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

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