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

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

DAMERHAM . HANTS . ST GEORGE – Scratch Dials & Pilgrims

St George . Damerham . Hants

GRADE I C12 origins with south transeptual tower; C12 north aisle and north chapel; C13 south chapel and aisle, tower rebuilt; C15 chapels demolished, chancel and north aisle rebuilt, south porch added; C17 tower rebuilt. A treasure for church enthusiasts of any sort. Even the bells have stories. For detailed church description and historical context: BHO St George Damerham HE has a short entry HERE. Church’s excellent GUIDE below. The ‘Vicars’ Board’ begins c1235. W of the A388 midway Salisbury to Ringwood. 50.9416 / -1.8483 /  SU107158

DIALS

✣ Note: I missed a dial located most unusually on a cross in the cemetery ✣

St George has 3 scratch dials. In addition there is a fine numbered dial that marks the transition to a more sophisticated era of ecclesiastical time-keeping. Within the porch on the upper R side of the original entrance I (believe I) found another simple dial of a kind found inside porches elsewhere, with traces of whitewash (eg Blackford Som. Bishops Sutton Hants Limington Som.)

ARG visited in 1923. His comments on individual dials are briefly noted below, with his photo of dial 1.

DIAL 1

St George . Damerham . Hants – Scratch Dial 1

The main dial is easily found on the E jamb of the S porch. It has a very large gnomon hole in the centre of the dial stone, presumably enlarged over time. There are 20 lines, each with a terminal pock. It is perhaps unusual for a medieval dial to have a full circle of radii with end pocks that are all still visible centuries later.

ARG A rather large, good dial. Perhaps originally a full-wheel dial with 24 lines, now with 4 lines missing from upper quadrant.

DIAL 2

St George . Damerham . Hants – Scratch Dial 2

SW buttress of nave. Gnomon hole in the mortar line, from which 11 lines fan out below the horizontal. The design has been rearranged over the years, with the LR quadrant damaged and repaired without recutting the lines onto the cement.

ARG described the dial as a half-wheel. He commented on the disparity in the line length between LL and LR quadrants. but did not remark on the reason ie damage repair.

DIAL 3

St George . Damerham . Hants – Scratch Dial 3

Dial 3 is immediately below dial 2 on the same buttress. It is very basic and consists simply of a slightly skewed gnomon hole, with 3 lines in the LL quadrant, partially obscured by lichen just as ARG reported 100 years ago.

DIAL 4

The dial largely speaks for itself. I find it hard to date – C17? It seems very carefully cut, and the numerals are elegant. There’s some sophistication here. The dial is surmounted by the initials GB and TS

St George . Damerham . Hants – Scientific Dial

One intriguing feature of this dial is the mystery of the missing gnomon. In 2007 a contributor to the Geograph project, Trish Steel, uploaded a photo of the dial. It has a gnomon set into cracked mortar (unsurprising if it fell out). To an amateur it looks as if it may not have been in the right place anyway – too low? I wonder when it was first installed? It’s a very simple wedge of iron, perhaps inserted when the crack was originally repaired.

St George . Damerham . Hants – Scientific Dial with Gnomon

PORCH DIAL

Within the S porch (added C15) the area around the original door has much medieval graffiti. St George was a church of pilgrimage, and inside there are pilgrim scallops incorporated in the fine wall-painting fragments. Both outside and inside the church, there are many crosses cut into the stone. Some may also be apotropaic in intention; some may be event marks (the porch is ideal for welcoming a new incumbent or a marriage).

On the jamb R of the door there are 3 distinct lines, equally separated, radiating downwards from roughly the same point, a plausible filled style hole. The design is clearly cut with no graffiti near it, with traces of whitewash. I have encountered other very similar internal porch dials (I need to cross-check and add links) in much the same position, and I am confident that this qualifies as another one.

PILGRIMS’ PROGRESS

RESOURCES FOR ST GEORGE DAMERHAM

There is a brief but helpful information sheet / guide in the church

An object lesson for a church guide: informative, interesting, and focussed on the most important features

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Scientific Dial; Church Graffiti; Pilgrim Crosses

All photos: Keith Salvesen except the gnomon for Dial 4, Trish Steel, Geograph CC

HINTON ST GEORGE . SOM. ST GEORGE – Scratch Dial

Hinton St George Church . Som

ST GEORGE’S CHURCH . HINTON ST GEORGE . SOMERSET

GRADE I † C13 origins: masons’ marks on the fabric date from C13 and are identical with some found at Wells cathedral BHO. Development mainly C15 (tower) and C16, with C19 work by Wyatt and later attention. Poulett family much in evidence. Good graffiti / protection marks. Fine gilded weathercock dated to 1756. 4m N of Crewkerne . 50.9107 / -2.8286 / ST418126

DIAL

Hinton St George Church . Som – Scratch Dial

A single scratch dial tucked away on the W side of a buttress, and of doubtful value as a time marker, both for position and orientation. There are 4 lines with terminal pocks on the left side; and a single pock at the top (ie midnight). The gnomon hole, already quite big, has been crudely enlarged – and quite recently, by the look of it.

