GRADE II † C15 origins, substantially rebuilt 1879. Surprisingly for a church in a village recorded in DB (Todeberie) 1086, no Dedication. Midway between Shaftsbury & Sturminster Newton. 50.9795 / -2.2865 / ST799200
The dial of this unusual-looking small church is on the S wall of the chancel, R of the window. The dial is very eroded. There are 6 visible / detectable lines, the noon line longer than the rest. The gnomon hole is filled, and there is a patch of cement on the noon line that BSS / GLP suggest may be a filled pock.
The large block of stone was obviously relocated to the side of the window during (or before?) C19 rebuilding: it stands out from the smaller brick-like stones that form the wall. GLP comments it looks as if the dial was recognised as something interesting, and preserved accordingly.
GRADE 1 † C14 origins, mainly C15 expansion; customary C19 work. A surprisingly large church for a small community hidden away in deepest (though not darkest) Dorset. Approached by lanes. The unusual name may derive from OE word ‘mapluldor’ (maple tree); shown as ‘Mapledre’ in DB*. 50.8528 / -2.3773 / ST735059
Located on the S wall near E window, a small single dial with 10 lines radiating from a fairly large style hole. C15. Of particular interest is that, most unusually, 2 of the lines meet at their outer ends (GLP) or even cross (BSS). The angled shot shows it best – and see diagram below. GLP suggests this arrangement roughly coincides with the Mass time Terce (9h) and may emphasise it, as a pock or a deeper cut radial might.
Mappowder . Dorset . St Peter & St Paul – Scratch Dial
St George is a wonderful church with Saxon origins, C12 foundation, C15 tower; and much T H Wyatt work / restoration mid C19. Treasures include the C12 font, a `truly amazing piece’ (Pevsner) of black Tournai marble. High up on the third stage of the C15 tower is a magnificent C18 sundial: details HERE and an image below.
While visiting St George, I decided to have a brief look at the exterior for church marks in general: graffiti, dates, masons’ marks etc. I was not expecting much, in particular because of the extensive C19 work. However on the W end buttress of the C15 tower, facing SW, there was a large incised design worth inspection.
The design is a partial / eroded circle with a central shallow style hole. A noon line extends downwards to the edge of the circle, passing through a pock on the way and ending with a shallow pock. Other pocks mark the approximate edge of the circle on both sides of the noon line. In the lower L quadrant, the pock between the style hole and the pock at the edge of the circle may have been to emphasise the 9-line as indicating the time of a morning Mass, in this case Nones.
The British Sundial Society BSS has considered the evidence and added the Preshute dial to its Mass Dial records. In many ways a lucky find, since I was not looking for nor expecting a dial at all.
GRADE I . C14 (first record 1291); C15 expansion; late C19 work. See HE for details of this interesting church, with its fine portico. A few miles N. of Sherborne or Yeovil. 51.0225 / -2.5754 / ST597249
The medieval dial is easily found on S wall of the chancel, on the buttress E of the priest’s door. The approximate semicircle embraces an almost compete set of 6-to-6 lines. There are several pocks, large and small. BSS notes include: 1. Worn. Repositioned. Octaval, Tides. 2. Dial (Norman?) with tides, with duodecimal, sometimes both. 3. Mason-cut or roughly scratched. 4. Tide dial, roman numerals, extra line at 7. I have to say (as an amateur) that I can’t match all these features to this dial or either of them if both are being described together (see below).
The dial is large, almost the full width of the buttress. Unusually, it is cut over 4 stones. Note the low pock some way directly below the noon line. Most of the dial is cut on the Hamstone E quoin, the lower rim extending onto the 2 stones below. These stones match those around them. However the L side of the dial is cut on grey stone not matched elsewhere nearby.
I was puzzled by the suggested repositioning of the (entire) dial. An alternative theory might be that the dial was positioned where it is now. Over time, the L side became eroded or damaged and was replaced with a different kind of stone (perhaps being used for repairs elsewhere on the church). The new stone was then cut to match the design of the original. Looked at closely, the ‘new’ L side design does not in fact match the rest accurately. Not all lines follow exactly; there are no pocks; the incisions are clearer. Does this support a later replacement (and possibly harder) stone?
