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Clock stopped when the old man died

14 February 2014

A CLOCK tended by a churchwarden for more than 50 years stopped at the exact minute that he died.

John Farrer was a GP in the village of Clapham, North Yorkshire, and twice a week for more than half a century he had climbed the tower of the parish church of St James to wind its clock.

When he died, aged 92, at 8.13 a.m. on New Year's Day, the hands of the Victorian timepiece froze at the same moment. "It was a remarkable coincidence," the Vicar of St James's, Canon Ian Greenhalgh, said on Sunday. The event recalls the parlour song "My Grandfather's Clock", which, as the refrain says, "stopped short, never to go again, when the old man died".

"Some people thought it was a little bit spooky, but these things happen in life," Canon Greenhalgh said. "I just thought it was a nice farewell to this man who has been a faithful servant. It was as if the clock was endorsing that. . .

"The clock is a feature of the village; it's always been there. It was just amazing that it would stop at that precise moment. We think it was some debris which had blown in with all the winds we've had lately."

Canon Greenhalgh is to hold a memorial service next Tuesday for "Dr F", as Dr Farrer was known locally. He moved to Clapham from Australia with his wife, Joan, and young family in 1953, after two of his uncles died in quick succession, leaving him to inherit the family estate of Ingleborough, which includes the village.

"When he arrived, the estate was in debt," Canon Greenhalgh said. "He worked as a doctor while running the estate. It is in pretty good health, now."

He expects several hundred people at the memorial service.

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