GRADE I † Mainly early C15, some older fragments; later restorations. A huge church for a small village. Simon Jenkins awards it ** and with good reason. Wonderful bench ends, not to be missed. See… More
KIMPTON . HANTS . ST PETER & ST PAUL – Scratch Dials
ST PETER & ST PAUL . KIMPTON . HANTS
GRADE I † C13, C14, C15, C18; C19 works & restorations. Cruciform, with a south aisle to the nave, south porch, and western tower. Single cell nave and chancel of c1220. Blocked north door in the nave. Unusual C19 2-stage tower is pleasingly incongruous. 6m W of Andover, just N of the dread A303. 51.2181 / -1.5988 / SU281466
BSS records from 2013 are based on a survey in 1995 which mentioned 2 dials quite close to each other on SE angle of S transept. For both dials BSS notes: Known only from reference. No other details. No longer extant.
ARG made the original record on his visit in July 1925, noting one dial and a doubtful one, both on the SE angle of S transept. His descriptions are as follows:
DIAL 1. On the large quoin on SE angle of S transept... late C14. He described it as an imperfect dial, with some lines LLQ, 4 of which ended in pocks; and some pocks LRQ with 2 lines extending beyond them.
DIAL 2. Noted as close-by and slightly doubtful, with a very small style hole and perhaps 3 lines on the lower half.
I found nothing to match ARG’s descriptions but I did find a plausible and a doubtful dial in the same general area.
This stone doesn’t match the others in the immediate vicinity, and gives the distinct impression that it has been relocated and probably resized to fit. I think it plausible to claim this as a crude and eroded dial with traces of stubby lines in the noon area. It looked quite convincing on the day. Possibly it was relocated to a more prominent position, whether as a working dial or perhaps as a decorative quirk.
DIALS 1 & 2 – LOCATION
This design is on a long stone close to Dial 1. Image 1 shows the stone as it is, horizontal. The 4 graduated dents caught my eye, being clearly created for a reason. There’s a slight curve to them; and a patch of cement that may (as elsewhere) fill a gnomon hole. Also – revealed in close-up – there is undeniably a deliberate thin straight line that comes directly from the hole (if it is / was one).
Rotating a photo of a dial can be useful in interpreting it (Images 2 & 3). A 90º turn here reveals a slightly more meaningful dial design. That said, to work as a dial stone, the long horizontal block would have had to be relocated from a place where it was vertical.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Medieval Sundial
All photos: Keith Salvesen
BINSEY . OXFORD . ST MARGARET of ANTIOCH – 2 Scratch Dials
ST MARGARET of ANTIOCH . BINSEY . OXFORD
GRADE I † C12 origins on site of Saxon church; c13 rebuilding (chancel, nave), S porch added; C15 & later restorations (latest in 1936). Unheated and candlelit until 1975. Much of interest – remarkably secluded location, a Holy well, a direct link with Alice in Wonderland, an excellent riverside pub. Within ring road W of Oxford, N of Botley Road, at the end of a mile of narrow lane. Check a map before you go… 51.7691 / 1.2976 / SP485080
❖ The clearest illustrated article about St Margaret, its history, and its significance can be found at David Ross’s excellent BRITAIN EXPRESS. This includes the sad story of the celibate St Frideswide (C7), Patron Saint of Oxford and a roundabout system, & her suitor Algar. It also covers the origins of the Holy well, its healing powers and its link to Alice’s ‘treacle well’. An informed tour of the church ends with helpful directions to it.
On the quoin RHS of the porch entrance, with a large slightly recessed gnomon hole. A morning dial, very eroded in the 3 other quadrants. Originally encircled (BSS)? The visible evidence of a complete circle is scant. 8 lines, some extending over split stone. The noon line is emphasised – longer and deeper cut. A hint of double pocks at lower end – just possibly a dotted cross ✣?
Located on the nave buttress adjoining the chancel. 4 lines radiating from a central hole in the dial stone, one slightly curved; 7 clear pocks all on or at the end of the lines. Unlike dial 1, there is no exact vertical line. The puzzle is to identify the noon line. On some dials, there is a notional noon line formed by a narrow gap between 2 near-vertical lines – not the case here. Presumably it is line 2, being extended and having 2 pocks. Line 3 is too flimsy for the task. Line 1 presumably marks a service time between Terce and noon.
