GRADE I † C13 origins (c1258 on); C14 development, Perp windows, C15 tower (BHO – sources vary on dates). C17 extensive repairs; mid-C19 restorations to Wyatt plans. Cecil Beaton is buried in the churchyard. One of several Ebble valley churches between Salisbury and Shaftsbury (cf Alvediston). 51.0275 / -1.9432 / SU040253
A distinctive and easily visible dial on S buttress between 2 recesses. 4 clear lines with faint traces of others. There are 5 obviously related pocks, with a couple of outliers above UL in a position corresponding to the curvature of the dial. The filled gnomon hole in the centre of the dial stone is large, perhaps enlarged over succeeding centuries (it’s not uncommon to find disproportionately large holes)
This dial is of particular interest for 2 reasons: i. the size of the pocks are graduated from small to large along the perimeter down to the noon line, which has the most emphatic hole. I can’t remember coming across such a clear example before. ii the Mass line – terce – is very clearly indicated both by being elongated, and by having pocks on either side of it, neither of which links to a line.
All Saints has some graffiti in the porch area. Here are 2 examples – image includes ‘witch marks’
GRADE II* † C12 origins; a chapel of Broad Chalke by 1299, from which date Vicars were recorded. From that period, C12 font bowl. Many sources only date the church to C17 with restoration by T. H. Wyatt 1866. One of several pretty villages in the secluded Ebble valley between Salisbury and Shaftsbury. 51.0149 / -2.0345 / ST976239
The dial is on the W jamb of the porch, described elsewhere as a C19 lean-to. Restorations clearly entailed considerable relocation of stones over time. The dial is easy to overlook, being small, weathered, and upside-down.
The dial is located 1m high, W of the S doorway, inverted. BSS records it as accurately cut, upside-down, eroded and damaged. Unexpectedly it is described as a Rudimentary (Norman) dial, which dates it back to the C12 / C13 origins of St Mary. If so, the dial has survived intact for several hundred years, only to end up inverted on a C19 lean-to porch.
It is sometimes useful to revert a dial that has been rotated, so that the original design is clearer. There are 2 definite lines. There is no visible noon line but the line LRQ has both a mid-line pock and a terminal pock. Presumably this marked the most significant Mass time during the passage of the day, in this case equating roughly with the canonical Nones.
NOTES When I originally checked some usual resources for St Mary, it was intriguing to find that its history began in C17. A simple (or any?) scratch dial could not be expected. So I turned to the comprehensive BHO entry for the Parish, which explains the origins of St Mary and its medieval dial in more detail:
Of the 12th-century church, only the nave, small and with thick walls, appears to survive. The chancel was possibly replaced in the 13th century but may have survived longer. In 1585 it was said to be ‘down’ and was afterwards presumably rebuilt or repaired. The south transept or chapel was built in the 14th century; there is an effigy of a knight in armour below the south window. The north transept may also have been built in the 14th century. The tower was built in the 17th century. In 1865 the church was extensively restored to designs by T. H. Wyatt. The north transept was rebuilt, the north chapel was built, and the chancel was given 13th century features.
GRADE I † C11 nave; C13 transepts; C14 chancel. From C17, alterations and restorations inc by Wyatt in 1860. Large and interesting cruciform churchPEV. Marble Feversham family monuments by Scheemakers. Significant local legacy from Neolithic, Iron Age, Roman (Villa) and Saxon times. 9m S of Salisbury. 50.9937 / -1.7433 / SU181216
St Laurence has 2 dials on the 2nd buttress E of the porch, one above the other. The upper one is a fine example of a large dial filling the dial stone. The lower is so badly damaged / eroded that it would be easy miss; and it is quite hard to imagine what it looked like originally.
Dial 1 is encircled, with 13 lines and 24 pocks around the perimeter and forming 2 crosses . This large dial not only takes up the width of the stone, the circumference continues onto the stone below as do some lines (esp. 11am). The noon line ends in a 4-dot cross on the main stone, and the 9am line has a 5-dot cross on the lower stone.
