YETMINSTER . DORSET . ST ANDREW – 2 Scratch Dials

St Andrew . Yetminster . Dorset

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. 11 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

DIAL 1

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.

DIAL 2

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 † Eleven (of full set of 12) ‘formy’ Consecration Crosses in sunk round panels on external wall-faces BHO (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)

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

THORNFORD (2) . DORSET . ST MARY MAGDALENE Revisited – Rare Scratch Dials (interior & sill)

St Mary Magdalene Thornford Dorset (Keith Salvesen)
St Mary Magdalene, Thornford, Dorset

ST MARY MAGDALENE . THORNFORD . DORSET

GRADE II † C14 nave, chancel, 3-stage W tower; C15 nave rebuilt, N chapel added. Victorian restoration 1866. 14 Consecration Crosses (usually 12 or fewer). S. of the Sherborne – Yeovil A30 road, approx half way between the two towns 50.9175 / 50°55’3″N /  ST603132

I last wrote about St Mary at a time when churches were locked for Covid reasons. I was able to feature the 2 extraordinary and very rare external sill dials in a post HERE Recently, I returned to the church to investigate the third and most unusual dial located actually inside the church. Here is that dial, with a recap of the sill dials.

Scratch Dials located inside a porch are not especially rare, with quite a few examples within a 25 mile radius of Thornford. They are found where dials were originally cut in the stone surrounds of a medieval church doorway and a porch was subsequently added. In some cases, the new porch entrance had a new dial cut to replace its redundant predecessor.

St Mary Magdalene, Thornford, Dorset – interior scratch dial

THORNFORD DIAL 3 – INSIDE THE CHURCH

Very rarely is a dial found actually inside the church itself. This may occur when a dial stone has been relocated from the outside to repair an interior wall; or as part of wider building works, as with Stoke St Gregory Somerset. Thornford has a most interesting example.

INTERIOR DIAL

St Mary Magdalene, Thornford, Dorset – interior scratch dial

A remarkable dial – relocated, inverted, overpainted, and all but hidden in the chancel on the N side of the church on the E face of the window jamb, with a wooden toy castle for company. There are 8 lines of almost the same length, somewhat rough-hewn. 2 are barely perceptible.

Thornford – interior dial (BSS)

TWO RARE SILL DIALS

St Mary was one of the earliest churches to be covered in this project, probably because it is only 2 villages away from ours. I featured the 2 the two very rare ‘sill’ scratch dials, both on the quoins of the E. corner of the window sills either side of the blocked chancel doorway, with the window jambs acting as gnomon. These are not unique, but I believe there are fewer than 5 other examples. The link to that article is HERE.

St Mary Magdalene Thornford Dorset Scratch dial 1a
Thornford – window scratch dial 1a
St Mary Magdalene Thornford Dorset Scratch dial 1b
Thornford – window scratch dial 1b
St Mary Magdalene Thornford Dorset Scratch dial 2a
Thornford – window scratch dial 2a
St Mary Magdalene Thornford Dorset Scratch dial 2b
Thornford – window scratch dial 2b

NOTES † Stone screen, c15 font, early organ, a number of Consecration crosses (RCHM says 14), from badly eroded Hamstone to clear-cut. Tithe Tomb in the churchyard with a basin into which tenants contributed to the wealth of the Lord of the Manor by making an annual payment ‘on St Thomas’s Day’ to be allowed to keep their own hay

GSS Category – Scratch Dial; Sill Dial; Interior Dial

All photos – Keith Salvesen

WINFRITH NEWBURGH . DORSET . ST CHRISTOPHER – 6 Scratch Dials

St Christopher . Winfrith Newburgh . Dorset

ST CHRISTOPHER . WINFRITH NEWBURGH . DORSET

GRADE II* † C12 origins, chancel added C13, nave & tower C15. Considerable C19 restoration & rebuilding. Quite a large church, with its gradual development evident. 6 confusing scratch dials. SE of Dorchester, W of Wareham. 50.6585 /  -2.277 /  SY805843

DIALS

The scratch dials are in a group arranged around the S. door of the chancel. There are 6 in all (BHO records 4) but on the very dark local ironstone none is very clear. BSS / GLP dates them to C15, and their diagrams below are very helpful in marking the locations and configurations. I should say at once that I couldn’t definitively identify dial 3 (at / near the apex of the doorway’s arch) at the time nor in the photos I took see below.

