GRADE I † C13 origins: masons’ marks on the fabric date from C13 and are identical with some found at Wells cathedralBHO. Development mainly C15 (tower) and C16, with C19 work by Wyatt and later attention. Poulett family much in evidence. Good graffiti / protection marks. Fine gilded weathercock dated to 1756. 4m N of Crewkerne . 50.9107 / -2.8286 / ST418126
A single scratch dial tucked away on the W side of a buttress, and of doubtful value as a time marker, both for position and orientation. There are 4 lines with terminal pocks on the left side; and a single pock at the top (ie midnight). The gnomon hole, already quite big, has been crudely enlarged – and quite recently, by the look of it.
An explanation for the unpromising location and the unsatisfactory design is that the dial was relocated at some stage, perhaps when the tower was built (and the buttress added?). It is far from unusual for a dial reused in this way to be inverted, as if decommissioning it. An inversion of the image above makes far more sense, with the noon line marked by a single pock, and the radials to its right. An afternoon dial.
GRAFFITI & APOTROPAIC SYMBOLS / PROTECTION / MARIAN MARKS
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 II † Established C12, first recorded 1207; mostly C15; restoration 1863. C13 (?) font. Originally the chapelry to nearby Seavington St Mary. Very pretty, both the building and the dial. 5m NW of Crewkerne. 50.9113 / -2.8505 / ST403127
DEH visited in August 1915 and added a note to his often largely measurement-based record.
There is a full complement of 24 lines, with areas of erosion, radiating from the gnomon hole in the centre of the dial stone. I am not clear which added lines DEH refers to. I infer that the dial may have been a hemisphere marking dawn to dusk only from the horizontal 6-to-6 lines. Then perhaps for reasons of aesthetics / symmetry an upper hemisphere was cut to match it.
There’s another conundrum concerning the 4 terminal pocks in UR quadrant (above). If the dial is in its original position (L), they would have been useless and indeed pointless. But if the dial stone was at some stage at 90º or (more likely and convincingly) 180º from its present position, they would be effective as daytime Mass markers. In the rotated image (R), the pocks are in the right place to emphasise forenoon Mass.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial
All photos: Keith Salvesen, except header image Sarah Smith / Geo /
ST JOHN THE EVANGELIST & ALL SAINTS . KINGSTONE . SOMERSET
GRADE II* † Records from 1291; C14 chancel, porch; C15 tower, nave. A village with a long history, close to the Fosse Way, recorded in DB as Chingestone. 1m SE of Ilminster. 50.9188 / -2.8851 / ST378136
This is an unusual dial, not least because there is a pair of style holes L and R and they are both similarly large. The dial stone is quite badly damaged and it is difficult to analyse the dial. R seems to be the primary hole for the gnomon. The only discernible noon line is below R, marked by a single pock halfway to the mortar line below. On either side, at roughly 11 and 1, are the only 2 clear lines in the whole design. It’s hard to see the purpose of L at all, and perhaps it was a later addition that didn’t add much.
DEH visited in 1915 and included his own theory:
GSS Category: Scratch Dial
All photos: Keith Salvesen except header image as credited (a huge improvement on my own rain-affected photo).
GRADE II* † C13 origins (nave, chancel), considerable enlargement late C15. Norman font, trace wall paintings. Now in the care of CCT. Adjacent to Seavington St Michael and 4m E of Ilminster. 50.9306 / -2.851 / ST402149
DEH visited St Mary in Sept 1912 on one of his early dial research expeditions in Somerset☩. He recorded a single dial on a buttress (Dial 1). BSS does not have a specific record for St Mary. I wasn’t prepared for the multi-dial display on either side of the porch..
Dial 1 is described by DEH in more detail than usual:
This dial is on a buttress half-way between the s. porch and chancel. It is about 5 feet 5 inches above the ground, the noonline is 3 1/2 inches in length, the style hole is 1/2 an inch deep to the top of the metal shank which is still within it, and about 1/2 an inch in diameter. On the noonline, close to the stylehole, is a hole for a peg, and there is another at the extreme end of this line in the next stone. There is also a peg-hole on the mass line.
There are 7 lines, starting with the horizontal 6am. The noon line seems to be a close double line, with noon itself being between them (as other churches in the area). There’s also a hint that it extends to the stone below, with a small terminal pock. The deeper cut line in the lower right quadrant presumably marked the main Mass of the day. No metal shank was evident.
St Mary . Seavington St Mary . Somerset
DIALS 2 & 3
On the W side of the door are 2 adjacent dials on the same stone and of a similar design. Both seem to have been complete circles, now eroded. The larger has a very small style hole. The smaller has a couple of pocks but whether they relate to its function is not clear.
St Mary . Seavington St Mary . Somerset
DIALS 4 – 6
On the E side of the door are 3 dials in a row on a single large stone, one with a string of pocks. Dials are shown in order left to right.
