BATH . PARADE GARDENS. British Sundial Society – Armillary Sphere

Bath Abbey . Diego Delso Geo cc

BRITISH SUNDIAL SOCIETY . ARMILLARY SPHERE . PARADE GARDENS . BATH

Bath . Commemorative Sundial Plaque

The plaque above gives all the details (including a bar code) necessary to admire and appreciate this excellent armillary sphere that was installed to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the foundation of BSS. My visit to Bath was spoiled by bad weather: gloom with only occasional respite from rain. Hence these rather unsatisfactory photos, which I have had to cheer up somewhat. I intend to replace them in due course, when a visit to Bath coincides with sunshine. The Motto, explained below, describes my predicament.

The gallery of images below gives a 360º view of the dial against glimpses of the Bath setting. One or two are meant to be ‘arty’, never my strong suit.

MOTTO

‘I ONLY RECKON THE BRIGHT HOURS’ is the translation given by Margaret Gatty (p.45 of the compact volume). Other versions include I ONLY COUNT CLEAR HOURS and I ONLY COUNT THE HOURS THAT ARE SERENE. MG wrote (of the succinct Latin version) that the motto is too good to be uncommon, and gives a number of locations where it may be found in England, Scotland, and (unexpectedly) Venice, of which Hazlitt wrote …there is a softness and a harmony in the words and in the thought unparalleled. None of the above modern motto variations works very well; it’s hard to come up with a translation as elegant as the original in Latin. The word ‘serenas’ is the real problem….

ADDENDUM Dictionary research including Chambers – far the best for archaic words and usages – clarifies the motto. A subsidiary meaning of ‘serene’ was, in the past, ‘an expanse of clear sky’; ‘cloudless’; or in one source, ‘sunny’. On countless modern sundials, this Latin formulation is the familiar I only count the sunny hours.

Sundial Aldeburgh . David Dixon Geo cc

GSS Category: Armillary Dial; Armillary Sphere, Commemorative Sundial

All photos: Keith Salvesen except header image Diego Delso Geo cc; Moot Hall, Aldeburgh Dial David Dixon Geo cc

MILBORNE ST ANDREW . DORSET . ST ANDREW – 3 Scratch Dials

St Andrew . Milborne St Andrew . Dorset

ST ANDREW . MILBORNE ST ANDREW . DORSET

GRADE II* C12 origins; tower & S porch C15; chancel, vestry, south aisle and chapel c1876 (G E Street). Wonderful C12 inner door with chevrons, shielded by porch; C12 font with a story to tell (below). A charming and very Dorset church. 4m SE of Bere Regis; 10m NE of Dorchester. 50.7759 /  -2.2833 / SY801974

DIALS

St Andrew has 3 dials. Dial 1 is a true scratch dial located in the NE corner of the nave, as is Dial 2 on the stone below (largely obscured by lichen, easy to overlook). Dial 3 is a transitional dial above the porch entrance.

DIAL 1

St Andrew . Milborne St Andrew . Dorset – Scratch Dial 1

Dial 1 is easily identified by its prominent filled gnomon hole from which 3 lines radiate in LLQ. There is also a perimeter curve of 5 (?6) pocks (diag).

DIAL 2

St Andrew . Milborne St Andrew . Dorset – Dials 1 & 2, NE corner of the nave

Dial 2, on the stone immediately below Dial, 1 has no discernible lines. BSS records 5 pocks of varying size that are (given the lichen) more or less visible seen in conjunction with the BSS diagram below. They are basically shallow dents, in contrast to the ‘drilled hole’ type of pock usually encountered.

St Andrew . Milborne St Andrew . Dorset – Scratch Dial 2

DIAL 3

St Andrew . Milborne St Andrew . Dorset – Scratch Dial 3

A transitional dial above the archway of the C15 S porch. Accuracy in marking the passage of time became increasingly important, not least with the advent of clocks. Dial design and construction involved taking a scientific approach to making time-telling more reliable and more legible. St Andrew is a good example. Rather than being scratched directly onto a stone intrinsic to the church structure, this dial stone is on what BHO describes as a square raised panel.

The dial has slightly angled edges with ‘extensions’ on both sides. It is not canted, so probably faces due S. It is a six-to-six dial with – originally – 12 lines (14, with the horizontal as 2). The hours 4 & 5 are cut deeper, perhaps denoting the most important Mass of the day. Some lines have weathered away in part or completely. There are a number of pocks. The recorder noted 4 trace (semi-)circles, one being close to the gnomon hole. The original gnomon was in the upper hole where there is now a square stub of iron rod. The lower arrangement indicates, I think, a later conversion / updating from a simple rod gnomon to a ‘proper’ one that required a footing; and perhaps a lamp bracket.