St Christopher . Winfrith Newburgh . Dorset – the ‘Dial Doorway’ with 6 scratch dials

GLP concluded that none of the dials was in its original position. 1, 3, 6 are inverted; the stones of 2, 4, 5 were shaped after the dials were cut, truncating them. Perhaps the entire doorway was originally built using reshaped stones from elsewhere on the church; or perhaps an existing doorway was later rebuilt or reshaped.

DIAL 1

Dial 1 is on L side of the doorway. Inverted, with 5 lines pointing upwards. Style hole area heavily filled (possible repair of damage?). GLP suggests the lines are not convergent so very inaccurate.

DIAL 2

Dial 2 is above dial 1, on the lowest stone of the doorway arch. Parts of the dial have been cut off at the edges. There are 12 lines, 5 pocks and a cement-filled style hole. Of all the dials, it is more or less correctly orientated, with a noon line emphasised by depth and length.

DIAL 3

This is my candidate for dial 3. GLP describes it as very worn and inverted. Apart from the very clear unfilled style hole, he describes 2 trace lines above the dial. I couldn’t detect the 2 lines. The BSS diagram (see below) indicates dial 3 as being on the apex stone, but I found no evidence of a dial there.

DIAL 4

Dial 4 is upper R side of the arch. There are 9 lines radiating from a plugged style hole, one (perhaps 3) with terminal pocks. The dial has clearly been rotated 90º clockwise. Sited correctly, the deeper incised lines L side would become midday lines. GLP considers it clearly and accurately marked (given the correct position).

DIAL 5

Dial 5 is below dial 4 on a larger stone. It is very degraded and it isn’t easy to read. BSS notes 3 lines, and a pock possibly marking noon. My impression was of 2 additional trace lines. This dial is recorded as repositioned, set at a very oblique angle, and could never have been used in its present position.

DIAL 6

Dial 6 is lower down on the R jamb approx level with dial 1. Again, it is inverted, with 6 distinct lines radiating upwards. One is marked with a cross, probably the Mass line.

Dials 2 -5 B&W: the hole top L presumably marks 3.. No clues on the apex stone
Winfrith Newburgh – 6 dials diagram

BSS DIAGRAMS OF THE 6 INDIVIDUAL DIALS

NOTE: because of the dark ironstone I have brightened the images to make them clearer

GSS CATEGORY: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Medieval Sundial

All photos Keith Salvesen; diagrams and research material GLP / BSS

TARRANT GUNVILLE . DORSET . ST MARY – Scratch / Transitional Dial

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Dorset

ST MARY . TARRANT GUNVILLE . DORSET

GRADE II* † Mainly C14, tower C15. C12 vestiges of earlier church. General C19 restorations including by T H Wyatt. A slightly unharmonious impression reflects the changes. Roughly midway between Shaftsbury to NW & Blandford to SW. 50.9135 /  -2.1078 / ST925126

DIAL

A single dial on S porch E of doorway. GLP calls it a remarkable dial, somewhat damaged. Its perplexing design has provoked several theories. The most straightforward is that it is in fact a transitional dial rather than a true scratch dial. BHO notes: Scratch Dial: on S. wall of porch, with black-letter numerals and stump of iron gnomon, early 16th century, which is probably meant generically rather than specifically. GLP, with his compendious knowledge of Dorset dials, dates this one much earlier, late C14.

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Dorset – porch

The dial stone is far larger than any other porch stone and seems out of place. The first impression is of a large dial doubly encircled but with the upper half damaged and eroded over the centuries. GLP suggests remnants of large dial with all hour lines marked. The fact that the gnomon hole – still with the stub of an iron rod – is almost exactly at the centre of the dial stone supports the theory of an originally complete circular dial rather than partial arcs. In the upper L quadrant there are hints of double circumference lines continuing upwards.

