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Towering Timepieces: 6 Homes with Clock Towers

Luxury Defined spotlights a collection of properties with stately clock towers to mark the passage of time

Clock towers, those mechanical monuments of public order and timekeeping, are a measure also of civilization itself, of societies organizing and advancing. But more than just chronometric tools, clock towers are works of art in their own right. Some are even cultural touchstones: London’s Elizabeth Tower: Big Ben, as it’s best known, is a masterpiece of Gothic Revival named after the great bell itself. Its majestic tolling, heard worldwide during World War II, broadcast London’s peril, defiance, and hope. The clock tower, obsolete technology, lingers as art and memory. The six towers presented in this Luxury Defined collection have a style all their own; each is crowned by a clock, not just to mark the minutes and the hours, but history itself.

Neo-Renaissance Mansion in Gaiole in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy

This neo-Renaissance villa in Italy’s Chianti Classico wine region is adorned with a pediment clock designed by Florentine architect Ludovico Fortini.

This historic Tuscan estate encompasses roughly 295 acres of farmland, woods, vineyards, and an olive grove in the Chianti Classico wine region. At the heart of the estate is a three-story neo-Renaissance mansion, formerly owned by the Strozzi family (a dynasty of aristocratic Florentine merchants) and later Baron Giorgio Sonnino, brother of Italian statesman Sidney Costantino Sonnino. The mansion’s stately white-stucco façade, embellished between 1914 and 1919, features a pediment clock and a piano nobile with an exterior double staircase designed by Florentine architect Ludovico Fortini. The three-story residence extends to more than 22,000 square feet. A few steps from the villa is a 16th-century chapel, also built in the neo-Renaissance style, which features a columned portico with three crossed vaults leading into a nave with a terra-cotta floor and barrel vaulted ceiling. Above is the belfry. Both the chapel and the residence are protected by Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage. The property also includes a guest cottage with several apartments, wine caves, and landscaped gardens with a pool and tennis court.

Hackwood Park in Hampshire, England

Hackwood Park’s Grade I-listed grounds are as much a national treasure as the Grade II*-listed mansion house. The formal gardens, designed in the 18th century by landscape architect Charles Bridgeman, are complemented by a deer park, pasture, ancient woodland, four estate cottages, and the Grade II-listed stables and coach house with a central clock tower and enclosed courtyard.

This historic estate tells the story of England, through its incarnation from royal deer park to grand aristocratic residence. Less than an hour from London, Hackwood Park commands majestic views of the countryside from its own Grade I-listed 260-acre demesne. The Grade II*-listed mansion was built in the late 17th century and remodeled by Lewis Wyatt in the 19th century. Hackwood House stands at the center of the Grade I-listed formal gardens, designed by Charles Bridgeman in the early 18th century. This magnificent estate also includes a deer park, parkland and pasture, Grade I-listed ancient woodland, four estate cottages, and the Grade II-listed stables and coach house with a central clock tower and enclosed courtyard. The Victorian periodical Ackermann’s Repository called the interiors of Hackwood House “spacious and magnificent, and peculiarly adapted for comfort as well as display.” There is a tangible sense of history throughout the great house, from the vast tapestries that line the entrance hall, to the Grinling Gibbons carvings that adorn the libraries and salon, and the leather-topped desk used by Sir Winston Churchill, a frequent visitor to Hackwood. Other notable guests over the centuries have included Jane Austen, who danced in the great ballroom (now the principal suite).

The focal point of this elegant shingle-style residence is a clock tower and observation deck with a view of Maine’s Rockport Harbor.

This elegant residence is part of an eight-unit condominium complex overlooking Maine’s Rockport Harbour. Built in 1865 as Rockport High School, the building is renowned for its landmark clock tower. The traditional New England shingle-style facade encloses 6,600 square feet of living space across three floors. Two wraparound verandas on the first and second floors open to views of Rockport Harbor. Twelve spacious, light-filled rooms include four bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms, an eat-in chef’s kitchen with wood stove, a formal dining room, and a living room. The owner’s suite occupies the third floor and includes a hidden kitchenette, walk-in closet, office/sitting area, and a luxurious bathroom with large tub and walk-in tiled shower. Oversized windows with stained-glass accents and cathedral ceilings with skylights flood the room with natural light and showcase views of Rockport Harbor and the mature gardens below. The home is a short stroll to the seaside village of Rockport. The coastal towns of Camden and Rockland are a few minutes’ drive.

