The Only Place in Town

A woman in a red shirt smiling

Harriet Whitehorn, Children’s Author

I’ve been visiting the British Museum quite a lot lately as I’ve been researching ancient Egypt and the mummies for my latest Violet book. I recently came across the Clock Gallery, sandwiched between the Vikings and the café.

I’ve been a few times now. It’s only two rooms on the third floor but the space is crammed with everything from 16th-century clocks to modern-day clocks.

What could be more fascinating than the passing of time? There are lots of pocket watches and fascinating table clocks whose dials face up (obviously they never caught on), and I particularly like the amazing golden galleon that tells the time and fires its canons.

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The gallery also explains the history of measuring time. It explores how man has controlled time over the ages, how clocks started in churches and cathedrals, and moved on from there. I like the fact that when you go in there it’s a multi-sensory, immersive experience, what with the ticking and chiming of all the clocks.

They’re just extremely beautiful mechanical objects, almost a convergence of science and art. To be honest though, I love the British Museum anyway – I’ll often pop in if I’m passing.