RARE FEATURE It’s not completely clear from my rather poor iPhone photos, but if you look carefully at the edge R side where there is the wide margin, you can see that the lines marking 4 & 5 extend onto the side of the dial face and continue down the side of the stone panel. Those short lines are visible from the side even if the rest of the dial is not. I wouldn’t have paid it much attention had I not also visited the neighbouring village of Winterbourne Whitchurch where there is an emphatic example of a ‘side-dial’ complete with a most unusual gnomon. My understanding is that this arrangement amounts to a morning dial read from E.

This is the 4th church I have come across where church events have entailed the use of a dial to tie in decorations etc with wire. In each case the wire was effective as an improvised gnomon.

FONT STORY

During the Victorian period it was sometimes the fashion to throw out ancient fonts and Street did just that, installing in its place a new replacement.  Fortunately, the old Norman font, decorated with a cable motif, was rediscovered in 1930 and put back in the north aisle, where it remains in use to this day. DHCT [This is an example of throwing the bath out with the baby water]

St Andrew . Milborne St Andrew . Dorset – S Porch and Norman Doorway

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial ; Transitional Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

WINTERBOURNE STEEPLETON . DORSET . ST MICHAEL – Scratch Dials

St Michael Winterbourne Steepleton Dorset

ST MICHAEL . WINTERBOURNE STEEPLETON . DORSET

GRADE I A fine early church in a lovely setting. C11 quoins to nave; C12 nave rebuilt; C14 3-stage W tower, porch; C15 chancel. Later alterations, restorations. Just W of Dorchester, yet seeming miles away in its peaceful valley. Visit Winterbourne Monkton while you are there (2 perhaps 3 dials). 50.7067 /  -2.5266 / SY629898

DIALS

Two dials are recorded. The first is simple to find and simple in style. The second is so simple that I could not with certainty claim to have found it. It was registered quite a while ago, and possibly lichen spread has made what was already faint, no longer identifiable.

DIAL 1

Dial 1 is located on a SW quoin stone of the nave. When examined in the 1990’s it was noted to be ‘behind a drainpipe’, which is no longer the case. By strange coincidence, when I visited the rest of the drainpipes were being repaired and repainted.

This is a straightforward little 4-line morning dial with a pleasingly casual approach to straight lines. The deeper incised line suggests that terce was the most significant Mass of the day. Do see the Saxon statue mentioned in the notice (there is a similar one in Bradford on Avon), and indeed spend some time inside this interesting small church.

DIAL 2

This dial was recorded as being on the S buttress of the tower, with 1 line 45mm long and a pock. It was noted then as ‘very faint’. While Dial 1 is mentioned elsewhere eg BHO, I have found no other reference. However, a drawing was made and is all I can offer for present purposes.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial, Mass Dial

All photos Keith Salvesen; diagrams BSS

SHIPTON BELLINGER . WILTS . ST PETER – Scratch Dials

ST PETER . SHIPTON BELLINGER . WILTS

GRADE II C14 origins; very little remains of the original church. Almost all refaced, restored (Withers 1879) or rebuilt. Registers date from mid-C16. Attractive with its squat wooden bell turret. Just N of A303 between Andover and Amesbury. 51.2076 /  -1.6678 / SU233454

DIALS

There are 2 dials recorded for St Peter, of quite different types. Dial 1 is a simple filled hole in the centre of a circle, without additional markings. Dial 2 is a sector of a fairly large dial that must have covered 2 or more stones.

DIAL 1

St Peter . Shipton Bellinger . Wilts – Scratch Dial 1

Dial 1 is inside the porch L of the doorway, quite low down. It consists of a filled central hole within a circle, with a pock (possibly unrelated) ULQ. With a rod as a gnomon, it would work as a basic marker of the the passing day, though at an inconvenient level if in its original position. The unusual shape of the large dial stone also suggests a significant relocation somewhere in the time-line of the various building works. One record dates the dial to C11, which seems unrealistic – it predates the known origins of the church. Also noted were faint traces of a similar circle LLQ, but I could not detect anything significant. There is a further possibility that, rather than a dial, this design is one of the many forms of ritual protection mark. However the size and the filled hole suggest not.

