Reprinted from Newsletter 119, dated 2006 June

Kiwi pioneers kept Glastonbury time

Robin Huggins

The lower part of the face of an old clock. The hour numbers engraved around the silver-coloured, partly tarnished, edge are in bold Roman numerals, between which there are decorative emblems, and there are minute numbers every 5 minutes engraved in italic Arabic numerals. The engravings are all painted black. Between the minute numbers are some extra engravings, spelling out “R. Woollan, Glastonbury”. The centre of the clockface is in a different metal, perhaps brass. One of the clock hands is visible and points to about the 24-minute mark. The hand is elaborate, with a hollow stylized moon shape making up part of its stretch, which then gives way to a dagger shape complete with hilt.

This clock was spotted in New Zealand, in a house built in 1847 amid warring Maori tribes. Any clues about its Glastonbury connection?

We were in New Zealand to attend a wedding, and toured both the North and South Islands. At The Elms, a historic mission house (everything over 100 years old is labelled historic in NZ) I spotted a longcase clock with “R. Woollan, Glastonbury” inscribed at the bottom of the face. I would be interested if any further information about the clock comes to light.

My wife and I founded Becket’s Inn in Glastonbury in 1973. We purchased 43 High Street as an empty property. The house had for many years been the home and surgery of Dr Malin Boyd.

Becket’s originally opened as a restaurant, and obtained a full on-licence a few years later. At the time, it was the only freehouse in Glastonbury and offered a selection of real ales from local breweries. The inn was eventually sold to Wadsworth of Devizes.

We now live in Normandy, and have fond memories of our time in Glastonbury. We still visit the area from time to time, as our son lives in Street. Our next visit will be in July, and we’ll hope to obtain a copy of the newsletter.