Act of Parliament Clock
Act of Parliament Clock hung in the vestry at High House Chapel, Ireshopeburn

House of Commons Journal No 52 for 1797
House of Commons Journal No 52 for 1797

Duty on clocks and watches bill
Duty on Clocks and Watches Bill

Eastgate Roman Altar
Original Location: High House Chapel, Ireshopeburn
Current Location: High House Chapel, Ireshopeburn
Theme: Cultural/Social
Period: Post-medieval
Date: c.1798 - 1800

What is it?
A Cased wall clock from the late Georgian Period commonly known as Act of Parliament Clock

What is its relevance to the North Pennines?
Very few people have ever heard of this little known Act of Parliament. Parliament Clocks were public service wall clocks erected by various institutions - notably taverns - following the 1797 introduction of a clock tax by William Pitt in his efforts to raise funds for the wars against Napoleon.

The Duties on Clocks and Watches Act July 18th 1797 covered all timepieces, including watches and clocks. The annual tax rate was two shillings and sixpence (half a crown) for a basic watch up to ten shillings for a gold watch. Clocks costing more than 20 shillings (one pound) were rated at five shillings. Clock makers and dealers were also subject to a tax of five shillings on their license.  Some groups were exempt such as hospitals, churches, public buildings the Royal Family and, of course, Parliament itself

The result was that people simply stopped buying new clocks and watches. Clockmakers and their suppliers rapidly went out of business and the act was repealed nine months later in May 1798. One of the taxes brought in to replace the Clock Tax was Income Tax in December 1798. As a response to the Act many public buildings and institutions put up their own large clocks on display to the public. This style of clock, even after the act was repealed, became known as an Act of Parliament Clock.

Why is it important?
This is the only known clock of its kind in the North Pennines. It has always been known as the Act of Parliament Clock though we will never know whether it was erected in response to the act or it is simply named after this style of timepiece.

Text References

  • House of Commons Journal No 52 for 1797

 

External Links:

 

 

 

 

 

 


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