LONGBURTON . DORSET . ST JAMES THE GREAT (2) – Scratch Dials (one ‘new’)& Vertical Dial

St James the Great . Longburton . Dorset

ST JAMES THE GREAT . LONGBURTON. DORSET (2)

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

DIAL 1

St James the Great . Longburton . Dorset – 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…

DIAL 2

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.

St James the Great . Longburton . Dorset – Scratch Dial and Vertical Dial, Tower Buttress

VERTICAL DIAL

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?).

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Old Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

BARFLEUR . FRANCE . Saint-Nicolas – Vertical Dial

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.

GSS Category: Old Dial; Eurodial; French Sundial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

BUCKHORN WESTON . DORSET . ST JOHN THE BAPTIST: dated scratch / scientific dial 1599

St John the Baptist . Buckhorn Weston . Dorset

GRADE II* C13 origins; mainly C14 with C15 porch; extensive C19 alteration / restoration including complete rebuild of the tower (1861), & later work by Crickmay. A pleasant aspect as one walks up the church path. 5m SE of Wincanton. 51.0213 / -2.348 / ST756247

DIAL

Sundial: reset on S. wall of tower, square stone plate with arabic numerals and inscription ANNO DO 1599. BHO

St John the Baptist . Buckhorn Weston . Dorset – Scratch / Scientific Dial

A most interesting dial set into the upper stage of the tower. Presumably re-fixed in that position (or perhaps relocated there) during the C19 rebuilding. Despite erosion and damage, the unaffected features are quite well defined. GLP notes that it is one of the earliest dated dials (of any sort) in Dorset.

St John the Baptist . Buckhorn Weston . Dorset – Scratch / Scientific Dial

Although giving the appearance of a large scratch dial with an inscription above it, GLP classifies it as a more sophisticated ‘scientific’ dial, because the angles between the lines measure standard hours. The use of numerals fits in with the inscribed date. GLP calls them roman; BHO has them as arabic. My detailed photos don’t help either way. They do show that the stone was cracked in two at some stage; and they raise the question “where was the gnomon?”

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Scientific Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

WEST CHELBOROUGH . DORSET . ST ANDREW – C17 Scientific Dial

ST ANDREW . WEST CHELBOROUGH . DORSET

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

SCIENTIFIC DIAL

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

PRESHUTE . WILTS . ST GEORGE – C18 sundial

St George . Preshute . Wilts

SUNDIAL . ST GEORGE . PRESHUTE

High up on the third stage of the C15 tower is a magnificent C18 sundial. A border of Roman serif numerals from 6am to 4pm frame a complex design of carefully graduated radials that mark the hours and the half hours. The large but slender gnomon casts a long shadow.

St George . Preshute . Wilts – the sundial on the tower

The imbalance in the hour marks – 6 to the left of the noon line, 4 to the right – presumably arises from the orientation of the church and its relation to the angle of the sun (though that’s probably not the correct technical way to express it).

NOTE there is a plausible medieval scratch dial on one buttress (not as yet recorded). It’s status is under consideration by others… If it is deemed a dial I will write it up separately.

GSS Category: Old Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

PONTE VECCHIO . FLORENCE – ‘ UNEXPECTED TIMES’: A C14 SUNDIAL

sundial-ponte-vecchio-florence-4

‘ UNEXPECTED TIMES’: A SUNDIAL ON THE PONTE VECCHIO

This article was written a while back, in the pre-Covid era. Now I have a sundial site up and running, this dial and some others from Florence have a new space.

Florence in January.  -8°C at night, zero during the day – but sunny enough in the middle of the day to be able to have coffee or even lunch outside. Apart from the Uffizi, no queues for anywhere. Most significant places on the tourist trail almost to oneself. Despite the cold, there is no frost: the air is so dry that the pavements, piazzas and even the cars are quite clear of frozen white crystals. By the river I caught the electric flash of a male kingfisher flying up from the water to an overhanging bush, his hunting perch. I watched him as he scanned the water below, occasionally diving down and returning to the same branch. Twice, I could see the glint of a tiny fish in his beak. 

