Hour glasses for the purpose of measuring the length of a sermon, were
coeval with the Reformation, as appears from the frontispiece prefixed to the
Holy Bible of the Bishops translation. "Imprinted by John DAY. 1569, 4to." In
this frontispiece Archbishop PARKER is represented with an Hourglass,
standing on his right hand.
Clocks and watches being then but rarely in use, it was thought fit to
prescribe the length of the Sermons of the Reformists, to the time of an
hour, i.e., the run of an Hour Glass.
This practice became generally prevalent, and continued to the time of
the Revolution in 1688: the hour-glass wa splaced either on the side of the
Pulpit, or ona stand in front of it. "One whole houre glasse" - "one halfe
hour glasse," occur in an inventory taken about 1632, of the goods and
implements belonging to the Church of All Saints, Newcastle, vol.ii. p. 370, notes.
In some churches of the Metropolis, those relicts of our ancestors
patience and piety, remained till of late years, though the Sermons have for the
most part dwindled into about a quarter of that time. An Hour glass frame of
Iron, remained fixed in the wall, by the side of the pulpit, in 1797, in the
Church of North Moor, Oxforshire; and the frame of one in St. Dunstan's Church,
Fleet Street, which was of massy silver, but was a few years since, melted
down, and made into two staff heads for the Parish Beadles.