshistory.org)
Mayor Brewster opens Clock Tower.
On a windy Good Friday 2014, the Right Worshipful the Mayor of the City and District of St Albans, Cllr Annie Brewster, opened the Clock Tower and climbed the 94 steps to the top. She was accompanied by, among others, Prof Tim Boatswain (CS), Prof Donald Munro (SAHAAS), The Mayor, Jill Singer (CS), and Prof Geraint John (CS).
2012 - Mayor Harris rings Clock Tower bell for Olympics
The Mayor, Cllr Eileen Harris very graciously rang the bell at the Clock Tower at 08.12 on Friday 20 July - joining in the celebrations at the start of the 2012 London Olympics.
Sue Davies, of St Albans Museums Service, has tried her hand at making Pope Ladies.
Pope Ladies The story is from 'British Popular Customs' by Rev TF Thiselton-Dyer, of 1900 which gives credit to the Clock Tower says; "At St. Alban's certain buns called "Pope Ladies" are sold on Lady Day, their origin being attributed by some to the following story: - A noble lady and her attendants were travelling on the road to St. Alban's (the great North road passes through this town), when they were benighted and lost their way. Lights in the clock-tower at the top of the hill enabled them at length to reach the monastery in safety, and the lady in gratitude gave a sum of money to provide an annual distribution on Lady Day of cakes, in the shape of ladies, to the poor of the neighbourhood. As this bounty was distributed by the monks, the "Pope Ladies" probably thus acquired their name. Another correspondent ... says these buns are sold on the first day of each year, and that there is a tradition that they have some relation to the myth of Pope Joan."
1st April 2010 !!!
Back in 2010, readers of the Herts Ad will have been amused at this news item. The Society was too, but pointed out that Daisy Floralop was not a Member of the Society and had no authority to speak on its behalf. Despite this, the Society continues to support worthwhile ideas to improve the image of the City !!!