Broughton Grange dates from early C17. Gradual development resulted in a fine house with an extensive estate owned by the Morrell family and associated with the Bloomsbury Group via Lady Ottoline. The whole estate was bought in the 1990s. New gardens have been beautifully landscaped and an arboretum created. The property is renowned as one of the finest contemporary private gardens, to which there is public access. You can find out more here: BROUGHTON GRANGE 3m SW of Banbury 52.0415 / 1.3776 / SP4338

The dial stands at the centre of the Parterre and Rose Garden, overlooking the smart box hedges. It is dated MDCCLI (1751). I’ve spent some time trying to figure out the inscription, some of which cannot be read even with a magnifying glass. I have settled (provisionally) on Tempora Servio, ‘I Serve the Times’ or a similar conjunction of tempus and servere. This formulation does not specifically appear in eg the expanded edition of Gatty; however tempora is in common usage, often with its companion, mores. Any other suggestions welcome, a definitive ruling would be ideal.

GSS Category: Horizontal Dial; Pedestal Dial; Garden Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

COMPTON . SURREY . THE WATTS GALLERY – Horizontal Dial by Mary Watts

The WATTS GALLERY in Compton, Surrey showcases the work of artist G. F. WATTS and his wife MARY WATTS, exemplar of the Arts and Crafts Movement. The enterprise has expanded hugely since I last visited and took photos of the sundials there. The Gallery link above will give all the current information you could wish for.

You can find out about the remarkable Scaphe Dial at the gallery HERE

GSS Category: Horizontal Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen


Selborne in Hampshire was home to the C18 naturalist GILBERT WHITE (1720 – 93), renowned naturalist and considered to be one of the earliest ecologists. The link above will take you to the Wiki page about him. The history of the garden can be found at SELBORNE. If you are in the area, Selborne is well worth visiting. In particular, the extensive park contains examples of White’s propagation and conservation ideas that were way ahead of their time. And two very different dials.

Gilbert White . NPG

Much the most interesting feature at Selborne for present purposes is the Winter Obelisk, based on an idea by White. The structure is designed to ‘mark the position of sunset on the shortest day as viewed from the Great Parlour‘. Possibly it is a unique example of an obelisk dial having such a special – and limited – purpose. Perhaps it doesn’t count as a dial at all (cf Stonehenge / summer solstice). Seeing the shadows cast on the grass by the structure, perhaps there is scope to mark out a different kind of dial with a wider application (though not necessarily when viewed from the Great Parlour).

The second dial at Selborne is conventional and very much a park dial, standing above the Ha-ha. Is the dial contemporary in the historic sense, or in the modern sense (there are similar early C20 dials)? The former it seems: Both the ha-ha and the stone sundial standing on the lawn above it were features of White’s ‘New Gardens’. HE

GSS Category: Sundial; Horizontal Dial; Obelisk Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen


Max Nicholson Memorial Sundial . Wildlife & Wetlands

A memorial sundial for Max Nicholson (1904 – 2003), founder of the World Wildlife Fund WWF. The setting is at the wonderful LONDON WETLAND CENTRE at Barnes London, a short distance south of Hammersmith Bridge. Nicholson was a pioneering ornithologist, environmentalist, and conservationist. There is a second memorial sundial at Sedbergh, where Nicholson was at school. Both were designed by his son Piers.

The hour lines have Arabic numerals for summer time and Roman for winter time; between the hour lines are short ten-minute lines and five-minute spots.

The mirror-polished stainless steel gives strong reflections, and the gnomon, which casts the shadow, appears to “float in air” because the matt circle appears to be continuous though part of it is in fact a reflection.

For about 5 minutes at solar noon, when the sun is at its highest in the sky, a line of light shines through the slit in the gnomon. This design feature is used to orient the sundial exactly to true North so that it can be read to the narest minute or two.