DIAL 2

Located on S wall of the Nave, E of door, W of E Nave buttress, and about 2m high. All that can be seen is the LLQ part-perimeter of a quite large dial (if it is one) cut in the upper R corner of a large stone with no discernible dial-ish markings. Basically it is a plain quarter-circle using the mortar lines for the straights, and with a gnomon hole (not now obvious) in upper R corner. To work as a dial in that (or in any different) position, it would have required one additional stone if a semicircle; or at least 2 more if a complete circle. The absence of any lines or pocks on this fragment militates against it being part of a scratch dial. It would have been hard to resist using such a large blank area as a creative area for a proper dial design. Quite plausibly, this curved incision was part of some decorative feature displaced during rebuilding, with companion stones used elsewhere where needed.

BBS PHOTOGRAPHIC RECORD

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial

All photos Keith Salvesen, BSS

BROAD CHALKE . WILTS . ALL SAINTS – Scratch Dial

GRADE I C13 origins (c1258 on); C14 development, Perp windows, C15 tower (BHO – sources vary on dates). C17 extensive repairs; mid-C19 restorations to Wyatt plans. Cecil Beaton is buried in the churchyard. One of several Ebble valley churches between Salisbury and Shaftsbury (cf Alvediston). 51.0275 /  -1.9432 /  SU040253

DIAL

A distinctive and easily visible dial on S buttress between 2 recesses. 4 clear lines with faint traces of others. There are 5 obviously related pocks, with a couple of outliers above UL in a position corresponding to the curvature of the dial. The filled gnomon hole in the centre of the dial stone is large, perhaps enlarged over succeeding centuries (it’s not uncommon to find disproportionately large holes)

This dial is of particular interest for 2 reasons: i. the size of the pocks are graduated from small to large along the perimeter down to the noon line, which has the most emphatic hole. I can’t remember coming across such a clear example before. ii the Mass line – terce – is very clearly indicated both by being elongated, and by having pocks on either side of it, neither of which links to a line.

GRAFFITI

All Saints has some graffiti in the porch area. Here are 2 examples – image includes ‘witch marks’

GSS Category: Scratch dial; Church Graffiti

All photos: Keith Salvesen

ALVEDISTON . WILTS . ST MARY – Scratch Dial

St Mary . Alvediston . Wilts

ST MARY . ALVEDISTON . WILTS

GRADE II* C12 origins; a chapel of Broad Chalke by 1299, from which date Vicars were recorded. From that period, C12 font bowl. Many sources only date the church to C17 with restoration by T. H. Wyatt 1866. One of several pretty villages in the secluded Ebble valley between Salisbury and Shaftsbury. 51.0149 / -2.0345 / ST976239

DIAL

The dial is on the W jamb of the porch, described elsewhere as a C19 lean-to. Restorations clearly entailed considerable relocation of stones over time. The dial is easy to overlook, being small, weathered, and upside-down.

St Mary . Alvediston . Wilts – Scratch Dial

The dial is located 1m high, W of the S doorway, inverted. BSS records it as accurately cut, upside-down, eroded and damaged. Unexpectedly it is described as a Rudimentary (Norman) dial, which dates it back to the C12 / C13 origins of St Mary. If so, the dial has survived intact for several hundred years, only to end up inverted on a C19 lean-to porch.

It is sometimes useful to revert a dial that has been rotated, so that the original design is clearer. There are 2 definite lines. There is no visible noon line but the line LRQ has both a mid-line pock and a terminal pock. Presumably this marked the most significant Mass time during the passage of the day, in this case equating roughly with the canonical Nones.

NOTES When I originally checked some usual resources for St Mary, it was intriguing to find that its history began in C17. A simple (or any?) scratch dial could not be expected. So I turned to the comprehensive BHO entry for the Parish, which explains the origins of St Mary and its medieval dial in more detail:

Of the 12th-century church, only the nave, small and with thick walls, appears to survive. The chancel was possibly replaced in the 13th century but may have survived longer. In 1585 it was said to be ‘down’  and was afterwards presumably rebuilt or repaired. The south transept or chapel was built in the 14th century; there is an effigy of a knight in armour below the south window. The north transept may also have been built in the 14th century. The tower was built in the 17th century. In 1865 the church was extensively restored to designs by T. H. Wyatt. The north transept was rebuilt, the north chapel was built, and the chancel was given 13th century features.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

HOLNEST . DORSET . ST MARY – Rare windowsill scratch dial; protection marks & graffiti

St Mary . Holnest . Dorset

GRADE I † Late C14, C15; C17 alterations inc. porch with date 1650 on keystone. Restorations mid-C19. Very recent skilled restoration 2020. Millennial dial with date-casting gnomon (cf BUCKLAND NEWTON). C18 box pews, candlelit services, Purdue bell c1580. Graffiti and witch marks. 14 formy consecration crosses both outside and inside (see locations below). A perfect small Dorset church standing alone, remnant of a plague village. There has been a recent very skilful restoration that has not impacted on the original charm of St Mary. 6m S of Sherborne. 50.8868 / -2.4902 / ST656098

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St Mary . Holnest . Dorset – Keystone

SCRATCH DIAL

St Mary . Holnest . Dorset – rare scratch dial on window-sill

A remarkable and very rare C15 dial, possibly unique (cf nearby THORNFORD). It is located on a window sill of the S aisle, incised at an angle of 35º. It is quite difficult to examine – even close to – because of erosion and lichen. The style hole is centred on the stone divide between 2 windows. To be effective it must have been angled forwards: C15 dial deliberately positioned centrally. Gnomon must have been bent over, perhaps horizontally. Lines are quite accurately cut GLP.