DEH visited in May 1914 and recorded 182. (2) This dial is on the first buttress to the e. of the priest’s door. It is 5 feet 9 inches above the ground, the noonline is 5 1/2 inches in length, the stylehole is 1 1/8 inches in depth by 3/4 of an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 10° e. Type 5c. May 18th, 1915.
Dial 2 also creates some confusion, not least its location. BSS does not record this dial as a separate entry from Dial 1 but may be referring to it especially in the note 4. Tide dial, roman numerals. Dial 1 does not have visible roman numerals but Dial 2 does.
This dial is located high up above the portico, below the parapet of the nave seen as clerestory with parapetBLB. It is quite damaged, with a modern gnomon and a flaking layer of blue paint that makes it stand out (see header image). It’s hard to date the dial. Similar dated dials in the region are quite often early C18 or even C17. The dial is conventional of its kind, carefully graduated. The numerals are set in a frame, and italicised each side of the noon line.
DEH’s description of his second St Barnabas dial is another puzzle:
181. (1) This dial is on the s.e. buttress of the s. aisle. It is 6 feet 7 1/2 inches above the ground, the noonline is 5 inches in length, the stylehole is invisible, and the aspect is s. by 10° e. The dial is curious, as it has the lines arranged much as they are in an ordinary sundial, with Roman numerals cut at the ends. There may have been a slit for a gnomon, now carefully cemented up. Probably this should not rank as a Scratch dial.
There is a significant problem. The location DEH gives for it, six feet up on a buttress, is totally different from this now blue dial, yet his description broadly matches it and his comment that it probably should not rank as a Scratch dial is clearly apposite. I may have missed a second buttress scratch dial, even though I have been back to check. Or else perhaps DEH made a simple error in compiling his notes of several churches visited at one time in one area (I have come across a couple of similar instances). So this dial, now blue, is the one he meant but mis-located.
GRADE II † C14 origins on earlier site; mostly C15 and later C19 work. South porch very simple, possibly C14BLB. Cinnuc in Saxon times. 4 miles W of Yeovil, attractively set on the steep hillside at the E end of the village though right beside the A30. 50.9164 / -2.7145 / ST498132
St Mary has 2 dials. Both are on the S porch, one of the earliest parts of the church. One was recorded by DEH on his visit in June 1915. The other is a new find I believe.
The dial is halfway up the L side of the porch immediately above a gravestone. It comprises pocks with a large style hole. The pattern is haphazard and the dial might actually make more sense if rotated 90º L, producing a double pock noon line.
DEH196. This dial is on the w. side of the s. porch, at a height of 4 feet 8 inches above the ground. The noonline is 2 1/4 inches in length, the stylehole is 7/8 of an inch by 1/2 an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 30° e. Type 10. June 15th, 1915.
Dial 2 is located quite high on the E face of the S porch, a simple 4-line fan dial. The position makes no sense for a sundial, and it was plainly relocated at some stage. In the process, as is often the way, it was inverted. This re-siting with a rotation of the stone retains the decorative feature even though no longer a reliable time indicator. This is the sort of find that reminds me always to search beyond the normal dial locations of porch, buttress and priest’s door.
GRADE II † Built 1860s in the centre of a pleasant, prosperous small town on the River Test. Fishing tackle emporia, smart gift shops, good restaurants and pubs, predominate. The flinty New Church replaced the crumbling C12 STOCKBRIDGE OLD CHURCH that had fallen into decay and disuse. Its fascinating remnants merit a visit. 51.1145 / -1.4934 / SU355351
The excellent resource BRITAIN EXPRESS by David Ross gives a graphic account (below) of the move from the near-defunct medieval church on the edge of the town to the new-build glory in the High Street. Included in the upheaval was a scratch dial on a stone window jamb; and as I recently discovered while locating it, an unobtrusive second dial now on the side of a buttress.
Most of the 12th-century building was pulled down, leaving only the chancel, and a new church in Victorian Gothic style was built on Stockbridge High Street. Reports show that the townsfolk played an active part in transferring monuments, paintings, window frames, corbels, and other pieces of carved stonework from the old church to the new site. People brought their wheelbarrows and trundled down the High street carrying pieces of medieval masonry.
