HORNIMAN MUSEUM . LONDON . ROMAN SUNDIAL

Roman Sundial . Horniman Museum . London

The HORNIMAN MUSEUM in South London is a wondrous place for people of all ages. Few (or no) visitors will fail to find something of interest or inspiration. Click on the link to find out more (rather than have me give a lengthy description of the excellent collection).

Among the many innovative collections and installations is a brilliant SUNDIAL TRAIL that showcases 12 different and distinct types of sundial. These are dotted around the park (not all are outside). Some have an additional ingenious feature that makes them unique – incorporating morse code for an inscription, for example.

Roman Sundial . Horniman Museum . London

The dial was designed by John Moir and constructed by Ray Ashley. The gnomon’s shape is based upon the ‘H’ from the old Horniman Museum logo. The edge of the shadow created by the ‘H’ indicates solar time. The museum’s image below when the dial was newly made shows it in action, so to speak.

THE HORNIMAN ROMAN DIAL

Roman Sundial . Horniman Museum . London

The dial has a central cross marking the noon line. In addition, signs of the Zodiac are marked though I don’t know enough to say how they fit into the design – why, for example, pisces is below the noon line.

Roman Sundial . Horniman Museum . London

I have a second Horniman dial to write up in due course. You can find details of all the dials on the Horniman website (see link above). There is also SUNDIAL TRAIL MAP (do not open if you want to discover the dials unassisted…).

Roman Sundial . Horniman Museum . London

GSS Category: Roman Dial; Bowl Dial

All photos, Keith Salvesen; specific information / new dial image, Horniman Museum

COMPTON . SURREY . THE WATTS GALLERY – Scaphe Dial

Scaphe Dial . Watts Gallery . Compton . Surrey

The WATTS GALLERY in Compton showcases the work of artist G. F. WATTS and his wife MARY WATTS, exemplar of the Arts and Crafts Movement. The enterprise has expanded hugely since I last visited and took photos of the sundials there. The Gallery link above will give all the current information you could wish for. This remarkable scaphe dial had been moved inside to protect it from the elements.

Some years ago, BSS published an article about the dial and its context. It is evident that the dial has been skilfully restored from a slightly forlorn state when the article was written. Possibly the title should be ‘Another Dial Pedestal by Mary Watts surmounted by a small Scaphe Dial from a shop in Chelsea’?

Scaphe Dial . Watts Gallery . Compton . Surrey

GSS Category: scaphe dial; modern sundial

Photos: Keith Salvesen

Scaphe Dial . Watts Gallery . Compton . Surrey

WINTER OBELISK & HORIZONTAL SUNDIAL . SELBORNE . HANTS

Selborne in Hampshire was home to the C18 naturalist GILBERT WHITE (1720 – 93), renowned naturalist and considered to be one of the earliest ecologists. The link above will take you to the Wiki page about him. The history of the garden can be found at SELBORNE. If you are in the area, Selborne is well worth visiting. In particular, the extensive park contains examples of White’s propagation and conservation ideas that were way ahead of their time. And two very different dials.

Gilbert White . NPG

Much the most interesting feature at Selborne for present purposes is the Winter Obelisk, based on an idea by White. The structure is designed to ‘mark the position of sunset on the shortest day as viewed from the Great Parlour‘. Possibly it is a unique example of an obelisk dial having such a special – and limited – purpose. Perhaps it doesn’t count as a dial at all (cf Stonehenge / summer solstice). Seeing the shadows cast on the grass by the structure, perhaps there is scope to mark out a different kind of dial with a wider application (though not necessarily when viewed from the Great Parlour).

