The lantern clock between the top of the Great Stairs and the Brown Gallery will be a familiar sight to visitors to the show rooms at Knole. It is believed to have been made in the mid seventeenth century, making it the oldest clock on display.
In order for a clock to run smoothly, it is really important for there to be as little dust as possible, particularly around the mechanism. Too much dust can contaminate the lubricant on the mechanism (also called the movement) increasing its acidity and forming a paste which, over time, can grind away at the metal components. With the clock in a busy area of the house and with regular winding, the build up of dust and fibres from the rope that holds the weight can be very rapid.
With the clock stopped, we can very carefully remove this build up of dust. The outer case was dusted first so that any dirt from here would not fall inside during cleaning.
It is really important not to spread the dust around the movement so great care was taken to gently tease the dust out from the base and direct it straight into the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner. We were also very careful not to touch the movement in anyway, not only to avoid causing physical damage but to reduce the risk of contamination from dust particles on the brush.
With cleaning complete, we were able to wind the clock ready for opening. The clock is wound every day that the house is open to visitors and runs for approximately 8 hours. On days that Knole is closed to the public and during the winter months, the clock is not wound to keep mechanical stress to a minimum.
Lucy, Emily, Melinda and Sarah