The Cottage welcomes a rare find: the St. Gervais-en-Belin church clock
Clocks, the face of time: past, present, future. There is nothing more grand and majestic than an old clock, the older, the more majestic, right? Well, on a scale from “nice” or “pretty” to “stunning;” our most recent find is off the scale or any chart! We fell in love, instantly, when we saw this beauty! We have friends in Northern France who are always on the lookout for special pieces, and they fill shipping containers with their discovered treasures and ship them to the city of San Francisco, where they are sold to interested parties (like Antique Cottage). They told us that the story behind this clock goes something like this: In Saint Gervais-en-Belin, a small village in the region of Pays-de-la-Loire in north western France, there is a beautiful old church. Its name is perhaps connected to a venerated second century Christian martyr of that name, who with his brother Protasius are the patron saints of Milan where they were born and martyred, as well as the patron saints of haymakers and are said to be the saints that are “invoked” when trying to expose thieves.
The Saint Gervais church has (or had) two clocks, one on the front of the church facing north and another on the side facing west. We don’t know how old that church is, but it underwent a renovation in 1966. At that time an employee of the city rescued this particular clock when it was taken down (presumably to be discarded.) He took it home and put it in his barn, and there it sat for over 50 years! There’s no telling how old the clock was when it was taken off the church, but it is obviously more than 50 years old! A French “antiques picker” discovered it and purchased it, and eventually it made its way to San Francisco where to our absolute delight, we had the opportunity to purchase it. I spotted it and knew that this was the reason we got up at four a.m. and drove all that way. I have always wanted one of these old big clock faces for decorating and photo shoots, but to find one that we know the origin of and is not a reproduction is a once in a lifetime find! There is something about round shapes and numbers that I love. Time…past, present and future are all my friends, so maybe that is why I’m drawn to clocks. Then, to think of the hours this clock kept track of, for a whole village, blows my mind.
This beautiful clock is steel, four feet in diameter and so heavy it took us a bit to even get it out of the van we brought it home in. The words painted on the clock are “Bodet” then “Angers.” It is probably the coolest item we have ever purchased, and we’re still not sure where to put it at the Cottage. Maybe right outside the garden door so it’s the first thing you see straight ahead, or behind the cash counter.