GRADE II † C15 origins, substantially rebuilt 1879. Surprisingly for a church in a village recorded in DB (Todeberie) 1086, no Dedication. Midway between Shaftsbury & Sturminster Newton. 50.9795 / -2.2865 / ST799200
The dial of this unusual-looking small church is on the S wall of the chancel, R of the window. The dial is very eroded. There are 6 visible / detectable lines, the noon line longer than the rest. The gnomon hole is filled, and there is a patch of cement on the noon line that BSS / GLP suggest may be a filled pock.
The large block of stone was obviously relocated to the side of the window during (or before?) C19 rebuilding: it stands out from the smaller brick-like stones that form the wall. GLP comments it looks as if the dial was recognised as something interesting, and preserved accordingly.
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.
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
GRADE 1 † C14 origins, mainly C15 expansion; customary C19 work. A surprisingly large church for a small community hidden away in deepest (though not darkest) Dorset. Approached by lanes. The unusual name may derive from OE word ‘mapluldor’ (maple tree); shown as ‘Mapledre’ in DB*. 50.8528 / -2.3773 / ST735059
Located on the S wall near E window, a small single dial with 10 lines radiating from a fairly large style hole. C15. Of particular interest is that, most unusually, 2 of the lines meet at their outer ends (GLP) or even cross (BSS). The angled shot shows it best – and see diagram below. GLP suggests this arrangement roughly coincides with the Mass time Terce (9h) and may emphasise it, as a pock or a deeper cut radial might.
Mappowder . Dorset . St Peter & St Paul – Scratch Dial
GRADE I † Early C12 traces, rebuilt and extended C15. S. tower added in 1638. Restored and added vestry C19. 2 bells cast on site in 1275, the oldest in Dorset. Notable C12 font. 50.8467 / -2.6524 / ST541054
Once you have located the church at the very end of the hamlet – a dead end – of a very long lane, it immediately looks distinctive. In the present context, the dial on the tower – inscribed on S. parapet William Lardar Esq. Thomas Horsford Warden 1638 – is most unusual, not least because it faces due E.
DEH, in a rare excursion into Dorset while researching the scratch dials of Somerset in 1914, recorded this dial as a C17 scientific dial of 1638: E declining down to midday only. No trace of another dial for later in day.
GLP has written the definitive interpretation of the dial, and I include his complete record which explains the dial far better than I ever could.
It would be good to know if this blade of a gnomon is / may be original and has been (re)painted over the years. Also, to know why special dials were almost always sited next to a drainpipe…
GSS Category: Scientific Dial; Scratch Dial; Old Dial
All photos – Keith Salvesen; record extract – Gordon Le Pard
GRADE I † C13 origin, chancel & tower C15, porch C17, south chapel C18. Restored 1848. A small hamlet, a fine church, a tithe barn, a manor house. Sir Walter Raleigh prayed here. Perfect rural Dorset – secluded in a valley, reached only by narrow lanes, and very much a longcut for traffic. 2m over the fields from our house, 15+ minutes drive. 50.9127 / -2.5283 / ST629127
St Martin has 3 scratch dials, all very different. There is a further contender that I put forward as a plausible but very rare type of dial (with a small degree of approval from BSS).
Dial 1 is located on the SW. face of the buttress at the W. end of the tower. It consists of a style hole encircled by a somewhat elliptical ring. There are traces of an inner circle or partial circle, clearest seen at the bottom of the dial. GLP describes it as very eroded, and dates it as C15 (ie when the tower was built). He refers to 2 lines but I did not notice them and I can’t pick them out in the photos.
Dial 2 is at 90º to Dial 1, on the SE. face of the same buttress and indeed on the same stone. There are 5 clear lines radiating from a filled style hole, forming what might be called an ‘afternoon dial’. It’s hard to tell which is the noon line: possibly the lowest lines are angled to allow for the dial not facing due S.
GLP also dates this dial as C15. He notes that it may not be in its original position, or may have been (partly) rotated ‘then it might… have been reasonably accurate’. BSS records ‘possibly re-positioned and rotated’. But because this dial and Dial 1 are on the same stone, rotation may be less likely.
Dial 3, between of the nave window and the side-chapel, is possibly C13. The chapel, added in C18, shades the dial for half the day. GLP counts 4 lines, at least one ending in a pock, and notes shallow marks between lines possibly marking 1/2 hours. BSS also records 4 lines. I presume the uppermost mark or scar is viewed as subsequent damage. The style hole looks as if it has, or has had, metal in it.
On the same buttress as dials 1 & 2 and on the stone immediately below them, is a fairly deep hole drilled precisely and straight into the corner of the stone. Because of the proximity to the other dials at right-angles to each other, I wondered if this strangely-placed hole was also a dial (and if so, whether unique). So I experimented with a stick, with the result shown below. My conclusion is that a prominent gnomon in the vertex would give a clear indication of the passage of time throughout daylight hours. In a way, it might be rather more effective than a normal dial. I could clearly see the shadow from the E. end of the church.
