Along with maps, globes and antiquarian books, I have always had a particular fascination for clocks, and other timepieces. Even in our modern world, these things remain symbols of great mystery for me – constant reminders of man’s attempt to make sense of the unknowable world and to impose some human order upon nature’s own delightfully ordered chaos. They are also invariably things of great beauty – the tiny, precise mechanisms that combine to tick away the hours of our day, carry out their cruel pursuit in exquisitely gilded and finely-wrought fashion.
My father-in-law was a particularly enthusiastic collector of clocks. His home was filled with timepieces of every description from budget wristwatches to splendid wall clocks, mantle clocks and one particularly fine grandfather clock. Any visit to him was accompanied by a delightful soundtrack of slightly mis-timed hourly and half-hourly chimes as the various specimens went through their own particular repertoire of bongs, rings and bell-tinkling. When he moved to a smaller house he thoughtfully distributed a large part of his collection to his children and several of them came with us on our French adventure. One of my particular favourites is the 19th century black marble mantel clock which now sits above the fireplace in my study………..