Fund launched to repair the village clock on the tower of St Margaret’s Ditchling

For just over a hundred and fifty years, since 1868, the villagers of Ditchling have heard the clock on the tower of St Margaret’s chiming the hours, the halves and the quarters. Whether you were wondering whether it was time to get up, or listening to see if it was time for lunch or to leave your place of work for home, or even lying in bed awake worrying about something, the chimes marked the inexorable passage of time. 


Experts say that the clock is a fine example of work by Tucker of London (see photo). It was restored in around 1920 by Gillett and Johnstone of Croydon, just after records say that in celebration of Peace in 1919 the seven bells of St Margaret’s were rung in 5,040 changes (35,280 strokes) over three hours and ten minutes (see photo). To avoid the heavy weights that power the mechanism hanging down into the nave, the cables were originally diverted horizontally through a tortuous route so that there was sufficient fall. The increased friction made the winding extremely heavy and not very efficient, so about twenty-five years ago the manual winding was replaced by electric motor drives. This not only avoided the hard physical work of winding, but also avoided the need to repeat this every two or three days.

Over the years Ditchling Parish Council with great foresight has generously made a grant to St Margaret’s to support the maintenance and servicing of the clock.  This has not only covered regular maintenance but has also a small “Clock Fund” to grow to cover occasions when some additional work was needed.

Such an occasion has now arrived. Eerily coincident with the pandemic you will have noticed that for some time the clock has not been striking. Several visits by our regular maintainers, the Cumbria Clock Company, have shown that owing to lack of spares and unreliability the existing electric winding will need to be replaced. To replace the driver of the main clock mechanism along with the mechanisms for the quarter and half hour chimes with a ten-year guarantee will cost over £6,000, while we have only £1,030 accumulated in our Clock Fund. As for many organisations, church funds have been severely impacted by the pandemic and so a campaign has been launched to help with funding. If you would like to donate you can using the Donate button below.  Cheques and cash would also be most gratefully received if you would prefer and a collection box is available at St Margaret’s.

Reverend David Wallis said “I’ve been approached by many people asking about the clock and feel confident that the campaign will be successful so that we can get the repairs completed as soon as possible and the chimes we’ve missed so much would return to Ditchling”.

© 2020 by The Beacon Parish