The Lichfield Clock

The following document came to our notice recently. It is a letter published in The Gentleman's Magazine for October 1788. The subject matter refers to the Richard Greene museum, which was sited in Sadler Street (now Market Street) in Lichfield. One of the artefacts housed in the Museum was a musical altar clock (English circa 1740-1750). The clock is currently housed in the Victoria Art gallery in Bath. It would be interesting to hear from members who may have knowledge of the Richard Greene museum and the current whereabouts of the artefacts it contained. Below are current photographs of the clock and a drawing made at the time showing the interior of the museum, which is described in the article.

Tony Crookes
December, 2003

The View meets the eye of the spectator when he stands with his back to the Organ; the scale is rather too small to do justice to the articles, nor does it include the most rare and valuable. It consists of two rooms communicating with each other by an opening crowned by an elliptical arch from whose centre suspends, by brass chains, a buffalo's horn - mounted and neatly painted with the arms and crest of the late Thomas Aston, of Aston in Cheshire. It was used as a drinking cup, bearing the motto 'Preft Compiere'. Also the tusk of an elephant, dug out of a gravel pit near Stratford-on-Avon, six feet below the surface of the ground; when taken up it measured nearly a yard and three-quarters in length, the ivory by long continuance in the earth, was rendered as soft as chalk.

A collection of South Seas rarities, brought over by Captain Cook and other navigators, fills the glass case on the left hand. The opposite one on the right hand contains a collection of fire-arms; among which are the match-lock, wheel-lock and snaphance; Turkish, Spanish, Italian and old English muskets. Pistols, of almost all kinds, occupy the lower part of the case.

In the centre of the inner room appears an uncommon musical altar clock whose outer case (as in the plate) represents a Gothic church tower, adorned with pinnacles, battlements, images etc. and crowned with an octagonal lantern of open-work.

For a more particular description of these articles and for a general account of the museum reference must be made to the printed catalogue, sold in Lichfield, the last edition of which appeared in 1786; dedicated to Sir Ashton Lever and Mr Pennant.

It is bad justice to the public-spirited collector to record that the museum is constantly open for the inspection of the curious, except on Sundays, gratis. The drawing was made by Mr Straiger, painter, of this City.

September 9th, 1788