GRADE I † C13 origins: masons’ marks on the fabric date from C13 and are identical with some found at Wells cathedralBHO. Development mainly C15 (tower) and C16, with C19 work by Wyatt and later attention. Poulett family much in evidence. Good graffiti / protection marks. Fine gilded weathercock dated to 1756. 4m N of Crewkerne . 50.9107 / -2.8286 / ST418126
A single scratch dial tucked away on the W side of a buttress, and of doubtful value as a time marker, both for position and orientation. There are 4 lines with terminal pocks on the left side; and a single pock at the top (ie midnight). The gnomon hole, already quite big, has been crudely enlarged – and quite recently, by the look of it.
An explanation for the unpromising location and the unsatisfactory design is that the dial was relocated at some stage, perhaps when the tower was built (and the buttress added?). It is far from unusual for a dial reused in this way to be inverted, as if decommissioning it. An inversion of the image above makes far more sense, with the noon line marked by a single pock, and the radials to its right. An afternoon dial.
GRAFFITI & APOTROPAIC SYMBOLS / PROTECTION / MARIAN MARKS
ST MARY † Grade 1. Early C13, alterations c.1500, N transept added C19. Between Sherborne & Marston Magna, on the Som. / Dorset boundary. Scratch dials, vertical dial, porch graffiti and protection (‘witch’) marks. 50.9948 / -2.5565 / ST610218
Quite a while ago I wrote (in 2 parts) about the 4 main medieval scratch dials at the church. The links are below. I recently revisited St Mary for a further look at the dials (there are a couple of others to write up) as well as some interesting church marks including a small hexfoil within the porch. A revised single post featuring all of the above will emerge in due course.
I also photographed the Vertical Dial for BSS records. It is located on the end merlon of the parapet, easily visible. It has a simple, almost square face. The plain metal gnomon is fixed into the top of the dial stone, and into the mortar line under the stone below it.
There are other unmarked (no lines, pocks, numerals) dials in the S Somerset / W Dorset region and I though this was one. However, later examining the main photograph in the gallery below, I detected 2 faint lines in U L quadrant that seem deliberately cut. There’s a ghost of a line on the opposite side. So possibly this was once a conventionally marked dial that has slowly and very evenly eroded.
It is hard to date. The dial stone differs from the ones around it. At a guess, it was added C19, perhaps when other work was carried out (eg adding the N transept). BHO notes that in 1827 the church was ‘repaired and beautified’. Perhaps adding the dial was part of that process.
GRADE II † Established C12, first recorded 1207; mostly C15; restoration 1863. C13 (?) font. Originally the chapelry to nearby Seavington St Mary. Very pretty, both the building and the dial. 5m NW of Crewkerne. 50.9113 / -2.8505 / ST403127
DEH visited in August 1915 and added a note to his often largely measurement-based record.
There is a full complement of 24 lines, with areas of erosion, radiating from the gnomon hole in the centre of the dial stone. I am not clear which added lines DEH refers to. I infer that the dial may have been a hemisphere marking dawn to dusk only from the horizontal 6-to-6 lines. Then perhaps for reasons of aesthetics / symmetry an upper hemisphere was cut to match it.
There’s another conundrum concerning the 4 terminal pocks in UR quadrant (above). If the dial is in its original position (L), they would have been useless and indeed pointless. But if the dial stone was at some stage at 90º or (more likely and convincingly) 180º from its present position, they would be effective as daytime Mass markers. In the rotated image (R), the pocks are in the right place to emphasise forenoon Mass.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial
All photos: Keith Salvesen, except header image Sarah Smith / Geo /
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. 11 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 † Eleven (of full set of 12) ‘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)
GRADE II* † C13, C14, C15, some C19 restoration. A charming church, with its battlemented parapet and delightful bell turret. Several churches in the area have similar turrets eg Brympton D’Evercy. 5m NW of Yeovil. 50.9723 / -2.6781 / ST524194
DEH visited St Mary in 1915 and recorded 4 dials (1 – 4 below). 2 of these are within the porch on the R jamb of the original doorway. There are at least 2 other certain dials and a couple of less convincing candidates
St Mary . Chilthorne Domer – Dial 4 (Dials 6 and 7 are on the same buttress, below R)
UNRECORDED / PLAUSIBLE DIALS
Located on the R jamb of the window E of the porch
DIALS 6 & 7
Located together on the buttress E of the porch below R of Dial 4
DIALS 8 & 9
Two very simple dials in an appropriate place on the porch? Plausible but not definite? Not?
