February 9, 2014

His death stopped the clock in the church tower

Church clock maintained by dedicated doctor every week for 30 years stopped the moment he passed away

A church clock maintained by a devoted doctor for almost thirty years stopped at the very same moment he passed away.
Dr John Farrer climbed the narrow stone spiraled stairs of the St James' Church clock tower in Clapham, North Yorkshire, every week for three decades. He died at his home aged 92 surrounded by family on New Year's Day.

The man's son, also Dr John Farrer, glanced at his watch as his father slipped away - and later realised the church clock also stopped at the exact same time.

 Clock-Tower   Dr.-John Farrer

Dr Farrer said: 'The clock stopped literally to the minute of dad's death. As a family doctor I'm used to looking at my watch because sometimes it can be critical for the death certificate.

'It was just habit that I did it as we knew he was going to die. He was having palliative treatment, but I realised he had stopped breathing and I read the time on my watch as 8.15am.  'It was only later when I spoke to two different people in the village that we realised the clock had stopped at the same time.'

Dr Farrer's death came just a few weeks after the 60th anniversary of his arrival in the village to take over the 10,000-acre Ingleborough family estate, which he had inherited.

Although St James' Church is not part of the estate, it was rebuilt around 150 years ago using the Farrer's family money. 'Something strange was certainly going on,' said Dr Farrer. 'But it's quite a nice touch when we think of all the time my father devoted to it.

'He had maintained it for 30 years but it eventually became too much for him and he reluctantly had to hand over the responsibility.  'It's the focus of the village and because the village is small enough to hear the clock chime it's a real time keeper. It was very close to my dad's heart.' 

The clock was restarted following Dr Farrer's funeral, where he was remembered for his dedication for the village as well as his medical career.
Posted by Jill Fallon at February 9, 2014 8:23 PM | Permalink