Grand Florentine Villa in Fiesole, Florence, Italy

A stone tower with a pediment clock is just one of the magnificent details gracing this 14th-century villa in the hills above Florence. Below the clock face is a plaque inscribed with verses from Italian poet Clemente Bondi’s poem L’Orologio.

This manorial villa is surrounded by 30 acres in the hills above Florence. Built in the 14th century, the palatial main residence was home to the Strozzi dynasty of Florence for over five centuries. In 2001, the property underwent an extensive restoration by the current owner, returning the main house, ancillary structures, and gardens to their original splendor. Among the original period details is the clock tower. Below the clock face is a plaque inscribed with verses from Italian poet Clemente Bondi’s poem L’Orologio. Other notable features include frescoes, coffered ceilings, monumental stone fireplaces, and an ornate marble staircase embellished with stucco reliefs and gold leaf, illuminated by a stained glass skylight. The residence offers ample accommodations, with 25 bedrooms and 20 bathrooms between the main villa, coachman’s quarters, farmer’s house, and lemon house. The grounds are composed of Italian formal gardens, wooded parkland, and a 40-foot-long pool, with panoramic views of cypress-clad hills, Florence’s rooftops, and Brunelleschi’s Dome.

Castle Heerlijkheid Loenen in Gelderland, Netherlands

This manor house in Gelderland, Netherlands, was fully restored for the 21st century, yet its 18th-century architectural details remain intact, including a cupola crowned with a turret clock.

Castle Heerlijkheid Loenen is set within an idyllic rural landscape on the banks of the River Waal. Listed as a Dutch National Monument, this former hunting estate includes the elegant 18th-century manor house, 19th-century coach house, stables, an orangery, outbuildings, and verdant parkland abutting the river and protected woodland. The property was extensively restored in keeping with the original 18th-century design. The white-stucco façade catches the eye with its black shuttered sash windows and handsome mansard roof and matching cupola topped with a turret clock. The interiors also retain their 18th-century character with the addition of contemporary creature comforts, such as insulated walls, radiant heated stone floors, security system, and new electrical systems. There are seven en suite bedrooms, a formal living room and dining room, a conservatory, two offices, a large loft, and a lower-level chef’s kitchen and wine cellar. The two-story coach house has two en suite bedrooms, a living room, and an orangery with a professional catering kitchen. Two barns on the property were also updated for events space. The grounds include lawns, herb/flower gardens, terraces, a bamboo gazebo, various fruit trees, woodland, and a parking court. An adjacent meadow is a habitat for deer.

580-Acre Château Estate in Mâcon, Saône-et-Loire, France

This magnificent 580-acre Burgundy estate dates from the 11th century. The 19th-century château, 18th-century mansion, chapel, and several ancillary structures, including a stone building featuring a clock tower under a turreted roof, are classified as historical monuments.

This splendid estate in south Burgundy encompasses 580 acres of formal gardens, woodlands, meadows as well as a private golf club and equestrian center. The dwellings are classified as historical monuments and require renovation. These include an 18th-century mansion, a keep, chapel, stone building with a clock tower, barn, caretaker’s cottage, and a 19th-century château. The dwellings extend to 53,820 square feet of living space with 21 bedrooms. The main residence opens to a grand entrance gallery with a ribbed ceiling and staircase, with its curved stone ramp in a romantic neo-Gothic style. There are three ground-floor lounges on a corridor to the pool terrace. The majestic dining room and magnificent library/media space are finished with exquisite woodwork, monumental fireplaces, and French beamed ceilings. Upstairs are 13 bedrooms and three bathrooms; the third level has been converted into bedrooms and adjoining rooms. The château is set within beautiful gardens planted with specimen trees. Beyond are the woodlands, meadows, swimming pool, equestrian center with staff quarters, and the two golf courses (a 9-hole and 18-hole) with fully equipped clubhouse.