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. I have put images taken from various angles into a Gallery format so that they can be scrolled through in a approximate sequence. 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); Geoffrey & Henslow; and various less comprehensive sources in books and online. I plan to revisit Wolfeton (we live quite close) to check the details, which I will add if I can make any more sense of the text. Meanwhile, any ideas would be welcome. Actual knowledge, the more so.
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
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.
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.
GRADE 1 † C13 origins (possibly back to Saxon); developed C15, C17; late Victorian restoration. Use of local sarsen stone. Hammerbeam roof. Merits a long entry in PEV, especially for the monuments. 5m N of Avebury, 7m NW of Marlborough 51.4858 / -1.8497 / SU105763
St Peter has 2 dials in very different styles, and a couple of ‘not-a-dial’s. There is also a modern-ish sundial on the porch, probably from the late C19 restoration, with a rather gloomy motto that fits in with Victorian mores.
Dial 1 is a fairly large and pleasingly simple dial on L side of a window jamb. 4 lines drop down from the style hole into the lower L quadrant, bounded by a sector of a circle. It looks rather uncomfortable. The puzzle is whether this was the original location (in which case it seems too large for the available space); or whether it is a relocation.
Dial 2 is an encircled dial, the lower half eroded. There is a shallow style hole and various pocks, not all necessarily relevant to dial functions. The significant ones are on the L side, with 3 pocks in a row between the style hole and the perimeter. Below them are less organised pocks. The dial would make more sense if rotated 90º, with the horizontal line becoming the noon line and the less defined line perhaps marking a Mass time (None?). This suggests that the stone was relocated, and certainly the size and colour of the stones around it vary significantly (image 1 below).
Promising but on closer inspection unlikely dials
OUR DAYS ON THE EARTH ARE AS A SHADOW
The C17 porch was restored C19 and then (or later?) this dial was added over the door, with its discouraging message (no hint of the ‘sunny hours’ etc found elsewhere). The dial is slightly angled to face due S for greater accuracy.
A modern dial in the walled garden at Trelissick NT, with a rather charming motto for the couple commemorated ‘Spouses (who) loved gardens’. It may be unique: I have found no other example, and it does not appear in Margaret Gatty’s compendious collection of Cornish sundial mottos.