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
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.
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
GRADE II* † C13 core, much enlarged C15 inc addition of tower. Restoration late C19 (Bodley). An attractive mixed sandstone church typical of the region. 5m SW of Burton-on-Trent. 52.7959 / -1.6967 / SK205220
There are 2 dials on the S side of the church, both close to nave windows. Dial 1 is already recorded; I can find no reference to dial 2.
A simple circle dial with a style hole that has been enlarged at some time (quite recently by the look of it). There is a noon line, with lines for 11, 1, and 2 either side. The dial has a pleasing greenish coloration.
Dial 2 has 3 distinct lines radiating directly from the style hole. 2 terminate in dots. There’s no doubt that this is a scratch dial. There are other dots, apparently deliberately made, that may roughly mark a circumference but it’s hard to tell.
Because of the configuration of the dots I wondered – if the stone was relocated at some time – how the dial would look if rotated 90º. There’d be an emphatic noon pock below smaller pocks that might form a rough boundary. The 3 lines might then be markers for afternoon service(s). Maybe.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial
All photos: Erika Clarkson, with thanks again for her researches in Staffs
GRADE I † C12 and C13 origins on Norman site; nave, transepts and chancel arch rebuilt during early C14; N porch added late C14. Restorations 1871 and 1903-1909. Large and impressive (PEV). Fine interior, monuments, glass. Of equal note, the wonderful detached belfry with its hint of nordic influence – not to be missed. I have included a few images and notes at the end of this article. 52.2173 / -2.8929 / SO390580
St Mary merits a collective noun for its dials. A confusion? There are obvious dials, plausible dials, doubtful dials, and 1 or 2 not previously noted as far as I can make out. On my visit I wasn’t equipped with details of dials I might expect to see, and I simply recorded the ones I found. All are on the S wall, starting from the W end. There are some differences from the BSS records.
Dial 1 is a straightforward design among an attractive arrangement of stones. 7 lines, a couple emphasised, some faintly extended, hole in the mortar line.
DIALS 2 & 3
Dial 2 is the most interesting of them all, with its double square surround. There are 13 lines, spaced approximately evenly. Some of extend into or beyond the boxes, a couple are above the horizontal. BSS describes the dial as unique and suggests that it appears to be an attempt to follow the pattern for a sundial, but no evidence of sloping gnomon. The conclusion: a very mysterious dial.
Dial 3 is similar to dial 1, with 6 lines radiating from quite a deep hole where the stone meets the mortar line.
Dial 4 is small and unobtrusive, just L of the doorway. The style hole is (slightly oddly?) in the top L corner rather than more prominently nearer the centre of the stone. There are 2 slender but clear lines, and 3 (4?) faint lines L of them.
Dial 5 is below and to the left of dial 4. It is the most insect-like pattern I have come across – a line drawing might resemble a daddy-longlegs / cranefly. No line is straight, but within the wide variations in dial design and accuracy it would probably have served its purpose marking the passing hours. Unless it really is a carving of a cranefly…
St Mary . Pembridge . Herefs – Scratch Dial 5
On darker stone and in shadow on a buttress, it would be easy to miss this dial. If it is one. At the time, I thought it was; and looking weeks later at the photos I still think so, just a noon line and what could be a Mass line.
BSS has a record of 2 dials that I didn’t notice
Here is a candidate for consideration. Two almost parallel lines that look deliberately scratched drop vertically down from an arguable style hole. I have come across a couple of similar dials – though each had some lines – where the vertical (noon line) was emphasised by being the space between two lines.
ST MARY PEMBRIDGE: C13 BELFRY
PEV(Herefs p 542) considers this bell tower remarkable, and points out its structural relationship with Norway’s Stave Churches and Sweden’s Bell Houses. He dates it early C13, with later reconstructed in C17.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 villageBE. 10m E of Dorchester. 50.7497 / -2.298 / SY790945
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 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
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
St Rémy du Val is about 12m SE of Alençon, in a countryside of fields and forests. The church of St Rémy et St Rigomer stands high above the river Bienne, beside a now-ruined small castle. It has early origins but dates mainly from C15. The strong tower also had a defensive purpose. At some stage a small and attractive renaissance double doorway was added, a pleasing architectural contrast.
The dial is located on the SW face of the buttress shown in the foreground of the header image. There is a definite tilt to this part of the church supported by the buttress, and to the adjacent buildings (the photo exaggerates it considerably).
I wasn’t expecting to find a dial (or even looking for one), and I was lucky to see such an unobtrusive example as we walked past. I later discovered that there is one other mention of it, and of a possible small dial close to it.
The dial is considerably eroded and quite badly damaged in the lower R quadrant. Close-to, its relative sophistication is evident. The radials are within a double circle and as far as one can tell do not overlap the inner circumference. Almost certainly the lines were incised all the way round the gnomon hole. There is a hint that in the lower half – or perhaps just the lower L quadrant – there are half-hour marks as well. Perhaps these details suggest a C16 dial.
Michael Lalos, who runs a very good site for French sundials of all types, also found this small design. At first sight it doesn’t look very promising as a dial, and might perhaps be an apotropaic symbol. However in the last year I have found 2 or 3 very similar designs that in their context were most likely intended as dials.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial
All photos Keith Salvesen except the last pair, Michael Lalos
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
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.
GRADE II † The remains of the original parish church, dating from C12, now known as the Old Chancel. The chancel, C14 tower and a linking arcade (Norman, EE) are all that’s left. Superseded by the new church, the Old Chancel retains its dignity and interest, and is obviously well looked after. It continues in use as a Sunday School. 52.7648 / -1.9353 / SK044185
It would not be surprising for there to have been a dial cut somewhere on the original church. TWC in the dial list for Staffs in his 1935 booklet doesn’t mention one here, although he mentions others in the area (Alrewas and Longdon, for example). On a recent visit Erika Clarkson found two candidates. Neither is immediately convincing; perhaps plausible at the highest.
?Dial 1 (if it is one) has its gnomon hole rather low on the stone, when it might have been centred or in the mortar line above. There are a couple of definite faint lines in the lower L quadrant that certainly seem to emanate from the hole. And a vague stubby noon line too? It’s hard to fit what could be a part circle of pocks with the offset position of the hole.
?Dial 2 is similarly vague for interpretation. The line LHS is plainly a fault in the stone, but there are 3 very faint lines descending from what could be a very shallow style hole. The middle appears to be slightly longer signifying the noon line. Again, I think it can’t be categorised higher than plausible at best. However I have seen accredited dials that look even less likely to the amateur (me).
In checking some sources, I came across this rather attractive old postcard of the Old Chancel, a minor compensation for not being more positive about its putative dials.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial
All photos: Erika Clarkson with thanks for staffing Staffs as it were. PC unattributable.
GRADE II* † C13 2-stage tower, chancel, chapel incorporated into C19 church (G.E.Street). An attractive juxtaposition of squat tower and much later elongated expansion. A couple of miles from Rugeley. 52.7813 / -1.9309 / SK047204
A small and crude dial, perhaps (given the C13 origins) an early one. After centuries of erosion of the sandstone, it remains deeply cut. 4(?) lines descending from the style hole. It’s hard to tell the significance of the upward line that cuts deeply through the hole and downwards. This is not an extended noon line, yet obviously it has a purpose – maybe to add emphasis to the main service of the day (the Mass time Nones?). It’s unclear whether the dent in the stone RHS is anything to do with the dial – it doesn’t directly relate to the style hole. Probably unconnected damage.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial
Photo Credits: Dial by Erika Clarkson; header image from the St Mary Colton FB page HERE
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
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…
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.
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?).