John C Taylor

My Vision


Horology and Clocks


Clocks are wonderful historical objects, and very important in their development, because through clocks came timepieces that went to sea and this gave ships the gift of navigation

If it were not for clocks,  we would have no jumbo jets flying the Atlantic because even now, they use time to find out where they are through GPS.  So clocks have been extremely important on that front.  They are delightful and beautiful objects in their own right and I think very much part of the history of Great Britain, England and London in particular.

My collection – which tours the world – focuses on early English clocks.  The pendulum was first noticed as being a time base by Galileo and the apocryphal story (or it may be genuine) is that he saw the High Altar lamp swinging in Padua cathedral, and then he used his pulse to time the swing. 

As the swing decayed he noticed that it was the same number of beats of pulse regardless of the amplitude of the lamp.  He had more sophisticated timing than the beat of your heart!  You can find that the larger the swing, the slower the pendulum and it’s only as it decays it actually goes faster.  It appears to be going fast when it’s swinging in this way but in fact it’s going faster time-wise when it’s got a small amplitude.

Christiaan Huygens the Dutch physicist, was the first to formalise a pendulum clock, when he published Horologion, and he took out a patent for a domestic clock.  I think that Ahasuerus Fromenteel in London was actually making pendulum clocks two or three years before Christiaan Huygens.  But Christiaan Huygens certainly did the drawings and made a pendulum clock for domestic use which was disclosed in his book, and Ahasuerus Fromenteel’s son went over to help with the manufacture.  John Fromenteel went over to help Saloman Coster, the clockmaker in Holland who had the contract to make the domestic clocks for Christiaan Huygens.

I was lucky enough to help curate the John Harrison exhibition in the Jerusalem Chamber in Westminster Abbey, the Royal Society, and Buckingham Palace.

The historical records of the development of clock making is as fascinating as the inner workings of these wonderful machines.

Interesting Facts

Thousands of years ago in the Middle East, a random genetic mutation caused a group of grapes to spontaneously abort their own seeds before the seeds could develop hard casings. The result: seedless grapes. To reproduce the fruit, a farmer simply cloned the vine — meaning that all seedless grapes today are direct descendants of that one mutated grape vine.

Latest News

New Royal Academy of Engineering Centre Named after Dr John C Taylor OBE

The Royal Academy of Engineering has opened the new Taylor Centre, a space for the Academy’s Enterprise Hub, which supports entrepreneurs, and which is named after one of Britain’s most successful engineers, Dr John C Taylor OBE. Dr Taylor, who is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) made his name creating small electrical components that are vital to many pieces of technology we couldn’t live without. Early electric kettles would not turn off when the water was boiling, meaning that they needed constant supervision and were in danger of melting and starting fires if they were not… read more

Interesting Quotes

To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.

Elliott Erwitt