Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Clocks of Willowbrook Series, No.2...

Our Spiegelhalter clock hangs in the kitchen. The handsome face is about 16" across. The generous size of the clock face hides the pendulum box behind it, making it look like a station clock almost.

The name Spiegelhalter comes from Spiegel-Halde, meaning "looking-glass slope". It is supposed that the Spiegelhalter family came from a farm located in the Black forest region, which was on the side of a mountain over looking a lake, hencelooking-glass slope. George Spiegelhalter and his family ran a jewelers and watchmakers business in the East End of London from about 1828. The shop was originally located in Whitechapel...

but later relocated to 81 Mile End Rd...

We are guessing our clock dates from the time the shop was at 6 Mount Place Whitechapel (164 Whitechapel Rd), given the markings. This would place it prior to 1890. It was purchased for the Chapel of the old Royal London Hospital in the Whitechapel Road. The chapel was above the main entrance on the first floor. When Peter arrived as chaplain in 1990 the C of E chapel had been decommissioned in favour of an ecumenical chapel on the ground floor of the hospital, and he was asked by the matron to sell and dispose of what remained of the chapel furniture and fittings. He found the clock, not in working order, at the back of a dusty cupboard and bought it and had it restored by Colin Bent of Albion Clocks in East London. It requires winding every 14 days.

The Spiegelhalter family is probably more famous for their store in the mild end road, which they refused to sell to Wickhams department store despite all attempts to persuade them. Thus, the new department store was built around them, much in the same way as today's Chinese nail houses. This meant that the store's grand neoclassical facade is interrupted, and the tower above the facade had to be built off centre, something I would have found so distressing that I would have picked up sticks and built my department store elsewhere...


  1. Great story! I used to collect antique clocks.
    does it chime?

  2. How super that a family from the black forest region of Germany could be so successful in Britain. George Spiegelhalter clearly ran a very successful jewellers and watchmakers business in the East End of London.

    I am following the Wartski firm in the same industry, founded in North Wales by another immigrant family. Later two shops were established in the fashionable seaside resort of Llandudno. And then, under royal patronage, in London.

    Perhaps it was acceptable for immigrant families to do very well in jewellery and watchmaking.


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