GRADE I † The Church forms part of the Boconnoc Estate and has no Dedication*. Probably C12 origins as the Manor Chapel; gradual development; restored 1873. Now in the care of the Cornwall Historic Churches Trust. 10 m SW of Liskeard. 50.4159 / -4.6099 / SX146605
The time-worn dial is set into the apex of the porch and canted westwards. Dated 1716, it is also inscribed with a set of 3 double initials RC, DT, & TG. ‘RC’ is in a different style, and the date – perhaps significantly – is below the two other pairs of initials. Possibly the latter installed the dial in honour of the former.
The dial shows 1/4 as well as 1/2 hours. The 12 of noon is replaced by a cross. IIII is used for IV. The gnomon is presumably not original, but has clearly been in situ for a considerable time.
* Sadly no St Boconnoc is listed in the Ox. Book of Saints)
GSS Category: Vertical Dial. Old (post medieval) Dial
ST MARY † Grade 1. Early C13, alterations c.1500, N transept added C19. Between Sherborne & Marston Magna, on the Som. / Dorset boundary. Scratch dials, vertical dial, porch graffiti and protection (‘witch’) marks. 50.9948 / -2.5565 / ST610218
Quite a while ago I wrote (in 2 parts) about the 4 main medieval scratch dials at the church. The links are below. I recently revisited St Mary for a further look at the dials (there are a couple of others to write up) as well as some interesting church marks including a small hexfoil within the porch. A revised single post featuring all of the above will emerge in due course.
I also photographed the Vertical Dial for BSS records. It is located on the end merlon of the parapet, easily visible. It has a simple, almost square face. The plain metal gnomon is fixed into the top of the dial stone, and into the mortar line under the stone below it.
There are other unmarked (no lines, pocks, numerals) dials in the S Somerset / W Dorset region and I though this was one. However, later examining the main photograph in the gallery below, I detected 2 faint lines in U L quadrant that seem deliberately cut. There’s a ghost of a line on the opposite side. So possibly this was once a conventionally marked dial that has slowly and very evenly eroded.
It is hard to date. The dial stone differs from the ones around it. At a guess, it was added C19, perhaps when other work was carried out (eg adding the N transept). BHO notes that in 1827 the church was ‘repaired and beautified’. Perhaps adding the dial was part of that process.
GRADE I † C12, C13, C15; C19 restoration. A pretty church with a 4-stage tower and short steeple, close by the Kennet & Avon canal. No discernible scratch dials though a likely-looking location. A single vertical dial, angled. 7 miles W of Hungerford. 51.3941 / -1.5828 / SU291661
The dial is high up on a SE facing buttress, with an iron gnomon set into the stone. It has an S-shaped support. The face is completely plain, with no evidence of numbers, lines or a frame. Possibly it was originally painted. Hard to date, though the gnomon is plainly not original.
Using a different camera sheds another light on the dial* and confirms the absence of markings
*and demonstrates how 2 cameras, used at the same time, tell different stories
GRADE II* † C14 / 15 origins, with later / C19 enlargement. Besides 2 scratch dials there is a vertical dial on the tower dated 1706. 6m NW of Leicester. 52.6832 / -1.2292 / SK522097
The scratch dials are both on the S side. One is on SW corner of the tower; the other on the lower part of the L jamb of a window (I don’t have a more precise location at the moment).
Dial 1 gives the impression of a spider, with legs radiating from the (blocked) gnomon hole in the centre of the dial stone. The clearest lines are at 11 and noon, the latter faintly extended. The others are rather randomly placed. There’s a line in the top L quadrant; and the hint of a line very roughly extending the noon line upwards. The 2 pocks don’t seem to be part of the design.
Dial 2 is more conventional ‘morning dial’, with 6 more or less evenly spaced lines descending (but not very accurately) from a large filled style hole. Only one of the lines is after noon. Simple and straightforward.
Set on the SE edge of the second stage of the tower, close to the intersection with the roof of the nave. Slate, made by Thomas Woodcock in 1706. Deeply cut and in excellent condition for its age. Initials I K. Cross for 12 noon. Quarter hours marked. The angles of the Roman numerals are carefully graduated as they descend and ascend, suggesting the work of a skilled craftsman dial-maker.
BSS notes very similar dials at Breedon on the Hill and at Leicester, all three being within a few miles of each other.
