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 † Norman traces; C13, C14; mid C19 restorations. Nave roof thatched; round W tower with octagonal bell stage; high porch; early font. A fascinating and most unusual building to admire, both the exterior and interior. 12m from Norwich. 52.6372 / 1.5474 / TG401102
A fairly conventional encircled dial on a quoin stone on W side of the porch. The forenoon is well-marked, evidently the most important part of the day for religious observance. The emphatic gouge at (very roughly) Nones is presumably not contemporary, being very much at odds with the more carefully incised lines. Possibly it marks a later change of the principal Mass time to the afternoon (a new incumbent?). There are ± 8 lines but erosion and damage prevents an accurate count.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial
PHOTOS: John Renner, with thanks; ChurchCare / Keltek (header image)
GRADE I † A magnificent church, the longest in Suffolk. Exemplar for the conversion of wool prosperity into stonework. Largely C15; W tower rebuilt 1903 (Bodley). SJ rating ***** a treasure house of English medieval art. A good overview at Great English ChurchesLONG MELFORD 4m N of Sudbury. 52.0878 / 0.7209 / TL865467
The dial is located on the buttress E of the porch, and easily visible. The style hole is in the mortar line, with 5 lines radiating downwards LHS to a perimeter arc. The presumed noon line and 1 are emphasised. There is a single, fainter afternoon line. The dial stone fits rather awkwardly into its space and the partly unfilled mortar line is strange. A possible relocation?
Seen in detail, there is a gap between the top end of the lines and the gnomon hole. The angles between the lines are graduated (rather than evenly spaced) as one might expect with a later dial. However, the angles widen as they approach noon rather than (as one would expect) narrowing. A left-field explanation might be that the church itself is at an angle, for which the dial is compensating. At some stage I need to investigate further but meanwhile, best to publish this and hope that someone can provide an answer.
GRADE I † Mostly early C14 and C15. Built with local stone: lias and ham. A fine C17 cube dial, 2 slightly unrewarding scratch dials, impressive gargoyles. A complete set of 5 bells dated 1582, 1621, 1623, 1664 and 1666, all by Purdue family. Some pews have graffiti from C17 on. 3m N of Yeovil. 50.9773 / -2.6086 / ST573199
I have previously posted about St Mary with the emphasis on the splendid CUBE DIAL high on the apex of the E end. I mentioned 2 scratch dials but because they fall into the separate Medieval Dial category I am giving them some more attention here.
MUDFORD: TWO SCRATCH DIALS
The two dials are on the inner face of the buttress at the E end of the church, one above the other – a less than optimal position.They were obviously relocated and incorporated during expansion / restoration and used as quoin stones for the buttress, though pointless as dials where they are now. The stones themselves are similar, but it seems unlikely that the 2 dials were adjacent before being moved.
Dial 1 is very simple: a style hole with 2 lines descending, the noon line and 1pm. A rod gnomon would very clearly mark the noon part of the day, perhaps indicating that Mass was not quite yet… or that it had been missed…
There is a similar 2-line dial at BROADMAYNE Dorset, where the 2 lines are at either side of the vertical (ie at 11 and 1), cut so that ‘noon’ is in effect the space between them. At COMPTON PAUNCEFOOT there is a large dial on the facade with 3 lines: noon and one each side.
Dial 2 has 4 clear lines radiating from the style hole. These are E of the vertical, marking roughly 1 to 4 (there is no noon line). On both dials there are faint hints of other lines now eroded.
DEH recorded the Mudford dials in May 2015 during a tour of several churches in the area
GRADE II* † C13 chancel; C14 nave and lower tower with porch (top stage added later); extensive mid-C19 restoration and rebuilding by J Hicks (Thomas Hardy is said to have drawn the plans while apprenticed.) Portland Stone. 5m SE of Dorchester. 50.6788 / -2.3857 / SY728866
There are 3 dials. 2 are adjacent on E side of the porch which is (unusually) set in the tower. Dial 1 is eroded but visible. Dial 2 is vestigial and easily overlooked (eg by BHO / RCHM). Dial 3 is relocated well out of sight on the NE quoin of the church, a place it could never have been originally. It is much the clearest cut of the 3.
