This post relates directly to its companion in Pt 1. Both articles feature the remarkable cube dial dated 1689, now preserved inside the Grade I listed church of St Nicholas, Trellech, Monmouth – the original and a fine recent (2007) wooden replica. You can find images of the original dial and each of its faces, with detailed descriptions, HERE. The location is 5m S of Monmouth 51.7459 / -2.725 / SO500054
DIAL . 2007
The images of Face 4 below illustrate a frequent experience with cube dials. Invariably, prevailing conditions preclude more than 3 faces being properly photographed. One face will always frustrate all attempts to get a decent photo. Furthermore, it is very difficult to improve a poor photo – it just becomes a different kind of poor. Quite often the only answer is to make the image B&W to catch detail .With apologies, this is what has emerged from the darkroom.
Below the dial are inscriptions on the substantial columns, with carvings that relate to the 3 features of historical importance to the village and its community: Tump Terret; Harold’s Stones; and Virtuous Well.
GRADE I † Early C14 with earlier origins; reconstruction & restorations 1890s. An exceptionally fine and well preserved medieval church (Cadw); One of the finest churches in the county (PEV). Coat-of-Arms of Charles II dated 1683. Weathercock of 1792. You need no further recommendation. 5m S of Monmouth. 51.7459 / -2.725 / SO500054
A wonderful C18 cube dial dated 1689, the gift of Lady Probert. Once, it stood in the village near the school. It was moved in 1895 and one source suggests that a concrete cast was made. The Latin inscriptions on the dial are descriptive of 3 features that are of historical importance to the village: Tump Terret; Harold’s Stones; and Virtuous Well. The details (PEV) are:
The detailed BSS record adds further details, including the full Latin motto on S, N & E faces: EUNDO HORA . DI…EM . DEPASCIT (The Hour Itself Consumes the Day).
Also included are the inscriptions on the square stone below the dial: 1. Terret Tump – O QUOT HIC SEPULTI (O How Many Buried Here); 2. Harold’s Stones – HIC FUIT VITOR HAROLD (Here was Harold Victorious); 3. DOM MAGD PROBERT OSTENDIT (Lady Maud Probert set this out to view).
PART 2 will examine the excellent modern wooden replica (out)standing in a small field by a crossroads. It has been beautifully designed and is a dial of distinction in its own right.
GSS Category: Cube Dial; Multiple Dial
All photos Keith Salvesen; Pevsner extract Gwent & Monmouthshire; BSS records; church noticeboard
The collection of the National Museum of the Middle Ages is housed in a wonderful building, at one time an abbatiale. There is some debate about the dates of the origins and the building of the Hôtel; and of later rebuilding / restoration. The large sundial on the south wall of the courtyard is dated 1674. This was the reign of the Sun King (1643 – 1715), and a sun with its rays was an obviously fitting theme for the times.
The lines on the dial face are carefully graduated and the hours marked with Arabic numerals. Several lines terminate in arrows, suggesting a busy schedule of mainly forenoon masses.
NIL SINE NOBIS. A. B. F. 1674.
The inscription is usually translated as Nothing [Exists] Without Us. Margaret Gatty (1809-18730, in her comprehensive work The Book of Sun-Dials, gave the Cluny dial an unusually detailed entry:
NIL SINE NOBIS. A. B. F. 1674. Nothing exists without us.
A dial on the wall of a courtyard on the south side of the Hôtel Cluny, Paris, had this inscription. The word nobis referred to the rays of the sun which were represented on its face. The Hôtel Cluny, a very beautiful specimen of rather elaborate fourteenth century Gothic architecture, was bought in 1625 for the abbess and nuns of Port Royal, and was known as Port Royal de Paris. It was re-established by Louis XIV. in 1665, on a fresh basis, and was looked upon as schismatic by the community of Port Royal des Champs. This dial must have been erected in the time of the first abbess of the new foundation, Sœur Dorothée Perdreau, who held office till 1684.
Cluny Museum and its sundial: detailed entry by Margaret Gatty
SCALLOP SHELLS and HERALDIC MOTTOS
The scallop shells are interwoven with two inscriptions (or possibly a single one in two parts) which deserve a mention as part of the overall design. The shells themselves evidence an ancient Pilgrimage route that passed close by – the long Rue St Jacques is a few meters to the North.
