This is an important clock and a late example of John Selwood’s work, as he died in 1651. John and his older and better-known brother, William Selwood, established the famous workshop ‘The Mermaid’ in Lothbury, which is a street near the Bank of England in the City of London. The clock was made in about the year 1650 and this was around the time that the Selwood bother's would have just witnessed one of London's most historically important events which happened in Whitehall, London, in 1649 and known as the 'Trial and Execution of King Charles I'.
The Trial of
King Charles I, 1649
After seven long years of a ferocious and unrelenting war which sent terror and destruction throughout the whole country King Charles I was put on trial for treason and found guilty. He was executed on Tuesday 30th January 1649 outside the Banqueting House in Whitehall, and it has been said that he faced his death with courage and dignity.
Above. CHARLES I ON TRIAL. King Charles I of England (seated alone just before center) on trial before a specially constituted high court of justice in Westminster Hall on 20th January 1649. Colored English engraving, 1684. Alamy.com
Below. Below. A closer view of King Charles I, during his Trial in January 1649 - English Civil War, 1642–1651. He was found guilty of Treason. Alamy.com
Above.The 1649 death warrant of king Charles I, 29th January 1649. This is a copy of one of the most important documents in English history - The official order for the execution of King Charles I. Oliver Cromwell's signature is highlighted bottom left. Alamy.com
King Charles I, 1649
Above. King Charles I was executed on Tuesday 30th January 1649 outside the Banqueting House in Whitehall, and it has been said that he faced his death with courage and dignity. Image by Alamy.com
Lantern Clock, c1650
The Selwood’s trained a number of apprentices at the Mermaid in Lothbury who later became well-known lantern clock makers in their own right. At present there are only one or two clocks known signed by John and this clock shown here is the only one with the address ‘ neare the French Church’.
Above. A Fine and important early lantern clock by John Selwood c1650. Made right at the end of his working life as he die in 1651. Private collection, Photographed by Lee Borrett.
Above. Showing a close-up of the John Selwood dial centre which has a beautiful flower design and typical of Lothbury during the 1650s. Original iron hand. Private collection, Photographed by Lee Borrett.
Above. Showing a close-up of the John Selwood fret which is signed 'John Sellwood neere the French Church'. Private collection, Photographed by Lee Borrett.
The chapter ring half-hour markers are a type of crow's foot. Clocks by the Selwood brother's and their associates invariably display a well-known cast mark on some of their brass components known as the 'matchstick man' and this clock has some fine examples of this feature within the movement. Interestingly this mark is typical of many other early lantern clocks made in London during this period.
Above. Showing a close-up of a 'matchstick man' casting found one several components within the John Selwood movement Private collection, Photographed by Bill Bruce
This clock has been converted from balance to anchor escapement and long pendulum probably in the late seventeenth century and the person who carried out the alteration found it convenient to move the bell hammer stem nearer to the front of the clock. At the same time, as usual, he completely removed the alarm mechanism from the back of the clock, as it was in the way of his new pendulum suspension. Other than these alterations the clock is completely as John Sellwood made it even retaining it's original doors.
Above. Showing a side view of the John Selwood movement. Note the two original seperate rope pulley's and iron clickers are retained. Private collection, Photographed by Lee Borrett.
Below. Showing a close-up of the tapered arbours. Private collection, Photographed by Lee Borrett.
A Brief Account of
William and John Selwood
William Selwood was baptised in 1607 at Appleton with Eaton, near Abingdon in Berkshire, the son of a yeoman farmer. His younger brother, John, was baptised there in 1613. William was making clocks in London before the formation of the Clockmakers' Company in 1631. His brother, John, came to join him in the business at a later date. If we assume they were making clocks by, but not before, the age of twenty one, that would put William's date of starting work in his craft at about 1628 and John's at about 1634.
In summary the fine lantern clock illustrated here by John Selwood was made right at the end of his working life as we know he died in 1651. This clock is a very rare examle because at present there are only one or two clocks known signed by John and the clock shown here is the only one with the address ‘ neare the French Church’. Hopefeully this article has helped bring part of John Selwood's and the clock's story back to life by showing it along side an historically importent event which happened around the time John Selwood made it!
I would like to thank the following for providing me with images and for allowing me to use any previously published material for this article
The private collector who kindly allowed me to use images of their clock for this website.
My thanks go out to Brian Loomes for the above ' brief account of William and John Sellwood' which was taken from an article by Brian entitled 'William Sellwood of the Mermaid in Lothbury, lantern, clock maker'.
My thanks go out to Bill Bruce who allowed me to use his own material for this website.