London Fecit, c1630
William Bowyer was probably the finest maker of lantern clocks in London up to the English Civil War and is one of the few makers who continued working through the war. The fine example by Bowyer shown here was made around c1630 with balance wheel control. It then went through the customary conversion to anchor escapement with the alarm being removed before being re-converted back to balance. Bowyer has signed his name on bottom of the front fret 'William Bowyer, London fecit'. The dial centre is engraved with an interesting gothic, gadroon, pattern.
Above. Showing a close-up of the dial centre which is engraved with an interesting gothic, gadroon, pattern. Photograph by Lee Borrett, courtesy of a private collector.
Above. Showing a close-up of the fret which is signed 'William Bowyer, London fecit'. Photograph by Lee Borrett, courtesy of a private collector.
Below. Showing a side view of the William Bowyer movement. Note the two original seperate rope pulley's and iron clickers are retained. Photograph by Lee Borrett, courtesy of a private collector.
Below. Showing a close-up of the tapered arbours. Photograph by Lee Borrett, courtesy of a private collector.
Below. Showing the top plate of the William Bowyer lantern c1630. The clock has gone through the customary conversion to anchor escapement with the alarm being removed before being re-converted back to balance. Photograph by Lee Borrett, courtesy of a private collector.
In summary this fine clock is full of charm and character and is a rare survivor. It appears to be James Brundle’s only known lantern clock to date but hopefully showing it here will help bring other examples to light. Like so many clocks of this age it is shrouded in a wonderfully historical background. When James Brundle made this lantern clock it was only a year or two after the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660. This is likely to have been a less stressful time in Brundle's life as like every one else he had just survived through the hardships and brutal period of the English Civil War. However, these happier times would not last long as only a few years later James Brundle would perhaps bear witness to the horrific events of the Great Plague that would wipe out much of the population in London during 1665 and 1666. Then (if he survived) the terrible destruction of thousands of London buildings which left many people stranded and homeless caused by the Great Fire on the 2nd September of 1666.
I find it fascinating that having just recently rejoiced the return of their King - the first owners of this clock who in the dark evenings would have held a candlelight to its beautiful tulip dial to look at where the iron hand was pointing - were completely unaware about the terrible events that would soon be coming their way!
Charles II, 1660
Above Charles II. Portrait of King Charles II by John Michael Wright, oil on canvas, c.1671-76. Image by Alamy.com
In 1660, in what is known as the English Restoration, General George Monck met with Charles and arranged to restore him in exchange for a promise of amnesty and religious toleration for his former enemies. On May 25th 1660 and under invitation by leaders of the English Commonwealth, Charles II, the exiled king of England, landed at Dover, England. Four days later on May 29th he arrived in London in triumph. It was his 30th birthday, and London rejoiced at his arrival to assume the thone and mark the beginning of the English Restoration, ending 11 years of military rule.
Above May 29th 1660, King Charles II of England arrives in London and assumes the throne, marking the beginning of the English Restoration. Image by Alamy.com
In the first year of the Restoration, Oliver Cromwell was posthumously convicted of treason and his body disinterred from its tomb in Westminster Abbey and hanged from the gallows at Tyburn.
The Great Plague
The Great Plague was London’s last major outbreak of the plague, a bacterial infection caused by Yersinia pestis. The outbreak began in the late winter or early spring of 1665. By the time King Charles II fled the city in July, the plague was killing about a thousand people a week. The death rate peaked in September when 7,165 people died in one week.
Above PLAGUE OF LONDON, 1665. /nLord, have mercy on London. Contemporary English woodcut on the Great Plague of 1665. Image by Alamy.com
Officially, the city recorded 68,596 deaths from the Great Plague, and the true death toll may have exceeded 100,000. Most of these deaths were from bubonic plague, a form of plague spread through fleas on small mammals. In London, the major carriers were rats. (In the United States, where plague has likely existed since a 1900 outbreak in San Francisco, squirrels and prairie dogs can and do transmit plague to humans.) After peaking in September 1665, the city’s plague deaths began to taper off that winter. In February 1666, King Charles II returned to London, signaling a belief that the city had become “reasonably safe,”
London had already burned several times in its history, most notably in 1212, but in September 1666 the conditions were present for an inferno of epic proportions. The city of 500,000 people was a tinderbox of cramped streets and timber-frame structures, many of them built with flammable pitch and tar. Stables filled with hay and straw were everywhere, and many cellars and warehouses were packed with combustible materials such as turpentine, lamp oil and coal. To make matters worse, a months-long drought had created a water shortage and left most of the wood buildings kindling-dry.
Above Great Fire of London 1666. Alamy.com
The fateful spark in the Great Fire came early on Sunday, September 2, at the Pudding Lane bakery of Thomas Farriner. Before heading to bed that night, Farriner had made a final inspection of his bakery and raked the spent coals in his ovens, which were still warm from a day of making ship’s biscuit for King Charles II’s navy. He would later swear that the ovens were extinguished when he retired to his upstairs apartment, but it seems that a smoldering ember escaped and started a fire. Whatever the cause, at around 1 a.m., Farriner awoke to find his house in flames. The baker and his daughter only survived by exiting an upstairs window and crawling on a gutter to a neighbor’s house. His manservant also escaped, but another servant, a young woman, perished in the smoke and flames.
All told, the Great Fire had destroyed 13,200 buildings and left an estimated 100,000 people homeless. Over 400 acres of the city had burned, leaving behind a desert of charred stone and smoldering wood beams. “London was, but is no more,” Evelyn lamented. Compared to the scale of the destruction, the supposed death toll was miniscule. Official reports listed as few as four people killed, but many modern researchers believe the number failed to include those whose bodies were cremated by the flames. “The true death toll of the Great Fire of London is not four or six or eight,” author Neil Hanson has argued, “it is several hundred and quite possibly several thousand times that number.”
The above information about:- The Restoration of King Charles II, The Great Plague of 1665 and The Great Fire of London1666 was taken from the website History.com
The Restoration of
A Fine early lantern clock by William Bowyer of London, dating about c1630. Private Collection, photographed by Lee Borrett.
The Great Fire of