The second dial at Selborne is conventional and very much a park dial, standing above the Ha-ha. Is the dial contemporary in the historic sense, or in the modern sense (there are similar early C20 dials)? The former it seems: Both the ha-ha and the stone sundial standing on the lawn above it were features of White’s ‘New Gardens’. HE

GSS Category: Sundial; Horizontal Dial; Obelisk Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

HAUTRIVE . ORNE . NORMANDY . ÉGLISE SAINT-MARTIN – Scratch Dial

St Martin . Hautrive . Orne . Normandy

ST MARTIN . HAUTERIVE . ORNE . NORMANDY

This unassuming little village is about 10 kms NE of Alençon, in the lower part of an area of Normandy south of Caen where medieval dials can be found on a number of village churches. Mostly, they are single examples but a handful of churches have a profusion of dials that are quite hard even to count let alone analyse.

DIAL

St Martin . Hautrive . Orne . Normandy – Scratch Dial

The dial is quite complex. Its position is on the quoin of the chancel, however the only reference I have found suggests it was at one time on the R side of the main doorway. The church is obviously well looked-after and its care may have involved relocation of stones when repairs were carried out.

The details of the dial’s semicircular design are intricate. There is a big blocked gnomon hole that must have been enlarged over the years from something more proportionate. The noon line is emphasised by a large terminal pock. 10± visible lines radiate from the centre, though there must have been more. Most end in pocks: some single, some double, some triple. The pocks themselves have small lines around them, or 2 are joined to each other. Overall, the impression is of a perfectly serviceable traditional Mass dial that has been made enjoyably decorative.

I have included close-ups of the lower quadrants of the dial together with side shots to better show the complexity of the dial in its eroded state. I have never encountered one quite like this.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Medieval Dial France

All photos: Keith Salvesen

BERESFORD . STAFFS . CHARLES COTTON’S FISHING HOUSE – Cube Dial

Charles Cotton’s Fishing House . Beresford . Staffs – Cube Dial

CHARLES COTTON’S FISHING HOUSE . BERESFORD . STAFFS

CUBE DIAL

GRADE II* The most famous and piscatorially significant fishing ‘hut’ in the world, in a clearing beside the River Dove, near Hartington. By a quirk of a bend in the river, the hut is in Staffs rather than Derbyshire. Single cell square plan in an Artisan Mannerist style BLB SK127592

The inscription Piscatoribus Sacrum – a sacred place for anglers – gave rise to the hut’s reverential name among fishermen, The Temple. I can’t improve on this description from HE:

Charles Cotton’s fishing house is a unique building designed specifically for the sport of angling. It was an elaborate building in relation to its simple function, an expression of Cotton’s dedication to angling and to his entertainment of fellow anglers. Izaak Walton and Cotton’s The Compleat Angler was significant in the development and diversification of the sport from the 17th century. The fishing house is a fine preservation of Charles Cotton’s angling endeavours and its association with the popular work The Compleat Angler makes it of national significance.

Dated inscription, and intertwined initials of Charles Cotton & Izaak Walton on the keystone

CHARLES COTTON’S CUBE DIAL

A while back I spent a couple of days fishing on the Beresford beat of the Dove (to little effect). Just seeing the hut close to – let alone actually using it for its intended purpose – was an amazing experience. The weather was quite poor; the photos (taken on a basic pocket Canon) poorer still. I’ve had to do some work on the images, which I hope are now clear enough to be informative. 3 faces are featured; images of the 4th, away from the sun, were useless.

Charles Cotton’s Fishing House . Beresford . Staffs – Cube Dial

The dial is fixed to the apex of the hut’s roof. It is surmounted by a round finial, then a weather vane, and – a final flourish – a trout.

Charles Cotton’s Fishing House . Beresford . Staffs – Cube Dial

Charles Cotton’s Fishing House . Beresford . Staffs – Cube Dial

Charles Cotton’s Fishing House . Beresford . Staffs – Cube Dial

GSS Category: Cube Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

LAVAUDIEU . AUVERGNE . MAIRIE – Dial Simplicity

Lavaudieu is a small Auvergne town with a fine romanesque Abbey. For present purposes, the sundial on the wall of the Mairie is the attraction. On a bright sunny day, the simplicity and legibility of this civic dial is hard to beat. The ‘arrowheads’ might be considered a little too ornate for the overall design.

