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 1 † C12 origins (nave), enlarged C16 & C17. Mid-C19 restorations; chancel rebuilt. Despite the village name, C16 tower. Fascinating history, with strong links to George Washington: The Lawrence family, Lords of the Manor since the C16, married into the Washington family in 1381 and their Coat of Arms incorporates the Stars and StripesBLB. Much of interest inside inc an impressive barrel organ, and good stained glass E window. Fine chest tombs in the churchyard. 6m S of Wareham, inland from the jurassic coastline at Kimmeridge. 50.6275 / -2.1265 / SY911808
In his 1997 survey GLP noted a single dial relocated to the N wall of the Chancel, E of blocked N doorway. He described it as doubtful – superficially a poorly preserved dial… with 2 lines on a reshaped stone… no gnomon hole, probably relocated during C19 work on the chancel. He found other stones in the vicinity with similar markings – perhaps through weathering – and concluded that the ‘dial’ might not actually be a genuine one at all.
As with a couple of other Dorset churches recently, I couldn’t pinpoint a design such as GLP describes. There are obvious lines or striations on some stones eg top R of the doorway (see below), but little to report on the wall E of the door. The lack of a gnomon hole is one reason for missing eroded dials. This lack may also reinforce doubts about identifying dial-ish marks as being part of a dial. Anyway, if there is one, I missed it.
The dilemma has been whether to post, rather pointlessly, a failed dial search. However this small secluded church has other merits. It earned its Grade I listing for special architectural or historic interest. I have included a few photos below to illustrate this. The Washington link is only one of the significant features.
IMAGES OF ST MICHAEL AS COMPENSATION
Chest Coffins in the churchyard; crude apotropaic (part-)hexfoil of uncertain age; Marian VV ‘witch’ mark inside the porch; 2 examples of the E window stained glass (image 2 shows dice used for the division of Christ’s robe); the barrel organ
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
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)
GRADE II* Late C12, porched c1291; C15 alterations, C19 restoration. Attractively simple with its welcoming footpath, porch, and modest bell turret. Adjacent to S St Mary and 4m E of Ilminster. 50.931 / -2.8407 / ST410149
BLB notes that the centre bay on south side has a blocked chamfered pointed-arched doorway, with diamond-leaded window inserted with cill just below springing. The dials are one above the other on W side of the doorway. Strangely, although DEH on his visit in 1915 records one dial in precisely this location, he doesn’t mention the second.
DEH noted that the buttresses either side of the recessed doorway inevitably block out the light for much of the day, as it had on the day he visited (possibly why he only found one dial?). He concluded that the buttresses were a later addition to the church (probably XVII Century), when the doorway was filled up.
The uppermost, larger, less sophisticated, and the earliest of the 2 dials. 6, perhaps 7 lines. The ones either side of the noon line are slightly curved. Gnomon hole plugged though not with cement.
Beneath Dial 2 and far more visible. There are 6, perhaps 7 lines, of which the the afternoon lines are much the clearest. The noon line has an unusually prominent pock. The adjacent lines LRQ are even deeper cut. One is also elongated, probably indicating the most significant Mass of the day. One of the fainter lines LHS heads ineffectively above the horizontal. The gnomon hole is surprisingly deep.
The church porch has plenty of graffiti including initials, Marian marks, ritual protection (witch) marks, and pilgrim crosses
GRADE I † C12 origins (nave c1150) on Saxon site, still with Norman features. Gradual C13 / C14 development and C18 / C19 works / restoration. Wooden-shingled bell turret, as other churches locally (eg Medstead.) Of relevance here, S porch added C18. 2m E of Alresford. 51.0843 / -1.1362 / SU605320
ARG visited in 1923 and recorded dials 1, 2, 3 but not dial 4 (high up above dial 3). Dials 1 & 2 are LHS of the original Norman doorway, within the later-added porch. ARG rightly discounted the very prominent OS benchmark below dial 3 that had elsewhere been recorded as a dial.
The most striking of the dials, not least because of the graffiti that surrounds it. It is cut on the W jamb (outer) of the original Norman doorway (c1150), inside the much later S porch. There are 4 strong lines descending from the style hole in the mortar line, and a short arc LHS.
The image above also shows the much less distinct dial 2 at the same level on the inner jamb. The triangular design above both is ornamentation on the slim column. Dial 1 is remarkably undamaged / unweathered considering the long period before the porch was added. It must have predated the C17 graffiti, which is itself in very good condition.
Dial 2 is also cut on the W jamb (inner) of the original Norman doorway (c1150) within the S porch. Very faint and hard to make out, even close to; easy to overlook. There are 4 discernible lines, with the hint of a double line at noon. The remains of whitewash make examination even more difficult.
Very visible as one walks up the church path, on a quoin stone on the SE corner of the nave. The dial is cut inside an eroded semicircle, with the style hole in the mortar line. Unsophisticated. There are 11 lines radiating below the horizontal, at rather random angles. It looks uncomfortable, as if it may originally have extended upwards onto an earlier stone: ARG notes that it is on one of the original large quoins C1150 (which does not match nearby stones), suggesting relocation of the adjacent stones or even of the dial stone itself.