The heraldic mottos are said to read, firstly: Servire Deo Regnare Est – To Serve God Is To Reign; MG suggests, without much conviction, that the other (or part of it) may be as shown below.
With very rusty Latin and a bit of internet work, I can’t make either interpretation fit the scrolls we can see. Possibly they relate to a different part of the Musée, and the shell one(s) are different. I’ll have to leave the reader to try to puzzle this out (all suggestions welcome).
GSS Category: Early Sundial / Vertical Dial; French Sundial; Sundial Motto
Credits: all photos Keith Salvesen – please seek use permission for these detailed ones; Musée Cluny for the Unicorn
The Close in Salisbury has plenty to recommend it besides a central building for which superlatives are inadequate. Malmesbury House (GV I) by St Ann’s Gate has a particular claim to fame in sundial terms, with the context succinctly explained in the image below. 51.0659 / -1.7938 / SU145296
The very fine sundial on the house is dated 1749. The motto is part of the familiar speech taken from Macbeth Act 5 Scene 5 as Macbeth reacts to the news of Lady Macbeth’s death. It’s not exactly uplifting.
Below is a short text from the Gospel of St John. The dial itself is in very good condition. My amateurishness precludes any meaningful interpretation of the scientific aspect. I will add any significant details in due course.
Broughton Grange dates from early C17. Gradual development resulted in a fine house with an extensive estate owned by the Morrell family and associated with the Bloomsbury Group via Lady Ottoline. The whole estate was bought in the 1990s. New gardens have been beautifully landscaped and an arboretum created. The property is renowned as one of the finest contemporary private gardens, to which there is public access. You can find out more here: BROUGHTON GRANGE 3m SW of Banbury 52.0415 / 1.3776 / SP4338
The dial stands at the centre of the Parterre and Rose Garden, overlooking the smart box hedges. It is dated MDCCLI (1751). I’ve spent some time trying to figure out the inscription, some of which cannot be read even with a magnifying glass. I have settled (provisionally) on Tempora Servio, ‘I Serve the Times’ or a similar conjunction of tempus and servere. This formulation does not specifically appear in eg the expanded edition of Gatty; however tempora is in common usage, often with its companion, mores. Any other suggestions welcome, a definitive ruling would be ideal.
GRADE I † Late C13; C15 enlargement and alterations. Tower c1730 with a plaque over the doorway: This Steeple was Built The Bells set in Order and Fixt. At the Charge of Robert Thinge Gent. Lately Deceased A.D. 1731-1732. Dial undated. 8m NE of Ipswich. 52.1133 / 1.2459 / TM223510
The vertical sundial is immediately below the clock. As David Ross has written, what is immediately obvious as you walk up the path to the door is a large sundial set against the south wall of the tower, below a Victorian clock – as if the Victorians did not quite trust the sundial. Both timepieces are set below a round-headed window that would be perfectly at home in a railway station. (David Ross, Britain Express)
PEV (Suffolk E) is also unenthusiasic about the tower, which showed how the Georgians could be every bit as insensitive as the much-maligned Victorians.
HOW THE DIAL WORKS (1)
The break-arch shaped dial has a motto within the arch that reads: Life pas’s like a shadow. Roman and Arabic numerals are used to show the time. At the gnomon base are two arcs showing the time elsewhere. Analysis indicates that the scale with Roman numerals suggests Damascus; the scale with Arabic numerals suggests Barbados.
The main dial shows 5am to 4pm in Roman numerals, divided into quarter hours. The gnomon rod has an ‘S’ shaped supporter and a ball nodus. This is associated with the 11 declination lines numbered 8, 9, J0, J1, J2, J3, J4, J5, J6 (8 to 16 for daylight hours), with outer lines unnumbered.
The above notes are based on BSS records. The complete entry is below
HOW THE DIAL WORKS (2)
This break-arch shaped dial on the south wall of the church tower, below a clock, declines about 23° to the east. The tower dates from 1731-32, but it is not known whether the dial is contemporary.
A motto within the arch reads: LIFE PAS’S LIKE / A SHADOW. Scales around the gnomon root show the time at two other places, but they are not named. The outer scale, with Roman numerals for 8am to 7pm, using XII and IIII, shows the time at about 37° E, so may be intended to show Damascus time. The inner scale, with Arabic numerals 1 to 12, shows the time at about longitude 60° W, possibly for Barbados.
