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 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 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
GRADE I † C11 nave; C13 transepts; C14 chancel. From C17, alterations and restorations inc by Wyatt in 1860. Large and interesting cruciform churchPEV. Marble Feversham family monuments by Scheemakers. Significant local legacy from Neolithic, Iron Age, Roman (Villa) and Saxon times. 9m S of Salisbury. 50.9937 / -1.7433 / SU181216
St Laurence has 2 dials on the 2nd buttress E of the porch, one above the other. The upper one is a fine example of a large dial filling the dial stone. The lower is so badly damaged / eroded that it would be easy miss; and it is quite hard to imagine what it looked like originally.
Dial 1 is encircled, with 13 lines and 24 pocks around the perimeter and forming 2 crosses . This large dial not only takes up the width of the stone, the circumference continues onto the stone below as do some lines (esp. 11am). The noon line ends in a 4-dot cross on the main stone, and the 9am line has a 5-dot cross on the lower stone.
The gnomon hole is of particular interest; I haven’t come across a square hole with (apparently) a circular one inside it before. Possibly the original gnomon was a basic rod, and its round hole later enlarged to accommodate a more visible square rod.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Medieval Sundial; Church Dated Initials
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
ST MARY † Grade 1. Early C13, alterations c.1500, N transept added C19. Between Sherborne & Marston Magna, on the Som. / Dorset boundary. Scratch dials, vertical dial, porch graffiti and protection (‘witch’) marks. 50.9948 / -2.5565 / ST610218
Quite a while ago I wrote (in 2 parts) about the 4 main medieval scratch dials at the church. The links are below. I recently revisited St Mary for a further look at the dials (there are a couple of others to write up) as well as some interesting church marks including a small hexfoil within the porch. A revised single post featuring all of the above will emerge in due course.
I also photographed the Vertical Dial for BSS records. It is located on the end merlon of the parapet, easily visible. It has a simple, almost square face. The plain metal gnomon is fixed into the top of the dial stone, and into the mortar line under the stone below it.
There are other unmarked (no lines, pocks, numerals) dials in the S Somerset / W Dorset region and I though this was one. However, later examining the main photograph in the gallery below, I detected 2 faint lines in U L quadrant that seem deliberately cut. There’s a ghost of a line on the opposite side. So possibly this was once a conventionally marked dial that has slowly and very evenly eroded.
It is hard to date. The dial stone differs from the ones around it. At a guess, it was added C19, perhaps when other work was carried out (eg adding the N transept). BHO notes that in 1827 the church was ‘repaired and beautified’. Perhaps adding the dial was part of that process.
DEDICATION † ST ANDREW . Parish church. Late C13, consecrated 1312, completed C15, restoration from C19. A ‘major church’PEV. A good place to find out more is the RCHM entry ST ANDREW YETMINSTER. Carefully compiled church and Parish Archive. 10 Consecration Crosses from medieval to (relatively) modern. An important very early (1683) clock, now in restoration (see below).
LISTING † Grade 1
LOCATION † 5 miles SW of Sherborne, / SE of Yeovil. Noteworthy village easily accessed. Fine vernacular Ham stone buildings give the feel of an earlier era. Many listed buildings. Village also highly regarded by PEV. Station in village (not, as elsewhere locally, a wayside halt). Etiminstre in DB 50.8939 / -2.578 / ST594106
DIALS † Two dials on the buttress E. of S door, both C15
A semicircle dial with 13 lines (including the horizontal). BSS notes no circumferential circle. The noon line is extended, and 4 others end slightly beyond the circumference . GLP describes it as very neat and accurately marked. Both dials have been thoroughly examined – clips of the original records from the excellent church archive are below.
An unusual rather drooping design, explained below. Gnomon hole in the mortar line. The dial is split across 2 stones by a vertical mortar line. There are 11 lines, if one includes the mortar joint as the vertical / noon line. The lines RHS are badly eroded.
GLP noted that this dial is of particular interest as the angle of the lines suggest that it may be an early Scientific Dial. Comparing the lines with the correct angles for the latitude only one of the lines is more than 4º out. A further even more technical conclusion is that to function this dial would have needed a gnomon at an angle of 39º to the wall. This evidences an advance from earlier dials where the gnomon was simply inserted into its hole straight rather than angled.
CLOCK † The historic faceless pendulum clock (1683) is being restored at the moment. I am writing the day after the Queen’s death, and by coincidence the clock has a specific significance: The Clock carillon plays the National Anthem at 3-hourly intervals. This dates from 1897 when it was installed by local benefactors for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, and is very rare, and possibly unique. For the Platinum Jubilee of HM The Queen this year, the carillon was operated manually to ring out as part of our Jubilee Celebrations.
NOTES † 10 ‘formy’ Consecration Crosses in sunk round panels on external wall-facesBHO (locations specified); C10 Saxon cross shaft fragment; faceless clock of interest; good hunky punks. Links with Robert Boyle (chemistry, founder of the school) and Benjamin Jesty (smallpox); quite a lot of external graffiti – initials, dates and some Marian (‘witch’) marks
St Andrew . Yetminster . Dorset – Graffiti and a Marian (ritual protection) mark. The 3 initialled and dated marks are likely to be cut by masons who did work on the church in the 1830s (cf Melbury Osmond)