Why the grandfather clock became famous

Anita Durairaj

published by Ward, Lock, & Tyler of London; Wikipedia Commons; Public Domain Image

Some people find the grandfather clock to be very creepy. There might be a good reason behind that.

The origin of the grandfather clock is steeped in a creepy little story involving an American songwriter called Henry Clay Work.

Henry was born in the 1830s and he is well-known for a few songs especially one called "My Grandfather's Clock."

Here is the first stanza in Henry's song:

"My grandfather's clock was too tall for the shelf
So it stood ninety years on the floor
It was taller by half than the old man himself
But it weighed not a pennyweight more

Henry was inspired to write the song about the grandfather clock when he visited England in 1875. In England, Henry stayed at the George Hotel in North Yorkshire.

The lobby of the hotel contained a grandfather clock that had stopped working. No attempt was made to repair the clock. When Henry inquired about the clock, he found out the real story.

The George Hotel was once managed by two brothers.They kept the clock in the hotel lobby because it kept very good time and was very accurate. This was unusual as clocks in those days were not very accurate.

One day, one of the brothers died and the clock immediately started losing time. It kept losing time even when the clocksmiths tried to repair it. Every day, it would lose more than an hour of time.

Eventually the second brother passed away and the clock completely stopped working. Was it just coincidence that the clock stopped working when the brothers died or was it something else altogether?

In any case, Henry was so inspired by the story that he wrote his song called "My Grandfather's Clock." The song became a massive hit for its time securing more than a million sales.

Henry's song also resulted in the popularity of the word "grandfather clock". Previously, these types of clocks were called floor clocks or longcase clocks.

No one knows if the story of the brothers and the grandfather clock was based on truth or fiction. Either way, it remains an interesting part of the history of the clock.

Sources: The Clock Depot, Henry Clay Work - Wikipedia, Nerdist

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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