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A buyer’s guide to vintage garden clocks


As a nation of garden lovers, we all enjoy spending time in our outdoor spaces and the addition of a garden clock can really enhance your environment and surroundings. A great investment opportunity for collectors on all budgets, a garden clock is both attractive and functional. Consider the following when investing in a garden clock.

Garden size

Scale is important in your outdoor space; if you wouldn’t have a cinema-screen size television in a small cottage, a clock that would be at home in a school yard may not be right for a balcony terrace. Consider also the position of the clock and the direction(s) it will be viewed from.  

Style of clock

Vintage garden clocks can be found in a variety of styles, from the wall-mounted, double-sided vintage station clock to the simple wall-mounted outdoor clock, to the sundial. Sundials are one of the oldest forms of time-keeper, thought to have originated in ancient Egypt, that rely on shadow length to determine the time of day. A sundial will only be accurate if it has been orientated correctly and if the hour lines have been drawn correctly. Vertical sundials do exist and are usually found on public buildings such as town halls and church towers.

The style of garden clock you choose will be dictated by personal preference as well as the style of garden. The bold, ironwork frame of a station clock, for example, provides a strong focal point that can be viewed from different places, while a wooden garden clock may suit a smaller, cottage garden.

Clock features

What do you want your outdoor garden clock to do, apart from tell the time? Some people like to keep an eye on the temperature outdoors, and there are vintage garden clocks which feature thermometer dials on the clock; double-sided clocks can often be found with the time on one side and the temperature on the reverse, while a single sided clock may have a temperature dial near the centre of the hands. Or would you prefer to monitor what weather is on its way? Some garden clocks will also incorporate a barometer or be available in a matched pair.


The nature of a garden clock means it will be suited to an outdoor environment but look for cracks or damage to the glass and also to signs of condensation which could indicate a problem. As with any vintage clock, check for missing elements. Examine the fixings too, to make sure that prolonged exposure to the elements has not compromised their integrity.


Sympathetic restoration can restore a vintage garden clock to its former glory but unrestored pieces that are in working order can demand higher prices, and will almost certainly add extra character to your space.

When buying from Hemswell Antique Centres, you can be confident that our specialist dealers can be trusted on authenticity and value. Our ranges of both Antique Clocks and Architectural & Garden items can be viewed online and on-site and our experienced staff are always happy to help and offer advice. Why not make a day of it, and browse our four buildings of antiques and collectables? Treat yourself to refreshments in our outdoor dining area, or indoors when social distancing guidelines allow, giving you plenty of time to see everything.

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