Dial 1 is on RHS of the double lancet window at the W end of the church. It is inverted, as is often the case with a relocated dial. The window is high enough to be awkward to photograph with only a phone to hand. There are 12 (13?) visible lines, each ending in a pock. Traces of others might be found with closer inspection or a decent photo. The style hole is relatively large, and the lines radiating from it are more or less evenly spaced rather than graduated.
ARG visited Stockbridge in May 1922. He recorded there is a style hole with a line above, and on each side of this four radiating lines. He added it is too high for a photo or for measurement. Which may explain his lower count of radials.
By complete chance, in walking away from Dial 1, I noticed a small but familiar design in the inside W face of a buttress L of the porch.
This simple dial is unusual in being a quadrant with a quarter-circle border, like a small fan. In relocation, it looks as if it was rotated 90º. It makes most sense that the close-cut double lines originally formed the noon-line and the others mark 3 and 6: an afternoon dial.
GRADE II* † C15 (C13 origins). Restored and N. aisle added C19. A handsome spired church, unusual in a region where most churches have towers, in the lovely setting of a small hamlet reached by a network of lanes. 51.0337 / -2.509 / ST644261
St Mary is a most rewarding church to visit, both the exterior and interior. You will find brief points of note at Camelot Parishes. DEH on his visit in April 2014 recorded 2 medieval dials (2 & 3 below) but there are others, including a more elaborate later one with Roman numerals (C17?) above the porch.
Dial 1 A very visible 3-line dial on a large stone RHS of the porch. It consists simply of a small style hole with a long noon line and a single line the same length cut on each side. Despite its prominent location, the dial seems largely unremarked though perhaps it is mentioned in the church archives. The actual stone differs from the ones around it – perhaps it was relocated during restoration to a more prominent position on the porch. It is strange that DEH didn’t include this dial in his records for the church.
Dial 2 is located on the buttress at E end of the nave. It is close to being an ideal dial for study. The style hole is (nearly) centred on the stone. The noon line is not only emphasised, it extends upwards to ‘midnight’. There’s a distinct optical impression of a circle. The horizontal (6-to-6) line extends almost the full width of the stone. Other lines are unusually long, reaching beyond the notional circle. They are carefully graduated to optimise the accuracy of the dial. One mystery is the absence of the 4-line. I couldn’t find a trace of one. It seems unlikely that a single line has eroded completely; but a reason for omitting one line on an otherwise complete and indeed symmetrical dial is hard to think of.
DEH177. (2) This dial is on the buttress at the s.e. corner of the nave. It is 4 feet 6 inches above the ground, the noon- line is 4 1/2 inches in length, the stylehole is 1 inch in depth by 3/4 of an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 20°e. Type 7. April 24th, 1914.
Dial 3 is close to the same buttress, smaller, more rustic (earlier) and lower down. There are 9 certain lines and a couple of traces (one possibly above the 6 am horizontal). Their spacing is somewhat random. 4 lines end in pocks.
DEH 176. (1) This dial is on the wall w. of the buttress at s.e. corner of the nave. It is 2 feet 8 inches above the ground, the noonline is 4 1/2 inches in length, the stylehole is open, and the aspect is s. by 20° e. Type 3.
DIALS 4 a – d
Dial 4 This is in fact a dial / dial-related group on a single quoin stone, but treated as a dial unit for convenience. The overall design has 4 elements. There are 3 eroded (part) circles – two overlapping – with a small rough dial within the top circle. In this group of interlinked components, each is of a type often identified either as dials or as remnants of eroded dials. See eg CHURCH STRETTON Such a collection on a single stone perhaps suggests experimentation with dial-making. Or the (part-)circles may simply be decoration or (not unknown) doodles. Anyway, I decided to lump them together as one dial rather than to try to sort out the tangle. Any interpretations would be welcome.