Dial 1 is visible as one walks up the path from the gate, but the details remain unclear even close to. The BSS record shows 12 lines within a partial circle, the lower part cut off at the edge of the dial stone, suggesting it may have been relocated during rebuilding. I’ve visited St Martin twice, in sunlight and in early evening, and frustratingly I haven’t been able to make out the complete dial shown below. The colour of the stone is a factor. RHS is quite eroded; or perhaps LHS was more deeply incised because it marked the most signifiant time of day for observance.
As indicated above, dial 2 is unrewarding. Records suggest 4 lines and 2 circles, though I couldn’t see the latter. The images below have been recoloured to bring out the details, such as they are…
Dial 3 is a small and simple one, with 4 lines. The noon line is emphasised; and the Mass line (Tierce) has a cross.
The fact that the hole in this buttress stone is centered made me look at it more closely. In 3D rather than in the photo, it is a plausible dial with 2 quite long lines, being the noon line and ‘1.00pm’. With a stick in the hole, it would have been perfectly serviceable for marking the sun’s progress from morning to afternoon. There is a similar dial at MUDFORD Somerset, where the 2 lines are at 11 and 1, cut so that the noon line is centered between them.
GRADE I † C12 origins with south transeptual tower; C12 north aisle and north chapel; C13 south chapel and aisle, tower rebuilt; C15 chapels demolished, chancel and north aisle rebuilt, south porch added; C17 tower rebuilt. A treasure for church enthusiasts of any sort. Even the bells have stories. For detailed church description and historical context: BHOSt George DamerhamHE has a short entry HERE. Church’s excellent GUIDE below. The ‘Vicars’ Board’ begins c1235. W of the A388 midway Salisbury to Ringwood. 50.9416 / -1.8483 / SU107158
✣ Note: I missed a dial located most unusually on a cross in the cemetery ✣
St George has 3 scratch dials. In addition there is a fine numbered dial that marks the transition to a more sophisticated era of ecclesiastical time-keeping. Within the porch on the upper R side of the original entrance I (believe I) found another simple dial of a kind found inside porches elsewhere, with traces of whitewash (eg Blackford Som. Bishops Sutton Hants Limington Som.)
ARG visited in 1923. His comments on individual dials are briefly noted below, with his photo of dial 1.
The main dial is easily found on the E jamb of the S porch. It has a very large gnomon hole in the centre of the dial stone, presumably enlarged over time. There are 20 lines, each with a terminal pock. It is perhaps unusual for a medieval dial to have a full circle of radii with end pocks that are all still visible centuries later.
ARGA rather large, good dial. Perhaps originally a full-wheel dial with 24 lines, now with 4 lines missing from upper quadrant.
SW buttress of nave. Gnomon hole in the mortar line, from which 11 lines fan out below the horizontal. The design has been rearranged over the years, with the LR quadrant damaged and repaired without recutting the lines onto the cement.
ARG described the dial as a half-wheel. He commented on the disparity in the line length between LL and LR quadrants. but did not remark on the reason ie damage repair.
Dial 3 is immediately below dial 2 on the same buttress. It is very basic and consists simply of a slightly skewed gnomon hole, with 3 lines in the LL quadrant, partially obscured by lichen just as ARG reported 100 years ago.
The dial largely speaks for itself. I find it hard to date – C17? It seems very carefully cut, and the numerals are elegant. There’s some sophistication here. The dial is surmounted by the initials GB and TS
One intriguing feature of this dial is the mystery of the missing gnomon. In 2007 a contributor to the Geograph project, Trish Steel, uploaded a photo of the dial. It has a gnomon set into cracked mortar (unsurprising if it fell out). To an amateur it looks as if it may not have been in the right place anyway – too low? I wonder when it was first installed? It’s a very simple wedge of iron, perhaps inserted when the crack was originally repaired.
