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 origins: masons’ marks on the fabric date from C13 and are identical with some found at Wells cathedralBHO. 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
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.
GRAFFITI & APOTROPAIC SYMBOLS / PROTECTION / MARIAN MARKS
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
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 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, 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 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.
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.
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.
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…
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
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
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 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 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 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 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 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
GRADE 1 † C14 origins, additional work C15, Chapels C16, partial C19 restoration. Adjacent to a fine manor house. The Parish confusingly includes Melcombe Bingham, Bingham’s Melcombe and Higher Melcombe, all in a secluded area steeped in medieval history. To explore further, BHO. 50.8178 / -2.324 / ST772020
The church stands in the parkland of Bingham’s Melcombe House, a pleasant walk down a long drive. A single dial is recorded, located on a quoin stone of S.E. buttress of C16 Horsey Chapel. There are other church marks of interest (see below).
The dial is inverted, with 5 radials pointing upwards from a large cement-filled style hole. There are good reasons to suppose the dial was repositioned: it predates the building of the chapel, and so is cut on a reused stone; it is inverted (as often the case with relocated dials); and GLP points out that its angle would receive sunlight for half the day at most.
There are 2 other configurations on earlier parts on S side of the church that give pause for thought. Both images below show patterns that are distinctly dial-ish.
The first is plausible in several respects: style hole just below the mortar line; 2 large pocks in the mortar line (the RHS one beyond the edge of an apparent circumference); the hint of a part-circle above the horizontal; a distinct curve of pocks in lower L quadrant; eroded and less organised pocks lower R.
Note: looking at this configuration some time later and having seen a great many more dials in the interim, I’d say this is definitely a dial; and the other is a ‘not-a-dial’
The second candidate is less clear. It is at an angle L of the S doorway – a conventional place for a dial. The case for it is weaker and unfortunately it looks less dial-like in the photograph than at the time. Doubtful rather than plausible.
St Andrew has plenty of further interest in the broader category of church marks. The porch is very rewarding. I usually post about such marks separately but the ones below deserve a place here.
The top row shows Marian V V marks (Virgin of Virgins), one type of so-called ritual protection mark (or apotropaic symbols) designed to ward off evil. There are plenty of less commonly found marks. The main photograph shows mediaeval porch seats with a magnificent inscription (G – PIC?) dated 1589.
GSS Category: Scratch Dials; Apotropaic Marks, Marian Marks, Church Graffiti