BUCKHORN WESTON . DORSET . ST JOHN THE BAPTIST: dated scratch / scientific dial 1599

St John the Baptist . Buckhorn Weston . Dorset

GRADE II* C13 origins; mainly C14 with C15 porch; extensive C19 alteration / restoration including complete rebuild of the tower (1861), & later work by Crickmay. A pleasant aspect as one walks up the church path. 5m SE of Wincanton. 51.0213 / -2.348 / ST756247

DIAL

Sundial: reset on S. wall of tower, square stone plate with arabic numerals and inscription ANNO DO 1599. BHO

St John the Baptist . Buckhorn Weston . Dorset – Scratch / Scientific Dial

A most interesting dial set into the upper stage of the tower. Presumably re-fixed in that position (or perhaps relocated there) during the C19 rebuilding. Despite erosion and damage, the unaffected features are quite well defined. GLP notes that it is one of the earliest dated dials (of any sort) in Dorset.

St John the Baptist . Buckhorn Weston . Dorset – Scratch / Scientific Dial

Although giving the appearance of a large scratch dial with an inscription above it, GLP classifies it as a more sophisticated ‘scientific’ dial, because the angles between the lines measure standard hours. The use of numerals fits in with the inscribed date. GLP calls them roman; BHO has them as arabic. My detailed photos don’t help either way. They do show that the stone was cracked in two at some stage; and they raise the question “where was the gnomon?”

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Scientific Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

BRYMPTON . SOM . ST ANDREW – Scratch Dials, Medieval Graffiti

St Andrew . Brympton . Som

ST ANDREW . BRYMPTON . SOM

GRADE I † C13 origins, mainly C14 / C15; C19 restoration. Set in the grounds of an historic house Brympton D’Evercy and adorned by an unusual (striking?) bell turret. The remnants of a lost medieval village. A mere 2m W of Yeovil yet hidden away in its own parkland, and best reached by map reading, satnav or luck. 50.9359 / -2.6856 / ST519153

DIALS

St Andrew has 2 dials, one on each of the paired corner buttresses of the S transept (HE notes only one). There is a plausible dial fragment on the buttress on the W end of the nave.

DIAL 1

DEH visited St Andrew in July 1915 and recorded: 189. (2) This dial is on a buttress at the s.e. corner of the s. transept, at a height of 4 feet 1 inch above the ground. The noonline is 5 inches in length, the stylehole is 1 1/4 inches deep by 3/8 of an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 15° e. Type 3.

St Andrew . Brympton . Som – Scratch Dial 1

There are 4 clear lines and one less so. As judged from the noon line, the dial is slightly offset. There is a faintest hint of a line to the right of the noon line, which would make design sense; or perhaps for some reason that area remained blank (and see Dial 2). The strong line mid-afternoon may indicate that the important Mass at St Andrew was none.

DIAL 2

DEH: 188. (1) This dial is on a buttress at the s.w. corner of the s. transept, at a height of 4 feet 11 inches above the ground. The noonline is 3 inches in length, the stylehole is 2 1/4 inches deep by 3/4 of an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 10° e. Type 5c.

St Andrew . Brympton . Som – Scratch Dial 2

The dense covering of lichen makes it hard to give an accurate description of this dial. It looks like a conventional semi-circular fan dial with an emphasised horizontal (6-to-6). There are 7 lines for certain; as with Dial 1, the lower R quadrant is less well defined – perhaps less deeply incised and gradually eroded, or because locally the afternoon was not significant for services and could be ignored.

DIAL FRAGMENT?

The markings on the SW face of this buttress are strange. Are these eye-catching striations related to marking the time of day? It seems most unlikely. However, it’s worth zeroing in on the 4 short lines on the stone below. A case could be made that this is a dial fragment on a stone that was at some time relocated there. Alternatively, this is the lower section of a dial in its original position, with the stones now above it displacing the rest of the dial with its style hole.

S Porch: E.Aspey may have worked on the church

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

MELCOMBE HORSEY . DORSET . ST ANDREW – Scratch Dial

St Andrew . Melcombe Horsey . Dorset – north aspect

MELCOMBE HORSEY . DORSET . ST ANDREW

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

DIAL

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).

St Andrew . Melcombe Horsey . Dorset – scratch dial

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.

St Andrew . Melcombe Horsey . Dorset – Scratch dial diagrams (BSS)
St Andrew . Melcombe Horsey . Dorset – south aspect

UNRECORDED DIALS?

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.

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 . Melcombe Horsey . Dorset – scratch dial?

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

All photos: Keith Salvesen