Jubilee Clock Tower, Churchill

The Jubilee Clock Tower, striking clock, and drinking fountain, is a Grade II listed building in the village of Churchill in North Somerset, built to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. It stands on a plot between Dinghurst Road and Front Street, and is a prominent landmark at the entrance to the village. Designed by Joseph Foster Wood FRIBA of Foster & Wood, Bristol, the tower is made of local stone and is of perpendicular Gothic style.

Jubilee Clock Tower
Picture of the Jubilee Clock Tower at Churchill in North Somerset, taken from the west of the tower, looking towards Dinghurst Road
Jubilee Clock Tower
TypeClock tower
LocationChurchill, North Somerset, England
Coordinates51°20′02″N 2°47′57″W / 51.333833°N 2.799260°W / 51.333833; -2.799260Coordinates: 51°20′02″N 2°47′57″W / 51.333833°N 2.799260°W / 51.333833; -2.799260
Height12 metres (40 feet)
Founded1897 (124 years ago) (1897)
FounderSidney Hill
Built1898 (1898)
Built forQueen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee
ArchitectJoseph Foster Wood FRIBA
Architectural style(s)Perpendicular Gothic style
Governing bodyChurchill Parish Council
Listed Building – Grade II
Official nameJubilee Clock Tower and attached walls and railings
Designated19 January 1987 (34 years ago) (1987-01-19)
Reference no.1129198
Jubilee Clock Tower, Churchill is located in Somerset
Jubilee Clock Tower, Churchill
Location of Jubilee Clock Tower in Somerset

The tower has a cast iron clock face on each of its four sides with one mechanism driving the clock hands. The escapement and clockwork was supplied by J. B. Joyce & Co in 1898 and is wound every three days by volunteers. The clock strikes the hours and chimes the Westminster Quarters. Responsibility for maintenance of the clock tower transferred to the parish council after the original trust could no longer afford to maintain it. The whole structure, tower, walls, and railings, was designated as a Grade II listed building on 19 January 1987, nearly ninety years after the tower was built.



In 1897, Sidney Hill, a local businessman and benefactor, purchased the old turnpike house, near the Nelson Arms pub in Churchill, and also a house and plot of land between Dinghurst Road and Front Street, near the entrance to Churchill village. Both sites were in a state of disrepair and were unsightly.[3] Hill planned to clear the old buildings and debris, plant ornamental shrubs, and enclose the plots with iron railings; similar in design to the then plantation in front of the nearby Methodist church and schoolroom that Hill had built in Front Street, Churchill, in 1881.[4] Furthermore, his intention was to build a clock tower on the Dinghurst Road and Front Street site to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897.[3]


Hill engaged Joseph Foster Wood FRIBA, of Foster & Wood, Bristol, to design the clock tower.[5][b] He had engaged the same firm of architects to design the Methodist church and schoolroom.[4] Foster & Wood was a busy architectural practice in Victorian Bristol and many landmark Bristol buildings were designed by them, including Fosters Almshouse (1861), Colston Hall (1864), the Grand Hotel on Broad Street (1864 to 1869), Bristol Grammar School (1875), as well as a large number of Wesleyan chapels throughout the city.[7]


The tower was built by the end of 1897, and the bell and clock mechanism were installed the following year by J. B. Joyce & Co.[8] On 31 July 1901, Hill gifted the clock tower, along with the schoolroom next to the tower, to the Churchill Memorial Chapel and School Trust.[9] Graham Clifford Awdry FRIBA, Joseph Foster Wood's former business partner, wrote in Wood's obituary, "A charming memorial tower at Churchill, Somerset, is a good specimen of his originality".[5]


By March 1974, the wall surrounding the tower was crumbling, and the tower stonework required pointing and cleaning.[10] The clock's winding mechanism was also in a poor state of repair and it would have cost a thousand pounds to mechanise it. The Churchill Memorial Chapel and School Trust, the trust responsible for the upkeep of the tower, had an annual income of five hundred pounds, and was paid twelve pounds per year by the parish council to maintain the tower. The trust had asked for more help from the parish council, as they had concluded that it was not possible to maintain the tower and the other church properties for which they were responsible.[10][8]