Within the S porch (added C15) the area around the original door has much medieval graffiti. St George was a church of pilgrimage, and inside there are pilgrim scallops incorporated in the fine wall-painting fragments. Both outside and inside the church, there are many crosses cut into the stone. Some may also be apotropaic in intention; some may be event marks (the porch is ideal for welcoming a new incumbent or a marriage).
On the jamb R of the door there are 3 distinct lines, equally separated, radiating downwards from roughly the same point, a plausible filled style hole. The design is clearly cut with no graffiti near it, with traces of whitewash. I have encountered other very similar internal porch dials (I need to cross-check and add links) in much the same position, and I am confident that this qualifies as another one.
RESOURCES FOR ST GEORGE DAMERHAM
There is a brief but helpful information sheet / guide in the church
An object lesson for a church guide: informative, interesting, and focussed on the most important features
GRADE II* † Early C13 chancel, nave, N doorway; C15 N porch; c1500 W Tower; later additions; C19 restorations. A simple typically Dorset small church in an attractive location. 2m S of Dorchester (can be combined with Winterborne Steepleton nearby (2 dials). 50.6884 / -2.4604 / SY675877
GLP notes a single doubtful dial over a blocked doorway, not included in BSS records. However there is a clear inverted dial elsewhere on S side. There is also a dial-ish quoin stone that I include. There’s not enough evidence to consider it much more than doubtful, but the location is conventional and the overall ‘jizz’ (to use a birding term) invited more than a glance.
Above the blocked S aisle door, C16. GLP suggests a masons’ mark rather than a scratch dial and notes a similar ‘dial’ at Hilton, near Blandford. There are 2 faint concentric circles. The very small central hole that would be more consistent with the use of a compass inscribe the circle.
Quite high up at the W end of the S face is a very clear dial that I have not found recorded elsewhere. There are 7 lines, each ending in a pock and with the (presumed) 9-line having a second pock, doubtless the main Mass time. The reversion below shows how the design would have worked well as a morning dial.
The most intriguing feature is the presence of (the remains of) a square rod in the style hole, with filler material round it. It seems highly unlikely to be original, though it may have been inserted many years ago perhaps as a replacement gnomon. A square rod in not so rare: there is one at St Mary, Glanvilles Wootton, for example.
DIAL 3 ?
An excellent dial position, a hole almost central to the stone, and inverted (if a dial at all) as often the case where a dial has been superseded or its stone relocated. I have included a reversion that makes the upwards mark into a noon line. There are hints of perimeter pocks in LR quadrant.
Finally, there are 3 fine C17 memorial floor slabs to admire
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Gnomon Rod; Masons’ Mark, C17 memorial floor slabs
The famous Bewcastle Anglo-Saxon cross is located in St Cuthbert’s churchyard. It is dated in some sources as C8 and in others as early as C7. Whichever, it is generally believed to be the oldest British sundial. PEV praised it, with the similar Ruthwell cross, as the greatest achievement of their date in the whole of Europe. There is a replica in the British Museum.
There is understandably a mass of online material analysing and explaining the cross, the wonderful carvings, and the meanings to be derived from them. I need to bypass these to focus on the astonishing early sundial incorporated into the elaborate decoration. For other aspects the Wiki entry BEWCASTLE CROSS is a good place to start.
THE BEWCASTLE DIAL
The dial is in a prominent position on the upper half of the south face. The BSS record describes the cross as Celtic, with the dial being integral to the overall design. 8 lines are noted, with the vertical line on the right side considered to be a later addition (but see below). The noon line is emphasised by being deeper cut, with 9am even more so and ending (perhaps) in a large hole. The dial must have been easy to read from afar. BSS has 3 close-up images in the archive which give a clear view of the dial and its slightly wider context.