This interesting dial has been analysed and recorded in some detail by BSS:
The dial is fitted with iron dog nails to the south face of the tower, at the south-east corner, adjacent to the nave junction. The date 1706 is across the top, and being of the local slate, the dial is in remarkable condition for its age. Initials ‘I K’ are on each side of the date. Upright hours VI – + – IV – VI are aligned to the hour lines, which are drawn to a large semicircle around the gnomon root. Short lines mark the half hours, with fleur de lys or arrow heads, and quarter hours. The rusty iron bar gnomon has a straight horizontal support.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Vertical Dial
Photos of church and scratch dials, Erika Clarkson; vertical dial from BSS archive
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.
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
GRADE I † Cistercian Abbey dating from C12, becoming a fine stately home C17 with beautiful gardens and landscaping. Near Chard. 50.8434° N, 2.9113° W
Dial 1 is prominently in the centre of the parapet, crowned with a broken pediment and ball. It has been dated late c17 or early c18. The spindly gnomon has been considerably bent to make the dial as accurate as possible (and see dial 2), given the orientation of the building. At some time, the top end has had to be re-fixed into the stone.
BSS records as Located in roof line castellations. An apparently blank dial plate with painted numbers on the stonework outside – possibly a later innovation. Upright white sans-serif hour numerals VII – IIII. Noon is marked with a square box and 4pm as IIII. Long thin rod gnomon with unusual support formed by a second rod to the tip, itself with a short stay near its foot. Declination is E.
Dial 2 is located high on a tower, in effect at right-angles to dial 1. It is basically all gnomon and no actual dial face. I haven’t seen a large spindly design like this before. Although it has a rather home-made look to it, the design and positioning must have been carefully calculated, As with dial 1, the orientation of the building necessitated a corrective angle in relation to the sun’s movement. The shadow cast by this rather intriguing ‘gnomon sundial’ seems completely adequate for marking the passage of the day even without additional markings.
CHARLES COTTON’S FISHING HOUSE . BERESFORD . STAFFS
GRADE II* The most famous and piscatorially significant fishing ‘hut’ in the world, in a clearing beside the River Dove, near Hartington. By a quirk of a bend in the river, the hut is in Staffs rather than Derbyshire. Single cell square plan in an Artisan Mannerist styleBLB SK127592
The inscription Piscatoribus Sacrum – a sacred place for anglers – gave rise to the hut’s reverential name among fishermen, The Temple. I can’t improve on this description from HE:
Charles Cotton’s fishing house is a unique building designed specifically for the sport of angling. It was an elaborate building in relation to its simple function, an expression of Cotton’s dedication to angling and to his entertainment of fellow anglers. Izaak Walton and Cotton’s The Compleat Angler was significant in the development and diversification of the sport from the 17th century. The fishing house is a fine preservation of Charles Cotton’s angling endeavours and its association with the popular work The Compleat Angler makes it of national significance.
Dated inscription, and intertwined initials of Charles Cotton & Izaak Walton on the keystone
CHARLES COTTON’S CUBE DIAL
A while back I spent a couple of days fishing on the Beresford beat of the Dove (to little effect). Just seeing the hut close to – let alone actually using it for its intended purpose – was an amazing experience. The weather was quite poor; the photos (taken on a basic pocket Canon) poorer still. I’ve had to do some work on the images, which I hope are now clear enough to be informative. 3 faces are featured; images of the 4th, away from the sun, were useless.
The dial is fixed to the apex of the hut’s roof. It is surmounted by a round finial, then a weather vane, and – a final flourish – a trout.
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?).
Barfleur is a small town / large village on the NE tip of the Contentin peninsula in Normandy, roughly due E of Cherbourg. The church of St Nicolas, despite the initial impression, was built mid-C17. Later additions and restoration mid-C19 incorporated an impressively large sundial (it doesn’t seem to have been a later addition).
The face of the dial has almost entirely been obliterated, with half a dozen very faint lines just visible in the lower L quadrant. There is also the hint of a frame under the cast shadow, though it might simply be the remains of a horizontal line. Erosion by the sea over many decades has made the details speculative. The gnomon may possibly be original. Whether or not, the design of the tip is clever and includes a small hole at the tip that creates a neat spearhead.
GRADE I † Pre-conquest origins. Significant Saxon features. Splendid Norman doorway. C12 font. Development C12 et seq, with C19 restoration. Archaeologically uncommonly interestingPEV; inc. by Simon Jenkins. BLB Listing. 51.4286 / -1.8579 / SU099699
The vertical dial is below the parapet, L of the porch. From a distance, the only distinct marking on the face is a faint square frame for the dial. Closer examination reveals at least the ‘X’ of noon. The footing of the gnomon is in a badly damaged area. Most notably, the dial is at a canted angle so that it faces south. Hard to date – there’s no clue in the usual resources. C18 perhaps, esp. as roman numerals were used?