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Exhibit № 29. The Coningsby Tompion, Circa 1690, from Hampton Court, Herefordshire

Exhibit № 29. The Coningsby Tompion, Circa 1690, from Hampton Court, Herefordshire

An exceedingly rare William & Mary wrought iron and brass striking 30-hour turret clock movement, by Thomas Tompion, London

£65,000


Height

Height 27½ inches (699 mm), width 31½ inches (800 mm), depth 15⅜ inches (390 mm). Total height on oak frame 6 foot 9 inches (2060 mm)

Dial

The 7¼ inch (184 mm) square silvered brass setting dial signed Tho=Tompion London and engraved with Arabic minute numerals 0-60 clockwise, and a later inner concentric ring engraved 60-0 anti-clockwise, the simply shaped blued-steel minute hand, with a substantial setting lever.

Movement

The substantial forged iron frame with rectangular-section bars secured by heavy square nuts, a lower section stamped with an L within an oval (for the Leufsta forge, Uppsala, Sweden). The tin-covered wooden barrels and steel arbors with wheels of finely finished brass and four crossings, brass-bush mounted within three pairs of vertical bars, the left taking the setting dial. The middle of asymmetrical Y-shape with splayed feet, for the going-train, with one arm cranked and extending above the outline of the frame to accommodate the anchor arbor and pendulum suspension point for the 1¼ seconds pendulum, with wood-rod and calibrated rating nut. The strike-train bars forged with similar splayed feet, with brass countwheel to the rear with a curved detent (mounted within small separate bars), regulated by a ratchet ‘fly’ terminating in a pair of small shape vanes, and striking on a bell inscribed Thomas Earle Coningsby

Now with a purpose-made substantial oak stand, enabling the clock to run, and supporting both the movement and bell, mounted below to one side.

Duration

30 hour

Provenance

Originally ordered by Thomas, 1st Earl Coningsby (1656-1729) for Hampton Court, Leominster, by descent to;
George Capel-Coningsby, 5th Earl of Essex (1757-1839) and sold with the house in 1810 to;
John Arkwright (1785-1858), thence by descent until sold with the house in 1912 to;
Mrs Burrell, until sold with the house in 1924 to;
Viscountess Hereford (wife of the 17th Viscount), by descent to her son;
Robert Devereux, 18th Viscount Hereford (1932-2004), who sold Hampton Court in 1972 and moved the clock to Haseley Court, Oxfordshire, and subsequently sold it at;
Sotheby’s, London, 9th June 2003, lot 42, sold for £61,750;
John C Taylor Collection, inventory no.114

Comparative Literature

East Anglian Times, 9:1953, 18:6:1954 and 25:6:1954. AJ Nixseaman, ‘Brome Hall Votive Clock and Bell’;
Horological Journal, RW Symonds, ‘Thomas Tompion’s Turret Clock’, 2:1954, p.85-7, 3:1954, p.172, 4:1954, p.243, and 6:1954, p.376;
RW Symonds, Furniture Making in 17th and 18th century England, p.228-232 and figs 319-28

Literature

Antiquarian Horology, March 1973, J.E. Locke, ‘A Thomas Tompion Turret Clock’, (illus.) p.172-174;
Antiquarian Horology, Winter 1976, T. Berg & D.F. Nettell, ‘Iron Marks on Turret Clocks’, p.78-81;
Antiquarian Horology, September 2003, ‘Auction News’, (illus.) p.495

Escapement

Anchor with 1¼ seconds pendulum

Strike Type

Countwheel hour striking

Exhibited

2013, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA; and NAWCC, Columbia, USA, Time for Everyone Symposium

Until 1972 this important turret clock was installed in the stable block at Hampton Court, near Leominster, one of the largest medieval manor houses in England. It is one of only two turret clocks known to survive by Tompion, the other being the Cornwallis Tompion of circa 1687 from Brome Hall, Suffolk (also in this collection, inventory no.112).

