RIMPTON – ST MARY (2) † Dom Horne Dials 3 & 4

St Mary . Rimpton . Som. Priest’s Door



PART 1 LINK featured Dials 1 & 2 on Rimpton church – two of the four dials identified and recorded by Dom Ethelbert Horne (DH) of Downside Abbey, the Father of modern dialling so to speak. In 1913 – 15 he made several trips around Somerset collecting dials, measuring and recording them in great detail. He went on to produce his pioneering book about dials, published in 1917.

LOCATION † Between Sherborne & Marston Magna, on the Som. / Dorset boundary. S 50.9948 / -2.5565 / ST610218


DH (1852 – 1952) was a Benedictine monk at Downside Abbey. The Archives state that he was “a noted archaeologist, antiquary and folklorist… and published works on subjects as diverse as holy wells, mistletoe, scratch dials and St Aldhelm”. Between 1913 – 15 he made several tours around Somerset in search of scratch dials. In 1917, he published his delightfully written book ‘Primitive Sun Dials or Scratch Dials’ containing several chapters about dials, their construction and their purpose. These were followed by a detailed analysis, by district, of 224 dials that he located. He divided these into 12 main types, for each of which there are photographs, including a Rimpton dial (see Part 1). DH’s 4 Rimpton dials are numbers 212 – 215 in the Yeovil District list.

DIALS † This article covers DH dials 3 & 4 of the multiple dials on this church. I have visited the church twice and found other dials & less convincing candidates. These will be written up separately in Part 3.


214. (3) This dial is on the w. side of the window to w. of priest’s door. It is 5 feet above the ground, the noon line is 5 1/4 inches in length, the style hole 5/8 of an inch in depth by 3/4 of an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 15°e. Type 3.

NOTE † a. the trace of a circle, upper left and b. the small dial hanging down from the mortar line above. More on the additional dials on Rimpton church in Part 3.


The dial location given above presents a puzzle. Put simply, an error may have crept at some stage between DH finding and noting the dial shown here; transcribing his notes to a more formal record; preparing a draft for publication; or in the printing.

There are 4 prominent and obvious dials. Dials 1, 2 and 4 are unproblematic. However in 2 visits, I haven’t been able to locate Dial 3 (or any dial) as described and in that location. The remaining ‘obvious’ dial is on the W. side of the window to W. of the porch – the dial shown here (although it is plainly not ‘5 feet above the ground’). The converse is that the dial shown here, on the W. side of the window from dial 2 (see marked image) was missed by DH.


St Mary . Rimpton . Som. DH Dial 4

215. (4) This dial is w. of the priest’s door. It is 4 feet 9 inches above the ground, the noon-line is 4 inches in length, the style hole is filled up, and the aspect is s.by15°e. Type5b.

NOTES † Comments on the question of Dial 3 would be welcome. There an interesting and informative Parish website that is well-worth visiting LINK.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

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