ST MARGARET’S WELL
GRAFFITI ANCIENT & MODERN
There is a certain amount of graffiti in the porch, some of which is not medieval. Included are initials, 2 (unconvincing?) inverted Marian marks; and some scratchings of hard-to-decipher script, something I haven’t often seen.
After your visit you may need refreshment: I recommend the excellent nearby PERCH INN
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Medieval Graffiti
All photos: Keith Salvesen
COWLEY . OXON . ST JAMES THE APOSTLE – Scratch Dials
GRADE II* † Mid C12 – C15; early frescoes; 1860s work by G.E. Street with additions & rebuilding. Remarkably squat tower, C15. Unexpectedly up a secluded narrow lane just E of the bustle of Cowley – no one would guess that there is a C12 building there. 51.7306 / -1.2197 / SP539038
There are 2 dials, both inside the porch on either side of the entrance door. Disappointingly the porch gate was locked, so I could not get access. The photos of the pair taken late in the day are distinctly underwhelming…
Dial 1 is inside S porch LHS of the doorway, in the corner below the springing of the arch and above the moulding. 4 lines radiating from the style hole, with the noon line deeper cut.
Dial 2 is also inside S porch, RHS of the doorway and above the capital of the pillar. There are 6 lines radiating from a quite noticeable style hole. BSS suggests there are 3 pocks (possibly more), though I could not see those details.
Besides the dials, there was a certain amount of graffiti with other scratchings in the area of the porch, not all of it medieval. There are a couple of Marian marks and what may be a very crude pentagram, a symbol to repel evil.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial
All photos (for what they are worth) Keith Salvesen except header image from St James Parish website (their excellent photo replaces my poor ones taken from a different angle); and BSS (2 images)
STRATTON-ON-THE -FOSSE . SOMERSET . ST VIGOR – 3 Scratch Dials
GRADE 1 † C12 origins; mainly C14; much rebuilt C15/C16; further rebuilding late C18; restoration C19. One of only two churches with this Dedication (Fulbourne Cambs is the other). A pleasing and unpretentious church. Very close to Downside Abbey/. 51.2552 / -2.4896 / ST659507
Downside Abbey was home to Dom Ethelbert Horne, the pioneer dial collector and analyst who covered Somerset with skill and determination, using a motorcycle to get around. He began the project in 1913, and recorded the dials at St Vigor on Nov 3 – perhaps they were his first finds. His book with its careful explanations is a vade mecum for any dial enthusiast (even one with no connection with the County).
Dial 1 is located at SW corner of the nave, high up (7′) on a quoin stone. DEH noted The Mass line in this dial is sharp and distinct, and made at a different time from the other lines. He makes no comment on the design. There are 6 lines each with a terminal pock, with hints of a couple more. DEH makes no mention of a gnomon, but with his usual thoroughness measured the depth of the hole. It is certain, therefore, that the existing (copper?) rod was inserted relatively recently.
Dial 2 is on the buttress between S porch and E end of the nave. DEH commented: Encircled. No hour lines can be seen on this ancient and badly worn dial. the remains of 2 circles close apart. Were it not for the noticeable gnomon hole, it would be easy to pass this one by.
To be found on the W side of the entrance to S porch, 3′ 3″ high. Or so noted DEH very specifically. He mentions a style hole and a noon line 3½” long, but I spent some time examining this area and indeed the corresponding position on E side of the doorway (because field notes are occasionally confused), with no convincing dial identifiable. Here are photographs of the location, for what they are worth…
In C6 there was a ‘hermit preacher’ and Christian missionary who became Bishop of Bayeux. He died c537 AD and was canonized as St Vigor (Lat.) or in due course Saint Vigeur (Fr.). The Norman conquest brought his followers to England and his name first appears in an eleventh-century breviary at Worcester.
Another account is that in the early C12, manorial rights for Stratton passed to a Norman family who came from Saint-Vigor-le-Grand, Normandy.