In 1671, Thomas Tompion was admitted to the Clockmakers’ Company as a ‘Great’ (turret) clockmaker, and it is apparent from contemporary evidence that a small but significant part of his business included the making of turret clocks. None of his contemporaneously recorded public clocks are thought to have survived: in 1674 Tompion supplied a clock for £45 for the Wardrobe Tower at the Tower of London and in 1688/9 he made a clock for £90 for the new Chelsea Hospital. Two further public clocks are also recorded: one made for the Inner Temple in 1686 at a cost of £60 and; a further clock supplied to Woolwich in 1700/1 for £80 (Thomas Tompion 300 Years, p.593). Highlighting the reputational importance of public clocks, as Christopher Wren was attempting to finalise the west front of St Paul’s Cathedral in 1700, he sought to have a clock installed in the south tower, and such was Tompion’s prestige that newspapers announced the famous watchmaker in Fleet Street, is making a clock… which it is said will go one hundred years without winding up… far finer than the famous clock at Strasburg. Sadly, this sensational but somewhat fantastical turret clock was never made.

By the early 17th century, ironworks all around Europe were producing steel using the cementation process, by carburising iron. With a family background in smithing, Tompion would have understood and appreciated the properties of the best irons and steels; English iron, mostly from the Weald of Kent and the Forest of Dean, had high levels of impurities and its performance was limited. By the 1630s the finest iron in Europe was produced in Sweden, from where it was being exported to London in large quantities and converted to steel locally. Swedish law required each iron bar to be stamped with the forge’s mark for quality control. It was graded into ‘first’ and ‘second oregrounds’, after the Öregrund area, and amongst the former was the Leufsta forge (now Lövsta). In their article in Antiquarian Horology, 1976, ‘Iron Marks on Turret Clocks’, Berg and Nettell discuss the Leufsta forge, saying the finest iron in Sweden came from this forge and was much sought after by the steel makers in Sheffield. It is likely that both surviving turret clocks were actually made in Tompion’s workshop, and the Leufsta forge stamp (L within an oval) indicates that he was using iron bar of the very finest Swedish quality. For normal domestic clockmaking each bar would have been cut and worked, resulting in the loss of the stamp, but in the instance of this clock the iron bar was used in its raw state and the stamp survives (as does a stamp on the only other surviving turret clock from Brome Hall, also in this collection, inventory no.112).

The position of the setting dial has been moved at some stage in its life, and is now located higher than originally intended. The result of this is that the hand now revolves anti-clockwise although the wheel to which the hand was originally attached and the one to which it is now attached are the same count so the hand revolves at the same speed. It is possible that when the dial was in the original position the arbor carried only the hand and the setting was accomplished by moving the lever on the higher arbor. Now that the dial has been moved higher both the hand and the setting lever are mounted on the same arbor. No doubt the clock was moved to a different location from where it was first installed during one of the re-building projects (see following) and this necessitated the re-positioning of the dial. The handwritten scratch-mark on the back of the dial Repaired and altered by Mr Lloyd 18... could either refer to the repositioning of the setting dial or perhaps to the alterations to the pendulum. The original lead bob was retained but changed from being used in a horizontal plane to a vertical plane which has necessitated the fitting of a different rod and alterations to the crutch. The bell, dated 1721, was re-cast in 1935, and may have replaced an earlier, less pleasing, bell; or possibly the clock could have been first moved as early as 1721 at which time a new bell was fitted perhaps leaving the older bell in its original position.

In his article ‘A Thomas Tompion Turret Clock’ in Antiquarian Horology of March 1973, J.E. Locke of John Smith & Sons Ltd. of Derby concludes with a paragraph which aptly sums up his thoughts about this rare and important turret clock: The name Thomas Tompion sheds a lustre over any clock which bears it; what should we have thought of this clock if we had come across it in the course of our work without knowing it to be by the Master? The answer is that we should have recognised the work of a craftsman not only in the actual manufacture but in the design and proportions of the clock. It is far more sturdily built than many clocks of its period, having robust brass wheels, well shaped teeth, a sturdy frame, and all the solidarity and dignity which are the hall-mark of a good turret clock of any age, very different from the spindly and rough work of some of the village blacksmith makers. We claim, with all modesty, to be clockmaker craftsmen ourselves and we salute our ‘Father’.