I put the theory out there. As always, any observations would be welcome.
DEDICATION † ST MARY – C12 nave and chancel; later additions include bellcote & S. porch
LISTING † Grade 1
LOCATION † North-west of Maiden Newton. A very small secluded Dorset hamlet (comprising Lower & Higher) with a handful of houses, a handsome ford, and 2 rushing feeder streams for the upper River Frome. 50.8054 / -2.6035 / ST575008
DIALS † ‘On S. wall of nave, remains of two scratch-dials, reused’ (BHO)
St Mary was one of the first churches I visited soon after I started this project nearly a year ago. I was just beginning to sort out the format and I had yet to discover the resources I later came to rely on. Taking the BHO entry (italics above) at face value, I looked for 2 dials, found them, and wrote them up HERE. Since then, I learnt of a third dial that I missed (GLP). After a recent revisit to check St Mary and photograph all 3 dials, I am replacing the original images of Dials 1 & 2, and featuring Dial 3 to complete the set.
All 3 dials are on the S. wall of the nave E. of the porch, quite close to each other. Dial 1 is on a quoin stone, with 4 lines descending from the mortar-line. The arrangement is haphazard. The lines aren’t straight, the two longer ones have split ends, the other two are shorter and almost parallel, the overall spacing seems completely random. It’s hard to see how useful such an endearingly wonky dial could have been.
Dial 2 is very low down, between Dial 1 and the porch. There are 4 lines, one very faint. The stone is at a slight angle and GLP suggests it may have been reused and – if slightly rotated – a vertical (noon) line might result.
This ‘new’ dial is also low down between the other 2, nearest Dial 1. It is inverted. There are 3 very clear lines of differing widths and depths, with the (upside down) noon line extending to the edge of the stone and ending in a (faint) cross noted by GLP. He mentions 6 lines (3 eroded) in all, and adds This dial would appear to record the Saxon ‘Tides’
DEDICATION † St Laurence. Mainly C15, some rebuilding C18, with restoration and additions in 1885 by Crickmay, the notable Dorset architect. One of a number of local churches with stocks.
LISTING † Grade 1
LOCATION † Not actually in Holwell but 1m N. towards Bishop’s Caundle, in a hamlet known as The Borough. Just before you turn down the lane to reach the church, don’t miss the UK’s oldest letter box still in use. It is dated 1853, just one year after roadside boxes were introduced. 50.9064 / -2.4289 / ST699119
On the buttress E. of porch, 2 eroded scratch dials one above the other; a further small rough dial in the upper half of the lower dial. A possible dial, unrecorded, at the W. end quite high on the SW. face of a buttress. If a dial, it is inverted and presumably repositioned. The dials were photographed on different days in different lights from bright sunshine to overcast, hence the colour variations
GLP records that the 3 dials are ‘very important as 2 of them are cut across two adjoining stones. This means that they must be in situ’. He dates them to late C15.
There is also a later dial, included below: On parapet above porch arch, square stone dial with incised degrees, perhaps 18th centuryBHO
THREE DIALS ON THE BUTTRESS
DIAL 1 (upper)
Semicircular with a full complement of 6-to-6 radials, eroded on R side. A disorganised pattern of lines for straightness and distancing, with many ending with pocks. Lines and pocks extend to the stone below, especially the noon line. GLP records 16 lines, 6 with pocks, further pocks including a cross formation at the end of the noon line (triple pock crossBSS). He notes some half-hour lines and comments that the dial is very accurately cut.
DIAL 2 (lower)
Dial 2 is encircled, most visibly the upper L quadrant, the R side being eroded. Compared with Dial 1, the details are indistinct. The photos below were taken in different lights to help with examination. The radials – many with terminal pocks – are within the lower half of the dial, with Dial 3 located in the upper half (see below).
GLP notes 11 lines with 6 ending in holes, plus the masonry joint as the horizontal, very inaccurately drawn with only one line in the correct position. GLP concludes that, though impressive, the dial was probably of very little use.
DIAL 3 (inset in Dial 2)
A small rustic dial embedded within the top half of Dial 2. Eroded stone and lichen make it hard to analyse the dial much more. The BSS diagram below is the most helpful guide. GLP mentions 3 lines and a very worn circumference line. He notes that this dial, as with Dial 2, would have been of very little use.
DIAL ABOVE THE PORCH
Featured here for interest and completeness, and will be written up on the OLD DIALS page
The dial is above the S. porch. Hard to date, but relatively complex. There are no numerals, and the lines from 6am to 6pm mark the hours, half-hours and the quarter-hours, carefully graduated. Some lines (eg 8am) are emphasised. There is no gnomon though there must have been one. The presumed site seems to be slightly off-centre at the top, where there is an area of damage. The dial was renovated in 1998 by S&L Kellard of Street, and the decision must have been made not to add a modern gnomon.
