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?
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* † 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 II* † C12 origins, alterations and development C14 / C15; rebuilding C18. Little remains of the Norman building. Yew tree in churchyard reputedly 1700 years old. Sarsen stone(s) beneath the church accessed by trapdoor.
All Saints Church, surrounded by fields below the southern escarpment of the Marlborough Downs, is in the care of the CHURCHES CONSERVATION TRUST It is of particular interest for examining the slow transition of medieval scratch dials from rustic to cultivated. This article primarily features the massive sundial on the south face of the tower, but there’s much that could be written about the wonderful graffiti adorning the external walls – witch marks, dates, initials and so on. The wear and tear of history includes holes in the lower part of the tower wall from musket shots. There’s a great deal to explore and admire both outside and inside this most rewarding building. Then walk the paved priest’s path across the fields to the Saxon church of St Mary a few hundred yards away (there are 2 dials to look for). 51.358 / -1.8446 / SU10962
The dial that dominates the upper stage of the tower is almost invariably described as a scratch dial. However, it is difficult to categorise it thus when the scale of it is so colossal by comparison to the small dials cut on porches, buttresses etc, and only rarely above head height . All the traditional scratch dials of Wiltshire could very likely be contained within the semicircle that nearly spans the width of the tower.
However one chooses to describe the dial, it is clearly a sophisticated and ambitious design. Early scratch dials do not have numerals, generally just a style hole with lines, pocks or both, and often crude and rather random. Gradually they became more complex and cut more accurately, in a few later examples with the addition of Roman numerals. Very few scratch dials have Arabic numerals. There’s a most intriguing one at MONTACUTE Somerset, where the dial has a mix of Roman and Arabic numerals. One could argue a true scratch dial had a single rod in a hole to cast the shadow, and that a dial requiring a more elaborate iron gnomon attached to the face takes it out of the category of scratch dial. This dial was clearly designed for such an arrangement. In that way it differs from eg Litlington and ALFRISTON (E Sussex) where iron gnomons were added onto the face of an existing scratch dial.
The All Saints dial is advanced in a number of ways. The size itself and its height must have required considerable skills and inventiveness to reach, measure, design and execute. The radials are very carefully graduated down to and up from the noon line. The cutting of the dial is remarkably precise. The inclusion of half-hour markers and in particular the use of Arabic numerals add a further dimension. This combination of factors suggests a dial that is later than the generally agreed end of the true scratch dial era, around 1600. The date of the tower is described in the CCT material as fifteenth century*, and a Triennial Inspection Report (2004) notes that the inscribed sundial is still legible. I have not found any early reference to this dial. So overall I will go with the description sundial rather than scratch dial.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Old Dial; Unclassified
All Photos: Keith Salvesen; *thanks to CCT for information about the church
St George is a wonderful church with Saxon origins, C12 foundation, C15 tower; and much T H Wyatt work / restoration mid C19. Treasures include the C12 font, a `truly amazing piece’ (Pevsner) of black Tournai marble. High up on the third stage of the C15 tower is a magnificent C18 sundial: details HERE and an image below.
While visiting St George, I decided to have a brief look at the exterior for church marks in general: graffiti, dates, masons’ marks etc. I was not expecting much, in particular because of the extensive C19 work. However on the W end buttress of the C15 tower, facing SW, there was a large incised design worth inspection.
The design is a partial / eroded circle with a central shallow style hole. A noon line extends downwards to the edge of the circle, passing through a pock on the way and ending with a shallow pock. Other pocks mark the approximate edge of the circle on both sides of the noon line. In the lower L quadrant, the pock between the style hole and the pock at the edge of the circle may have been to emphasise the 9-line as indicating the time of a morning Mass, in this case Nones.
The British Sundial Society BSS has considered the evidence and added the Preshute dial to its Mass Dial records. In many ways a lucky find, since I was not looking for nor expecting a dial at all.