It was recognised that the long-term future of the tower lay either with listing the tower as an historic monument or that the parish council take over the maintenance of the tower.[10] By September 1976, the trust had applied to the Charity Commissioner to have its responsibilities transferred to the parish council.[11] In the same month, John Edgar Howard Smith, the managing director of Smith of Derby Group, the holding company of J. B. Joyce & Co, wrote to the parish council offering to carry out a free survey of the clock, although at the time of Smith's letter, the trust had recently refurbished and renovated the mechanism at a cost of two hundred pounds.[8]

In 1977, for the Queen's Silver Jubilee, the tower was cleaned by Arthur Raymond Millard BEM ("Ray Millard"), former chairman of Churchill parish council, and a team of volunteers.[12] Their work was commemorated in 1979 through a plaque affixed to the west side of the tower.[13]


On 25 October 1978, the parish council established a charitable trust to maintain the clock and tower as a public amenity.[14] In 1980, contractors were engaged by the council to treat the tower with a chemical to discourage pigeons from roosting and soiling the ornamental stonework.[15] In 1987, overgrown moss was removed from the wall and iron railings surrounding the tower.[16] The Open Spaces and Allotments committee of the council is now responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the clock tower.[17]

Architecture and featuresEdit

A commemorative plaque is attached to the clock tower, and on the east side, a drinking fountain, with tap and water pump fittings, is built into a niche.

The tower has a cast iron clock face on each of its four sides, with Roman numerals indicating twelve hours on each face. The clocks are attached to a square tower that has buttresses to the first floor. One mechanism drives the faces on all sides of the tower. The second floor holds the clock mechanism and bell. The inscription on the string course above the clock faces, and below the bell floor, reads:

  • West: "June 20 1897 This tower"
  • South: "& clock was erected by Sidney Hill JP of Langford House in"
  • East: "this parish to commemorate the sixty years of the beneficent"
  • North: "reign of her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria"

A drinking fountain, with a cast iron tap and water pump fittings, is built into a niche on the east side of the tower.[1][c] A bench has been installed outside the Reading Room in the clock tower enclosure and a new pathway constructed to provide disabled access.[19]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Ashlar consists of cut stone blocks that are squared so that smooth sides make fine joints so that level courses are possible. It is often used to face walls built of rubblestone, brick or concrete.[2]
  2. ^ Joseph Foster Wood was the son and nephew of the founders of Foster & Wood.[6]
  3. ^ The fountain was intended to provide drinking water "for man and beast".[18]


