Clock with one arm stands tall at Delaware County Historical Society

The tall, wooden longcase clock stands regal in the Delaware County Historical Society’s first-floor gallery, and a peek inside its bonnet reveals the timepiece has only one arm!

The longcase clock, also known as a grandfather clock, was donated to the DCHS by Mary Mendenhall Brazer in the 1920s.

It had been at Primitive Hall, a manor house in West Marlborough Township, Chester County. The hall was built in 1738 by the Irishman Joseph Pennock, who inherited 4,000 acres from his maternal grandfather, George Collet.

William Penn had given Collet, a Quaker, grants totaling more than 4,000 acres in the London Grove vicinity. For the next 100 years, that area was settled and occupied mainly by Quakers.

Pennock himself became a noteworthy man, having served in the Pennsylvania General Assembly as a representative, and he also sat as a court justice. According to the Primitive Hall Foundation, Pennock was known to have had “dignity combined with an engaging personality, good manners and hospitality.”

Two generations of Pennocks grew up as farmers in that area. Each of Joseph Pennock’s five married sons was given farm tracts averaging 500 acres.

One armed clocks were believed to have been manufactured from 1658 to the 1700s, when two-handed clocks became more prevalent. One-handed clocks date back to pre-pendulum days when timekeeping was not needed to be as accurate as today.

Until that time, clocks were accurate within a 15-minute time frame. And, in fact, when two-armed clocks were introduced, some people had difficulties reading them.

For some time, the DCHS clock had been on display at its former offices on Greenbank Farm before being brought to its Chester home in July 2016.

Repair work was recorded on the clock around July 1973.

This longcase clock and other historical items are housed in the collection at the home of the Delaware County Historical society, located at 408 Avenue of the States in Chester. It is open to the public Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and the second Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Appointments are also available upon request. Parking is free in the lot behind the building or across the street in the city’s municipal lot.

For more information or for ways to get involved, call 610-359-0832.

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