theclockdepot :: History of The Grandfather Clock

History of The Grandfather Clock

How The Grandfather Clock Got Its Name

Over 100 years ago in Piercebridge, North Yorkshire, England, there was a quaint country lodge known as the George Hotel.

The George hotel was managed by two bachelor brothers named Jenkins also from England.The George Hotel where the Grandfather Clock Song was composed

In the lobby stood a floor clock, as they were called back in those days, that had been there for many years. One unusual characteristic on the old clock was that it kept very good time. This was uncommon, since in those days clocks were generally not noted for their accuracy.

One day, one of the brothers died and suddenly the old clock started losing time. At first it lost 15 minutes per day but when several clocksmiths gave up trying to repair the ailing timepiece, it was losing more than an hour each day.

The clocks incurable problem became as talked about as its precision had been. Some said it was no surprise that, though fully wound, the old clock stopped when the surviving brother died at the age of ninety.

The new manager of the hotel never attempted to have it repaired. He just left it standing in a sunlit corner of the lobby, its hands resting in the position they assumed the moment the last Jenkins brother died.

About 1875, an American songwriter named Henry Work happened to be staying at the George Hotel during a trip to England. He was told the story of the old clock and after seeing the clock for himself, decided to compose a song about the fascinating coincidence that the clock stopped forever the moment its elder owner passed away. Henry came back to America and published the lyrics that sold over a million copies of sheet music about the clock grandfather clock song. These are the opening words of the first stanza:

"Oh 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, though it weighed no a pennyweight more..."

Until that time, clocks such as the one in the old George Hotel were referred to by a variety of names, but not before Henry Work wrote his song, over a hundred years ago, were they referred to as grandfather clocks.

The Grandfather Clock Song

by Henry Clay Work

"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

It was bought on the morn on the day that he was born
It was always his treasure and pride
But it stopped, short, never to go again
When the old man died

Ninety years without slumbering
Tic toc tic toc
His life's seconds numbering
Tic toc tic toc
It stopped, short, never to go again
When the old man died.
In watching its pendulum swing to and fro
Many hours he had spent when a boy
And through childhood and manhood, the clock seemed to know
And to share both his grief and his joy

For it struck 24 when he entered at the door
With a blooming and beautiful bride,
But it stopped, short, never to go again
When the old man died


My grandfather said that of those he could hire
Not a servant so faithful he'd found,
For it kept perfect time and it had one desire
At the close of each day to be wound

At it kept to its place, not a frown upon its face
At its hands never hung by its side
But it stopped, short, never to go again
When the old man died


It rang an alarm in the still of the night,
An alarm that for years had been dumb
And we knew that his spirit was pluming for flight
That his hour of departure had come

Still the clock kept the time
With a soft and muffled chime
As we silently stood by his side
But it stopped, short, never to go again
When the old man died"

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