Dial 5 is a C17 later accurately incised dial on the fine porch above a cusped ogee-arched statue recess with foliated baseBLB with its C19 statue of Virgin and Child. This dial is similar to several others in S. Somerset & W. Dorset (some are included under the heading OLD DIALS). The radials are contained within a rectangle, carefully incised and graduated. The noon line is more deeply cut, and leads down from the damaged area at the top of which is a filled style hole. Possibly the area of damage immediately below it indicates that a metal gnomon plate was later fixed there. The frame round the dial shows Roman numerals (IV as IIII) except for noon, which is marked by a cross (a conventional style).
GRADE I † C12 origins (Chancel c1100), C13 et seq, restored 1862. A pleasingly geometric church in a fine setting below Ham Hill, the Iron Age hill fort where the original stone for the Norman church was quarried. Close to Montacute House (NT) and St Catherine Montacute. 50.9526 / -2.7361 / ST483172
St Mary has 4 dials on the S. side, all of different types and all quite easily found. The different styles and levels of sophistication on a single church reflect the development of scratch dials with increasing scientific knowledge, and their continuing usefulness to the church and the community.
Dial 1 is low-down on a quoin at the W. end, unusually assertive and straightforward. However, in the middle of the 4 strong lines is a very faint one with a dot at the end. Since it adds little to the dial’s purpose, I wonder if evidences eroded remains of an earlier dial? Also, are the dots either side of the gnomon hole part of the original dial or were they added later? It’s hard to see how they might help the dial’s function. Or so I thought until I saw similar oblique marks in Dial 2, in that case lines (see below).
DEH visited St Mary in July 1914 and recorded: 216. (1) This dial is on the s.w. corner of the nave on a quoin. It is 4 feet 3 inches above the ground, the noonline is about 4 inches in length or a little less, the stylehole is 1 3/4 inches in depth by 3/4 of an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 30° e. Type 3.
In the first image, note the Norman window, one of 2 that survive. The other is shown below.
Dial 2 on the E. side of the recessed priest’s door, is a fine example of a later, more complex design. It certainly marks the hours with clarity and precision. Its sophistication suggests it must be a late dial, my guess being late C15 / early C16. The morning hours are all marked with carefully graduated lines down to the noon line. All terminate in pocks which themselves are graduated from large to small at noon. Two half-hours are marked with pocks. The emphatic oblique incision is hard to analyse other than in terms of marking canonical hours (Compline & Nones?) cf the pocks on Dial 1. Any help to explain it would be welcome.
DEH recorded: 219. (4) This dial is on the e. side of the priest’s door. It is 4 feet 6 inches above the ground, the noonline is 5 inches in length, the stylehole is 1 1/2 inches in depth by 3/4 of an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 25° e. Type 3.
A final note for Dial 2. There is some evidence that there was originally a dial on a stone above it, later replaced. There are scratch marks that suggest the end of radials; and a row of dots, including a double dot that might relate to a noon line.
DIALS 3 & 4
Dials 3 & 4 are together, one above the other, E. of the blocked doorway with its slender columns. They are quite high (about 10′) in the angle where the S. wall meets the transept.
Dial 3 is the lower of the two. The style hole would have been in the mortar line acting as the horizontal ‘6-to-6’ line, but the area has a large repair that presumably covers it. 6 lines descend from it in a conventional fan, mainly in the lower L. quadrant. Their spacing is imprecise; the noon line is extended.
Dial 4 above is less ambitious. I imagine it is the earlier of the two. There are 3 long lines emerging from a filled style hole. The noon line runs down the edge of the adjacent stone, which looks as though it was a replacement from later restoration work. If so, perhaps the dial originally had lines in the lower R. quadrant.
DEH wrote: 217. (2) This dial is on the s.w. corner of the s. transept. It is 5 feet 1 inch above the ground, the noonhole is 2 inches distant, the stylehole is 1 inch in depth by 1/4 of an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 20° e. Type 9.
His record for this location is puzzling because there are in fact 2 dials not one; and they are much higher than he gives. It’s quite possible I missed a dial – his single dial – nearby and at the height DEH specifies. However, since DEH records only 3 definite dials for St Mary, he must therefore have missed (for height?) this pair.
DEH recorded a possible 4th dial, but with reservations. He wrote: 218. (3) This doubtful dial is on the e. side of the closed doorway in the nave. It is 5 feet 2inches above the ground, the noonline is 3 1/2 inches in length, the stylehole, if it exists at all, is filled.
