GRADE I † C12 origins, C13 nave, C14 tower & S porch; seemingly no C19 makeover. Plenty of interest to admire here – see entry in HE. 3m NE of Bridport. 50.7458 / -2.7225 / SY491942
St Mary has 2 dials, both on the E side of the porch (late C14). Dial 1 is easily visible on the jamb. Dial 2 is tucked into a corner on the angle formed by the S wall and a staircase that was added C15. After that addition, Dial 2 was probably little use before noon (if at all).
Dial 1 is a good example of the interface between the simple dial function of marking the hours, and decorative design. This is a lovely and ambitious 24-hour dial, with 19 lines and 26 pocks. Although considerably eroded, it intricacies remain clear. There are radial variations of angle, length and emphasis. There are single pocks, double pocks, half-way pocks. GLP notes that the dial is quite accurately laid out and seems to mark most of the hours and some of the half hours as well
Dial 2 is badly degraded, I suspect rather more so than when last surveyed. 3 lines emerge(d) from a gnomon hole in the dial stone. An amateur (me) would be unlikely to give it a second glance, especially in that position. In its present state it no longer matches the drawing originally made. Or I have made an ID mistake (quite possible)? GLP describes it as a very fragmentary inverted dial. Which perhaps suggests that the stone was moved / turned when the staircase was built. Or, possibly, it was a dial stone used from elsewhere on the building and intentionally inverted (as often the way with moved dials).
GRADE I † Dated from c1300, with a C12 tower that was originally separate, later incorporated when the church was extended and (BLB) much altered. Attractively distinctive to look at. 15m W of Leominster. 52.2045 / -3.0384 / SO29156
St Mary is a multi-dial church with 6 recorded, one of which is doubtful. They range from conventional to basic. 3 are clustered on adjacent stones.
Dial 1 is on the S wall, a fan-shaped edged quadrant radiating from the mortar line and stretching across 3 stones. It is near-symmetrical along the noon line. The 5 lines are spaced almost equally, the outer ones being incised more deeply, perhaps to draw attention to service times. The ‘1’ line is of interest, less accurately cut, bifurcating as it crosses onto the stone below, and ending in a single pock. This feature is so specific that it was presumably intended to emphasise a time of day of particular significance in the local community.
Dial 2, on the S wall, is far simpler than Dial 1 but is also near-symmetrical from the noon line. 3 lines, the one to the L more of a straight scratch than a cut. The style hole is in a fault line in the stone (which may well be subsequent damage). Possibly the ‘1’ line crudely divides halfway down, beginning with a pock. This would match the similar emphasis in Dial 1, and perhaps supports the theory of a special ‘event’ mark.
Dial 3 is also located by the door on the S wall, very damaged and eroded. 4 clear lines radiate from a style hole in the mortar line (there are also 2 very faint lines). Only the uppermost in the lower R quadrant survives for its full length.
DIALS 4 & 5
Dials 4 & 5 are beside and below Dial 2. Both are faint and barely more than token efforts at a dial, as if a youthful assistant priest had a knife and time on his hands.
Dial 6 is a very simple dial (if it is one): a style hole within a deeply cut circle, and what could be a stubby noon line. The close-up b&w BSS photograph gives a good idea of it. There’s not a lot of confidence in the record: Position not known. Noon line only? Circle only and faint line at 90L. Possible noon marker. Doubtful dial.
Richard & Catherine Boztum, in their excellent illustrated booklet (cited below) of Herefordshire Church marks and scratch dials include dials 1 – 5, but not this one.
I also have my doubts. St Mary has plenty of Church graffiti – initials, scratchings, small crosses, and in particular a number of apotropaic symbols (ritual protection marks). The design of ‘Dial 6’ is one of many forms of ‘witch mark’. And on St Mary itself, there is a more elaborate version of the circle-and-centre-hole mark.
Having in mind the rather basic design of some of the dials above, there are a couple of candidates that I photographed for later inspection. The first is at least plausible and matches the noon line symmetry of dials 1 & 2. The other is unconvincing. You be the judge…
GSS Category: Scratch Dials; Multi-dials
Photos: Header image: Ruth Harris (Geograph / Wiki / CC); all other photos Keith Salvesen except dial 6 BSS
REF: Botzum R and C : Scratch Dials, Sundials and unusual Marks on Herefordshire Churches. Lucton, Herefs, 1988
ST CANDIDA & HOLY CROSS . WHITCHURCH CANONICORUM . DORSET
GRADE I † C12 onwards on a Saxon site, with tower not until C15; C19 restoration. Also known as St Wite (hence Candida?), whose relics are in a shrine inside the church.* A building of outstanding interest in a secluded valley, the Cathedral of the Vale. Too much else to be said for inclusion here. For more details, see BLBBE & ST CANDIDA WIKI 5m NW of Bridport. 50.7554 / -2.8565 / SY396954
Dial 1 can be found in a corner of the W buttress of the S transept. It has 12 lines, and the stone has been cut to give a rectangular outline to the dial, the gnomon hole being R of centre. Sited uncomfortably in a corner, the dial seems unlikely to have been effective and certainly not year-round. Nor would it have been very visible to passers-by. So it seems likely – given the way the lower lines are truncated – that the dial was re-sited during later renovation.