GRADE I . C14 (first record 1291); C15 expansion; late C19 work. See HE for details of this interesting church, with its fine portico. A few miles N. of Sherborne or Yeovil. 51.0225 / -2.5754 / ST597249
The medieval dial is easily found on S wall of the chancel, on the buttress E of the priest’s door. The approximate semicircle embraces an almost compete set of 6-to-6 lines. There are several pocks, large and small. BSS notes include: 1. Worn. Repositioned. Octaval, Tides. 2. Dial (Norman?) with tides, with duodecimal, sometimes both. 3. Mason-cut or roughly scratched. 4. Tide dial, roman numerals, extra line at 7. I have to say (as an amateur) that I can’t match all these features to this dial or either of them if both are being described together (see below).
The dial is large, almost the full width of the buttress. Unusually, it is cut over 4 stones. Note the low pock some way directly below the noon line. Most of the dial is cut on the Hamstone E quoin, the lower rim extending onto the 2 stones below. These stones match those around them. However the L side of the dial is cut on grey stone not matched elsewhere nearby.
I was puzzled by the suggested repositioning of the (entire) dial. An alternative theory might be that the dial was positioned where it is now. Over time, the L side became eroded or damaged and was replaced with a different kind of stone (perhaps being used for repairs elsewhere on the church). The new stone was then cut to match the design of the original. Looked at closely, the ‘new’ L side design does not in fact match the rest accurately. Not all lines follow exactly; there are no pocks; the incisions are clearer. Does this support a later replacement (and possibly harder) stone?
DEH visited in May 1914 and recorded 182. (2) This dial is on the first buttress to the e. of the priest’s door. It is 5 feet 9 inches above the ground, the noonline is 5 1/2 inches in length, the stylehole is 1 1/8 inches in depth by 3/4 of an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 10° e. Type 5c. May 18th, 1915.
Dial 2 also creates some confusion, not least its location. BSS does not record this dial as a separate entry from Dial 1 but may be referring to it especially in the note 4. Tide dial, roman numerals. Dial 1 does not have visible roman numerals but Dial 2 does.
This dial is located high up above the portico, below the parapet of the nave seen as clerestory with parapetBLB. It is quite damaged, with a modern gnomon and a flaking layer of blue paint that makes it stand out (see header image). It’s hard to date the dial. Similar dated dials in the region are quite often early C18 or even C17. The dial is conventional of its kind, carefully graduated. The numerals are set in a frame, and italicised each side of the noon line.
DEH’s description of his second St Barnabas dial is another puzzle:
181. (1) This dial is on the s.e. buttress of the s. aisle. It is 6 feet 7 1/2 inches above the ground, the noonline is 5 inches in length, the stylehole is invisible, and the aspect is s. by 10° e. The dial is curious, as it has the lines arranged much as they are in an ordinary sundial, with Roman numerals cut at the ends. There may have been a slit for a gnomon, now carefully cemented up. Probably this should not rank as a Scratch dial.
There is a significant problem. The location DEH gives for it, six feet up on a buttress, is totally different from this now blue dial, yet his description broadly matches it and his comment that it probably should not rank as a Scratch dial is clearly apposite. I may have missed a second buttress scratch dial, even though I have been back to check. Or else perhaps DEH made a simple error in compiling his notes of several churches visited at one time in one area (I have come across a couple of similar instances). So this dial, now blue, is the one he meant but mis-located.
GRADE I † Early C12 traces, rebuilt and extended C15. S. tower added in 1638. Restored and added vestry C19. 2 bells cast on site in 1275, the oldest in Dorset. Notable C12 font. 50.8467 / -2.6524 / ST541054
Once you have located the church at the very end of the hamlet – a dead end – of a very long lane, it immediately looks distinctive. In the present context, the dial on the tower – inscribed on S. parapet William Lardar Esq. Thomas Horsford Warden 1638 – is most unusual, not least because it faces due E.
DEH, in a rare excursion into Dorset while researching the scratch dials of Somerset in 1914, recorded this dial as a C17 scientific dial of 1638: E declining down to midday only. No trace of another dial for later in day.
GLP has written the definitive interpretation of the dial, and I include his complete record which explains the dial far better than I ever could.
It would be good to know if this blade of a gnomon is / may be original and has been (re)painted over the years. Also, to know why special dials were almost always sited next to a drainpipe…
GSS Category: Scientific Dial; Scratch Dial; Old Dial
All photos – Keith Salvesen; record extract – Gordon Le Pard