Thomas, 1st Earl Coningsby (1656-1729)
Thomas Coningsby was the son of Humphrey Coningsby of Hampton Court, and his wife Lettice Loftus, eldest daughter of Sir Arthur Loftus of Rathfarnham, Ireland. He was an ardent supporter of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and opposed the Jacobite faction. He accompanied William III to Ireland and was present at the Battle of the Boyne where the King was injured. He was appointed joint receiver and Paymaster-General of the forces employed in Ireland, and from 1690 to 1692 he acted as the junior of the three Lord Justices.

He established a network of allies in Ireland, notably Sir John Hely, the Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer, who had married his sister-in-law Meliora Gorges. His political opponents accused him of having used his position for profiteering by the embezzling of stores, the appropriation of the estates of rebels, the sale of pardons, and dealings in illicit trade. However, the most serious charge was that he had illegally ordered the hanging of a man named Gaffney, who was an embarrassment to Coningsby because he had witnessed a murder, the perpetrator of which had obtained an acquittal by bribing the administration. Despite this he retained royal influence, and by 1692 the king created him Baron Coningsby of Clanbrassil in Ireland, and promoted him to privy councillor in the following year. William III also indicated that he would grant Coningsby a pardon under the Great Seal of Ireland for any transgressions he might have committed while in office in Ireland, but his opponents sought to impeach him in the Westminster parliament of 1693. However this and a similar motion in the Lords were defeated, and in May 1694 he received the promised royal pardon.

From 1695 until his death, he held the office of chief steward of the city of Hereford, an appointment which involved him in a duel with Lord Chandos (see inventory no.104 from this collection), another claimant of the post, but no mischief was done. In April 1697 he received a grant under the Privy Seal of several of the crown manors in England, and in October 1698 he was again created the vice-treasurer and paymaster of the forces in Ireland.

During Queen Anne’s reign Coningsby was generally out of favour, but when George I acceded, he resumed his old position in public life. He was well rewarded for his zeal on behalf of the Hanoverian succession, becoming Lord Lieutenant of Herefordshire in November 1714, and Lord Lieutenant of Radnorshire in the following month. Coningsby was granted a barony in the English peerage in 1716, and was raised further as Earl Coningsby in 1719, He was included in the select committee appointed to inquire into the negotiations for the Treaty of Utrecht, and, as a result of their investigations, the impeachment of Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford (another Tompion customer) was proposed by Coningsby; a family feud had long existed between the two Herefordshire families, and Coningsby wrote soon afterwards: Ever since I came down my house has been a fair and for six days of the seven I have not a moment to myself, but I begrudge neither my trouble, my time, nor expense I am at … Since God has enabled me with the assistance I have had from the Government, my Lord Chancellor, and the Duke of Newcastle to recover Radnorshire entirely and this county in great measure out of the hands of my Lord Oxford, the worst of peers, the Bishop of Hereford, the worst of Bishops, and Baron Price, the worst of judges, and this for the service of the best of Kings and the best of administrations.

Two years later Harley was unanimously discharged, but this was only achieved by Coningsby withdrawing from the proceedings. In the later years of his life, Coningsby suffered numerous difficulties; he was a widower without a male heir, and became subject to innumerable lawsuits with his neighbours, the Leominster corporation, and the crown.

