The mystery of the missing Minster clock

2 Feb 2015 @ 8.47 pm
| History

When Lianne Brigham of the York Past And Present group came across a picture showing a clock on the outside of the Minster, she started some detective work…

Clock that! The south entrance to the Minster in 1870. Photograph: York Libraries and Archives

Part 1: The mystery begins

A few days ago we posted a collection of York Minster shots on the York Past And Present Facebook page. It was whilst viewing these shots we came across a really interesting one of York Minster with a clock above the south entrance.

I walked around the south side of the Minster just to see if I could recognise where it would have been. I thought there must be some sort of evidence that it was once there.

On examination I realised I was wrong.

I decided the only way to find out is to pop into the Minster and ask (I mean if anyone should know it would be them, right?).

Part 2: Inside the Minster

The Minster in 1880: the clock is gone. And the three triangular decorations above the door have been levelled out. Photograph: York Libraries and Archives
A Minster volunteered listened carefully about the clock and I asked about what had happened to it and if it still existed. She looked a little confused and said she certainly couldn’t remember a clock above the south door.

After a bit of discussion and a look at our picture, everyone agreed it was the Minster and that the clock mystery needed further investigation (I always wanted to be in a Famous Five type mystery…).

The volunteer suggested we go to the South Entrance and compare the images to how the Minster is today. She looked at the photograph and then up at the wall and declared “that’s definitely the Minster”, adding: “Where on earth is that clock?”

“That’s what we are asking,” I replied. So now there are three people researching what happened to the clock…

Part 3: A discovery

Found – the clock today. Photograph: Lianne Brigham
After a good look around we found it. Mounted on a wall inside the Minster on its northern side, and almost unrecognisable, is the clock.

Although it has been repainted, it is definitely the timepiece that once stood above the south entrance.

It turns out that the clock was removed from that position around 1871, and the frontage has also been altered. Comparing the 1870 image to the 1880 image of the South Entrance there are visible changes.

Mystery solved…