Bewcastle is used as an example in the Wiki entry for the TIDE DIAL The article includes useful explanations and images. These lead to other related topics for those who want to investigate further. More importantly, there is a helpful analysis of the details of the sundial’s design, and how it would have worked in practice. The cross is believed to be in its original position, and one can imagine the way in which the passage of the day would have been marked for the benefit of the community.
The oldest surviving English tide dial is on the 7th- or 8th-century Bewcastle Cross… carved on the south face of a Celtic cross… and is divided by five principal lines into four tides. Two of these lines, those for 9 am and noon, are crossed at the point. The four spaces are further subdivided so as to give the twelve daylight hours of the Romans. On one side of the dial, there is a vertical line which touches the semicircular border at the second afternoon hour. This may be an accident, but the same kind of line is found on the dial in the crypt of Bamburgh Church, where it marks a later hour of the day. The sundial may have been used for calculating the date of the spring equinox and hence Easter.
‘Plaster Cast of an Early English Sundial’ . 1930s. (Science Museum)
Plaster cast (mounted in wooden frame) of the sundial on Bewcastle Cross, Cumberland, 670 CE. The day is divided into ‘tides’, which are cut into the stone. The gnomon is missing. Credit: A. J. Lothian
GRADE II † C13th origins of which traces survive at the W end; substantial rebuilding 1860s by Wyatt. Set in peaceful countryside close to R. Frome. An excellent folder with details about the church and contents is kept in the church. Woodsford Castle / fortified house is nearby, the largest thatched building in England. 5m E of Dorchester 50.7143 / -2.3383 / SY762905
The single dial is just E of the entrance door, on the quoin of the S chapel. Plain and clearly cut. Now adorned with a slim metal rod bedded into blu-tack in the large gnomon hole (not quite as strange as the drill bit gnomon I found in Shropshire…).
The dial has 5 clear lines descending from the gnomon hole to the lower perimeter of the complete circle. There are large terminal pocks and several other smaller pocks round the circumference that plausibly could be part of the overall design.
A most informative diagram with commentary explains the intricacies of the medieval day and the significance of the passing hours between dawn and dusk. You can find more on this topic HERE but the material below provides a good straightforward overview.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial
All photos Keith Salvesen; Dial Diagram and Explanation courtesy of the Church
GRADE I † C13 nave, chancel, S porch inc outer archway. C15 alterations & additions – chapel, tower. Restored 1885. 2 Purdue bells. 4m W of Sherborne and E of Yeovil. 50.9532 / -2.5732 / ST598172
There are 3 dials beside the porch doorway, 1 on the left side and 2 on the right. The intricacies of the dials are clearer from the BSS archive photos and diagrams compared with my photos, taken in bright sunlight and not picking up the details.
South Porch L of doorway. 13 lines, with the noon line extended, and 23 pocks. The diagram suggests 1, perhaps 2, mid-morning Mass markers. GLP points out that the lines are below the horizontal whereas almost all the pocks are above it; and that the design is accurate.
South porch R of doorway. Despite the extended ‘noon line’ (as it appears), the dial must in fact be upside down. If not, it can’t have had any practical use. 10 lines with very variable angles and 12 pocks. GLP describes it as crudely cut as a tide / octaval dial. The white item is a stone, which was in place when I originally saw the dial, and still 18m later. I left it in peace.
A semi-circular dial with 13 lines, almost all of which end pocks. There is a complete inner circle round the gnomon hole, with semi-circle outside it. GLP found the dial to be accurately cut.
On chancel—(a) on external S. wall, W. of S. window; on N. chapel—(b) on N. external wall, W. of N.E. window, reset; on nave—(c) on external N. wall, between N.E. window and doorway; (d) on E. splay of N. doorway; (e and f) on E. jamb of S. doorway, two crosses; (g) on E. splay of S. doorway; (h) on E. splay of S.W. window; on W. face of tower— (i) against N. buttress; all formy crosses in circles except second on jamb of S. doorway, mediæval (BLB)
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Consecration Cross
All photos Keith Salvesen + BSS archive (also diagrams)