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Over the years I don’t know how often I have crossed the Ponte Vecchio – or even simply walked to the mid-point to admire the views up and down river from the open areas between the pricey shops. This time I was walking the length of the Vasari corridor that connects the Palazzo Vecchio to the Palazzo Pitti on the other side of the Arno. A section runs straight over the bridge and then passes across the facade of Santa Felicita, into which the Medici family could sneak from the corridor to a large private balcony for spiritual refreshment. Passing the middle of the west side of the bridge, in the ‘tourist photo op’ gap where Cellini’s bust adds to the photogenic view, I have never before looked upwards.

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Here, on the roof of a shop, is an ancient sundial, supported by a white marble pillar. An eroded and almost illegible engraving below the pillar records that in 1333, floods caused the bridge to collapse and that “twelve years later, as pleased the Commune, it was rebuilt with this ornamentation”. The sundial itself, with its columnar divisions reminiscent of a rose window, marks the CANONICAL HOURS. The gnomon’s shadow indicates the hour of the day. If the sundial is the ‘ornamentation’ to which the inscription refers, then it is around 650 years old.

If you look closely, you’ll see, halfway up the south face of the hexagonal column, a lizardsundial-ponte-vecchio-florence-1

Seeing the sundial for the first time ever, yet in such a familiar place was a reminder that Florence is a city that demands great attention as one walks through the streets. Many buildings, even unassuming ones, have fine adornments high up that will catch the eye… but only if you are looking out for them. 

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RUSSBOROUGH HOUSE . WICKLOW . COURTYARD GATEWAY SUNDIAL

Russborough House . Wicklow . Ireland – Courtyard Gateway Sundial

RUSSBOROUGH HOUSE . Co WICKLOW . IRELAND – COURTYARD GATEWAY SUNDIAL

Russborough House . Wicklow . Ireland – Courtyard Gateway Sundial

Russborough House, built mid C18 for Joseph Leeson, is one of Ireland’s finest Georgian houses. Set in a large estate in the Wicklow Mountains, the house is renowned for its outstanding art collections (see http://www.russborough.ie/art).

The pleasing and straightforwardly solid gateway to the Courtyard has a most interesting angled sundial with no part of it in an expected place. One consequence of its position is that the graduations are notably complex. The main photo in the gallery below shows this far better than I can explain it.

It is clearly not an old dial. I have seen one photograph that suggests that at some time it has been painted blue. I need to investigate further and will add the details if I can find a date for the dial.

GSS Category: Modern Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

BUCKLAND NEWTON – HOLY ROOD

Church of the Holy Rood . Buckland Newton . Dorset

DEDICATION † CHURCH OF THE HOLY ROOD – from C13, mainly C15

LISTING † Grade 1

LOCATION † Buckland Newton, Dorset 50.8461 / -2.4449 /  ST687052

A peaceful village just north of the source of the River Piddle, lying discreetly in a valley amidst hills and downland. Roland Grant pronounced it “a lovely church”, adding that his first impression was unfavourable because the exterior had been rendered in cement, “giving the Perpendicular square tower the look of a Foreign Legion fort”. Notwithstanding, it has a terrific self-dating sundial (1704)

DIAL † High up at the centre of the embattled parapet above the substantial porch, an impressively angled dial. The perforated gnomon casts its date 1704 onto the face of the dial. I was lucky to visit in bright winter afternoon sunshine to catch the effect (Im.2). Incised initials IH & EC. 4 crosses around the dial edge.

Church of the Holy Rood . Buckland Newton . Dorset † Sundial
Church of the Holy Rood . Buckland Newton . Dorset † Gnomon & date
Church of the Holy Rood . Buckland Newton . Dorset † Sundial
Church of the Holy Rood . Buckland Newton . Dorset † South Porch, Sundial, Cement

GSS Category – Old Dial