His troubles arose from his acquisition of the manors of Leominster and Marden where, after elaborate investigations, he became convinced that his rights had been trespassed upon by his tenants. He brought evictions against them for being in possession of estates as freehold, which he claimed to be tenanted and, as these and other claims were resisted, Coningsby was exposed to the criticism of Bishop Frances Atterbury (1663-1732) in the House of Lords, as well as being ridiculed by the satirists, Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) and Alexander Pope (1688-1744). Maddened by constant rebuttals in court, he published a pamphlet reflecting on the Lord Chancellor, for which he was committed to the Tower for six months in 1721. On his release he attacked the Government and the Lord Chancellor in the House of Lords in terms which caused the 1st Earl Cowper to observe that ‘he should have more regard to the chancellor, because he might perhaps come some time under his direction’, hinting at lunacy.

By now turned out of his Lord Lieutenancies, he continued to pursue his feuds, distraining cattle, imprisoning bailiffs, and even threatening to hang the sheriff of Herefordshire. In 1724 the Leominster corporation requested the Duke of Chandos to present a petition to the Privy Council ‘to represent the grievances of the borough from the usurped power of the Right Hon. Thomas Earl Coningsby’. The bishop of Hereford also wrote to Chandos, 27th July 1724, that ‘Lord Coningsby … goes on in oppressing the county and every week produces some new act of tyranny and injustice’. Chandos duly brought these complaints before the Privy Council, where they were considered on 7th November 1724, with the result that Coningsby was struck off the Privy Council.

While this seems to have put an end to his legal prosecutions, Coningsby was engulfed by bitterness and, having been in ill-health for some time, he finally died at Hampton Court in 1729. He was buried at Hope-under-Dinmore church, and Hampton Court eventually passed, via his younger daughter Frances, to his great-grandson George Capell-Coningsby, 5th Earl of Essex.

Hampton Court, also known as Hampton Court Castle, dates back to at least the early 15th century and in 1434, Sir Rowland Lenthall, a knight in Henry VI’s court, was allowed to crenellate, turrellate and embattle his manor at Hampton, and enclose 1000 acres to parkland. In 1510 the manor and its land were sold to Sir Humphrey Coningsby, Justice of the King’s Bench, whose family would continue at Hampton Court until 1810.

In circa 1680, Thomas 1st Earl of Coningsby, began a series of major alterations to the house and it is probable that the Tompion clock was installed at this time as part of those refurbishments. In 1692, Coningsby employed the royal gardener, George London (c.1640 -1714), to remodel the gardens and by then the turret clock would have already been in place. A large formal basin with a central statue of Neptune, created by diverting the course of the River Lugg, terminated the gardens to the south. The Humber Brook, a small stream bounding the east of the site, was transformed into a narrow canal with bridges. There are a number of paintings and engravings, including John Stevens’s painting of c.1705 that shows Hampton Court enclosed by a series of formal gardens in the Dutch style. The remodelled house was also drawn by Leonard Knyff and engraved by Johannes Kip for Britannia Illustrata of 1708 (below), and a clock dial, probably for this clock, is visible beneath the cupola above the stable block.

After Thomas Coningsby’s death in 1729 the house remained in the family and eventually passed through marriage to Viscount Malden, later the 5th Earl of Essex. Further restoration and alterations were carried out in the 1780s. In 1810, the house was put up for sale and purchased by John Arkwright, the grandson of the wealthy industrialist, Sir Richard Arkwright (1732-1792), inventor of the ‘spinning frame’ who left a fortune of over £500,000. Again extensive building work was carried out from 1830, although the 15th century chapel and medieval entrance tower were left intact. The Arkwrights continued at Hampton Court until 1912, when it was sold to a Mrs Burrell who in turn, sold it to Viscountess Hereford (wife of the 17th Viscount) in 1924. The house was sold by her son in 1972, and at that time the Tompion clock was removed from the stable block and then relocated at Lord Hereford’s new home, Haseley Court, Oxfordshire.

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Product Description

Until 1972 this important turret clock was installed in the stable block at Hampton Court, near Leominster, one of the largest medieval manor houses in England. It is one of only two turret clocks known to survive by Tompion, the other being the Cornwallis Tompion of circa 1687 from Brome Hall, Suffolk (also in this collection, inventory no.112).