An explanation for the unpromising location and the unsatisfactory design is that the dial was relocated at some stage, perhaps when the tower was built (and the buttress added?). It is far from unusual for a dial reused in this way to be inverted, as if decommissioning it. An inversion of the image above makes far more sense, with the noon line marked by a single pock, and the radials to its right. An afternoon dial.

Hinton St George Church . Som – Scratch Dial (inverted)

GRAFFITI & APOTROPAIC SYMBOLS / PROTECTION / MARIAN MARKS

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

BISHOPS SUTTON . HANTS . ST NICHOLAS – 4 Scratch Dials (2 inside porch)

St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants

GRADE I † C12 origins (nave c1150) on Saxon site, still with Norman features. Gradual C13 / C14 development and C18 / C19 works / restoration. Wooden-shingled bell turret, as other churches locally (eg Medstead.) Of relevance here, S porch added C18. 2m E of Alresford. 51.0843 /  -1.1362 / SU605320

DIALS

ARG visited in 1923 and recorded dials 1, 2, 3 but not dial 4 (high up above dial 3). Dials 1 & 2 are LHS of the original Norman doorway, within the later-added porch. ARG rightly discounted the very prominent OS benchmark below dial 3 that had elsewhere been recorded as a dial.

DIAL 1

The most striking of the dials, not least because of the graffiti that surrounds it. It is cut on the W jamb (outer) of the original Norman doorway (c1150), inside the much later S porch. There are 4 strong lines descending from the style hole in the mortar line, and a short arc LHS.

St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Scratch Dial 1

The image above also shows the much less distinct dial 2 at the same level on the inner jamb. The triangular design above both is ornamentation on the slim column. Dial 1 is remarkably undamaged / unweathered considering the long period before the porch was added. It must have predated the C17 graffiti, which is itself in very good condition.

St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Scratch Dial 1
St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Scratch Dial 1

DIAL 2

Dial 2 is also cut on the W jamb (inner) of the original Norman doorway (c1150) within the S porch. Very faint and hard to make out, even close to; easy to overlook. There are 4 discernible lines, with the hint of a double line at noon. The remains of whitewash make examination even more difficult.

St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Scratch Dial 2

St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Scratch Dial 2

DIAL 3

St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Scratch Dial 3

Very visible as one walks up the church path, on a quoin stone on the SE corner of the nave. The dial is cut inside an eroded semicircle, with the style hole in the mortar line. Unsophisticated. There are 11 lines radiating below the horizontal, at rather random angles. It looks uncomfortable, as if it may originally have extended upwards onto an earlier stone: ARG notes that it is on one of the original large quoins C1150 (which does not match nearby stones), suggesting relocation of the adjacent stones or even of the dial stone itself.

ARG suggests that there is no obvious vertical / noon line. However the 2 deeper cut lines either side of noon may be intended to emphasise a ‘noon space’ between them, as is occasionally found elsewhere. ARG also posits that Dial 3 may be an interesting example of a ‘summer-only’ dial, though I can’t tell why: it faces more or less due S.

DIAL 4

Dial 4 is high up on a quoin stone above Dial 3. It’s a very simple small dial with 4 lines leading from a style hole in the dial stone. There is a presumed Mass line (Terce), a noon line, a very faint short line, and an extended slightly curved line. BSS comments that the dial was at some time repositioned, being of little use in its present location.

St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Benchmark below Dial 3
St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Graffiti RHS doorway inc. apotropaic VV mark

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Medieval Sundial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

KINGTON . HEREFORD . ST MARY – 6 Scratch Dials

Kington Herefs St Mary (Ruth Harris CC)

ST MARY . KINGTON . HEREFORDSHIRE

GRADE I † Dated from c1300, with a C12 tower that was originally separate, later incorporated when the church was extended and (BLB) much altered. Attractively distinctive to look at. 15m W of Leominster. 52.2045 / -3.0384 / SO29156

DIALS

St Mary is a multi-dial church with 6 recorded, one of which is doubtful. They range from conventional to basic. 3 are clustered on adjacent stones.

DIAL 1

Dial 1 is on the S wall, a fan-shaped edged quadrant radiating from the mortar line and stretching across 3 stones. It is near-symmetrical along the noon line. The 5 lines are spaced almost equally, the outer ones being incised more deeply, perhaps to draw attention to service times. The ‘1’ line is of interest, less accurately cut, bifurcating as it crosses onto the stone below, and ending in a single pock. This feature is so specific that it was presumably intended to emphasise a time of day of particular significance in the local community.

