GRADE I † C14 The principal parts of a small stone manor house, built c1370 for the Sheriff of Somerset & Dorset. It has undergone many changes since, but the splendid timber roofs over the great hall and solar… (remain intact). Scheduled as an Ancient Monument. Under the care of English Heritage Two miles E of Sturminster Newton. 50.9213 / -2.2847 / ST800135
The most spectacular medieval manor house interior in Dorset PEV, an authoritative opinion that will never be challenged. There is no dial here, but the amazing graffiti could equally be found in a church, though generally not in such profusion. Besides dials of all kinds, this site includes medieval building marks – symbols, initials, dates, other graffiti. These categories can be found in the Menus on the front page. However, Fiddleford manor is so special that it deserves its own main entry rather than being relegated to a sub-menu.
GSS Category: Church Marks; Marian Marks; Ritual Protection; Hexfoils; Medieval Graffiti
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
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 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.
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.
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
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.
All Saints has some graffiti in the porch area. Here are 2 examples – image includes ‘witch marks’
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
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:
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.
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.
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
GRADE I † C12 origins, mainly C13; C15 perp additions and C19 restoration. A most attractive building, highly praised as an uncommonly interesting churchPEV. 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
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.
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.
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).
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)
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.
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’.
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.
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 StripesBLB. 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
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.
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
GRADE II † C13, C14, C15, restored 1863 (T.H.Wyatt); tower restored 1988. A sad history of disrepair (C15, C17), but nowadays a most attractive and surprisingly secluded church. One bell (of 6) is C15. A cluster of votive / pilgrim crosses externally. Midway between Salisbury and Shaftesbury, N of A30. Note: the church is some way past the centre of the village – persevere. 51.0654 / -2.0068 / ST996295
St George is a multi-dial church. There are certainly 6, plus one candidate that is debatable and may have a different function entirely. I have a note of an 8th dial, and seen a passing reference to one. Unusually, there are 5 dials spread over 2 adjacent stones, a rare proximity of so many.
DIALS 1 – 3
This group of dials are all cut on a single stone. It looks as if the simplest dial (3) was superseded by a similar more detailed one (2) ; and that both were eventually made redundant for practical purposes by a relatively sophisticated replacement (1).
Dial 1 has 10 lines (including the horizontals) that radiate from the filled gnomon hole, within a semicircle. The spacing of the lines is rather haphazard and it is quite hard to relate their positions to specific hours. One line in LRQ has a cross, presumably to emphasise the afternoon Mass time Nones. In LLQ there are 4 (perhaps 5) holes denoting an important part of the day for observance. The positions of the radials on the 2 earlier dials beneath Dial 1 rather confirm this theory. Is the horizontal line above the semicircle part of the dial? There is a short vertical line from its centre – a short ‘midnight’ line? – that suggests some connection but not one that would assist marking the passage of the day. Probably a later addition, purpose unknown.
Dial 2 is simple dial with a homespun attempt at incising a perimeter. It has 3 strong lines LLQ, each ending in a pock. The noon area is a confusion of trace / eroded lines with pocks that extend further round the approximate circumference, signifying the early afternoon hours
Dial 3 is a rustic-looking little dial, presumably the earliest of the group. Although from a distance it seems to be just a pair of stubby lines descending from the style hole, close inspection suggests shallow pocks on a curve beyond the noon line – others perhaps hidden by the lichen. If so, it is more sophisticated that it looks at first sight. But for the size of the style hole, it is a candidate for the ‘smallest dial’ category, of which Tintinhull is supposedly the leader
DIALS 4 – 5
Both dials are together on the same stone, immediately W of the dial stone of dials 1 – 3.
Dial 4 is hard to analyse in detail because of lichen. The style hole is filled. There is a semicircle – again with an inexact curve – and a hint that there was once a full (misshapen) circle. It is just about possible to make out 12 lines, of which only 6 or 7 are distinct. There are no visible pocks.
Dial 5 is the only dial with all lines in LRQ: an afternoon dial (but see also dial 8). There are 6 lines, of which 5 radiate directly from the style hole. The line at (roughly) 1pm, if part of the dial, passes to L of the hole.
DIALS 1 – 5
Dial 6 is different from the other dials, and relatively uncomplicated. The style hole is quite high on the dial stone. There are no radials, simply a gentle curve of several pocks either side of noon. There are 7 in all, and presumably the central one marked noon. There’s a significantly clearer image than mine via the first link below!
DIAL 7 -v- NOT A DIAL
There is debate as to whether this design is a dial, or was incised for some other purpose. Two concentric circles with a hole at the centre are not rare for a dial but one would expect to see lines – even just a noon line – and / or dots around the perimeter of the inner circle. Being sited at the W end, it would only be effective late in the day. Again, this is not particularly unusual where a church has been rebuilt stones relocated – Rimpton, Lillington and Stockbridge are examples.