In 1671, Thomas Tompion was admitted to the Clockmakers’ Company as a ‘Great’ (turret) clockmaker, and it is apparent from contemporary evidence that a small but significant part of his business included the making of turret clocks. None of his contemporaneously recorded public clocks are thought to have survived: in 1674 Tompion supplied a clock for £45 for the Wardrobe Tower at the Tower of London and in 1688/9 he made a clock for £90 for the new Chelsea Hospital. Two further public clocks are also recorded: one made for the Inner Temple in 1686 at a cost of £60 and; a further clock supplied to Woolwich in 1700/1 for £80 (Thomas Tompion 300 Years, p.593). Highlighting the reputational importance of public clocks, as Christopher Wren was attempting to finalise the west front of St Paul’s Cathedral in 1700, he sought to have a clock installed in the south tower, and such was Tompion’s prestige that newspapers announced the famous watchmaker in Fleet Street, is making a clock… which it is said will go one hundred years without winding up… far finer than the famous clock at Strasburg. Sadly, this sensational but somewhat fantastical turret clock was never made.

By the early 17th century, ironworks all around Europe were producing steel using the cementation process, by carburising iron. With a family background in smithing, Tompion would have understood and appreciated the properties of the best irons and steels; English iron, mostly from the Weald of Kent and the Forest of Dean, had high levels of impurities and its performance was limited. By the 1630s the finest iron in Europe was produced in Sweden, from where it was being exported to London in large quantities and converted to steel locally. Swedish law required each iron bar to be stamped with the forge’s mark for quality control. It was graded into ‘first’ and ‘second oregrounds’, after the Öregrund area, and amongst the former was the Leufsta forge (now Lövsta). In their article in Antiquarian Horology, 1976, ‘Iron Marks on Turret Clocks’, Berg and Nettell discuss the Leufsta forge, saying the finest iron in Sweden came from this forge and was much sought after by the steel makers in Sheffield. It is likely that both surviving turret clocks were actually made in Tompion’s workshop, and the Leufsta forge stamp (L within an oval) indicates that he was using iron bar of the very finest Swedish quality. For normal domestic clockmaking each bar would have been cut and worked, resulting in the loss of the stamp, but in the instance of this clock the iron bar was used in its raw state and the stamp survives (as does a stamp on the only other surviving turret clock from Brome Hall, also in this collection, inventory no.112).

The position of the setting dial has been moved at some stage in its life, and is now located higher than originally intended. The result of this is that the hand now revolves anti-clockwise although the wheel to which the hand was originally attached and the one to which it is now attached are the same count so the hand revolves at the same speed. It is possible that when the dial was in the original position the arbor carried only the hand and the setting was accomplished by moving the lever on the higher arbor. Now that the dial has been moved higher both the hand and the setting lever are mounted on the same arbor. No doubt the clock was moved to a different location from where it was first installed during one of the re-building projects (see following) and this necessitated the re-positioning of the dial. The handwritten scratch-mark on the back of the dial Repaired and altered by Mr Lloyd 18... could either refer to the repositioning of the setting dial or perhaps to the alterations to the pendulum. The original lead bob was retained but changed from being used in a horizontal plane to a vertical plane which has necessitated the fitting of a different rod and alterations to the crutch. The bell, dated 1721, was re-cast in 1935, and may have replaced an earlier, less pleasing, bell; or possibly the clock could have been first moved as early as 1721 at which time a new bell was fitted perhaps leaving the older bell in its original position.