The main dial shows 5am to 4pm in upright Roman numerals using XII and IIII, divided to quarter hours. The gnomon rod has an ‘S’ shaped supporter and carries a ball nodus, which is associated with nine declination lines numbered 8, 9, J0,J1, J2, J3, J4, J5, J6 (8 to 16 for the hours of daylight).
The nine vertical lines crossing these are for azimuth, the nodus shadow showing the direction of the sun. They are also unlabelled, but will indicate bearings of SEbE, SE, SEbS, SSE, SbE, S, SbW, SSW and SWbS.
A report in September 1983 found the dial completely bare, presumably prior to a restoration.
LIFE PAS’S LIKE A SHADOW
A rare variant of the many inscriptions that link Life with Shadow(s). Pas’s is said to reflect the Suffolk dialect at the time. There is another example of the ‘misspelling’ (as we might say now) of the word pass. At St Mary, Bucknall, Shropshire, the 1712 dial is inscribed Tyme Paseth.
Tempus Fugit on the C19 clock is… comfortingly familiar
If you want to find out more about St Mary and other churches in Suffolk, I recommend the website of Simon Knott SUFFOLK CHURCHESa journey through the churches of Suffolk
GRADE II* † C12 origin; alterations / enlargement in C14, C15, C16; restored 1872 (Wyatt). Walls mainly rubble stone and flint. A lovely setting, with a fine manor house. Much older-seeming even than the ubiquitous ‘Hardyesque’ description in these parts. Subtly hidden away 8m NE of Dorchester. 50.7827 / -2.3198 / SY775981
From the ground, this is a difficult dial to admire. It is high up, eroded, damaged, and gnomon-less. It would be easy to dismiss it as a disappointment after you have negotiated the narrow lanes that lead circuitously to the church. Luckily I brought a real camera with me (for scratch dials I just use my phone) to catch the details of 3 vertical dials on churches in the area.
The dial, on a rectangular stone slab, is dated 1671, and marks the hours from VIII am to VII pm. The motto across the top reads UT UMBRA SIC VITAAs a shadow so is life, one of several similar motto variants commonly found. The motto is enclosed within the initials A and R. (BHO elides the initials and the motto to form AUT UMBRA SIC VITAR).
Wolfeton House (sometimes Wolveton) is a fine Grade 1 Elizabethan manor house with medieval origins. It stands amidst the the water meadows of the River Frome near Charminster, just N of Dorchester. Admired by Hardy. For more about the house, its history, and how to stay in the Gatehouse (dated 1534) see:
Some time ago we went to Wolfeton in connection with the the Pevsner Buildings of England series. I was able to photograph this most interesting sundial, though with a rather rustic camera and in low light. The dial is not in the optimum place for its primary purpose, but with its pleasing symmetrical design it suits where it stands.
The inscription is an intriguing mystery. At the time I was less engaged with dials, or I might have made more effort to record the details and to take a decent photo. As it is, I cannot make much sense of it. The initial letter U… could perhaps be the start of Umbra? But that assumes the words are in Latin. I have checked the main motto resources including Gatty (original, and revised & expanded); and various less comprehensive sources. I will add the translation if I can make any more sense of the text. Meanwhile, any ideas would be welcome. Actual knowledge, the more so.
UMBRA VIDET UMBRAM VIVE HODIE. A shadow marks the shadow. Live to day.
As it turns out, Gatty did record this dial, attributing it to a neighbouring village Bradford Peverell rather than Charminster. She noted the inscription is somewhat defaced. The dial was possibly erected by George Purling about 1815-20, when the garden was laid out). The same motto is on the tower of Broughton-Gifford Church, near Melksham,
HOW THE DIAL WORKS
This is a polar dial, with the end edges of the cross pieces acting as gnomons (cf the polar dial at Tintinhull). The dial should be oriented so these point north, ie with the inscription on the south face. However, it is clearly not orientated like that, so it now acts as an interesting garden ornament. John Foad (BSS) has kindly marked up a photo to show how the dial would work if correctly positioned.
The inscription might give a clue to the dial’s date. My amateur guess is that it is somewhere between mid-C18 and early C19.