ST VIGOR IN FRESCO
GSS Category: Scratch Dials
All photos Keith Salvesen; St Vigor as credited; source material Bath Record Office, Wiki
BRYMPTON d’EVERCY . SOM . Cube Dial with Ball Finial
BRYMPTON d’EVERCY . SOMERSET . CUBE DIAL with BALL FINIAL
Brympton d’Evercy is a fine Somerset country house with a long history of intertwined families down the ages. For more on the house & grounds, see HERE. The chapel of St Andrew has scratch dials that are featured HERE. The estate is a mere 2m W of the clatter of Yeovil yet hidden away in its own parkland, and best reached by map reading, satnav or luck. 50.9361 / -2.6847 / ST519154
CUBE DIAL (GVII)
The long (75m) balustraded south terrace looks out over parkland with a small lake. The dial dates to mid-C19, probably added ± 1860 as part of the design for the terrace building project. If the dial is older, it must have been relocated. HE describes the ashlar retaining wall with chamfered plinth, capped with a stone balustrade with intermediate piers on which are set a variety of urns and other ornaments, and in the centre of the long western section a block sundial with ball finial, on which is inscribed LAT 50-56, 17.30, having sheet metal gnomons, 2 of which are broken. The 4 gnomons are shown together further down this page.
The motto on the S face of the dial reads PEREUNT ET IMPUTANTUR, which Gatty gives as ‘they perish and are reckoned’. Its original form as a Martial epigram directly references the sun’s involvement in this process.
THE BOOK OF SUN-DIALS . MRS ALFRED GATTY . MDCCC
GSS Category: Cube Dial; Multiple Dial
All photos: Keith Salvesen
CHISBURY CHAPEL . WILTS . ST MARTIN – Consecration Cross, Graffiti & Protection Marks
CHISBURY CHAPEL . WILTS
C13 chapel located within an Iron-age hill fort Chisbury Camp. The Lord of the Manor built it to assert his social status by allowing the household of the manor, as well as local people, to attend services and pay their taxes without having to travel to the parish church at Great Bedwyn EH. Thatched, with flint walls. The chapel was deconsecrated in 1547 and after three centuries of use as a barn it was reduced to its present dilapidated state. It is however a scheduled Ancient Monument, now in the care of English Heritage.
GRAFFITI & MARIAN MARKS (VV)
There was no scratch dial and I wasn’t expecting to find one. However the chapel is interesting enough to merit inclusion, not least because consercation crosses and church marks generally are catered for in this project.
1. shows a (possible? probable?) Fleur de Lys with G Bedwyn scrawled below – 2. is one form of protection mark – 3. enclosed initials – 4. Marian mark VV – 5. ‘scratchings’ – 6. Marian mark VV and a design with a heart that I initially thought must make it recent… However the form of the W (similar to a Marian mark) is from a much earlier time, as is the date (if it is one) in Roman numerals. I can’t decipher it beyond ..15
GSS Category: Consecration Cross; Church Marks; Marian Symbol; Medieval Graffiti
All photos: Keith Salvesen
QUARLEY . HANTS . ST MICHAEL – Scratch Dial
GRADE II* † Cll Saxon / Norman origins with simple nave – some features survive; C15 chancel; later additions / restoration 1882. A most surprising Palladian / Venetian E window. Detached timber-framed bell cote. Attractively set in a well-wilded churchyard. 6m W of Andover. 51.1944 / -1.611 / SU272439
The dial is on the W jamb of the window E of the porch, first recorded by ARG in 1925. The gnomon hole is filled. ARG’s description is below. The more recent BSS entry records 19 visible / detectable lines and 21 pocks, with possible hints of a circle. On either view, this is an eroded 24-hour dial (esp URQ), with noon marked by a quincunx (like 5 on a die), which I haven’t seen before. One puzzle is why the dial was cut in such a position that it is truncated RHS.
ARG noted two very doubtful dials on the E jamb of the same window; and in his text he refers to another doubtful on the buttress of the S Chapel. I couldn’t make out dials.