DIAL 2

Dial 2, on the S wall, is far simpler than Dial 1 but is also near-symmetrical from the noon line. 3 lines, the one to the L more of a straight scratch than a cut. The style hole is in a fault line in the stone (which may well be subsequent damage). Possibly the ‘1’ line crudely divides halfway down, beginning with a pock. This would match the similar emphasis in Dial 1, and perhaps supports the theory of a special ‘event’ mark.

DIAL 3

Dial 3 is also located by the door on the S wall, very damaged and eroded. 4 clear lines radiate from a style hole in the mortar line (there are also 2 very faint lines). Only the uppermost in the lower R quadrant survives for its full length.

DIALS 4 & 5

Dials 4 & 5 are beside and below Dial 2. Both are faint and barely more than token efforts at a dial, as if a youthful assistant priest had a knife and time on his hands.

Kington Herefs St Mary – Dial 2, 4, 5

DIAL 6

Dial 6 is a very simple dial (if it is one): a style hole within a deeply cut circle, and what could be a stubby noon line. The close-up b&w BSS photograph gives a good idea of it. There’s not a lot of confidence in the record: Position not known. Noon line only? Circle only and faint line at 90L. Possible noon marker. Doubtful dial.

Richard & Catherine Boztum, in their excellent illustrated booklet (cited below) of Herefordshire Church marks and scratch dials include dials 1 – 5, but not this one.

Kington Herefs St Mary – Dial 6 – BSS

I also have my doubts. St Mary has plenty of Church graffiti – initials, scratchings, small crosses, and in particular a number of apotropaic symbols (ritual protection marks). The design of ‘Dial 6’ is one of many forms of ‘witch mark’. And on St Mary itself, there is a more elaborate version of the circle-and-centre-hole mark.

Kington Herefs St Mary – Apotropaic mark

OTHER CANDIDATES?

Having in mind the rather basic design of some of the dials above, there are a couple of candidates that I photographed for later inspection. The first is at least plausible and matches the noon line symmetry of dials 1 & 2. The other is unconvincing. You be the judge…

Kington Herefs St Mary – doubtful scratch dial

GSS Category: Scratch Dials; Multi-dials

Photos: Header image: Ruth Harris (Geograph / Wiki / CC); all other photos Keith Salvesen except dial 6 BSS

REF: Botzum R and C : Scratch Dials, Sundials and unusual Marks on Herefordshire Churches. Lucton, Herefs, 1988

HAZELBURY BRYAN . DORSET . ST MARY & ST JAMES – Scratch Dial, Marian Marks

St Mary & St James . Hazelbury Bryan . Dorset

ST MARY & ST JAMES . HAZEBURY BRYAN . DORSET

GRADE I † Mainly C15, chancel rebuilt 1827, general restoration 1895 and early C20. A fine Church some way out of the centre of the village (as with several other churches in the area, eg Pulham, Lydlinch). Nave and N aisle have C15 wagon roofs. Graffiti & witch marks in the porch. SW of Sturminster Newton. 50.8736 /  -2.352 / ST753082

DIAL

St Mary & St James . Hazelbury Bryan . Dorset – scratch dial

A small simple dial within a complete circle on the face of the SW buttress of the tower. There are 4 lines that extend slightly beyond the circumference and one quite large pock in lower R quadrant. GLP notes that the lines, with the pock, divide the day into quarters marking the canonical hours of tierce, sext & none.

St Mary & St James . Hazelbury Bryan . Dorset – Scratch Dial

GLP also noted a ‘doubtful dial’ on the NW face of the buttress: an eroded circle with a shallow central hole. This is nearest candidate I could find in that location, one I would never have noticed without a prompt. I share the doubt despite my usual optimistic amateur instincts.

St Mary & St James . Hazelbury Bryan . Dorset – doubtful dial?

MARIAN MARK IN THE PORCH

The porch is worth checking for graffiti and other church marks like the emphatic Marian mark below boldly repelling evil.

St Mary & St James . Hazelbury Bryan . Dorset – Marian Mark in the Porch

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

LYDLINCH . DORSET – ST THOMAS À BECKET: Sundials, Medieval Graffiti, Witch Marks, Hexfoil

Lydlinch . Dorset . St Thomas à Becket

LYDLINCH . DORSET . ST THOMAS À BECKET

GRADE II* † Mainly C15 / C16, much reworking and restoration. Located down a longish lane S of the village. 10 miles E of Sherborne. BLB record HERE. Featured: the 3 sundials; church marks; the 3 seats inside the porch. 50.9192 / -2.3678 / ST742133

SUNDIALS

DIAL 1

The most obvious sundial is at the apex of the porch gable, a simple square stone containing a square dial with a narrow 3/4 frame, and an iron gnomon. Above it some form of stone finial, much eroded, a cross? The dial has graduated hour radials, with shorter lines for half-hours, and the quarter hours marked within the frame. Quite sophisticated, some damage upper R. BHO dates it C18.

