On a tour of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich I saw the following display on the history of mechanical clocks:

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The suggest that mechanical clocks and astronomy weren’t really combined in England until the 16th century.

Now I thought mechanical clocks came into use in the 13th century.

My question is: When did mechanical tower clocks start being used?


1 Answer 1


In 14th century, but it is not known precisely, where and when was the first clock made. Salisbury cathedral has on display something they call the "oldest surviving clock", made in 1386. But similar claims are made about some French and Italian cocks for which they give earlier dates.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salisbury_cathedral_clock

This is about mechanical (weight-driven) clocks. Water clocks are much older, exist since antiquity, and there were also some large and complicated water clocks in China.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The oldest tower clock has a date number like an intel chip number? An i386? $\endgroup$
    – hawkeye
    Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 13:32
  • $\begingroup$ No, the date is not stamped on the clock, and in fact the existing clock on display seems to be restored. But it is known from the records when it was made. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 18:39
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexandreEremenko hawkeye was just having fun there. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 19:06

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