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article imageClimbing the medieval clock tower of St. Albans Special

By Tim Sandle     Apr 12, 2015 in Travel
Saint Albans - The market city of St Albans, located in Hertfordshire, England, has a fifteenth century clock tower. The tower is occasionally open for visitors and this spring Digital journal paid a visit.
St Albans is an historic city, dating back to the days of the Roman conquest of Britain. It is located 20 miles away from London.
Within the city there is a medieval clock tower. The tower stands in close to the city's lovely center where there is a bustling market and magnificent cathedral.
The view from the very top of the clock tower. A weather vane is fixed to the top. The alternative t...
The view from the very top of the clock tower. A weather vane is fixed to the top. The alternative term is weathercock. This is an instrument for showing the direction of the wind. They are typically used as an architectural ornament to the highest point of a building.
The base of the clock tower at St Albans. A cobbled street leads up to the entrance of the tower.
The base of the clock tower at St Albans. A cobbled street leads up to the entrance of the tower.
The clock tower dates to the early 15th century. The tower was constructed between 1403 and 1412. The building was designed by Thomas Wolvey, who was engaged to build "Le Clokkehouse" in the Market Place.
The clock tower in its full glory. It is the only extant mediaeval town belfry in England.
The clock tower in its full glory. It is the only extant mediaeval town belfry in England.
The clock tower is one of only two similar towers in England. The Tower was also used as a semaphore station from 1808 to 1814 during the Napoleonic Wars.
One of the windows in the clock tower. This window was fitted as part of the Victorian Gothic restor...
One of the windows in the clock tower. This window was fitted as part of the Victorian Gothic restoration.
Harking back to bygone days, the Clock Tower was used to sound the nightly curfew until 1863. Here all good people were to retire to their homes and only vagabonds wandered the city's streets.
96 steps are required to reach the top of the tower.
There are various levels within the clock tower. These served as shops and as living quarters at var...
There are various levels within the clock tower. These served as shops and as living quarters at various times during the tower's history.
A step of steps leading down from the clock tower. The steps are quite narrow in places.
A step of steps leading down from the clock tower. The steps are quite narrow in places.
The original bell, named for the Archangel Gabriel, is still occasionally chimed. The bell is very loud so it is best not to be in the tower at the time!
The bell at the clock tower  shot in monochrome. The bell chimed rather than rung; it last rang out ...
The bell at the clock tower, shot in monochrome. The bell chimed rather than rung; it last rang out for Queen Victoria's funeral in 1901. It sounds F-natural and weighs one ton.
The clock works off a four-legged gravity escapement invented by Lord Grimthorpe; Grimthrope was a local horologist who also designed Big Ben's mechanism. Horology is the science of measuring time. Big Ben is the famous bell in the clock tower in London, part of the Houses of Parliament.
The four-legged gravity escapement clock mechanism within the clock tower.
The four-legged gravity escapement clock mechanism within the clock tower.
The wheel mechanism  part of the process for working the clock mechanism in the clock tower.
The wheel mechanism, part of the process for working the clock mechanism in the clock tower.
The top of the tower offers some spectacular views.
A view from the top of the clock tower. The cathedral can be seen. It is the second longest cathedra...
A view from the top of the clock tower. The cathedral can be seen. It is the second longest cathedral in the United Kingdom (after Winchester).
A view of the market city of St Albans from atop of the clock tower.
A view of the market city of St Albans from atop of the clock tower.
The tower has been modified several times. Between 1865 and 1866 the architect George Gilbert Scott added the gothic spire and parapets. Scott was the architect of many iconic buildings, including the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras Station, the Albert Memorial, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, each located in London.
The tower is only open Saturdays, Sundays and on public holidays between April and September. The tower costs $1 ($1.50) to visit. For this inexpensive price, the tower is well worth visiting if you are in the area.
A different view of the clock tower. Owing to the scarcity
of clocks and watches in mediaeval times ...
A different view of the clock tower. Owing to the scarcity of clocks and watches in mediaeval times the people were made acquainted with the passing hours by means of bells, usually hung in towers.
More about st albans, Saint albans, Clock tower, Clocks, market town
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