“Random encounters with the unusual” is a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way. Have a look, maybe you will find something interesting or amusing herein.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Clocking the Earth as the Centre of the Universe

Here is another Church based oddity, this time from Wimborne Minster in Dorset.

Prior to Nicolaus Copernicus' 16th Century predictive mathematical model of the Solar System, that showed how the planets orbited the Sun, it was widely believed that the Earth was the centre of the Solar System and even the Universe. Wimborne Minster's astronomical clock, which is estimated to date from around 1320, is a relic from this pre-Copernican era.

On the face of the clock the Earth is show as a blue/green sphere which is positioned in the very centre of the clock face. The Sun, which is a gold emblem painted on a black disc, revolves around the perimeter of the clock's face and indicates the hour of the day as it orbits the Earth. Between the Earth and the Sun there is another sphere which has one hemisphere painted black, and one hemisphere painted gold. This black/gold sphere represents the Moon, and as it orbits the Earth it depicts the Moon's lunar phases. At full moon the sphere's golden hemisphere is on display, and at new moon the sphere shows its black side in its entirety. Intermediate phases of the Moon are shown by a display of varying proportions of the black/gold hemispheres.

Some say that as the clock dates from 1320 it is amongst some of the oldest working clocks in the world,  a group which includes clocks from Salisbury Cathedral and Beauvais Cathedral in France. It is also suggested that the clock was built by a Glastonbury Monk, Peter Lightfoot, who was also responsible for building a similar pre-Copernican clock for Wells Cathedral.

Wimborne Minster.

Looking towards the clock in the West Tower.

The clock.

Wimborne's pre-Copernican clock is not the only item of interest inside Wimborne Minster. The Minster is also home to a coffin which has a rather odd looking date inscribed on it. The coffin was commissioned by local eccentric Anthony Ettrick, who seemed to be convinced that he would die in 1693 and he had the coffin inscribed in anticipation. Unluckily for him however, he lived until 1703, and now the coffin bears a "half-arsed" attempt to amend the date of his death. This solution clearly being cheaper than the manufacture of a new stone coffin.

1693 or 1703?

Pictures: Dorset (May 2015).

If you find this post interesting please share it using the buttons below.

No comments:

Post a Comment