Riddle as church clock strikes 13

BIG brother may not be watching a tight-knit Suffolk parish but the church clock has begun striking 13.

Will Clarke

BIG brother may not be watching a tight-knit Suffolk parish but the church clock has begun striking 13.

George Orwell's famous parable on fascism and the erosion of freedom 1984 famously begins with Big Brother time striking 13 and that is something like the experience in the parish of All Saints in Sudbury.

However, even with no malevolent government spying on residents, the chime of 13 has baffled the community, which has looked to the six foot stone face of the church clock since 1880.

Virginia Bonner, 70, who lives near the church, said: “I heard it strike 13 today. It is unusual and somebody said they heard it strike 13 last night.

“I don't know if it has happened before as I don't normally count the chimes but it doesn't bother me.

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“However, people definitely notice these things and a lot of people still rely on the clock so hopefully it will be repaired soon.”

Jean Willings, 76, church warden at All Saints, said the clock was an important element of the area: “People do rely on it and they do become quite upset when it stops - they check the time when they go past and they enjoy hearing it.”

Simon Gill, vicar at All Saints, recalls the last time the clock struck 13 was shortly after he joined the parish four years ago and it seemed to bode well for his tenure then.

“It happened when we first came here and I took my family up the tower to look at the parish,” he said.

“My son, who was then aged 8 stumbled over the striking mechanism and that seemed to activate it when it had not been working for some time and it chimed 13.”

When the clock was first installed by a London maker it was an important piece of technology at a time when few ordinary farm workers could afford a time piece.

But Nicky Smith, of clock builders and repairers Smiths of Derby, tasked with maintaining the All Saints clock said it was hard to say what was causing the problem but it could be a simple repair.

“There are all sorts of problems which can occur and that is why we check our clocks every year,” she said. “This clock has been very good - over the last 12 months it has lost only six minutes.

“But it is an old machine and they need a lot of care and attention.”

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