GRADE I † Saxon origins; surviving work of C12 and all subsequent periodsBLB. Chancel C12 / late C13, Victorian restorations. An attractive church with its squat tower and portico; secluded and approached by narrow lanes. 6m N. of Sherborne; 7m W. of Wincanton. 51.0214 / -2.537 / ST624248
Holy Trinity has 2 dials. The first is a small unobtrusive scratch dial by the S. doorway, possibly unrecorded unless in the church archives. It was not noted by DEH during his thorough coverage of the area; and it is not in the BSS register. The second (C18?) is clearly not strictly a scratch dial but an early vertical sundial. It definitely deserves inclusion as a most intriguing dial from a later period.
This simple conventional scratch dial is inside the portico on LHS of the door. There are 2 clear lines from the style hole, with a fainter 3rd somewhat offset between them. The deeper cut line possibly indicates a Mass time (Terce).
On the central buttress of the chancel. A single oblong stone slab with the mortar line as the horizontal ‘6-to-6’ and the numerals framed. The top edge of the frame is cut along the stones above; clear on the left one, faint on the right. Large Roman numerals on each side; small ones along the bottom of the dial. IIII for IV. The radials – more distinct on RHS – are graduated, with the noon line termination in a cross. The present gnomon is a simple metal triangle. It is hard to tell whether there was originally a wood or iron style or not.
It is unclear what the 2 iron pegs at the bottom are for, though they appear to be designed to hold up a stone tablet – perhaps at one time a different dial or a memorial slab was placed over the original dial.
Holy Trinity has other features to note – graffiti including dates and initials; at least one Marian (witch) symbol; and a mystery inscription. Sutton Montis indicates a hill hamlet and is clearly marked on historical maps. However I can find no historical or cartographic reference to the ‘valley hamlet’ of Sutton Vallis. And yet…
GRADE II*. C13 origins; C14 and later additions / alterations; restored late C19. There are good witch marks and other graffiti on some of the doorways. Long and low in a lovely setting between Craven Arms (N) and Leintwardine (S). 52.4033 / -2.8909 / SO394787
This recorded dial is quite high (3m approx) on the buttress at the E. end. There are 3 clear lines including the deeper, longer noon line that descends to the edge of the stone below. The R side of the dial is eroded, with 2 fainter lines and a third barely visible. The gnomon hole is in the mortar line. The style has amusingly been replaced by a drill bit, the height suggesting that someone took the trouble to get a ladder for the purpose.
DIAL 2 (unrecorded)
To W. of the priest’s door and the large window to its right is another dial, unrecorded as far as I can tell. It is low on the buttress, 3 stones up from the base. There are 7, perhaps 8, lines radiating from the mortar line, where there is a small metal plate inserted with an unknown purpose. There are 6 pocks that almost certainly belong with the dial. Regrettably our friend with the drill was unable to restrain his DIY instincts on 3 of them.
DIAL 3 (unrecorded)
On the 4th quoin up on the E end, amidst some dead ivy stalks, there’s a further dial candidate. There are 3 noticeable lines and faint traces of a couple more. There is a plausible style hole at the apex of the lines. At the time I wondered whether the design should be awarded dial status. Having examined the photos I now think it should be. All the main criteria are met (location, position, radials, style hole). Luckily the driller has not plied his trade here.
Grade II*. Medieval origins, largely rebuilt using old materials in 1886. Some C12 details (small window, S. doorway). One of a number of hilltop churches in the region, and just W. of the Long Mynd. 2.5283 / -2.91 / SO383926
A scratch dial on this church is mentioned in TWC‘s county lists but not, as far as I can find, elsewhere. It seemed worth visiting as we were nearby. The only likely candidate I could find was in much the most likely location for a dial, to the left of the very early door and on the best stone (long before the porch was added). The configuration of the pocks suggest an afternoon dial marked from a (part-filled) style hole. It’s certainly a plausible candidate for TWC’s dial, and I could find no other. On balance, I’d rate it a probable more than a possible.
GRADE 1. Church. C12 nave with C13 transepts, crossing and chancel; tower upper stage C15, vestry added 1831; transept aisles added 1868 in restoration; further restoration 1882 and 1932. Large and dignified PEV. Attractive small town and gateway to the remarkable and beautiful Long Mynd (518m). 52.5382 / -2.8088 / SO452936
St Laurence at first sight is clearly much expanded and restored over the centuries. Parts of a much earlier church are evident. The existence of any external decorative features such a scratch dial seemed highly unlikely*. However the stonework round the small doorway looked older, reused, possibly in its original configuration. It was certainly worth walking along the path to take a look.
On the W. side of the doorway is a single stone with 2 simple part-dials incised. Their edge positions show that 3 stones were originally involved, but no other stones round the doorway matched the patterns, nor had obvious cuts. So in fact the positions of the stones must have been altered. From what remains of the dials, it is hard to guess how they must have looked but presumably their style holes must have been in the mortar dividing the 3 stones. Possibly this stone is inverted.
The dials are unrecorded by BSS, and I can find no other reference. It is understandable that in their present state they attract little or no attention. Perhaps the moral for dial sleuths is that any church that has a ‘dial-y’ look is worth a quick investigation.
* If I had explored further, the church records mention exterior carvings including St Laurence holding a gridiron, and a rare sheela-na-gig, probably of Saxon date.