‘Moins est plus’ might be a good motto for the dial, as it is more generally. As soon as I saw it I knew it would be in my top 20 non-medieval dials. It still is.

GSS Category: Modern Dial

Photos: Keith Salvesen

LES CADRANS SOLAIRES DE COARAZE: CERAMIC TILE SUNDIALS IN PROVENCE

 Cadrans Solaires Sundials Coaraze (© Keith Salvesen)
Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence – Jean Cocteau

LES CADRANS SOLAIRES: THE CERAMIC TILE SUNDIALS OF COARAZE, PROVENCE

The nine sundials shown below are in Coaraze, a small medieval ‘village perché’ (650m) in the Alpes-Maritimes, Provence, north of Nice. They include sundials by artistic polymath Jean Cocteau (poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, artist and filmmaker); Ponce de Leon; and Henri Goetz, among others. They are located in two places in the village (1) on the front and side walls of the Marie (2) at the top of the village on a south-facing walls in the square in front of the church. They need no interpretation by me: everyone who views these wonderful sundials will experience their own personal response to each one.

MONA CRISTIE – LA CHEVAUCHÉE DU TEMPS

Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence – Mona Cristie
Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence – Mona Cristie

GEORGES DOUKING – LES ANIMAUX FABULEUX

Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence – Georges Douking
Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence – Georges Douking

JEAN COCTEAU – LES LÉZARDS

Lizards are the historic symbol of the village

 Cadrans Solaires Sundials Coaraze (© Keith Salvesen)
Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence – Jean Cocteau
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Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence – Jean Cocteau

GILBERT VALENTIN – LES  TOURNESOLS     

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Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence – Gilbert Valentin
 Cadrans Solaires Sundials Coaraze (© Keith Salvesen)
Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence – Gilbert Valentin

FABIENNE BARRE (2008)

On the side wall of the Marie, with a view of the village

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Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence – Fabienne Barre
 Cadrans Solaires Sundials Coaraze (© Keith Salvesen)
Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence – Fabienne Barre

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Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence – Fabienne Barre

ANGEL PONCE DE LÉON – BLUE TIME (1961)        

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Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence – Angel Ponce de Léon

 Cadrans Solaires Sundials Coaraze (© Keith Salvesen)
Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence – Angel Ponce de Léon

HENRI GOETZ – LE PYTHON ET SA COURONNE EN VERT ET OR (1961)           

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Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence – Henri Goetz
 Cadrans Solaires Sundials Coaraze (© Keith Salvesen)
Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence – Henri Goetz

SACHA SOSNO (2007)        

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Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence – Sacha Sosno
 Cadrans Solaires Sundials Coaraze (© Keith Salvesen)
Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence – Sacha Sosno

“BEN” – BENJAMIN VAUTIER (2008)

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Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence – Benjamin Vautier
 Cadrans Solaires Sundials Coaraze (© Keith Salvesen)
Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence – Benjamin Vautier

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Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence

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Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence

Cadrans Solaires . Ceramic Sundials . Coaraze . Provence – Benjamin Vautier
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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

LILLINGTON . DORSET . ST MARTIN – 3 scratch dials & a theory

St Martin . Lillington . Dorset

ST MARTIN . LILLINGTON . DORSET

GRADE I † C13 origin, chancel & tower C15, porch C17, south chapel C18. Restored 1848. A small hamlet, a fine church, a tithe barn, a manor house. Sir Walter Raleigh prayed here. Perfect rural Dorset – secluded in a valley, reached only by narrow lanes, and very much a longcut for traffic. 2m over the fields from our house, 15+ minutes drive. 50.9127 /  -2.5283 / ST629127

DIALS

St Martin has 3 scratch dials, all very different. There is a further contender that I put forward as a plausible but very rare type of dial (with a small degree of approval from BSS).

