Remembering to change the clocks twice a year is an important task—but for most of us it is quick and straightforward. However, spare a thought for the staff responsible for the clocks at Britain’s royal palaces this weekend who will be changing hundreds of timepieces in a task expected to take more than 30 hours.
“Three Horological Conservators will work through the weekend to adjust the clocks at Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace and the Palace of Holyroodhouse,” the Royal Collection Trust, the charity which looks after the priceless Royal Collection, said in a statement today. The organization said that there are over 1,600 timepieces in the Royal Collection, including 450 at Windsor Castle, 350 at London residences Buckingham Palace and St James’s Palace and 50 at the Palace of Holyroodhouse that will need to be changed this weekend.
The wintertime change to an hour behind makes the task particularly arduous as not all clocks can have their hands rotated counterclockwise. These particular clocks are instead stopped and started again exactly an hour later.
The clocks being reset include some of the finest and most historical items in the King’s palaces, such as the Anne Boleyn Clock, reputed to have been given by Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn on the morning of their marriage in 1532. Another important item is Queen Charlotte’s watch, which was the first to have a lever escapement and is considered to be the forerunner of modern wrist and pocket watches. Even the tiny clocks in Queen Mary’s Doll’s House, which is on display in Windsor Castle, are being changed.
“Clockmakers have been employed by the royal household for centuries, and it is a privilege to continue that tradition and to get to work with this extraordinary collection every day,” Tjeerd Bakker, Senior Horological Conservator said in a statement. “Visitors love the fact that the clocks are kept running and on time; they are a key part of the experience of visiting the State Apartments at these working royal residences.”
The UK’s clocks change at 2 a.m. on the last Sunday in October to go back one hour. During the winter, the clocks are set to GMT, (Greenwich Mean Time) and in the summer they are set to BST (British Summer Time).
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