Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Clock Tower


I have just posted another video on You Tube relating a recent visit to St Albans:

If this link does not work, try my You Tube channel and search under title:


As always, I have posted the video here (see  below) for those who tell me they cannot always access You Tube for one reason or another  along with the poem I read over the video and the description accompanying it.

Built between 1403 and 1412, is the Clock Tower, the only medieval example in the country. From the beginning it had a mechanical clock, a great rarity at that time. As the Abbey also had one, this was probably the reason for having the same. Indeed, the Clock Tower itself seems to have been intended as a visible statement of St. Albans' civic ambitions against the power of the Abbot. It was both a look out as well as a curfew, ringing out the times when people had to be indoors "covering the fire".

From 1808-1814 during the Napoleonic war, it was used by the Admiralty as a semaphore station. This was operated by a shutter system and could help relay a message to or from Yarmouth in 5 minutes.

By the 1860's the Tower was in a bad way and was nearly demolished. The restoration in 1864 was supervised by Sir Gilbert Scott. In 2004, the roof was rebuilt with improved public safety and access.


The o’clock is ‘now’
that once was ‘then’
and now is but history

So stands an old clock tower,
monument to its (and our)
yesterdays, todays, tomorrows;
more power to the abbot,
ringing out curfew at a time
of birth, death, war,
and more… Enter, a bishop,
charged with paying
God and St Alban fair dues
to any with the time to stop, listen,
and choose

For the time is now
that once was then
and becomes ‘ours’

In time and space, listening out
for an o’clock sure
to keep us safe, bring peace,
point us through each day
with the mechanical indifference
of hands signing us up
to such existence as we know now
once was ‘then’ ever signalling
the ways of humanity, its history,
multiplicity, duplicity, and obsession
with eternity 

Copyright R. N. Taber 2013

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