The gnomon hole is of particular interest; I haven’t come across a square hole with (apparently) a circular one inside it before. Possibly the original gnomon was a basic rod, and its round hole later enlarged to accommodate a more visible square rod.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Medieval Sundial; Church Dated Initials
GRADE II † C13th origins of which traces survive at the W end; substantial rebuilding 1860s by Wyatt. Set in peaceful countryside close to R. Frome. An excellent folder with details about the church and contents is kept in the church. Woodsford Castle / fortified house is nearby, the largest thatched building in England. 5m E of Dorchester 50.7143 / -2.3383 / SY762905
The single dial is just E of the entrance door, on the quoin of the S chapel. Plain and clearly cut. Now adorned with a slim metal rod bedded into blu-tack in the large gnomon hole (not quite as strange as the drill bit gnomon I found in Shropshire…).
The dial has 5 clear lines descending from the gnomon hole to the lower perimeter of the complete circle. There are large terminal pocks and several other smaller pocks round the circumference that plausibly could be part of the overall design.
A most informative diagram with commentary explains the intricacies of the medieval day and the significance of the passing hours between dawn and dusk. You can find more on this topic HERE but the material below provides a good straightforward overview.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial
All photos Keith Salvesen; Dial Diagram and Explanation courtesy of the Church
GRADE I † C13 nave, chancel, S porch inc outer archway. C15 alterations & additions – chapel, tower. Restored 1885. 2 Purdue bells. 4m W of Sherborne and E of Yeovil. 50.9532 / -2.5732 / ST598172
There are 3 dials beside the porch doorway, 1 on the left side and 2 on the right. The intricacies of the dials are clearer from the BSS archive photos and diagrams compared with my photos, taken in bright sunlight and not picking up the details.
South Porch L of doorway. 13 lines, with the noon line extended, and 23 pocks. The diagram suggests 1, perhaps 2, mid-morning Mass markers. GLP points out that the lines are below the horizontal whereas almost all the pocks are above it; and that the design is accurate.
South porch R of doorway. Despite the extended ‘noon line’ (as it appears), the dial must in fact be upside down. If not, it can’t have had any practical use. 10 lines with very variable angles and 12 pocks. GLP describes it as crudely cut as a tide / octaval dial. The white item is a stone, which was in place when I originally saw the dial, and still 18m later. I left it in peace.
A semi-circular dial with 13 lines, almost all of which end pocks. There is a complete inner circle round the gnomon hole, with semi-circle outside it. GLP found the dial to be accurately cut.
On chancel—(a) on external S. wall, W. of S. window; on N. chapel—(b) on N. external wall, W. of N.E. window, reset; on nave—(c) on external N. wall, between N.E. window and doorway; (d) on E. splay of N. doorway; (e and f) on E. jamb of S. doorway, two crosses; (g) on E. splay of S. doorway; (h) on E. splay of S.W. window; on W. face of tower— (i) against N. buttress; all formy crosses in circles except second on jamb of S. doorway, mediæval (BLB)
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Consecration Cross
All photos Keith Salvesen + BSS archive (also diagrams)
DEDICATION † ST ANDREW . Parish church. Late C13, consecrated 1312, completed C15, restoration from C19. A ‘major church’PEV. A good place to find out more is the RCHM entry ST ANDREW YETMINSTER. Carefully compiled church and Parish Archive. 10 Consecration Crosses from medieval to (relatively) modern. An important very early (1683) clock, now in restoration (see below).
LISTING † Grade 1
LOCATION † 5 miles SW of Sherborne, / SE of Yeovil. Noteworthy village easily accessed. Fine vernacular Ham stone buildings give the feel of an earlier era. Many listed buildings. Village also highly regarded by PEV. Station in village (not, as elsewhere locally, a wayside halt). Etiminstre in DB 50.8939 / -2.578 / ST594106
DIALS † Two dials on the buttress E. of S door, both C15
A semicircle dial with 13 lines (including the horizontal). BSS notes no circumferential circle. The noon line is extended, and 4 others end slightly beyond the circumference . GLP describes it as very neat and accurately marked. Both dials have been thoroughly examined – clips of the original records from the excellent church archive are below.
An unusual rather drooping design, explained below. Gnomon hole in the mortar line. The dial is split across 2 stones by a vertical mortar line. There are 11 lines, if one includes the mortar joint as the vertical / noon line. The lines RHS are badly eroded.
GLP noted that this dial is of particular interest as the angle of the lines suggest that it may be an early Scientific Dial. Comparing the lines with the correct angles for the latitude only one of the lines is more than 4º out. A further even more technical conclusion is that to function this dial would have needed a gnomon at an angle of 39º to the wall. This evidences an advance from earlier dials where the gnomon was simply inserted into its hole straight rather than angled.
