London Curiosities: The Fortnum & Mason clock

When walking along Piccadilly you may have heard the soft chimes of the Fortnum & Mason clock. Standing over the main entrance, the famous timepiece, whilst dainty in design, is ten foot tall and weighs in excess of four tonnes. Before it was placed on the building, the front wall had to be reinforced to be able to support the weight.

The clock was commissioned in 1964 by the shop’s owner, W Garfield Weston. Designed by Berkeley Sutcliffe, it depicts William Fortnum and Hugh Mason who turn to bow to each other every hour, on the hour.

The delicate selection of eighteenth-century airs, which play every 15 minutes, come from eighteen bells which were cast at the renowned Whitechapel Bell Foundry (who also cast the bells for Big Ben).

This year, Fortnum & Mason are celebrating its history in its Christmas windows. Fittingly, there is a window dedicated to the clock. For the festive season, Mr Fortnum and Mr Mason are wearing Christmas hats and carrying gifts and tipples rather than their usual candles. See the window and festive clock in action here (from 5:12).

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