In his article ‘A Thomas Tompion Turret Clock’ in Antiquarian Horology of March 1973, J.E. Locke of John Smith & Sons Ltd. of Derby concludes with a paragraph which aptly sums up his thoughts about this rare and important turret clock: The name Thomas Tompion sheds a lustre over any clock which bears it; what should we have thought of this clock if we had come across it in the course of our work without knowing it to be by the Master? The answer is that we should have recognised the work of a craftsman not only in the actual manufacture but in the design and proportions of the clock. It is far more sturdily built than many clocks of its period, having robust brass wheels, well shaped teeth, a sturdy frame, and all the solidarity and dignity which are the hall-mark of a good turret clock of any age, very different from the spindly and rough work of some of the village blacksmith makers. We claim, with all modesty, to be clockmaker craftsmen ourselves and we salute our ‘Father’.

Thomas, 1st Earl Coningsby (1656-1729)
Thomas Coningsby was the son of Humphrey Coningsby of Hampton Court, and his wife Lettice Loftus, eldest daughter of Sir Arthur Loftus of Rathfarnham, Ireland. He was an ardent supporter of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and opposed the Jacobite faction. He accompanied William III to Ireland and was present at the Battle of the Boyne where the King was injured. He was appointed joint receiver and Paymaster-General of the forces employed in Ireland, and from 1690 to 1692 he acted as the junior of the three Lord Justices.

He established a network of allies in Ireland, notably Sir John Hely, the Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer, who had married his sister-in-law Meliora Gorges. His political opponents accused him of having used his position for profiteering by the embezzling of stores, the appropriation of the estates of rebels, the sale of pardons, and dealings in illicit trade. However, the most serious charge was that he had illegally ordered the hanging of a man named Gaffney, who was an embarrassment to Coningsby because he had witnessed a murder, the perpetrator of which had obtained an acquittal by bribing the administration. Despite this he retained royal influence, and by 1692 the king created him Baron Coningsby of Clanbrassil in Ireland, and promoted him to privy councillor in the following year. William III also indicated that he would grant Coningsby a pardon under the Great Seal of Ireland for any transgressions he might have committed while in office in Ireland, but his opponents sought to impeach him in the Westminster parliament of 1693. However this and a similar motion in the Lords were defeated, and in May 1694 he received the promised royal pardon.

From 1695 until his death, he held the office of chief steward of the city of Hereford, an appointment which involved him in a duel with Lord Chandos (see inventory no.104 from this collection), another claimant of the post, but no mischief was done. In April 1697 he received a grant under the Privy Seal of several of the crown manors in England, and in October 1698 he was again created the vice-treasurer and paymaster of the forces in Ireland.

During Queen Anne’s reign Coningsby was generally out of favour, but when George I acceded, he resumed his old position in public life. He was well rewarded for his zeal on behalf of the Hanoverian succession, becoming Lord Lieutenant of Herefordshire in November 1714, and Lord Lieutenant of Radnorshire in the following month. Coningsby was granted a barony in the English peerage in 1716, and was raised further as Earl Coningsby in 1719, He was included in the select committee appointed to inquire into the negotiations for the Treaty of Utrecht, and, as a result of their investigations, the impeachment of Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford (another Tompion customer) was proposed by Coningsby; a family feud had long existed between the two Herefordshire families, and Coningsby wrote soon afterwards: Ever since I came down my house has been a fair and for six days of the seven I have not a moment to myself, but I begrudge neither my trouble, my time, nor expense I am at … Since God has enabled me with the assistance I have had from the Government, my Lord Chancellor, and the Duke of Newcastle to recover Radnorshire entirely and this county in great measure out of the hands of my Lord Oxford, the worst of peers, the Bishop of Hereford, the worst of Bishops, and Baron Price, the worst of judges, and this for the service of the best of Kings and the best of administrations.

Two years later Harley was unanimously discharged, but this was only achieved by Coningsby withdrawing from the proceedings. In the later years of his life, Coningsby suffered numerous difficulties; he was a widower without a male heir, and became subject to innumerable lawsuits with his neighbours, the Leominster corporation, and the crown.

