Help Wanted !! Volunteers from the Civic Society open the Clock Tower for visitors during alternative weekends* from Easter to mid-September and on other special occasions. 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. Please contact Dawn Wheeler on 865652.
Background. Built between 1403 and 1412, 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”.
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)
2012 - Mayor rings Clock Tower bell for Olympics
The Mayor 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.
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 !!!