I had already photographed it thinking it might be a damaged dial. I’m an optimist and an amateur, not the best combination for a balanced judgement. If this is the dial candidate referred to by DEH, then the style hole is no longer blocked. It looks plausible as a very crude dial, and it is a conventional dial location. Is it a much earlier dial than the others, cut beside what was clearly a significant doorway and now degraded by time and weather? Any views welcome.
GRADE I † Saxon origins; surviving work of C12 and all subsequent periodsBLB. Chancel C12 / late C13, Victorian restorations. An attractive church with its squat tower and portico; secluded and approached by narrow lanes. 6m N. of Sherborne; 7m W. of Wincanton. 51.0214 / -2.537 / ST624248
Holy Trinity has 2 dials. The first is a small unobtrusive scratch dial by the S. doorway, possibly unrecorded unless in the church archives. It was not noted by DEH during his thorough coverage of the area; and it is not in the BSS register. The second (C18?) is clearly not strictly a scratch dial but an early vertical sundial. It definitely deserves inclusion as a most intriguing dial from a later period.
This simple conventional scratch dial is inside the portico on LHS of the door. There are 2 clear lines from the style hole, with a fainter 3rd somewhat offset between them. The deeper cut line possibly indicates a Mass time (Terce).
On the central buttress of the chancel. A single oblong stone slab with the mortar line as the horizontal ‘6-to-6’ and the numerals framed. The top edge of the frame is cut along the stones above; clear on the left one, faint on the right. Large Roman numerals on each side; small ones along the bottom of the dial. IIII for IV. The radials – more distinct on RHS – are graduated, with the noon line termination in a cross. The present gnomon is a simple metal triangle. It is hard to tell whether there was originally a wood or iron style or not.
It is unclear what the 2 iron pegs at the bottom are for, though they appear to be designed to hold up a stone tablet – perhaps at one time a different dial or a memorial slab was placed over the original dial.
Holy Trinity has other features to note – graffiti including dates and initials; at least one Marian (witch) symbol; and a mystery inscription. Sutton Montis indicates a hill hamlet and is clearly marked on historical maps. However I can find no historical or cartographic reference to the ‘valley hamlet’ of Sutton Vallis. And yet…
DEDICATION † ST MARY – C12 nave and chancel; later additions include bellcote & S. porch
LISTING † Grade 1
LOCATION † North-west of Maiden Newton. A very small secluded Dorset hamlet (comprising Lower & Higher) with a handful of houses, a handsome ford, and 2 rushing feeder streams for the upper River Frome. 50.8054 / -2.6035 / ST575008
DIALS † ‘On S. wall of nave, remains of two scratch-dials, reused’ (BHO)
St Mary was one of the first churches I visited soon after I started this project nearly a year ago. I was just beginning to sort out the format and I had yet to discover the resources I later came to rely on. Taking the BHO entry (italics above) at face value, I looked for 2 dials, found them, and wrote them up HERE. Since then, I learnt of a third dial that I missed (GLP). After a recent revisit to check St Mary and photograph all 3 dials, I am replacing the original images of Dials 1 & 2, and featuring Dial 3 to complete the set.
All 3 dials are on the S. wall of the nave E. of the porch, quite close to each other. Dial 1 is on a quoin stone, with 4 lines descending from the mortar-line. The arrangement is haphazard. The lines aren’t straight, the two longer ones have split ends, the other two are shorter and almost parallel, the overall spacing seems completely random. It’s hard to see how useful such an endearingly wonky dial could have been.
Dial 2 is very low down, between Dial 1 and the porch. There are 4 lines, one very faint. The stone is at a slight angle and GLP suggests it may have been reused and – if slightly rotated – a vertical (noon) line might result.
This ‘new’ dial is also low down between the other 2, nearest Dial 1. It is inverted. There are 3 very clear lines of differing widths and depths, with the (upside down) noon line extending to the edge of the stone and ending in a (faint) cross noted by GLP. He mentions 6 lines (3 eroded) in all, and adds This dial would appear to record the Saxon ‘Tides’