Dover Castle clock, striking turret clock with foliot timekeeper

1590-1610 in England

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Ancient striking clock with crown wheel escapement. Obtained from Dover Castle. From a colour transparency in the
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Striking turret clock with original foliot balance and crown wheel escapement made between 1590 and 1610. The clock was found at Dover Castle in 1872.

This is one of the few surviving public clocks that still uses its original ‘foliot balance’ for its time control. Most foliot clocks were converted to pendulum control in the 1600s.

A foliot balance is a horizontal weighted bar which is pushed in one direction (a ‘tick’) and then the other (a ‘tock’) by a crown-shaped toothed wheel, pulled round by a falling weight.

The crown-shaped wheel is part of an ‘escapement’. The potential energy in the falling drive weight is allowed to escape a little at a time. All mechanical clocks have some form of escapement. This clock was probably made in London by Leonard Tennant or one of his apprentices. It was found at Dover Castle in 1872.


Time Measurement
Object Number:
iron, textile, wood
overall (estimate): 890 mm x 580 mm x 575 mm, 93 kg
weight-driven foliot clock
  • furnishing and equipment
  • measuring device - instrument
  • timepiece
  • clock
On loan from English Heritage

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