A Visit to Abberley Clock Tower

Creative Commons License Text by Philip Halling, July 2014 ; This work is dedicated to the Public Domain.
Images are under a separate Creative Commons Licence.


1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright

SO7466 : Abberley Clock Tower by Philip Halling
Abberley Clock Tower was built between 29th June 1883 and 1st October 1884 when the topping stone was laid by the architect, James Piers St Aubyn. The clock tower was built by John Joseph Jones as a memorial to his cousin, Joseph Jones who had left Abberley Hall and many acres of land in Worcestershire to him. The tower is 161 feet high and is visible from six English counties. The tower remained in the Jones family's ownership after Abberley Hall was sold and became a school in 1916. The tower was eventually sold to the school in 1939.
by Philip Halling

SO7466 : Abberley Clock Tower by Philip Halling SO7466 : Abberley Clock Tower by Philip Halling SO7466 : Abberley Clock Tower by Philip Halling
Anyone familiar with north Worcestershire will be familiar with Abberley Clock Tower, built in a Gothic-style in the 1880s by the then owner of Abberley Hall, John Joseph Jones. The tower is 161 feet tall and is sighted 700 feet above sea level in the Abberley Hills. Its prominent position means it can be seen from six English counties, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire and of course Worcestershire. It is also visible from across the border in Wales. The tower was built in just fifteen months between 29th June 1883 and the 1st October 1884 when the architect, James Piers St Aubyn lay the topping stone. The building work was carried out by Patman and Fotheringham and their master mason George Long. The tower is now owned by Abberley Hall School and has been so since it was purchased from the Jones family for a token £1 in 1939. The hall had already been sold in 1916. The tower is occasionally open; usually just a couple of days each year, though I understand it is possible to book tours for small groups. Hearing on the local BBC radio that the tower was open for a couple of days which coincided with leave days I took the opportunity to visit. Unfortunately visibility was restricted, being unable to see more than some ten miles in all directions. It was just possible to see the tower of Worcester Cathedral to the south-east and Clee Hill to the west.

Ascending the tower one encounters three rooms, one of which, the Oriel Room, was used as a sewing room by Sarah Amelia, wife of John Joseph Jones. This room contains oriel windows which have stained glass, one showing the family coat of arms and another, the initials JJJ, those of the man who commissioned the tower. These three letters appear in many other places such as the entrance to the estate and on fences.

SO7466 : Windows within Abberley Clock Tower by Philip Halling
Stained glass windows in the Oriel Room within Abberley Clock Tower, the window on the left has the initials 'JJJ', the initials of the man who commissioned the building of the tower, John Joseph Jones.
by Philip Halling

SO7466 : Oriel window, Abberley Clock Tower by Philip Halling SO7466 : Fireplace within Abberley Clock Tower by Philip Halling SO7466 : Carvings within  Abberley Clock Tower by Philip Halling
Also within the tower is the room containing the clock mechanism and another, the belfry with five bells. Originally the tower housed a carillon with 16 bells but sadly this was removed in 1939 when the tower was sold.
SO7466 : Belfry in Abberley Clock Tower by Philip Halling
The belfry within Abberley Clock Tower now contains five bells, until 1939 when the tower was sold to the school which occupies Abberley Hall, there were 16 bells. The removed bells were melted down and destroyed forever.
by Philip Halling



Also in the tower are two water closets which surprised me, but then thinking about it why wouldn’t there be toilets.
SO7466 : Water closet, Abberley Clock Tower by Philip Halling
One of two water closets in Abberley Clock Tower believed to be the first flushing toilets in the county. They were made with French polished Spanish Mahogany and were installed by Dent and Hellyer of Newcastle Road, Stroud. They would have included a white China Wedgwood ware pan.
by Philip Halling



The tower was built as a memorial to Joseph Jones, John’s cousin and benefactor, and not as it often thought as to overlook and be one up on his near neighbour the Earl of Dudley at Witley Court who used to boast What I see, I own.

The cost of constructing the tower was £7,980 15s 6d and yet the clock cost almost double, costing £15,000. The clock was made by JB Joyce of Whitchurch and is still serviced by them. This company supplied clocks for many notable buildings such as The Royal Exchange, Manchester, nearby Worcester Cathedral, Eastgate Clock, Chester, and further afield the Customs House, Shanghai, Sydney Post Office, Australia and in Cape Town, South Africa, the City Hall.
SO7466 : Clock in Abberley Clock Tower by Philip Halling
The clock mechanism in Abberley Clock Tower. The clock was made by J B Joyce of Whitchurch in Shropshire and is still serviced by the company.
by Philip Halling



During the Second World War the clock tower’s lofty position came to good use, it was occupied by the Home Guard as an observation post enabling them to watch for enemy aircraft approaching Birmingham.

The view! Sadly restricted by the limited visibility of the day.
SO7466 : On Abberley Clock Tower by Philip Halling SO7466 : Abberley Hall by Philip Halling SO7466 : Abberley Hall School by Philip Halling SO7466 : View west from Abberley Clock Tower by Philip Halling SO7466 : View to the north-west from Abberley Clock Tower by Philip Halling SO7466 : View to Abberley village by Philip Halling SO7466 : Abberley Hill by Philip Halling SO7466 : View to the south-east from Abberley Clock Tower by Philip Halling

Information in this article referenced from the guide book 'Abberley Hall and Clock Tower' by Jo Roche.
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