GSS Category: Horizontal Dial; Memorial Sundial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

WESTON BAMPFYLDE . SOM . HOLY CROSS – Scratch Dial (inside porch)

Weston Bampfylde . Som . Holy Cross


GRADE II* † C13 with C15 reworking and C19 restoration. Like nearby PODIMORE, a 4-stage tower with octagonal upper stages. One of several churches in the area with (unusually in such a close group) dials inside S. porch. A modern memorial horizontal sundial by Silas Higgon has an interesting plate (see below). Located S. of the A303, between Queen Camel and Cadbury Castle (a dominant hill fort nearby, and well worth the climb). 51.0226 / -2.5564 / ST610249


Another small and attractive church in the Yeovilton area, most of which have scratch dials. Like some of its neighbours, the dial of Holy Cross is located within the S. porch, a later addition. On his visit in 2014, DEH recorded:

183. This dial is on the e. side of the inner door of the s. porch. It is 3 feet 7 inches above the floor, the noonline is 5 inches in length, the stylehole, which is filled up, is in the solid stone and not in a joint. The aspect is s. by 20° E. Type 3. April 24th, 1914. DEH

Weston Bampfylde . Som . Holy Cross – Scratch Dial inside porch

The dial is scratched into a stone on RHS of the original doorway. The filled gnomon hole, near the centre of the stone, has 5 long lines descending. At some stage the porch has been whitewashed (as was often done cf WAYFORD), and paint traces remain evident on the dial and elsewhere in the porch (on graffiti and witch marks, for example).

As I understand it, 2 almost parallel vertical lines on dials like this were probably intended as the edges of an ‘absent’ noon line, with the true vertical midway between them as opposed to a line marker.

Weston Bampfylde . Som . Holy Cross – inscribed blocked doorway

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen


A modern dial in the walled garden at Trelissick NT, with a rather charming motto for the couple commemorated ‘Spouses (who) loved gardens’. It may be unique: I have found no other example, and it does not appear in Margaret Gatty’s compendious collection of Cornish sundial mottos.

GSS Category: Modern Dial

Photos: Keith Salvesen


Rhubha Rèidh Lighthouse Sundial . Gairloch Museum .

Rhubha Rèidh lighthouse is situated at Melvaig, near Gairloch, Wester Ross. Confusingly, there are several ways to spell the name. Correctly, it is as shown in the title above. However the map below omits the first h in Rhubha. The Northern Lighthouse Board uses Rubh Reidh for the lighthouse itself, perhaps for simplicity. The dial featured is marked Rudh Re. The brass plaque for the lighthouse is headed Rhu Rhea. Whichever, the pronunciation ‘roo ray’ is roughly correct. OS grid · NG7396491847

The lighthouse stands at the remote north west tip of a plump peninsular at the end of a narrow track, with Loch Ewe emerging into the sea to the east. It is one of the ‘Stevenson’ lighthouses, designed by David and completed in 1912. It was automated in 1980 and is still operational. If you want a secluded and unusual place to stay, you can book accommodation in the main building. Official tarmac ends halfway along the 6 mile (or so) road, which continues as an access road. This part of the coastline can be a good place for dolphin and whale watching – if you are lucky, a Minke.

‘Rudh Re’ Lighthouse Sundial . Gairloch Museum .

The dial is on display in the outstanding GAIRLOCH MUSEUM, winner of the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year 2020. Small it may be, but packed with interest. The dial is in a glass case displayed with related items. The entire lantern is housed in the main room, viewable from a gallery above as well as at floor level. Its Fresnel lenses are intact. In a parallel life, I have been peripherally involved with a working ‘clockwork lighthouse’ bedded on mercury, with its original Fresnel lenses (Hope Town, Abaco, Bahamas) – possibly the last survivor. There is another lighthouse on the island, long abandoned but still with at least some of its Fresnel lenses.

‘Rudh Re’ Lighthouse Sundial . Gairloch Museum .
‘Rhu Rhea’ Lighthouse – Brass Plaque

Rubh Reidh Lighthouse lantern . Gairloch Museum . Sundial in display case

Rubh Reidh Lighthouse lantern . Gairloch Museum

GSS Category: Lighthouse Dial

Photos: Keith Salvesen, with thanks to the Gairloch Museum