Dial 7 (?)
Completing the line of small circle dials on the stone is a hole lower R. No definite lines / pocks are readily discernible but a photo enlargement suggests faint lines at 11 and 1. A damaged area just above the mortar line might mark extended noon line. There’s a faint impression of a circle. Is this a dial? The hole is in a logical place on the stone and would match the other 3 dials in scale.
Dial 8 ?
On the quoin stone next to Dial 7, another similar hole without noticeable markings. In close-up it’s hard to make much of it – faint evidence of a circle, perhaps? – except that it fits the overall picture of a line of small encircled dials.
In the top R corner is a quite different type of dial, semi-circular with several lines and circumference pocks that more or less match hour line positions. It strays onto the adjacent quoin stone and there’s an impression that it might once have had a top half, with the stone later replaced.
Dials 10 & 11
Both dials are immediately below the others, and resemble dials 2 & 3. 10 is an eroded (part) circle with no discernible style hole. 11 is a complete circle with a very small hole from which – originally or perhaps later – a single line curves downward.
GSS Category: Scratch Dials; Multiple Church Dials
GRADE I † Early C14, octagonal tower (cf neighbouring N Curry and nearby) completed C15. C19 restorations. BLB notes A very fine church, similar in design to Church of St Michael, North Curry CP but not so extensively restored in the C19. Admired by PEV. 12m E of Taunton. 51.04 / -2.9312 / ST348271
Two dials are recorded for St Gregory, both of which merited additional comment by DEH. He recorded the first – remarkably decorative – on his visit in 1912. He revisited in 1916 and recorded the second dial, relocated to an obscure corner inside the church. In addition there is a (probable) 3rd dial, unrecorded.
Dial 1 is on the E side of the S porch. It seems likely that there was originally a simpler dial that was embellished over the years. Although not all are now visible, it is reasonable to assume that there was a full complement of 24 lines.
DEH noted: this dial has been decorated. The noon line is lengthened outside the circle and ends in a small cross. This cross is plainly an addition. The noon line is also carried upwards above the circle and also ends in a cross. This cross may be original. The line throughout its length is true and clean cut, so that it may be part of the primitive dial.
Dial 2 is a rare example of a scratch dial repositioned within a church during restoration / rebuilding (cf Thornford Dorset). DEH must, I think, have been told about it: under no normal circumstances would a dial researcher think of the location without a tip-off. Even knowing the right area, I didn’t spot it straight away.
DEH gives the precise location: This dial is within the church, on the w. splay of the easternmost window in the s. wall. It is on the top stone of the splay, the noonline is about 5 inches in length, and the stylehole, which appears to be an inch in diameter, is filled with plaster. DEH
The dial is a semicircle that looks as though it may originally been a full circle cut across 2 stones. The visible lines are mostly before noon. The noon line is possibly marked as the narrow gap between 2 almost vertical lines.
DEH noted: This dial is the only one that has been found inside a church. It was obviously placed in its present position at the time the late XV century window was inserted, and must have been brought from some other part of the building.
Found on a buttress W of the porch. I have little doubt that this design is a dial, previously unrecorded. It is at least partly encircled, with 2 close candidates for style hole. There are several pocks that are somewhat random now but seem to have been deliberately made (and are not seen on adjacent stones). It seems convincing to me as a somewhat age-worn remnant.
As plain a dial as you could wish to find, yet casting a strong shadow. BSS view is that it dates from the 1880s restoration and it doesn’t look as if the dial has been touched since then! It’s worth pointing out that (as the photos show) the lamp bracket works as effectively as the dial itself.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Vertical Dial
GRADE I † Norman origin, gradually growing from c1300 to a substantial building for a village. C19 further expansion and rebuilding. Mostly local sandstone, some blue lias (as found on the Jurassic Coast). Octagonal tower cf neighbouring Stoke St Gregory. 8m E of Taunton. 51.0255 / -2.9717 / ST319255
DEH visited in 1912 and somewhat hesitantly included this church in his pioneering survey of Somerset dials: There is a doubtful dial on the w. side of the s. porch. It consists of a much worn stone, with a stylehole (?) which is filled up, and some marks that might be lines. The stone is so soft and worn that it is impossible to say with certainty whether it was once a dial.
There is nothing extant in that location to match the description given. The reference to soft, worn stone suggests the blue lias component of the porch front (built c1502). If so, the obvious candidate for a dial is shown in the photos: but how might such a confiruration have worked? BBS does not mention it. The conclusion must be… not a dial.
