Until recently only found in wealthy homes, or on public buildings. Nevertheless they became the subject of several superstitions, from the 1820s onwards. The basic one is that a clock will stop at the very moment its owner dies; the first example given by Opie and Tatem is also one of the most dramatic, for it refers to a clock in the Houses of Parliament having stopped on 27 January 1820, 'being nearly the hour at which HM King George the Third had expired'. A clock stopping inexplicably, or striking the wrong hour, could be *omens of some death soon to occur. Parallel to these beliefs is the custom that as soon as someone dies any clock in the room (or, according to some, all the clocks in the house) must be deliberately stopped, to symbolize the fact that time has now ceased for that person.
   If the church clock strikes the hour during a wedding, within a year the bride or groom will die, though if the timing is such that the bride hears the chime while still outside the church, that brings good luck. Similarly, if it strikes while a hymn is sung at a Sunday service, this foretells death within a week for someone in the parish; a town clock striking while the church bells are ringing, foretells a fire. In Devon around 1900, it was even thought unlucky to speak while a clock is striking (Opie and Tatem, 1989: 84-6).

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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