There was another mark that caught my eye, a small uneven circle of pocks. There’s no hint of a central hole. As I visit more churches, I see more of these little markings. They can’t be dials, and they seem unlikely to be purely decorative. My tentative theory is these little pock circles are a form of protection mark / apotropaic symbol). However I haven’t yet found such a design featured in the usual medieval building mark resources. Any theories welcome.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial
All photos: Keith Salvesen
THE LINE BETWEEN MAN & SUN . SEVILLE 1585 (RA)
ROYAL ACADEMY – SPAIN and the HISPANIC WORLD
The much-anticipated RA Spanish Exhibition has opened, displaying works of magnificence and fascination from ancient to modern. Dialophiles and gnomonicists will however wish to concentrate on a single exquisite page spread from a book that dates to ± 1585, for this is the Manual of Nautical and Astronomical Instructions for Use by the Universidad de Mareantes. While the depiction is not of a sundial, the drawing demonstrates in very simple form the close relationship between sun, man, and ways in which the sun’s power can be harnessed scientifically. And anyway, Gaudium sub Sole goes beyond sundials…
The drawing is entirely charming, from the compass hole outwards. I enjoyed the sun’s rather grumpy / puzzled face and the man’s surprised / concentrating look. (He may be wondering why the ‘shadow’ is wearing boots while he wears shoes, but that is show-through from the reverse of the page).
Artist: , Unknown Artist
Title: Manual de instrucciones
nauticas y astronomicas para el uso
de la Universidad de Mareantes de
Date: ca. 1585
Medium: Illustrated manuscript.
27 x 19.7 x 1.8 27 x 18 cm.
ROYAL ACADEMY – SPAIN and the HISPANIC WORLD
Asociación de Amigos de los Relojes de Sol
Societat Catalana de Gnomònica
LICHFIELD CATHEDRAL . STAFFS – C17 / C18 Cube Dial on a Column
GRADE II † Large Cube Dial on a tall column. BLB / HE give the most complete descriptions: Date uncertain, probably C17 or early C18; 1st recorded 1781. Ashlar. Tall quatrefoil pier on plinth, with ring and moulded capital supporting cube with dials and gnomons to each face, reeded domical (domed) cap. An unusual feature whose origin is unknown, removed in 1781 and re-erected to the west end of the cathedral in 1785, removed and sold in 1881, and returned and re-erected on its present site in 1929.
BHO notes: A sundial near the south doorway of the cathedral was removed in 1781 and re-erected in 1785 at the west end in order to regulate the clock on the tower. It was removed in 1881 and passed into private hands. It was returned to the cathedral in 1929 and placed on a pedestal in its present position south of the nave.
The clock in question was (without going into detail) probably the first Cathedral clock, which was in position by 1491. BHO suggests that the original clock was still in place in early C17 and probably not replaced or superseded by another clock until late C18. If so, the dial’s removal and re-erection in 1780s would have been to regulate the original clock.
The handsome domed dial has a single gnomon on each face. The gnomons and lines obviously differ on each side. Numerals are Arabic rather than Roman.
Assuming the Cathedral conforms to the usual church orientation, the Cube’s angle in its position on the S side of the building is some 45º out of true from what might be expected. Presumably the explanation is that the cube was originally cut for a different position, and after several relocations its present position and orientation provides optimum accuracy. Any other suggestions would be welcome.
GSS Category: Cube Dial; Column Dial; Pillar Dial; Pedestal Dial
Credits: Erika Clarkson for amazing photos, with thanks
ANCROFT . NORTHUMBERLAND . ST ANNE’S – Vertical Dial
GRADE II* † C11th-century, built by monks of Holy Island as a chapel of ease. C13 / C14 pele tower added as protection from incursions by Scots. C19 restorations. At some time (? when the tower was built) the fine Norman entrance was blocked. Extensive views from the tower’s parapet. 3m S of Berwick-upon-Tweed. 55.7001 / -1.998 / NU002451
A weathered C18 vertical dial with a short gnomon that casts a very visible shadow. The shape of the dial stone, with its pedimented square, is very pleasing. The lines are enclosed in a frame, with Arabic numerals from 6 to 6 around its edge. The use of Arabic numerals rather than Roman suggests a later dial of this period. 9 lines are detectable, some only just. Only 6 numerals are clear. I can’t make any sense of the remains of the inscription. I wondered if some of the sandstone – especially LLQ – is repair or natural deterioration. Expanding this very good photograph, I think the latter: the dial is showing the signs of its age.
GSS Category: Vertical Dial; Old Dial; Gnomon Design
Credits: Erika Clarkson for introducing me to this church and for her photos that begat this post, so to speak; James Towill for his photo of St Anne’s uploaded to Geograph cc; Walter Baxter for his excellent close-up of the dial uploaded to Geograph cc and for his specific use permission to reproduce it full-size