The majority of Floor Clocks
available today are equipped with Westminster
Chimes. Certain clocks are also supplied
with triple chimes so that the turning of
a selector switch on the dial face give
the choice of Westminster, Whittington or
St. Michael's chimes.
The Westminster Chime strikes four notes
on the quarter hour, eight notes on the
half hour, twelve notes on the three quarter
hour, and on the hour chimes sixteen notes
and strikes the hour
Some clocks are now equipped with a sequential
chime movement that plays Westminster, St.
Michael and Whittington chimes sequentially
Most clocks have a "Big-Ben"
hour gong. The majority of floor clocks
have a series of chime rods inside the case,
which upon being struck by the clock's "hammers"
results in a harmonious chime. Chime
rods are about 1/4" in diameter and
vary from 12" to 17" in length.
A rare minority of floor clocks utilize
chime tubes instead of rods. Tubes
are 1" to 1 1'2" in diameter and
43" to 62" in length, and create
an entirely different tonal quality.
Most clocks have a means of silencing
both the chime section and the hour strike.
This is accomplished by a lever on
the dial face or by two draw-cords inside
A new feature on some clocks is the night
silencer that automatically
silences the clock between 10:00 p.m. and
Other Chime Options
Some floor clocks available on the market
today are equipped with a self-adjustment
mechanism to insure that the clock
strikes and chimes at the proper time. If
it is necessary to move the hands either
backward or forward, the clock will self-adjust
within one hour.
Listen to the Chimes!
Courtesy of Sligh Grandfather Clocks,
we have included the most common chimes
here for you to enjoy. Click on the
links below to hear them:
The world's most famous chimes are the Westminster. Nearly everyone associates the Westminster chimes with the Clock Tower (also known as the 'Big Ben Tower' ) at the House of Parliament in London. Originally, however, they were fitted to the clock of the University Church, St Mary's the Great, in Cambridge, England. The words to this beautiful chime come from one of G. F. Handel's famous musical compositions, "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth" and could be our daily prayer:
Be Thou our guide
No foot shall slide."
The famous Whittington chime is derived
from the Church of St. Mary's le Bow, in
Cheapside, London. The legend is that
Dick Whittington, running away from ill
treatment as a house waif, seemed to hear
the chimes say, "Turn again- Whittington,
Lord Mayor of London Town." Dick
turned back to eventually serve three terms
as London's Lord Mayor of London Town.
St. Michael Chimes
The story of the St. Michael chimes are
one of adventure and perhaps have more significance
to the United States since their history
is really a part of our heritage. The
bells were cast in London and installed
in St. Michael's Church in Charleston, South
Carolina in 1764. When the British
took over the city during the Revolutionary
War the bells were taken by them back to
England. A Charleston merchant bought
them in England and shipped them home to
In 1823, cracks were found in some of
the bells and they were returned to London
to be recast. In 1862, during the
siege of Charleston, the bells were moved
to Columbia for safe-keeping but Sherman's
army set fire to that area. Only fragments
of the bells were found to be returned to
London once more, where the original molds
still stood. In February, 1867, the
bells were again installed in St. Michael
Steeple and on March 21st, joyously rang
out, "Home again, Home again from a
Winchester Chimes While
not included in our "listening"
midis, the Winchester chimes also have a
very interesting history. The Norman
conquerors of England did not like the fantastic
cathedral chimes of the Saxons, so Bishop
Walkilin, a kinsman of William the Conqueror,
demolished and rebuilt the Winchester chimes
in 1093. The cathedral's central tower,
which contained the chimes, fell in 1107
but soon was rebuilt. This edifice
forms a substantial part of the present cathedral,
located in Hampshire, England. The
lyrics of the Winchester chime is:
"O Art Divine,
Each celestial charm
Proudest gift the gods bestow
chimes that mortals know."