Sometimes it helps to interpret a possible dial – one that may have been re-sited – by rotating the image. It could be argued that the two small pocks equidistant either side of a notional the noon line indicate a simple rather elegant double-ringed marker of the passage of time in the later part of the day. Alternatively it could be a straightforward dial with two pocks that was moved from the S side to W end. Anyway, it looks more dial-ish with this orientation.
DEH noted that this line-less, pock-less design – a hole at the centre of one or two circles – is not uncommon. He suggests that such configurations may have been dials with the details painted within the circles or on the circumference. This was a common practice and can still be seen in a few churches where there is a dial within the porch, cut next to the pre-porch main doorway. West Camel is one example; Chilthorne Domer nearby even has 2.
Local research (see below), originally in conjunction with Tony Woods / BBS, suggests this may in fact be a form of Consecration Cross or ‘event’ mark. That may well be so. However while these often have double circles, crosses generally (always?) do actually feature a cross or at least some form of incised device.
As mentioned earlier, I have a note of – and seen a reference to – an 8th dial. It may have been this faint spidery design with its shallow style hole, the lines all LRQ. If it is a dial at all – on balance I am 66% in favour.
These links will take you to two excellent analyses of the dials by Fovant village online resources. Both are interesting in their own right; the second link provides a good overview of the whole community.
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: BHOSt George DamerhamHE 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
✣ 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.
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.
ARGA rather large, good dial. Perhaps originally a full-wheel dial with 24 lines, now with 4 lines missing from upper quadrant.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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
GRADE I † C13 origin (nave, chancel); C14 S porch; C15 enlargement, tower; C19 restorations inc Wyatt. Good C13 south door: cusped arch, carved heads as dripstones BHO. 2 Purdue bells. Early C16 oak pulpit, bench ends. 10m NE Dorchester. A most attractive and well-kept church. 50.7427 / -2.2772 / SY805937
THES SEATYS WERE MADE YN THE YERE OF OWRE LORD GOD MCCCCCXLV
IN THE THYME OF THOMAS LYLLYNGTON VICAR O THYS CHERCH.
St Laurence has 2 dials, one either side of the nave window. Unusually, both are entirely designed with holes (cf TRENT) apart from a token noon indicator on Dial 1, barely discernible (see diagram).
W jamb of the nave window, in poor condition. Besides the single vertical line, there are 8 small holes in a curve below the style hole. 2 further holes emphasise Nones, the Mass time equating in clock terms to 3pm. GLP notes that the dial is accurately cut.
Dial 2 is on the E jamb, a longer and clearer semicircle of 12 holes. There are a couple of small holes that might be for emphasis / to mark a half hour (see eg between 9 and 10). GLP notes that the style hole is very small / shallow for a gnomon. Again he found the dial very accurate, most holes being within 4º of true, with 5 exactly correct.
CHURCH MARKS OF ST LAURENCE
Some of those interested in medieval church dials (and you have after all reached here) are likely to check a church for other medieval marks. St Laurence is worth visiting for these alone. Here are just 3 examples, of which one is especially intriguing and needs be researched further (not by me).
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Church Marks; Medieval Graffitti
GRADE I † C13 origin nave, N chapel, later enlarged; C14 tower & porch; C15 rebuilt chancel; subsequent repairs and C19 restorations. One of only 3 Dorset medieval churches with a spire (with Iwerne Minster & Winterborne Steepleton). A fascinating church smothered in history, the details best researched separately. C15 font. Pride of place is taken by the superb 16th century screen, which is one of the best in DorsetNCT. Good C16 bench ends. For a quick overview of St Andrew BLB. At the centre of the Sherborne – Yeovil – Marston Magna triangle. 50.9648 / -2.5859 / ST589185
There are 4 dials in 2 pairs. They have much in common. All are on buttresses; all are C15; and unusually, all are designed entirely with pocks, without any lines at all. There are a couple of other plausible dials with a promising style hole in a mortar line or roughly central on a stone. There are hints of pocks that may be related, but erosion and lichen make it hard to be sure. Best left as a mystery.
On the chancel, SW face of the end buttress. The gnomon hole is in the dial stone, with a curve of 7 pocks below it, of which one has a second that perhaps marked a an off-vertical noon line.
Dial 2 is the most intriguing of the 4 dials. It is below Dial 1 on the SW face of the chancel buttress. There are 24 holes drilled in a curve of 3 rows, with 8 in each row. The careful design has the dots radiating accurately from the gnomon hole as though they were lines. Additionally, there are outlier dots – 3, perhaps 4 – below the neat curve: see image above. They are drilled more or less in line with the design on the main dots, in a way that looks meant. GLP refers to them as extra dots.
Dial 3 is on the cancel buttress E of the doorway. There are 6 pocks in a curve below a gnomon hole presumed to have been in the mortar but no longer identifiable. GLP concluded that this dial and its companion below were unlikely to have been accurate.
A similar dial with 4 pocks and a cement-filled gnomon hole in the mortar line. GLP also doubted its accuracy. It is hard to account for the fact that 2 such similar basic dials are so close. Rival sextons? A competition? A new incumbent?
Note: To see the Vertical Dial, visit the Old Dial page HERE