An iron tower clock in the hallway of the hof van Tilly
a special piece of heritage
An iron tower clock in the hallway of the hof van Tilly

The wrought iron tower clock located in the hallway of the Hof van Tilly is perhaps the oldest piece of academic heritage acquired and looked after by Maastricht University, its oldest parts going back to the late fifteenth, early sixteenth century. The mechanical clockwork, which was made for a church in Liege (we do not know which one), was still in use until approximately 1970. The clockwork consists of two components: the mechanism based on weights for driving the hour hands and minute hands and the strike mechanism for striking on the hour and on the half hour. A clock-face is missing, unfortunately. It was once attached to the outside wall of the church’s bell tower. On the left side, a ring showing minute marks is still in place.

Over the past centuries, the clockwork has been rebuilt at least five times, in order to adapt it to changing technologies for measuring time. In particular in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the need for more accurate time indication grew larger. Punctuality became a valued virtue. As measuring instruments, timepieces increasingly strengthened their hold not only on time but also on social life. The clockwork’s current condition allows it to run for one hour. This is owing to the restoration carried out by Hans Beijer, former head of UM Facility Services. Maastricht University purchased the Gothic tower clockwork in 2000. The hallway of the Hof van Tilly, which as of 2003 housed the Faculty of Arts and Culture, precursor of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, seemed like a proper place for this ‘monument of technology’. After all, the programme in Arts and Culture, launched in 1991, has been aimed at providing insight into modern culture. Science and technology thereby play a crucial role as cultural phenomena.


© 2022 Art and Heritage Commission, Maastricht University