  1. ^ a b Historic England. "Jubilee Clock Tower and attached Walls and Railing (1129198)". National Heritage List for England. London. Archived from the original on 16 January 2021. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  2. ^ Conway, Hazel; Roenisch, Rowan (2015). Understanding architecture: An introduction to architecture and architectural history. London: Routledge. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-203-97319-6. OCLC 906184770.
  3. ^ a b "Churchill. The Diamond Jubilee". Weston‑super‑Mare Gazette, and General Advertiser. Weston‑super‑Mare. 17 April 1897. p. 8. OCLC 751660952. Retrieved 10 June 2020 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  4. ^ a b "Churchill. The New Wesleyan Memorial Chapel". Weston Mercury. Weston‑super‑Mare. 14 May 1881. p. 2. OCLC 751662463. Retrieved 10 June 2020 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  5. ^ a b Awdry, Graham Clifford (March 1917). "Joseph Foster Wood Memoir". RIBA Journal. 3rd. London: Royal Institute of British Architects. 24: 120. ISSN 0035-8932. OCLC 1764591. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  6. ^ "Married Three Weeks. Death of Mr. G. Awdry, of Bathford". Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette. Bath. 25 September 1937. p. 15. OCLC 1016318847. Retrieved 11 June 2020 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  7. ^ "Mounted photograph of Church Mission School, Lucknow, India, designed by Bristol architects Foster and Wood in Bristol Byzantine style" (1870). Record relating to Foster and Wood, Architects, ID: 45855/1. Bristol: Bristol Archives. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  8. ^ a b c "Councillors to tidy up round Churchill clock". Cheddar Valley Gazette. Cheddar. 7 October 1976. p. 3. ISSN 0963-2867. Retrieved 10 June 2020 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  9. ^ "Copy Deed of Gift. Churchill Memorial Chapel and School Trust: Sidney Hill of Langford House, Langford, Somerset to trustees, of schoolroom, clock tower and land" (31 July 1901). Records of the West Mendip Methodist Circuit and associated circuits and churches, Series: Churchill, ID: 40314/Ch/8i. Bristol: Bristol Archives. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  10. ^ a b c "Victoriana Landmark to be Saved". Cheddar Valley Gazette. Cheddar. 22 March 1974. pp. 1, 3. ISSN 0963-2867. OCLC 500333072. Retrieved 10 June 2020 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  11. ^ "Dilapidated old clock could be a village asset". Cheddar Valley Gazette. Cheddar. 30 September 1976. p. 3. ISSN 0963-2867. Retrieved 21 June 2020 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  12. ^ "The Jubilee clean up for Jubilee Clock". Cheddar Valley Gazette. Cheddar. 10 March 1977. p. 3. ISSN 0963-2867. Retrieved 10 June 2020 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  13. ^ "Plaque for Churchill's clock tower". Cheddar Valley Gazette. Cheddar. 5 July 1979. p. 1. ISSN 0963-2867. Retrieved 12 June 2020 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  14. ^ "The Clocktower Charity". Charity Commission. Westminster. 25 October 1978. 277263. Archived from the original on 16 September 2021. Retrieved 16 September 2021.
  15. ^ "Only limited success with pigeon problem". Cheddar Valley Gazette. Cheddar. 14 February 1980. p. 2. ISSN 0963-2867. Retrieved 16 April 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  16. ^ "Action call to repair tower wall". Wells Journal. 18 June 1987. p. 9. OCLC 1065219374. Retrieved 16 April 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  17. ^ Churchill Parish Council (20 January 2020). "Open Spaces & Allotments Committee". churchillpc.org.uk. Churchill. Archived from the original on 19 August 2021. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  18. ^ Archer, Peter (2009). "25. Simon Sidney Hill". In Fryer, Jo; Gowar, John; et al. (eds.). Mores Stories From Langford: History and tales of houses and families. Lower Langford: Langford History Group. p. 240. ISBN 978-0-9562253-1-3. OCLC 743449641.
  19. ^ "From the committees. Open Spaces" (PDF). The Tower (Newsletter). Spring 2015. Churchill: Churchill Parish Council. 2015. p. 4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 June 2020. Retrieved 19 August 2021.

Further readingEdit

  • Hodges, Michael Alexander (1996). Churchill: A Brief History of the area of the Civil Parish (Revised 13 September 1996 ed.). Wrington: West Country Design. OCLC 31076058.
  • Ferson, E. B.; Mass, A. M. (1903). The tower clock and how to make it; a practical and theoretical treatise on the construction of a chiming tower clock, with full working drawings photographed to scale. Chicago: Hazlitt & Walker. hdl:2027/loc.ark:/13960/t0gt66c5h. OCLC 1145081500.
  • Leeming, Charles Frederick (1977). Langley, Peter (ed.). Langford and Churchill Guide. Sir John Wills. Churchill: Cliftonprint. OCLC 852053375.
  • Thomas, Steve; Thomas, Darlah (2013). Joyce of Whitchurch: Clockmakers 1690 to 1965. Chester: Inbeat publication. ISBN 978-0-9573733-1-0. OCLC 1059414120.

External linksEdit