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Shakespeare Connected - Marking Time in Shakespeare’s England


Although access to clocks was much more restricted than nowadays, clock and calendar time were becoming increasingly important in this period. While many could find out the time by listening out for a public clock or bell tower to chime the hour, another option for those who could afford it was to invest in a dial. Sun dials were often used to tell the time – the Sussex merchant Samuel Jeake, for example, recorded that the time of his birth in 1652 was taken by his father, ‘from an Horizontal Dial, the Sun then shining’. A more portable option was a pocket dial such as this. The inside is engraved with the hours of the day and the outside with the initials of the months. To tell the time, the hole in the inner sliding ring would be lined up with the current month. The dial would then be held up to the light, which would shine through the hole onto the correct hour engraved on the inside.

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