This dial (if it is one) is as simple as could be – 2 holes, large and small, on the vertical. It is located on the W jamb of the C13 blocked door of the chancel. BSS describes it as a ‘Noon Mark’, a style in the upper dial indicating the passage of the day either side of noon. GLP suggests this might originally have been a painted (as opposed to incised) dial. I wondered if the 2 slightly inward-curving faint lines descending from each side of the lower hole were there to emphasise noon (as was done using pocks).
* In 1900 the tomb was opened and was found to hold a lead casket containing the bones of a small woman. On the casket was the Latin inscription “HIC-REQESCT-RELIQE-SCE-WITE” (“Here lie the remains of St Wite”) ST CANDIDA WIKI
GRADE II* † C12 origins then C13 and C14 addition and rebuilding. Much C19 work inc. rebuilding tower & S porch. A most attractive long low church with timber belfry and spire. A rewarding church to explore: see BHO. 3m S of Stockbridge; 7m N of Romsey. 51.077 / -1.4872 / SU360309
There are 4 dials recorded for the church, but only 3 are visible. The 4th seems now to be concealed behind a boiler. The 3 visible dials are all on the jambs of a S nave window. ARG notes that the window was inserted into an old doorway All are inverted, presumably during the 1880 restoration. Maybe this links up with the rebuilding of the S porch and relocation of stones originally there (a more obvious position). BHO notes various window alterations and the movement of stones incised with ornamental crosses and inscriptions… the stones have unfortunately been reset upside down.
Dial 1 is inverted on the L jamb. LHS and below, the style hole is badly damaged. Otherwise, the 12 lines are more or less clear, with differing lengths and angles. There is a trace of a semicircle, marked by perimeter pocks. The noon line is considerably elongated and, with 1, has larger perimeter pocks. 1 also has a short extension of 4 dots, perhaps to emphasise a service significant to this church or community.
DIALS 2 & 3
Both dials are on the R jamb, inverted, on the same stone, and actually touching. Unusually (perhaps very rare) both are complete circles with 24-hour marking. Dial 2 has 24 radials; Dial 3 has 24 pocks.
Dial 2 is encircled and imaginatively decorative, with radials for a full 24 hours. The spacing is somewhat random. The style hole is quite deep, and obviously enlarged. The (upside-down) noon line is deeper cut, as are 10, & 11. So too is 1, which is also extended with 2 pocks. This corresponds with Dial 1 and seems to confirm that some importance was attached to that time of day.
Dial 3 is also a complete circle, with a small style hole. It is eroded, with only the (upwards) noon line and a couple of fainter lines clear. Most of the daylight hours are marked by pocks on the circumference; close examination has shown that in fact there are 24 pocks. It appears as if squeezed into the space between the upper stone and the lower edge of the stone
St Peter & St Paul . Kings Somborne . Hants – Scratch Dials 2 & 3
Dial 4 is located on the SE quoin stone of the Chancel. The record indicates that it has 12 lines, mostly curved, and 2 above the horizontal. BSS notes Position is obscured by a hut containing an oil tank. So much so that I couldn’t find it at all. I intend to try again next time I’m in the area – perhaps taking a torch.
ARG in 1923 recorded that the dial consisted of a circle with 10 lines in the lower half, 5 of which end in pocks; and 2 lines in the upper half. None of the lines are straight; most are distinctly curved. Sadly, although he photographed dials 2 & 3, he did not take dial 4.
GRADE II* C13 origins; mainly C14 with C15 porch; extensive C19 alteration / restoration including complete rebuild of the tower (1861), & later work by Crickmay. A pleasant aspect as one walks up the church path. 5m SE of Wincanton. 51.0213 / -2.348 / ST756247
Sundial: reset on S. wall of tower, square stone plate with arabic numerals and inscription ANNO DO 1599.BHO
A most interesting dial set into the upper stage of the tower. Presumably re-fixed in that position (or perhaps relocated there) during the C19 rebuilding. Despite erosion and damage, the unaffected features are quite well defined. GLP notes that it is one of the earliest dated dials (of any sort) in Dorset.
Although giving the appearance of a large scratch dial with an inscription above it, GLP classifies it as a more sophisticated ‘scientific’ dial, because the angles between the lines measure standard hours. The use of numerals fits in with the inscribed date. GLP calls them roman; BHO has them as arabic. My detailed photos don’t help either way. They do show that the stone was cracked in two at some stage; and they raise the question “where was the gnomon?”
