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George Pyke’s Musical Clock

The film explores the workings of the magnificent musical clock and automaton made by the royal clockmaker George Pyke in 1765.

It is one of the great treasures of Temple Newsam and was comprehensively restored in 2014 and brought back into full working order for the enjoyment of our visitors. We see how the automata spring into action when the hour is struck and one of the eight popular tunes begins to play from the concealed barrel organ.

The clock consists of two main components: Its case, which houses the clock, automata and dial, and barrel organ, is accented with ormolu rosettes baring peninsular corners and banded by looking glass while supported by pairs of ormolu feet. Four brass columns corner the case and are spirally banded by a cascading floral trail.

At the top of each stands an urn finial. Matching and elaborately pierced chased gilt bronze panels of floral sprays, musical instruments, female masks, and flaming urns fill the arched side doors, lined with green cloth. The hood is surmounted by a cast figure of Mercury. Two arched doors that are bolted by lock and key enclose the organ mechanism and clock.

Figures begin to dance, musicians to play, windmills and watermills to turn, animals chase each other and ships sail away into the horizon. The Pyke Clock has been inspiration for the Osmondthorpe Creative Writing group, based in East Leeds, to produce poetry and prose. Their work is exhibited beside the clock at the bottom of the Oak Staircase at Temple Newsam.

With grateful thanks to both Jan Wells and Dean Hinchcliffe for their expertise in producing these films.

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