DIAL 4 (unrecorded, plausible)
As mentioned above, there is a possible dial quite high on the SW. face of a buttress at the W end. If it is a dial, it must have been repositioned and inverted in the process (shown reverted below)
GRADE 1. Church origins obscure; existing building dates from C15 with substantial C19 rebuilding. Renowned font carved from the column of a C10 Saxon cross and inverted. Excellent chest tombs. Next to a fine C17 Manor. The hamlet – Hardy’s ‘Little Hintock’ – is a few miles SW. of Sherborne, nestled into a peaceful hillside with outstanding views over the Blackmore Vale, shielded from the roar of the lethal A37 Yeovil – Dorchester road. 50.8571°N / 2.5753°W / ST596065
BSS register and GLP describe a ‘doubtful’ dial: On W. buttress of tower, late C15. A doubtful dial consisting of a single horizontal line leading to a shallow hole. This could be the remains of a painted dial, or a piece of graffiti.
This church is local to us. We can see it clearly from our house 2 miles away. Since I started this blog, I have checked the buttress two or three times and failed to find a mark similar to the diagram. There are some horizontal faults in the stone, but I haven’t seen anything as precise.
Recently I decided to try again, choosing early evening on a sunny day when the light would be shining directly onto the face of the buttress. Which it did. This is what was revealed, faintly visible in direct sunlight.
There’s an element of wish fulfilment with amateur dial sleuthing – each hole a potential gnomon location; two or more proximate lines as radials; adjacent erosion faults and dots as dial pocks. However, close inspection here revealed a clear design conforming to dial norms.
The central hole has horizontal and vertical lines leading from it that divide the enclosed area into quadrants. There is the trace of a circle, slightly off-centre from the style hole. The upper vertical extends close to the circumference; the lower vertical (noon-line) stops slightly short of it; the left horizontal extends beyond almost to the lichen; and the right horizontal extends into the lichen. There’s a trace of what could be a 1-line to the right of the noon-line.
Having examined the dial in situ, made some measurements, and checked my photos I am convinced that this is a simple scratch dial probably from C15 soon after the tower was built rather than later. In any event I have convinced myself.
The remarkable font deserves inclusion. HE describes it as a cylindrical tapering stone bowl, reversed, formerly base of a shaft, carved with continuous design of beasts: stag, horse, wolf, and ?lion, and lesser beasts, and interlacement, C10. There is a helpful description and annotated diagram in the church.
I have seen St Mary described as a ‘one-treasure church’, but the whole interior, the churchyard with its early chest tombs, the lovely setting of the church and hamlet – and possibly a C15 mass dial – make it rather more than that.
ST MARY . HERMITAGE . DORSET – Scratch Dial 2 (unrecorded)
DEDICATION † ST MARY C14; C17 restoration; further work c. 1800
LISTING † Grade II*
LOCATION † 4 miles N. of Cerne Abbas; S. of Sherborne 50.8611 / -2.4991 / ST649069
A very small, simple church (‘free chapel‘) tucked away under a hillside in a discreet corner of this hamlet. Approached along the edge of the drive of the former Rectory. Supposed hermetic origin. If you didn’t know it was there, you’d miss it – the bell-cote hardly shows above the trees.
A return to Hermitage to check for other church marks / graffiti produced an unexpected reward – a second dial, hitherto unnoticed and unrecorded, on a quoin stone at the W. corner of the S. side. In strong sunlight, it was clearly visible through a coating of lichen.
The dial is encircled, with a clear cut noon-line that extends vertically but less markedly to a diameter. There is a fainter full width 6-line, so that the visible lines form roughly equal quadrants. No other radials are definite, though the rough cut at 10 might be one and seems to emanate from the centre. There is a hint of (part of a) second circle on the right side. At the centre is a very small hole in the lichen, so assessing its actual size is not possible. The gallery below includes photos taken from 3 slightly different angles.
Hermitage . Dorset . St Mary . Witch marks and graffiti
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; witch marks and graffiti
DEDICATION † St Mary. Mid C12 / earlier foundation; main development C15; C19 restoration
LISTING † Grade I
LOCATION † 8 miles NE. of Dorchester, 12 miles SE. of Yeovil, in the valley below the A37 racetrack. Hardy’s ‘Chalknewton’. More of a small town than a village, with a few shops, a garage and a station rather than (as elsewhere locally) a single shop and a halt. 50.7775 2.5727 SY597977
See detailed post for the recorded dial in the chancel doorway (RHS) HERE
DIAL 2 (?)
The dial is at eye-level on the quoin of the buttress between the porch and the Chancel door. It is not recorded, and I can see why (a) it may have been overlooked and or (b) why, if noticed, it may have discounted as a definite dial. So I’ll argue the case.
This is a pock dial with no radials. There are 3 large pocks on a slight curve, and a couple of small ones slightly out of line. There are other pocks lower down, two of which (presuming a gnomon in the mortar immediately above) seem to relate to the large pocks – one might even be a noon indicator.
Using a crow’s feather as a style centred in the mortar above the large pocks, the shadow cast was photographed at about 11.30
NOTES † There is a fine sundial ‘on S. face of tower, square slab with simple capping, iron gnomon and date 1630‘ BHO. See OLD DIAL menu LINK