Standing 8ft tall and bedecked with beautiful gilded figures, the Pyke Clock is one of the most imposing and unique pieces in Temple Newsam House’s extensive collection.
Thought to have once belonged to Queen Marie Antoinette of France and later the Duke of Buckingham, the clock was made in 1765 by royal clockmaker George Pyke.
The clock’s face is framed with gilt depictions of classical gods and muses along with columns entwined with flowers which support flaming torches, with the figure of Mercury- the messenger of the gods- presiding over the whole ensemble. For the past 15 years, the clock, which was designed to play tunes from the Georgian period, has been silent.
But thanks to a painstaking conservation project carried out by experts and students of West Dean College working with staff at Temple Newsam, the clock’s complex inner workings and barrel organ have been restored to their former glory.
Now, when the clock chimes, it plays one of eight melodies as a number of figurines and characters who make up a rustic scene spring into life.
They include musicians that begin to play, dancers who perform, a waterwheel that turns, a dog and cattle that pass over a bridge and a fleet of ships that sail across a choppy sea.
Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s executive member for culture, said: “It’s amazing to see and hear the Pyke Clock in all its glory.
“It really is a spectacular piece of craftsmanship and it’s a real privilege to have on our doorstep to appreciate and enjoy.”