ST MARY . PEMBRIDGE . HEREFS
GRADE I † C12 and C13 origins on Norman site; nave, transepts and chancel arch rebuilt during early C14; N porch added late C14. Restorations 1871 and 1903-1909. Large and impressive (PEV). Fine interior, monuments, glass. Of equal note, the wonderful detached belfry with its hint of nordic influence – not to be missed. I have included a few images and notes at the end of this article. 52.2173 / -2.8929 / SO390580
St Mary merits a collective noun for its dials. A confusion? There are obvious dials, plausible dials, doubtful dials, and 1 or 2 not previously noted as far as I can make out. On my visit I wasn’t equipped with details of dials I might expect to see, and I simply recorded the ones I found. All are on the S wall, starting from the W end. There are some differences from the BSS records.
Dial 1 is a straightforward design among an attractive arrangement of stones. 7 lines, a couple emphasised, some faintly extended, hole in the mortar line.
DIALS 2 & 3
Dial 2 is the most interesting of them all, with its double square surround. There are 13 lines, spaced approximately evenly. Some of extend into or beyond the boxes, a couple are above the horizontal. BSS describes the dial as unique and suggests that it appears to be an attempt to follow the pattern for a sundial, but no evidence of sloping gnomon. The conclusion: a very mysterious dial.
Dial 3 is similar to dial 1, with 6 lines radiating from quite a deep hole where the stone meets the mortar line.
Dial 4 is small and unobtrusive, just L of the doorway. The style hole is (slightly oddly?) in the top L corner rather than more prominently nearer the centre of the stone. There are 2 slender but clear lines, and 3 (4?) faint lines L of them.
Dial 5 is below and to the left of dial 4. It is the most insect-like pattern I have come across – a line drawing might resemble a daddy-longlegs / cranefly. No line is straight, but within the wide variations in dial design and accuracy it would probably have served its purpose marking the passing hours. Unless it really is a carving of a cranefly…
St Mary . Pembridge . Herefs – Scratch Dial 5
On darker stone and in shadow on a buttress, it would be easy to miss this dial. If it is one. At the time, I thought it was; and looking weeks later at the photos I still think so, just a noon line and what could be a Mass line.
BSS has a record of 2 dials that I didn’t notice
Here is a candidate for consideration. Two almost parallel lines that look deliberately scratched drop vertically down from an arguable style hole. I have come across a couple of similar dials – though each had some lines – where the vertical (noon line) was emphasised by being the space between two lines.
ST MARY PEMBRIDGE: C13 BELFRY
PEV (Herefs p 542) considers this bell tower remarkable, and points out its structural relationship with Norway’s Stave Churches and Sweden’s Bell Houses. He dates it early C13, with later reconstructed in C17.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Belfry; Bell House
All photo, Keith Salvesen; diagrams BSS