Below this dial is an inscribed C18 plaque dedicated, it seems, to two [C]hurch [W]ardens 1753. It is interesting to compare the erosion of this soft stone with the dial stone.

Lydlinch . Dorset . St Thomas à Becket – Vertical sundial over the porch
Lydlinch . Dorset . St Thomas à Becket – plaque dated 17[5]3

DIALS 2 & 3

These dials are a near-matched pair on the C15 tower. Both are high up on the second stage, one on the SW buttress, the other on the SE buttress. BHO describes the former as a stone plate with Roman numerals, much worn; and the latter as traces of similar sundial. I think both dials must have had considerable attention since those words were written.

DIAL 2

This dial looks like a comparatively new replacement; BSS suggests C20. The modern design replicates Dial 3 mutatis mutandis. The radials are carefully graduated for its SW facing angle; very little of the afternoon can be indicated.

Lydlinch . Dorset . St Thomas à Becket – replaced vertical sundial on SW buttress of tower

DIAL 3

This dial is almost an exact converse of its pair, the radials being graduated in the opposite direction. C18. Note that the gnomons of both dials are the same design, copper I think, and presumably installed at the same time.

Lydlinch . Dorset . St Thomas à Becket – vertical sundial on SE buttress of tower

APOTROPAIC (WITCH) MARKS, MARIAN MARKS, HEXFOIL & GRAFFITI

APOTROPAIC (WITCH) MARKS, MARIAN MARKS & GRAFFITI ON PORCH SEATS

Lydlinch . Dorset . St Thomas à Becket – Apotropaic (Witch) marks, Marian marks, Graffiti on seats

GSS Categories: Sundials, Vertical Dials, Old Dials, Witch Marks, Apotropaic Symbols, Church Graffiti

All photos: Keith Salvesen

WOOTTON RIVERS . WILTS . ST ANDREW – Five Scratch Dials

St Andrew . Wootton Rivers . Wilts

ST ANDREW. WOTTON RIVERS . WILTS

GRADE II* † C14 with major C19 restoration by G E Street. Attractive village church with a shingled spire (slightly aslant). Situated by the Kennet and Avon canal. Home to the amazing JACK SPRATT’S CLOCK 51.3653 / -1.7187 / SU196629

DIALS

St Andrew has 5 dials (BSS records 2; HE 1) and a couple of doubtfuls. All are on the S side. The porch has graffiti – initials, dates etc – and apotropaic symbols / ritual protection marks.

DIAL 1

St Andrew . Wootton Rivers . Wilts – Scratch Dial 1

Dial 1 is on a quoin stone at the E end of S side. A small but easily visible dial with a large style hole for its size (doubtless enlarged at some time). The noon line is strongest cut, with 3, possibly 4, other lines. The None (9th hour) line is longest, possibly to indicate the most important Mass time of the day. A simple dial with a simple purpose. The 2 ‘tadpole’ marks bottom left could be witch marks to protect the church. There are others in the porch area.

DIAL 2

St Andrew . Wootton Rivers . Wilts – Scratch Dial 2

Dial 2 is relatively complex and later than dial 1. A semicircle design with the lines mostly positively cut evenly at 15º angles, though there is erosion in the lower R quadrant. There are also quite large pocks, mostly between the ends of 2 lines which is, I think, unusual. The style hole, as with Dial 1, is large.

DIAL 3

St Andrew . Wootton Rivers . Wilts – Scratch Dial 3

Dial 3 is a simple little dial consisting of three significant lines terminating in pocks, and an ‘afternoon’ pock. The sketchy marks above this suggest an extended line ending in a pock and, as with Dial 1, roughly corresponding to None, perhaps confirming the most significant service time for the church, ie early evening Mass.

DIAL 4

St Andrew . Wootton Rivers . Wilts – Scratch Dial 4

Dial 4 is on the E side of the porch. Very eroded, with the style hole drawing attention to a small encircled dial with 3 clearish lines – horizontal and 2 curving below it. Indistinct traces of a couple of other lines.

DIAL 5

St Andrew . Wootton Rivers . Wilts – Scratch Dial 5

Dial 5 is on the W side of the porch. Larger than dial 4 and also considerably eroded. 10 lines or so, and a confusion of pocks, especially around the (presumed) shallow style hole. There are hints of at least a semicircle in the lower half and the trace (illusion?) of a complete circle or even a double one.

GRAFFITI and APOTROPAIC (WITCH) MARKS

GSS Category: Scratch Dials

All photos: Keith Salvesen; Jack Spratt’s Clock link – VisitPewseyVale