Musical chamber clock by Nicholas Vallin

London, England, AD 1598

At the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (reigned 1558-1603), musical clocks were rare items in England. Nevertheless, such clocks had enjoyed a long tradition in Europe, particularly in South Germany and the Netherlands. This chamber clock plays a different piece of music at each quarter hour, on thirteen bells mounted at the top of the clock. The hours are also struck on the large separate bell. The music played is the result of a modern restoration.

This is a weight-driven wall clock. It has a going train controlled by a verge escapement with balance wheel control and separate trains for the music and the hour striking. The clock is also an early example of the two hands mounted concentrically to indicate hours and minutes on a common chapter ring.

Nicholas Vallin came to London from Ryssell (Lille) in Flanders with his father John in the 1580s. He lived in the parish of St Ann's, Blackfriars and was a member of Austin Friars Dutch Church where he married Elizabeth Rendtmeesters in June 1590. Nicholas died along with his father, two of his three daughters and his two journeymen in the great plague of 1603.

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More information


F.J. Britten, Brittens old clocks and watche, 9th ed. (London, Methuen, 1982)

P.G. Dawson, C.B. Drover and D.W. Parkes, Early English clocks (Woodbridge, Antique Collectors Club, 1982)

H. Tait, Clocks and watches (London, The British Museum Press, 1983)

G. White, English lantern clocks (Woodbrige, Antique Collectors' Club, 1989)


Height: 58.420 cm

Museum number

M&ME CAI 2139


Ilbert Collection


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