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Dorset – scratch / transitional dial

LINES & POCKS

The details of the dial are intriguing. There are 10 lines leading to numerals carved in blackletter / Gothic form. Legible numbers run from 5am to noon, then there are 2 lines with eroded numerals. There is a plausible very faint near-horizontal line RHS. Hours 9, 10, 11, & 12 are marked with a cross rather than the roman numeral X (see diagram below).

There are also 5 pocks. 4 decorate the noon line. 1 is halfway down the 11 line which is nearly vertical, indicating (I think) that the dial was cut to take account of the orientation of the wall.

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Dorset – scratch / transitional dial

GNOMON

Unusually, the dial has the stump of an iron gnomon. It seems unlikely to be original and looks more square than round (cf GLANVILLES WOOTTON , also in Dorset). Whether original or not, there is no way of telling how (if at all) it was angled.

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Dorset – scratch / transitional dial

GLP suggests that the dial may be an interesting transitional dial and notes that it would probably not have been accurate. One theory is that this was a horizontal dial set vertically; or with a horizontal design used for this vertical dial. He concludes that it is as much a decorative feature as a real timekeeper. My query is whether C14 dials were sophisticated enough to be making the transition from basic scratch to accurate scientific dials.

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Scratch / Transitional Dial

GSS Category: scratch dial; transitional dial; vertical dial

All photos Keith Salvesen; dial diagram BSS / GLP

SIXPENNY HANDLEY . DORSET . ST MARY – Scratch Dial(s)

St Mary . Sixpenny Handley . Dorset

ST MARY . SIXPENNY HANDLEY . DORSET

GRADE II* † Chancel & porch early C14; some C15 & C18 work; remainder of church rebuilt 1877 (Crickmay). For more details (my visit having been curtailed) see St Mary Sixpenny Handley BHO. The village is halfway between Salisbury and Blandford. 50.9552 /  -2.0077 / ST995173

St Mary . Sixpenny Handley . Dorset – Scratch Dial

DIALS

There are two dials recorded for St Mary. I visited just after a funeral service had begun, and I paused for a circumspect and respectful moment at the chancel end of the church, where the dial featured here is situated. I took a couple of photos of the dial before stealing away. The other dial (not noted by GLP) is on the W side of the porch, and I will have to check it another time. Hence the header image is an archive postcard showing the church and its handsome lych gate instead of a photo of the church; and there is a diagram only of the porch dial.

DIAL 1

This large C14 dial looks out of place and seems clearly to have been relocated. The hamstone on which it is cut doesn’t match any others in the vicinity, and the dial is awkwardly angled with the presumed extended noon line some 15º from the vertical. An upper segment appears to be missing from the visible semicircle. There isn’t a definite gnomon hole and the 9 lines seem to radiate from a higher point than the edge of the stone, further suggesting a re-siting. 4 lines extend beyond the circumference. There is a trace of a cross at the end on the apparent ‘noon’ line and GLP notes that it may in fact be a Mass line rather a noon line. Overall he found the dial to be accurately cut.

DIAL 2

Dial 2 is on the W side of the S porch, and the BSS record suggests it is not easy to make out. There is an arc of 7 pocks RHS, from noon on. Not having seen the dial, I am not sure how much else is now visible. I’ll have to time my next visit to the area with more care, and expand this article accordingly.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos Keith Salvesen; Diagrams BSS & GLP

HAMMOON . DORSET . ST PAUL – Scratch Dial (inside porch)

St Paul . Hammoon . Dorset

ST PAUL . HAMMOON . DORSET

GRADE I † Late C12 or early C13; porch added C15, C19 general restoration. A pretty and rewarding small church to visit, close to the R Stour. A simple building, comprising a nave, chancel and porch, topped with a small bell cote. Useful photos HE. Seems off the beaten track but only 3 miles E of Sturminster Newton.  50.9304 / -2.2606 / ST817145

DIAL

The dial is on S side, inside the C15 porch. It is cut into the R end of the original doorway arch (as you look at it; other sources say at the top of the L jamb). It clearly precedes the new porch by at least a century; GLP dates it C13.