His troubles arose from his acquisition of the manors of Leominster and Marden where, after elaborate investigations, he became convinced that his rights had been trespassed upon by his tenants. He brought evictions against them for being in possession of estates as freehold, which he claimed to be tenanted and, as these and other claims were resisted, Coningsby was exposed to the criticism of Bishop Frances Atterbury (1663-1732) in the House of Lords, as well as being ridiculed by the satirists, Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) and Alexander Pope (1688-1744). Maddened by constant rebuttals in court, he published a pamphlet reflecting on the Lord Chancellor, for which he was committed to the Tower for six months in 1721. On his release he attacked the Government and the Lord Chancellor in the House of Lords in terms which caused the 1st Earl Cowper to observe that ‘he should have more regard to the chancellor, because he might perhaps come some time under his direction’, hinting at lunacy.

By now turned out of his Lord Lieutenancies, he continued to pursue his feuds, distraining cattle, imprisoning bailiffs, and even threatening to hang the sheriff of Herefordshire. In 1724 the Leominster corporation requested the Duke of Chandos to present a petition to the Privy Council ‘to represent the grievances of the borough from the usurped power of the Right Hon. Thomas Earl Coningsby’. The bishop of Hereford also wrote to Chandos, 27th July 1724, that ‘Lord Coningsby … goes on in oppressing the county and every week produces some new act of tyranny and injustice’. Chandos duly brought these complaints before the Privy Council, where they were considered on 7th November 1724, with the result that Coningsby was struck off the Privy Council.

While this seems to have put an end to his legal prosecutions, Coningsby was engulfed by bitterness and, having been in ill-health for some time, he finally died at Hampton Court in 1729. He was buried at Hope-under-Dinmore church, and Hampton Court eventually passed, via his younger daughter Frances, to his great-grandson George Capell-Coningsby, 5th Earl of Essex.

Hampton Court, also known as Hampton Court Castle, dates back to at least the early 15th century and in 1434, Sir Rowland Lenthall, a knight in Henry VI’s court, was allowed to crenellate, turrellate and embattle his manor at Hampton, and enclose 1000 acres to parkland. In 1510 the manor and its land were sold to Sir Humphrey Coningsby, Justice of the King’s Bench, whose family would continue at Hampton Court until 1810.

In circa 1680, Thomas 1st Earl of Coningsby, began a series of major alterations to the house and it is probable that the Tompion clock was installed at this time as part of those refurbishments. In 1692, Coningsby employed the royal gardener, George London (c.1640 -1714), to remodel the gardens and by then the turret clock would have already been in place. A large formal basin with a central statue of Neptune, created by diverting the course of the River Lugg, terminated the gardens to the south. The Humber Brook, a small stream bounding the east of the site, was transformed into a narrow canal with bridges. There are a number of paintings and engravings, including John Stevens’s painting of c.1705 that shows Hampton Court enclosed by a series of formal gardens in the Dutch style. The remodelled house was also drawn by Leonard Knyff and engraved by Johannes Kip for Britannia Illustrata of 1708 (below), and a clock dial, probably for this clock, is visible beneath the cupola above the stable block.

After Thomas Coningsby’s death in 1729 the house remained in the family and eventually passed through marriage to Viscount Malden, later the 5th Earl of Essex. Further restoration and alterations were carried out in the 1780s. In 1810, the house was put up for sale and purchased by John Arkwright, the grandson of the wealthy industrialist, Sir Richard Arkwright (1732-1792), inventor of the ‘spinning frame’ who left a fortune of over £500,000. Again extensive building work was carried out from 1830, although the 15th century chapel and medieval entrance tower were left intact. The Arkwrights continued at Hampton Court until 1912, when it was sold to a Mrs Burrell who in turn, sold it to Viscountess Hereford (wife of the 17th Viscount) in 1924. The house was sold by her son in 1972, and at that time the Tompion clock was removed from the stable block and then relocated at Lord Hereford’s new home, Haseley Court, Oxfordshire.

Additional information

Dimensions 5827373 cm