CLOCK † The historic faceless pendulum clock (1683) is being restored at the moment. I am writing the day after the Queen’s death, and by coincidence the clock has a specific significance: The Clock carillon plays the National Anthem at 3-hourly intervals. This dates from 1897 when it was installed by local benefactors for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, and is very rare, and possibly unique. For the Platinum Jubilee of HM The Queen this year, the carillon was operated manually to ring out as part of our Jubilee Celebrations.
NOTES † 10 ‘formy’ Consecration Crosses in sunk round panels on external wall-facesBHO (locations specified); C10 Saxon cross shaft fragment; faceless clock of interest; good hunky punks. Links with Robert Boyle (chemistry, founder of the school) and Benjamin Jesty (smallpox); quite a lot of external graffiti – initials, dates and some Marian (‘witch’) marks
St Andrew . Yetminster . Dorset – Graffiti and a Marian (ritual protection) mark. The 3 initialled and dated marks are likely to be cut by masons who did work on the church in the 1830s (cf Melbury Osmond)
ST JOHN THE EVANGELIST & ALL SAINTS . KINGSTONE . SOMERSET
GRADE II* † Records from 1291; C14 chancel, porch; C15 tower, nave. A village with a long history, close to the Fosse Way, recorded in DB as Chingestone. 1m SE of Ilminster. 50.9188 / -2.8851 / ST378136
This is an unusual dial, not least because there is a pair of style holes L and R and they are both similarly large. The dial stone is quite badly damaged and it is difficult to analyse the dial. R seems to be the primary hole for the gnomon. The only discernible noon line is below R, marked by a single pock halfway to the mortar line below. On either side, at roughly 11 and 1, are the only 2 clear lines in the whole design. It’s hard to see the purpose of L at all, and perhaps it was a later addition that didn’t add much.
DEH visited in 1915 and included his own theory:
GSS Category: Scratch Dial
All photos: Keith Salvesen except header image as credited (a huge improvement on my own rain-affected photo).
GRADE I † Early C14, octagonal tower (cf neighbouring N Curry and nearby) completed C15. C19 restorations. BLB notes A very fine church, similar in design to Church of St Michael, North Curry CP but not so extensively restored in the C19. Admired by PEV. 12m E of Taunton. 51.04 / -2.9312 / ST348271
Two dials are recorded for St Gregory, both of which merited additional comment by DEH. He recorded the first – remarkably decorative – on his visit in 1912. He revisited in 1916 and recorded the second dial, relocated to an obscure corner inside the church. In addition there is a (probable) 3rd dial, unrecorded.
Dial 1 is on the E side of the S porch. It seems likely that there was originally a simpler dial that was embellished over the years. Although not all are now visible, it is reasonable to assume that there was a full complement of 24 lines.
DEH noted: this dial has been decorated. The noon line is lengthened outside the circle and ends in a small cross. This cross is plainly an addition. The noon line is also carried upwards above the circle and also ends in a cross. This cross may be original. The line throughout its length is true and clean cut, so that it may be part of the primitive dial.
Dial 2 is a rare example of a scratch dial repositioned within a church during restoration / rebuilding (cf Thornford Dorset). DEH must, I think, have been told about it: under no normal circumstances would a dial researcher think of the location without a tip-off. Even knowing the right area, I didn’t spot it straight away.
DEH gives the precise location: This dial is within the church, on the w. splay of the easternmost window in the s. wall. It is on the top stone of the splay, the noonline is about 5 inches in length, and the stylehole, which appears to be an inch in diameter, is filled with plaster. DEH
The dial is a semicircle that looks as though it may originally been a full circle cut across 2 stones. The visible lines are mostly before noon. The noon line is possibly marked as the narrow gap between 2 almost vertical lines.
DEH noted: This dial is the only one that has been found inside a church. It was obviously placed in its present position at the time the late XV century window was inserted, and must have been brought from some other part of the building.
Found on a buttress W of the porch. I have little doubt that this design is a dial, previously unrecorded. It is at least partly encircled, with 2 close candidates for style hole. There are several pocks that are somewhat random now but seem to have been deliberately made (and are not seen on adjacent stones). It seems convincing to me as a somewhat age-worn remnant.