St Paul . Hammoon . Dorset – scratch dial inside S porch

This is more or less a 1/4 ‘afternoon’ dial, quite roughly cut. Of the 5 lines (GLP suggests 7 but I could not make them all out). Only one line is before noon, and gives the impression of being an afterthought. 4 have slight curves. None of them (now) is connected to the style hole. The noon line is emphasised in both depth and length. GLP suggests some lines recut. There are 5 pocks rather randomly placed.

NOTE: the pleasing name for the village seems to derive from its historical manor, the ‘hame’ of William de Mohun

GSS Category: Scratch Dial (inside porch)

All photos: Keith Salvesen

STOUR PROVOST . DORSET . ST MICHAEL & ALL ANGELS – 3 Scratch Dials

St Michael . Stour Provost . Dorset

GRADE I † C13 origins, gradual expansion to C16 – nave, tower, north aisle, chancel, south porch. General restoration first half of C19, further restoration later C19. A fine Dorset church in a lovely setting. 6m W of Shaftsbury. 50.9932 / -2.2948 / ST794215

DIALS

St Michael has 3 dials, all different in style and complexity. With the lengthy development of the church over 3 centuries, and subsequently 2 significant C19 restorations, not all may be in their original positions (for example dial 3 is nearly 3m from ground level). If moved, at least they remained the right way up.

DIAL 1

Dial 1 is on W side of the S porch. The squared-off stone looks relocated – especially as the porch was a late (C16?) addition. There are 9 lines of varying length, with bad erosion in lower R quadrant.

St Michael . Stour Provost . Dorset – scratch dial 1

The dial is / was encircled but little of the circumference line remains. GLP notes that the noon line is marked with a pock where is meets the circle and that the dial is rather inaccurately laid out and the lines do not converge on a point.

Stour Provost . Dial 1 . BSS

DIAL 2

Dial 2 is on a quoin stone on the SW corner of the tower. 6 long lines radiate from the blocked gnomon hole to the lower L quadrant, in effect forming a ‘morning dial’. It is not accurate.

St Michael . Stour Provost . Dorset – scratch dial 2

The dial stone seems to match the others round it. Possibly it is in its original position, but it could have been moved as a block with similar stones either during the medieval period or (more probably) in C19.

Stour Provost . Dial 2 . BSS

DIAL 3

Dial 3 is quite high up on the S wall of the tower and difficult to examine closely. Luckily the lines, though lightly incised, are legible and the overall design is clear.

St Michael . Stour Provost . Dorset – scratch dial 3

The are 12 in all, with the noon line extending upwards from the style hole to the mortar line above. Unlike the other dials, GLP notes that this one is accurately laid out, suggesting that it may have been the last dial to be cut.

Stour Provost . Dial 3 . BSS

ACTUAL / PLAUSIBLE / DOUBTFUL / NOT

2 other stones caught my eye during my visit. Both are dial-ish and in appropriate locations. Which category do these fall into?

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Multi-dials

All photos: Keith Salvesen

TOLPUDDLE . DORSET . ST JOHN the EVANGELIST – 2 Scratch Dials

St John the Evangelist . Tolpuddle . Dorset

ST JOHN’S CHURCH . TOLPUDDLE . DORSET

GRADE I † A fine church with C12 origins, gradually enlarged C13 & C14. C19 restoration by T H Wyatt. BLB link. A village irrevocably associated with the 6 Martyrs, at least one of whom (James Hammett) lies in the churchyard. The tree where the Martyr’s met stands just outside the churchyard of St John the Baptist, on the main road through the village BE. 10m E of Dorchester. 50.7497 /  -2.298 /  SY790945

DIALS

Both dials are on the S transept wall, dial 1 being on a quoin stone and dial 2 being below a window. They are easily visible. GLP has some doubts about dial 2, explained below.