There were originally 12 lines – the full complement for a semicircular dial. However, many are so weathered that they are barely visible – some not at all. The church is across the fields from us and I have spent some time with the dial, examining it and photographing it at different angles and in different light. I’ve managed to identify 8 lines including the horizontals, much as shown on the second BSS diagram below. The most visible lines are these:

St Mary . Holnest . Dorset – diagram of scratch dial on window-sill

St Mary . Holnest . Dorset – scratch dial diagrams BSS

VERTICAL DIAL

The porch has a date of 1650 and a new [millennium] sundial commemorates the Great Crested Newt that meant that a field nearby could not be developed for housing. Friends of Holnest Church.

A particularly good example of a meaningful local dial designed specifically for its location and time. The Battle of the Newt being won as the new Millennium approached, a fine dial to record both events was fully merited.

St Mary Holnest: millennial vertical dial dated 2000 with unique Newt Protection Symbol

WITCH MARKS & GRAFFITI

The S porch has a rich variety of medieval church marks. The example stones shown above have witch / ritual protection / apotropaic marks to ward off evil, in particular a number of Marian marks VV (Virgo Virginum / Virgin of Virgins). There are also initials and C17 dates.

CONSECRATION CROSSES

There are 14 in all, 12 being the usual maximum. 5 are inside the church on the tower walls

Consecration Crosses: On chancel— flanking E. window externally, four crosses; flanking S. doorway, two crosses. On nave—W. of heads of N. windows, two crosses. On S. aisle—over E. window and W. of S. window, two crosses. On W. tower, on N. and S. walls, one cross and below W. window, two crosses; formy crosses fourteen in all, mediæval. BHO

GSS Category: Scratch Dial, Mass Dial; Church Marks, Witch Marks, Protection Marks; Consecration Crosses

All photos: Keith Salvesen

CREECH ST MICHAEL . SOM . ST MICHAEL – Scratch Dials

ST MICHAEL . CREECH ST MICHAEL. SOM

GRADE I C12 origins, mainly C13; C15 perp additions and C19 restoration. A most attractive building, highly praised as an uncommonly interesting church PEV. Called All Saints until C16. Traces of C17 wall paintings. 6 bells, earliest 1590. Additional dials found. 5m E of Taunton. 51.0224 / -3.0355 / ST274252

DIALS

DEH visited St Michael in Sept 1913 and noted a group of 3 dials on W side of the porch. He recorded All three of these dials are close together, very poor in construction, and one or other of them is probably only a copy dial, but the lines of all have been added to, and it is difficult to say which is the original. Dial 2 is the least explicable.

There are 3 other dials (one is debatable): 2 on E side of the porch, in much the same position as Dials 1-3; 1 on the W window jamb of the whitewashed chapel. This last is in good condition comparatively; and the more precise design suggests it was the latest and presumably superseded the others in accuracy and legibility.

DIAL 1

DEH: 152. (1) This dial is on the w. side of the s. porch, 4 feet 8 inches above the ground. The noon line is 4 inches in length, the style hole is filled, and the aspect is s. by 8° e.

A fairly conventional morning dial with 9 (10?) lines, with the lines marking (roughly) Tierce and noon cut deeper. It’s difficult to interpret the pocks, if that is what they are. Several correspond with the relevant radials; the vertical seems to have a 2nd pock lower down (Mass time marker?). Possibly they were added later.

DIAL 2

DEH: 153. (2) This dial is close by the side of No 1. The noon line is 4 inches in length, the style hole is filled, aspect as above.

Dial 2 is confusing. How did that mish-mash of lines, hole-infilling, and extensive repair come about – and when? There’s no doubt that in the mix is a very basic dial with 2 lines curving left that appear to radiate from the mortar line above.

The 4 quite deep and almost parallel incisions just below the 2-line dial are problematic. It’s hard to see them as part of the overall dial design on that stone. And 4 verticals in a row would make a poor marker for noon. Also, it does not seem that they would converge at the same position as for the identifiable dial. In fact, seen on their own, they might be taken as an apotropaic mark of the grid and pock kind (though they are not convincing in that respect either).