DIAL 1

St Martin . Lillington . Dorset – Scratch Dial 1

Dial 1 is located on the SW. face of the buttress at the W. end of the tower. It consists of a style hole encircled by a somewhat elliptical ring. There are traces of an inner circle or partial circle, clearest seen at the bottom of the dial. GLP describes it as very eroded, and dates it as C15 (ie when the tower was built). He refers to 2 lines but I did not notice them and I can’t pick them out in the photos.

DIAL 2

St Martin . Lillington . Dorset – Scratch Dial 2

Dial 2 is at 90º to Dial 1, on the SE. face of the same buttress and indeed on the same stone. There are 5 clear lines radiating from a filled style hole, forming what might be called an ‘afternoon dial’. It’s hard to tell which is the noon line: possibly the lowest lines are angled to allow for the dial not facing due S.

GLP also dates this dial as C15. He notes that it may not be in its original position, or may have been (partly) rotated ‘then it might… have been reasonably accurate’. BSS records ‘possibly re-positioned and rotated’. But because this dial and Dial 1 are on the same stone, rotation may be less likely.

DIAL 3

St Martin . Lillington . Dorset – Scratch Dial 3

Dial 3, between of the nave window and the side-chapel, is possibly C13. The chapel, added in C18, shades the dial for half the day. GLP counts 4 lines, at least one ending in a pock, and notes shallow marks between lines possibly marking 1/2 hours. BSS also records 4 lines. I presume the uppermost mark or scar is viewed as subsequent damage. The style hole looks as if it has, or has had, metal in it.

VERTEX DIAL?

On the same buttress as dials 1 & 2 and on the stone immediately below them, is a fairly deep hole drilled precisely and straight into the corner of the stone. Because of the proximity to the other dials at right-angles to each other, I wondered if this strangely-placed hole was also a dial (and if so, whether unique). So I experimented with a stick, with the result shown below. My conclusion is that a prominent gnomon in the vertex would give a clear indication of the passage of time throughout daylight hours. In a way, it might be rather more effective than a normal dial. I could clearly see the shadow from the E. end of the church.

I put the theory out there. As always, any observations would be welcome.

ST GEORGES de BOSCHERVILLE . NORMANDY – a complex modern sundial

St Georges de Boscherville Sundial 1

LES CADRANS SOLAIRES DE ST GEORGES de BOSCHERVILLE

This decorative sundial – one of two – is something rather special. It is both elegant and complex, and must have taken a long time to devise and lay out accurately. It stands in the extensive grounds of the fine Abbey Church of St Georges de Boscherville in Normandy. I managed to get the last small pamphlet in the Abbey bookshop. Even then I failed to understand the sundial properly, and not simply because of my rusty but workable French. I’m not even going to attempt to describe the dial, but it was easy to photograph in detail in its picturesque setting, and I have included a shot of the explanatory plaque at the end for the science-minded.

One fact I learnt is that until WWII, France was on Greenwich Meantime. During the occupation, the Germans changed the time zone to Central European time, a practice that has remained ever since.

St Martin de Boscherville Sundial 1.1 1
St Georges de Boscherville Sundial 1.1. 1
St Georges de Boscherville Sundial 1.1. 2
St Georges de Boscherville Sundial 1.1. 3
St Martin de Boscherville Sundial 1. 1
St Georges de Boscherville Sundial 1.1. 4
St Georges de Boscherville Sundial 1.1. 5
St Georges de Boscherville Sundial 1.1. 6
St Georges de Boscherville Sundial 1.1. 7
St Georges de Boscherville Sundial 1.1. 8

GSS Category: Cadran Solaire Sphérique / Spherical Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

VERTICAL SUNDIAL AT ST GEORGES de BOSCHERVILLE

LINK

The Abbey in 1700

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