GRADE II* Late C12, porched c1291; C15 alterations, C19 restoration. Attractively simple with its welcoming footpath, porch, and modest bell turret. Adjacent to S St Mary and 4m E of Ilminster. 50.931 / -2.8407 / ST410149
BLB notes that the centre bay on south side has a blocked chamfered pointed-arched doorway, with diamond-leaded window inserted with cill just below springing. The dials are one above the other on W side of the doorway. Strangely, although DEH on his visit in 1915 records one dial in precisely this location, he doesn’t mention the second.
DEH noted that the buttresses either side of the recessed doorway inevitably block out the light for much of the day, as it had on the day he visited (possibly why he only found one dial?). He concluded that the buttresses were a later addition to the church (probably XVII Century), when the doorway was filled up.
The uppermost, larger, less sophisticated, and the earliest of the 2 dials. 6, perhaps 7 lines. The ones either side of the noon line are slightly curved. Gnomon hole plugged though not with cement.
Beneath Dial 2 and far more visible. There are 6, perhaps 7 lines, of which the the afternoon lines are much the clearest. The noon line has an unusually prominent pock. The adjacent lines LRQ are even deeper cut. One is also elongated, probably indicating the most significant Mass of the day. One of the fainter lines LHS heads ineffectively above the horizontal. The gnomon hole is surprisingly deep.
The church porch has plenty of graffiti including initials, Marian marks, ritual protection (witch) marks, and pilgrim crosses
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
C17 cuboid sundial as finials to gable copingHE
ASPECTS SE & SW
The SE face has a large gnomon inserted vertically into almost the whole depth of the cube. There are 4 (possibly 5) faint lines LHS that mark the morning’s progress. The SW face is (now?) plain, with an angled blade top R at roughly 45º.
ASPECTS SE & NE
The NE face has a blade gnomon at much the same angle as one the SW face. There’s plenty of lichen and no detectable marks.
ASPECTS NE & NW
The ‘back’ of the cube – the NW face – has no gnomon, but there are holes suggesting the location of one. No dial lines visible.
NOTE: It is almost impossible to get satisfactory photographs of all the faces of a cube dial. Two will always be in shade. Perhaps I need to go back at a different time of day. Or year.
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 location. Dial 1 is very simple: a style hole with 2 lines descending either side of the vertical, in effect making the noon line the space between them. 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.
GRADE II* † C13 (with earlier record), gradual development. An attractively simple and harmonious country church. A slightly canted C20 vertical dial over the doorway (see below). Not an easy church to find – it is not where the signposts suggest (you may end up in Barrow). There’s a sign to St Stephen at the Wincanton end of the racecourse. 51.0678 / -2.4008 / ST720299
There is one scratch dial recorded for the church by DEH who visited in 1914, on LHS of the inner original doorway of the later added S porch. St Stephen is yet another S Somerset church, within a small radius, to have an inner dial. There is a second previously unrecorded dial, a completely different design, on the W side of the Priest’s door. The vertical dial is also shown below.
DEH: This dial is on the e. side of the inner door of the s. porch. It is 5 feet 6 inches above the floor, the noonline is 2 inches in length, the stylehole, which is in a joint, is filled, and the aspect is due s. Type 2. April 17th, 1914.
Dial 1 is quite large and half hidden by a prayer board that I briefly relocated. It is cut on 2 stones, with the gnomon hole in the mortar line between them. It is encircled with a complete circumference, the upper half having neither radials or dots. The horizontal / mortar line / gnomon hole must have been damaged, with later extensive repair across the middle of the dial.
There are only 4 visible lines, none straight (in contrast with the accurate circle). The angles are roughly equal. The 2 a.m. lines (L of the noon line) terminate on the circumference. The single p.m. line extends some way beyond the circle; the noon line much more so, plunging downwards almost to the stone below. This feature is found even more dramatically at HOLTON 4m W
Dial 2 is on W side of the priest’s door and features a ring of pocks with no lines at all. Judging from the position of the style hole in the centre (approx) of the dial stone, and the curvature of the dots, the dial was presumably a complete circle originally. The upper L quadrant must have been damaged at some time and at some stage replaced by the smaller stone, with additional mortar to make the fit. Most of the dots are quite clear, a few are not: certainly 12, possibly a couple more.
The first pattern below is on the E side of the Priest’s door, at the same height as Dial 2. It would not be unusual to have this arrangement. It is in some ways dial-ish but I can’t take it further. I tried inverting (reverting?) the image but to no great effect. The second scratching was worth a closer look and although I’ve seen similar ones counted as dials, this one isn’t very plausible.
ST STEPHEN . CHARLTON MUSGROVE . VERTICAL DIAL
A modern dial dated 1916 set into the apex of the porch with the inscriptionVigilate et Orate (Watch and Pray). The dial shows hours, half-hours, and quarter-hours. Each hour line ends in a small arrowhead. The dial stone is slightly canted and the footing of the gnomon is on the 11 line for accuracy. The noon line is emphasised with a deeper incision.