DIAL 3

DEH: 154. (3) Six inches above No. 2, a dial with noon line 3 inches in length, the style hole filled, aspect as above.

This morning dial has 3 lines that radiate from the stone overhang, There is a small hole at the apex where presumably a thin style was inserted. The upper line ends with 2 clear pocks, and must have marked the most significant Mass time of the day (in this case, Tierce)

DIAL 4

A rough, eroded, and damaged dial on E jamb of the porch, level with dials 1 – 3. There are 6 detectable lines, 2 very faint. Again, a morning dial, with Tierce marked with a pock. The filled gnomon hole is big, but that may have occurred over time.

DIAL 5

This small dial is in the corresponding position opposite dial 3. It is simpler and less well defined, with a small style hole and 3 detectable lines radiating from the hole, only one being easily visible. It might be classified as ‘doubtful’ but for its relationship to dial 3 on the other side of the entrance, which I think upgrades it to ‘plausible’.

DIAL 6

This attractive dial, originally completely encircled, has survived the passage of time rather better than the others. There are 18 lines that make up a 3/4 circle, with a deeper cut noon line and a large style hole. The angles between the lines are somewhat random but I expect that the dial was effective as a marker of the progress of the day.

The way in which the dial stone has been cut to fit the space could suggest that it was relocated. In a way it might make more sense if rotated 90º clockwise, but testing that theory using a photo didn’t look right.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

STEEPLE . DORSET . ST MICHAEL & ALL ANGELS – Di[a]lemma

St Michael . Steeple . Dorset

ST MICHAEL & ALL ANGELS . STEEPLE . DORSET

GRADE 1 C12 origins (nave), enlarged C16 & C17. Mid-C19 restorations; chancel rebuilt. Despite the village name, C16 tower. Fascinating history, with strong links to George Washington: The Lawrence family, Lords of the Manor since the C16, married into the Washington family in 1381 and their Coat of Arms incorporates the Stars and Stripes BLB. Much of interest inside inc an impressive barrel organ, and good stained glass E window. Fine chest tombs in the churchyard. 6m S of Wareham, inland from the jurassic coastline at Kimmeridge. 50.6275 / -2.1265 / SY911808

DIAL

In his 1997 survey GLP noted a single dial relocated to the N wall of the Chancel, E of blocked N doorway. He described it as doubtful – superficially a poorly preserved dial… with 2 lines on a reshaped stone… no gnomon hole, probably relocated during C19 work on the chancel. He found other stones in the vicinity with similar markings – perhaps through weathering – and concluded that the ‘dial’ might not actually be a genuine one at all.

As with a couple of other Dorset churches recently, I couldn’t pinpoint a design such as GLP describes. There are obvious lines or striations on some stones eg top R of the doorway (see below), but little to report on the wall E of the door. The lack of a gnomon hole is one reason for missing eroded dials. This lack may also reinforce doubts about identifying dial-ish marks as being part of a dial. Anyway, if there is one, I missed it.

St Michael . Steeple . Dorset – BSS

The dilemma has been whether to post, rather pointlessly, a failed dial search. However this small secluded church has other merits. It earned its Grade I listing for special architectural or historic interest. I have included a few photos below to illustrate this. The Washington link is only one of the significant features.

IMAGES OF ST MICHAEL AS COMPENSATION

Chest Coffins in the churchyard; crude apotropaic (part-)hexfoil of uncertain age; Marian VV ‘witch’ mark inside the porch; 2 examples of the E window stained glass (image 2 shows dice used for the division of Christ’s robe); the barrel organ

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

ACLE . NORFOLK . ST EDMUND, KING & MARTYR – Scratch Dial

St Edmund . Acle . Norfolk (π ChurchCare / Keltek)

GRADE I Norman traces; C13, C14; mid C19 restorations. Nave roof thatched; round W tower with octagonal bell stage; high porch; early font. A fascinating and most unusual building to admire, both the exterior and interior. 12m from Norwich. 52.6372 /  1.5474 / TG401102

DIAL

A fairly conventional encircled dial on a quoin stone on W side of the porch. The forenoon is well-marked, evidently the most important part of the day for religious observance. The emphatic gouge at (very roughly) Nones is presumably not contemporary, being very much at odds with the more carefully incised lines. Possibly it marks a later change of the principal Mass time to the afternoon (a new incumbent?). There are ± 8 lines but erosion and damage prevents an accurate count.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial

PHOTOS: John Renner, with thanks; ChurchCare / Keltek (header image)