DIAL 1

St John the Evangelist . Tolpuddle . Dorset – scratch dial 1

Dial 1 is located on a quoin stone of the S transept, with the gnomon hole in the lower half. There are 6 detectible lines, 2 of which point upwards. In addition there are about 11 pocks, though it is hard to be sure of the exact number. The BSS recorded configuration shows 3 holes marking the horizontal, with the main cluster either side of the noon line, which is emphasised with 2 holes (as are 2 other lines). GLP notes the dial is very accurately laid out and no line is more than 1″ from its ideal position

Tolpuddle – BSS diagram

DIAL 2

This design cut just below a window on S wall looks decidedly dial-ish as a very simple way to record the passage of the day. There are no detectable lines or pocks, but a stick in the now-cemented style hole would have served some purpose. The circle was perhaps to attract attention and / or highlight the shadow cast. This minimalist approach is not especially rare: for example there’s a similarly-sized slightly more elaborate dial at HAZELBURY BRYAN.

GLP calls it a dubious dial, and suggests that it would work if hour lines were marked in some other way, possibly with paint. It is not included in the BSS record for Tolpuddle

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

PUDDLETOWN . DORSET . ST MARY THE VIRGIN – ‘Ammonite’ Scratch Dial

St Mary . Puddletown . Dorset

ST MARY . PUDDLETOWN . DORSET

GRADE 1 † C12 Norman origins, mostly enlarged and rebuilt C13 -C15 with relatively little remaining of the earlier church. One of several ‘Puddle’ villages in the Piddle valley, each of considerable merit. St Mary is of exceptional interest for its furnishings and monuments (RCHM Dorset Vol III), including a C12 font. Atmospheric interior; like a Dickensian law court (SJ 1000 *** p.159). 50.7483 / -2.3433 / SY758943

DIAL

St Mary . Puddletown . Dorset – scratch dial

From a distance the dial of St Mary might easily be taken for an ammonite, especially as the church is only 20 miles from the famed Jurassic Coast. It is located on the E buttress W of the S chapel, on the L side of a large quoin stone. This is a very crudely cut dial (GLP) with 13 rather randomly cut lines extending from a now-filled gnomon hole. Its position and condition suggest that it was relocated during rebuilding or restoration. The left side is badly damaged: it would be interesting to know how it originally looked when intact.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith salvesen

LONGBURTON . DORSET . ST JAMES THE GREAT (2) – Scratch Dials (one ‘new’)& Vertical Dial

St James the Great . Longburton . Dorset

ST JAMES THE GREAT . LONGBURTON. DORSET (2)

Some time ago I wrote about the intriguing scratch dial rather hidden away through a low archway at the E end of the church: LONGBURTON SCRATCH DIAL 1

DIAL 1

St James the Great . Longburton . Dorset – Scratch Dial 1

The village is better known dial-wise for the vertical dial on the S-facing tower buttress (see below). Yesterday I went back to look for apotropaic and other church marks, and to my surprise found an excellent conventional sundial hidden in plain sight and hitherto unrecorded. I can’t think how I – or any dial gatherer – would miss it…

DIAL 2

The previously unrecorded dial is near the base of the same buttress as the vertical dial. There are 4 lines, the more clearly cut noon line being longer and reaching the edge of the dial stone (and possible trace of extension onto the stone below). The angles are almost equal. There is the distinct trace of a circle in around the top half, but strangely the gnomon hole would not be at its centre.

St James the Great . Longburton . Dorset – Scratch Dial and Vertical Dial, Tower Buttress

VERTICAL DIAL

The dial is high up on the buttress of the tower, and nearly as wide. It is quite eroded, esp. RHS. The lines are contained within a frame, and half hours and some quarter hours are also marked.

BSS notes Triple dot motif at head of half hour lines. Gnomon formed from iron strip with supporter. Supporter is detached at contact with gnomon

The dial numerals are Roman, yet there are Arabic numerals in both bottom corners signifying the date. It is hard to make it out, but I think it is 1798. There are the remains of an inscription along the top of the dial, just the last 2 letters being discernible (O & W?).

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Old Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen