An Out of Time Tale

At this time of year when we start to think longingly of spring and become impatient to reach that lovely moment when we move our clocks forward one hour and happily step into those wonderfully long light days of spring and summer; let us take another look at our ‘Out of Time Tale once again.

This true story appeared first in the April 1997 edition of the “Clent Clarion” (Edited by Carole Hodgson ) and more recently in The Parish News  (May 2015)  as For Whom The Bell Tolls. The original tale was written for the Clent WI’s Golden Jubilee Scrapbook in 1965. The author of the tale was Elsie Partington, the late wife of John Partington, founding member and former chair of Clent History Society. John plays an active part in this tale.

My husband winds up the village church clock (St Leonard’s) and next to me (I hope!) and his love of canals, it is a love of his life. He really cares for that clock. He has to wind it twice a week and this is usually on a Tuesday and Friday.

On Friday October 8th (1965 ) he had performed this duty faithfully, but the next day we noticed it was not striking the hours, so he climbed the tower steps again and gave it a few more turns – for the rest of the day all sounded well.

On Sunday night however I was awoken, at midnight exactly, by my husband shaking me violently. I came to, out of the mists of sleep to hear the church clock clanging and my husband counting ….. twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen……..and on and on!! I couldn’t find the lamp switch fast enough and he couldn’t seem to get his feet into his slippers, but in actually only a few minutes, which seemed like hours, he had his trousers on, his pyjama jacket tucked in and seemingly leaped from the house and ran , at the double, up the lane. It was a beautiful moonlit night, which helped. Then into the church, fumble for the lights again, up the twisty narrow staircase, and eventually into the bell chamber to take the hammer off.

During all this the clock excelled itself- and had struck 186 times!

In the post office next day the post mistress told my husband that a lady had been in and told her of how she had roused all of her family when she heard the bells striking  for so long, and got them  to dress; she was sure somebody – “might be  outer- space- men, even “- had come to invade us.

In actual fact a cog wheel needed repairs, and now this has been done time dings -out at just the right number of strokes, and all is well. “


John only gave up winding the clock a few years ago – Those stairs up to the bell tower can be a bit much at times!



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