ARG suggests that there is no obvious vertical / noon line. However the 2 deeper cut lines either side of noon may be intended to emphasise a ‘noon space’ between them, as is occasionally found elsewhere. ARG also posits that Dial 3 may be an interesting example of a ‘summer-only’ dial, though I can’t tell why: it faces more or less due S.
Dial 4 is high up on a quoin stone above Dial 3. It’s a very simple small dial with 4 lines leading from a style hole in the dial stone. There is a presumed Mass line (Terce), a noon line, a very faint short line, and an extended slightly curved line. BSS comments that the dial was at some time repositioned, being of little use in its present location.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Medieval Sundial
GRADE 1 † C13 origins (possibly back to Saxon); developed C15, C17; late Victorian restoration. Use of local sarsen stone. Hammerbeam roof. Merits a long entry in PEV, especially for the monuments. 5m N of Avebury, 7m NW of Marlborough 51.4858 / -1.8497 / SU105763
St Peter has 2 dials in very different styles, and a couple of ‘not-a-dial’s. There is also a modern-ish sundial on the porch, probably from the late C19 restoration, with a rather gloomy motto that fits in with Victorian mores.
Dial 1 is a fairly large and pleasingly simple dial on L side of a window jamb. 4 lines drop down from the style hole into the lower L quadrant, bounded by a sector of a circle. It looks rather uncomfortable. The puzzle is whether this was the original location (in which case it seems too large for the available space); or whether it is a relocation.
Dial 2 is an encircled dial, the lower half eroded. There is a shallow style hole and various pocks, not all necessarily relevant to dial functions. The significant ones are on the L side, with 3 pocks in a row between the style hole and the perimeter. Below them are less organised pocks. The dial would make more sense if rotated 90º, with the horizontal line becoming the noon line and the less defined line perhaps marking a Mass time (None?). This suggests that the stone was relocated, and certainly the size and colour of the stones around it vary significantly (image 1 below).
Promising but on closer inspection unlikely dials
OUR DAYS ON THE EARTH ARE AS A SHADOW
The C17 porch was restored C19 and then (or later?) this dial was added over the door, with its discouraging message (no hint of the ‘sunny hours’ etc found elsewhere). The dial is slightly angled to face due S for greater accuracy.
GRADE I † Mainly C15, chancel rebuilt 1827, general restoration 1895 and early C20. A fine Church some way out of the centre of the village (as with several other churches in the area, eg Pulham, Lydlinch). Nave and N aisle have C15 wagon roofs. Graffiti & witch marks in the porch. SW of Sturminster Newton. 50.8736 / -2.352 / ST753082
A small simple dial within a complete circle on the face of the SW buttress of the tower. There are 4 lines that extend slightly beyond the circumference and one quite large pock in lower R quadrant. GLP notes that the lines, with the pock, divide the day into quarters marking the canonical hours of tierce, sext & none.
St Mary & St James . Hazelbury Bryan . Dorset – Scratch Dial
GLP also noted a ‘doubtful dial’ on the NW face of the buttress: an eroded circle with a shallow central hole. This is nearest candidate I could find in that location, one I would never have noticed without a prompt. I share the doubt despite my usual optimistic amateur instincts.
MARIAN MARK IN THE PORCH
The porch is worth checking for graffiti and other church marks like the emphatic Marian mark below boldly repelling evil.
GRADE II* † Mainly C15 / C16, much reworking and restoration. Located down a longish lane S of the village. 10 miles E of Sherborne. BLB record HERE. Featured: the 3 sundials; church marks; the 3 seats inside the porch. 50.9192 / -2.3678 / ST742133
The most obvious sundial is at the apex of the porch gable, a simple square stone containing a square dial with a narrow 3/4 frame, and an iron gnomon. Above it some form of stone finial, much eroded, a cross? The dial has graduated hour radials, with shorter lines for half-hours, and the quarter hours marked within the frame. Quite sophisticated, some damage upper R. BHO dates it C18.
Below this dial is an inscribed C18 plaque dedicated, it seems, to two [C]hurch [W]ardens 1753. It is interesting to compare the erosion of this soft stone with the dial stone.
DIALS 2 & 3
These dials are a near-matched pair on the C15 tower. Both are high up on the second stage, one on the SW buttress, the other on the SE buttress. BHO describes the former as a stone plate with Roman numerals, much worn; and the latter as traces of similar sundial. I think both dials must have had considerable attention since those words were written.
This dial looks like a comparatively new replacement; BSS suggests C20. The modern design replicates Dial 3 mutatis mutandis. The radials are carefully graduated for its SW facing angle; very little of the afternoon can be indicated.
This dial is almost an exact converse of its pair, the radials being graduated in the opposite direction. C18. Note that the gnomons of both dials are the same design, copper I think, and presumably installed at the same time.
APOTROPAIC (WITCH) MARKS, MARIAN MARKS, HEXFOIL & GRAFFITI
APOTROPAIC (WITCH) MARKS, MARIAN MARKS & GRAFFITI ON PORCH SEATS
Lydlinch . Dorset . St Thomas à Becket – Apotropaic (Witch) marks, Marian marks, Graffiti on seats
GSS Categories: Sundials, Vertical Dials, Old Dials, Witch Marks, Apotropaic Symbols, Church Graffiti
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.
Note: looking at this configuration some time later and having seen a great many more dials in the interim, I’d say this is definitely a dial; and the other is a ‘not-a-dial’
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