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 II* † C13 with C12 origins – Norman S doorway; early C16 tower & chapel; C19 additions, restoration. 5m NE of Litchfield. 52.7251 / -1.8798 / SK082141
St James has 4 dials, one of which is previously unrecorded. 2 are marked with roman numerals – perhaps unusually for a single church – and 1 dial has an interesting concentric circle design, possibly unique.
Dial 1 is located on the buttress at the E end of the chapel. There is only 1 line – the noon line – which terminates with a pock. There are 8 other pocks around the dial, and the numerals are unconnected to the style hole. These are attractively and crudely cut, as if by someone in a hurry, and are more or less accurately placed.
Dial 2 is high up on a S side parapet stone. It has roman numerals within a faint eroded semicircle at the end of 9 lines radiating from a filled style hole in the mortar line. IIII stands for IV. Unusually, the midday XII / the end of the noon line has been emphasised by dropping the numeral XII below the semicircle.
Dial 3 is on the central buttress of the S chapel, with the hours marked within a double circle (the top half very eroded). BSS suggests that this design may be unique. In addition to the hour marks, there are 4 clear radials: the horizontals, and 2 lines that correspond with Sext and Nones. The original style hole is in the centre of the circle, but the larger circle above it – joined by the filler – may have been a second one for reasons unguessable. BSS notes that nearby KINGS BROMLEY is similar.
Dial 4 is on the S wall. This is a recent find by Erika Clarkson, who lives in the area (see ALREWAS). She saw through the moss and lichen. A simple dial with ± 6 lines and an interestingly downward angled style hole. Note the radials in the R quadrant with a distinct curve. I can’t find a reference to this dial anywhere, so this one can be added to the record for the church.
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 1 † C14, C15, with earlier references (1240). 1880 restoration by Crickmay, described variously as ‘major’ and less politely, ‘drastic’. 3m W of Bridport. Best visited outside the summer holiday season… 50.7325 / -2.8211 / SY421928
The dial is on W side of S porch, and rather intriguing. GLP dates it to C15. A large dial spread across most of a quoin stone, with an anachronistic addition. BSS: this may possibly be a scratch dial which has been ‘converted’ by the addition of an ornate but modern shelf bracket which effectively adds a horizontal gnomon.
The dial itself has [had] its gnomon in the mortar line, which also acts as the horizontal. There are 22 lines of varying sizes of length, width and depth (a jumble BSS). The early morning Mass must have been the most significant, to judge from the heavily emphasised radial. GLP suggests that some of the many lines may show corrections / adjustments over the years.
Presumably there was originally a straightforward rod gnomon. Maybe it became detached and was replaced by this different design that involved mooring the lower end of the bracket in the noon line. GLP dates the bracket as C18.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial
All photos: Keith Salvesen except header image, ‘Dorset Churches’
GRADE II* † C14 with major C19 restoration by G E Street. Attractive village church with a shingled spire (slightly aslant). Situated by the Kennet and Avon canal. Home to the amazing JACK SPRATT’S CLOCK 51.3653 / -1.7187 / SU196629
St Andrew has 5 dials (BSS records 2; HE 1) and a couple of doubtfuls. All are on the S side. The porch has graffiti – initials, dates etc – and apotropaic symbols / ritual protection marks.
Dial 1 is on a quoin stone at the E end of S side. A small but easily visible dial with a large style hole for its size (doubtless enlarged at some time). The noon line is strongest cut, with 3, possibly 4, other lines. The None (9th hour) line is longest, possibly to indicate the most important Mass time of the day. A simple dial with a simple purpose. The 2 ‘tadpole’ marks bottom left could be witch marks to protect the church. There are others in the porch area.
Dial 2 is relatively complex and later than dial 1. A semicircle design with the lines mostly positively cut evenly at 15º angles, though there is erosion in the lower R quadrant. There are also quite large pocks, mostly between the ends of 2 lines which is, I think, unusual. The style hole, as with Dial 1, is large.
Dial 3 is a simple little dial consisting of three significant lines terminating in pocks, and an ‘afternoon’ pock. The sketchy marks above this suggest an extended line ending in a pock and, as with Dial 1, roughly corresponding to None, perhaps confirming the most significant service time for the church, ie early evening Mass.
Dial 4 is on the E side of the porch. Very eroded, with the style hole drawing attention to a small encircled dial with 3 clearish lines – horizontal and 2 curving below it. Indistinct traces of a couple of other lines.
Dial 5 is on the W side of the porch. Larger than dial 4 and also considerably eroded. 10 lines or so, and a confusion of pocks, especially around the (presumed) shallow style hole. There are hints of at least a semicircle in the lower half and the trace (illusion?) of a complete circle or even a double one.
GRAFFITI and APOTROPAIC (WITCH) MARKS
GSS Category: Scratch Dials
All photos: Keith Salvesen; Jack Spratt’s Clock link – VisitPewseyVale