As plain a dial as you could wish to find, yet casting a strong shadow. BSS view is that it dates from the 1880s restoration and it doesn’t look as if the dial has been touched since then! It’s worth pointing out that (as the photos show) the lamp bracket works as effectively as the dial itself.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Vertical Dial
GRADE II † C12 origins (c1190), mostly destroyed by a fire in 1681 and rebuilt. Dilapidation and a new Parish church built in the village centre in 1883 led to demolition of all but the Chancel. In the 1920s used as a mortuary chapel. Stones mark the outline of part of the nave. In the care of CCT. 8m S of Basingstoke. 51.1687 / -1.138 / SU603414
Both dials are on the south wall of the Chancel, L of the blocked Priest’s door.
Dial 1 is small and, remarkably, on the lowest stone of the doorway where it would have been of negligible use. It was obviously repositioned during rebuilding and in the process rotated 90º clockwise so that the deeper cut noon line is horizontal rather than vertical to the ground. Encircled but not accurately – slightly elliptical. There are a dozen lines or so radiating from the gnomon in the dial stone, with the afternoon lines emphasised (ARG in 1924found it ‘much damaged by weather’)
Dial 2 is eroded and in a poor state. Though larger than Dial 1, it is less visible, and ARG did not record it in his 1924 survey. It seems to have been cut on softer stone. Lichen makes it harder to read. The blocked gnomon hole is more or less in the centre of the dial stone. There are 7 definite lines leading from it, 2 angled into the upper half of the dial. It looks as if it might once have been encircled, but it is now hard to tell. BSS notes Crudely cut or made. Eroded. Trace of circle only. Partly hidden by rendering
NOTE In the churchyard is a sundial made up of a twelfth-century capital and base, both being set upside down HE
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial
Credits: Tina Osgood, taken during a recent visit; header image Basingstoke Gazette
GRADE II* † C12 origins, chancel added C13, nave & tower C15. Considerable C19 restoration & rebuilding. Quite a large church, with its gradual development evident. 6 confusing scratch dials. SE of Dorchester, W of Wareham. 50.6585 / -2.277 / SY805843
The scratch dials are in a group arranged around the S. door of the chancel. There are 6 in all (BHO records 4) but on the very dark local ironstone none is very clear. BSS / GLP dates them to C15, and their diagrams below are very helpful in marking the locations and configurations. I should say at once that I couldn’t definitively identify dial 3 (at / near the apex of the doorway’s arch) at the time nor in the photos I took see below.
GLP concluded that none of the dials was in its original position. 1, 3, 6 are inverted; the stones of 2, 4, 5 were shaped after the dials were cut, truncating them. Perhaps the entire doorway was originally built using reshaped stones from elsewhere on the church; or perhaps an existing doorway was later rebuilt or reshaped.
Dial 1 is on L side of the doorway. Inverted, with 5 lines pointing upwards. Style hole area heavily filled (possible repair of damage?). GLP suggests the lines are not convergent so very inaccurate.
Dial 2 is above dial 1, on the lowest stone of the doorway arch. Parts of the dial have been cut off at the edges. There are 12 lines, 5 pocks and a cement-filled style hole. Of all the dials, it is more or less correctly orientated, with a noon line emphasised by depth and length.
This is my candidate for dial 3. GLP describes it as very worn and inverted. Apart from the very clear unfilled style hole, he describes 2 trace lines above the dial. I couldn’t detect the 2 lines. The BSS diagram (see below) indicates dial 3 as being on the apex stone, but I found no evidence of a dial there.
Dial 4 is upper R side of the arch. There are 9 lines radiating from a plugged style hole, one (perhaps 3) with terminal pocks. The dial has clearly been rotated 90º clockwise. Sited correctly, the deeper incised lines L side would become midday lines. GLP considers it clearly and accurately marked (given the correct position).
Dial 5 is below dial 4 on a larger stone. It is very degraded and it isn’t easy to read. BSS notes 3 lines, and a pock possibly marking noon. My impression was of 2 additional trace lines. This dial is recorded as repositioned, set at a very oblique angle, and could never have been used in its present position.
Dial 6 is lower down on the R jamb approx level with dial 1. Again, it is inverted, with 6 distinct lines radiating upwards. One is marked with a cross, probably the Mass line.
BSS DIAGRAMS OF THE 6 INDIVIDUAL DIALS
NOTE: because of the dark ironstone I have brightened the images to make them clearer
GSS CATEGORY: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Medieval Sundial
All photos Keith Salvesen; diagrams and research material GLP / BSS