GSS Category: Multiple Dial; Old Dial; Garden Dial
All photos: Keith Salvesen; *John Foad BSS for additional material / expertise (see Addendum)
GRADE II* † Built 1776. A fine, uncomplicated Georgian building externally; restored and much remodelled internally 1890s by Temple Moore. ‘Urbane and assured‘PEV. Original clock on the bell tower replaced by a memorial sundial dated 19†18. Selected for the cover image for Cumbria in Pevsner’s Buildings of England series. 8m N of Longtown. 55.0386 / -2.9543 / NY391719
This handsome church has a moving story to tell. The tower originally had a clock. In 1918, this was replaced by a commemorative sundial to honour the two sons of the Graham family from nearby Netherby, after their safe return home from WW1.
The dial has an inscription around the circumference that reads in two parts, and a Motto
FOR OUR TWO DEAR SONS FFG & RPG WHO LIVED TO COME HOME FROM THE GREAT WAR THANKS BE TO GOD ALONE
LUX POST UMBRAM
The motto and its sentiments are self-explanatory. The same – or very similar – formula has been noted in northern Italy MG; and (I notice) for abstract art works that contain both light and shadow…
The dial has an attractive design marking hours and 1/2 hours from 6 round 5. It appears to be hand-painted rather than machine made. The robust gnomon casts a clear shadow that also benefits sheep, cows, and salmon-fishermen in season.
GSS Category: Vertical Dial; Sundial Motto; Memorial Mottos
Credits: Keith Salvesen; Walter Baxter dial close-up Geo ; Alun Bull English Heritage PEV; Yale University Press (cover image)
The secluded Monastery of Lluc is situated near Escorca in the Tramuntana mountains of Mallorca. It dates from the c13, and is famous for its Black Madonna, the discovery of which is said to have led to the monastery’s foundation . It is a place of pilgrimage. The location is remote and peaceful, though inevitably the monastery has become an essential stop on the tourist and coach party trail. We returned there recently, not having visited Mallorca for more than 20 years. The buildings were much as we remembered, but the parking and visitor arrangements were more regimented and complex. Before, one just drove down the narrow road from the main mountain road and parked in the forecourt area close to the buildings. Now, everything is (unsurprisingly) geared to a daily mass influx of people and their needs for sustenance and souvenirs. We were pleased to see that it is still possible to stay at Lluc in one of small rooms under a long covered walk where the monks once slept. You can even book a room for the night.
A short walk from the monastery, there is a path that leads up to a calvary and some great views. Along the way is an amazing multiple vertical sundial. It was designed by Rafael Soler, and carved in 1991. It displays with some style the evolution of sundials from medieval to modern. There are two historical dials, one solar dial, and two seasonal dials.
CANONICAL HOURS – LATINATE
This dial simply records the 3-hourly canonical divisions of the liturgical day (as with the early medieval mass / scratch dials), starting with midnight (top) and working counterclockwise round a central gnomon.
CANONICAL HOURS – BABYLONIAN / MALLORQUIN
A more complex dial, starting at noon shown as XXIV (I’m not clear why not XII) through to 21.00. The dial includes months and the signs of the Zodiac.
TEMPS VERTADER – TRUE SOLAR TIME
The centre dial shows true solar time. The polar gnomon (triangular) shows the hours, the pointer shows the date with the declination lines. The inscription MULIER AMICTER SOLE (Woman Clothed by the Sun) references an account in the Book of Revelations. You can find out more HERE
MEAN TIME DIAL (SUMMER /AUTUMN)
The two right-hand sundials are complementary and each covers two seasons. Presumably for a particular month, one dial will be reliable as to time and the ‘off-season’ one will not. The words are Catalan eg Hores Mitjanes = Mean Time; Estiu I Tardor = Summer and Autumn.
MEAN TIME DIAL (WINTER / SPRING)
The creation of these dials was obviously a labour of love and skill combined. There’s doubtless plenty more to be said about these sundials and the splendid ensemble but I decided not to get too technical – indeed, as an amateur I don’t understand enough to do so. The rather washed out appearance of the images was operator error – I had the camera on the wrong settings and didn’t realise until too late…
GSS Category: canonical to modern multi-dial; sundial Lluc Mallorca
All photos: Keith Salvesen; snippet from BSS record
Original Credits: ‘Props to arby101ca and lumbricus, members of a geocaching & waymarking website called Groundspeak. They hiked to Lluc (respect!) and wrote informatively about these dials. I found relatively little elsewhere.