GRADE I † C12, C13, C15; C19 restoration. A pretty church with a 4-stage tower and short steeple, close by the Kennet & Avon canal. No discernible scratch dials though a likely-looking location. A single vertical dial, angled. 7 miles W of Hungerford. 51.3941 / -1.5828 / SU291661
The dial is high up on a SE facing buttress, with an iron gnomon set into the stone. It has an S-shaped support. The face is completely plain, with no evidence of numbers, lines or a frame. Possibly it was originally painted. Hard to date, though the gnomon is plainly not original.
Using a different camera sheds another light on the dial* and confirms the absence of markings
*and demonstrates how 2 cameras, used at the same time, tell different stories
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 II* † C13 origins (nave, chancel), considerable enlargement late C15. Norman font, trace wall paintings. Now in the care of CCT. Adjacent to Seavington St Michael and 4m E of Ilminster. 50.9306 / -2.851 / ST402149
DEH visited St Mary in Sept 1912 on one of his early dial research expeditions in Somerset☩. He recorded a single dial on a buttress (Dial 1). BSS does not have a specific record for St Mary. I wasn’t prepared for the multi-dial display on either side of the porch..
Dial 1 is described by DEH in more detail than usual:
This dial is on a buttress half-way between the s. porch and chancel. It is about 5 feet 5 inches above the ground, the noonline is 3 1/2 inches in length, the style hole is 1/2 an inch deep to the top of the metal shank which is still within it, and about 1/2 an inch in diameter. On the noonline, close to the stylehole, is a hole for a peg, and there is another at the extreme end of this line in the next stone. There is also a peg-hole on the mass line.
There are 7 lines, starting with the horizontal 6am. The noon line seems to be a close double line, with noon itself being between them (as other churches in the area). There’s also a hint that it extends to the stone below, with a small terminal pock. The deeper cut line in the lower right quadrant presumably marked the main Mass of the day. No metal shank was evident.
St Mary . Seavington St Mary . Somerset
DIALS 2 & 3
On the W side of the door are 2 adjacent dials on the same stone and of a similar design. Both seem to have been complete circles, now eroded. The larger has a very small style hole. The smaller has a couple of pocks but whether they relate to its function is not clear.
St Mary . Seavington St Mary . Somerset
DIALS 4 – 6
On the E side of the door are 3 dials in a row on a single large stone, one with a string of pocks. Dials are shown in order left to right.
Dial 7 (?)
Completing the line of small circle dials on the stone is a hole lower R. No definite lines / pocks are readily discernible but a photo enlargement suggests faint lines at 11 and 1. A damaged area just above the mortar line might mark extended noon line. There’s a faint impression of a circle. Is this a dial? The hole is in a logical place on the stone and would match the other 3 dials in scale.
Dial 8 ?
On the quoin stone next to Dial 7, another similar hole without noticeable markings. In close-up it’s hard to make much of it – faint evidence of a circle, perhaps? – except that it fits the overall picture of a line of small encircled dials.
In the top R corner is a quite different type of dial, semi-circular with several lines and circumference pocks that more or less match hour line positions. It strays onto the adjacent quoin stone and there’s an impression that it might once have had a top half, with the stone later replaced.
Dials 10 & 11
Both dials are immediately below the others, and resemble dials 2 & 3. 10 is an eroded (part) circle with no discernible style hole. 11 is a complete circle with a very small hole from which – originally or perhaps later – a single line curves downward.
GSS Category: Scratch Dials; Multiple Church Dials
GRADE II † C14 nave, chancel, 3-stage W tower; C15 nave rebuilt, N chapel added. Victorian restoration 1866. 14 Consecration Crosses (usually 12 or fewer). S. of the Sherborne – Yeovil A30 road, approx half way between the two towns 50.9175 / 50°55’3″N / ST603132
I last wrote about St Mary at a time when churches were locked for Covid reasons. I was able to feature the 2 extraordinary and very rare external sill dials in a post HERE Recently, I returned to the church to investigate the third and most unusual dial located actually inside the church. Here is that dial, with a recap of the sill dials.
Scratch Dials located inside a porch are not especially rare, with quite a few examples within a 25 mile radius of Thornford. They are found where dials were originally cut in the stone surrounds of a medieval church doorway and a porch was subsequently added. In some cases, the new porch entrance had a new dial cut to replace its redundant predecessor.
THORNFORD DIAL 3 – INSIDE THE CHURCH
Very rarely is a dial found actually inside the church itself. This may occur when a dial stone has been relocated from the outside to repair an interior wall; or as part of wider building works, as with Stoke St Gregory Somerset. Thornford has a most interesting example.
A remarkable dial – relocated, inverted, overpainted, and all but hidden in the chancel on the N side of the church on the E face of the window jamb, with a wooden toy castle for company. There are 8 lines of almost the same length, somewhat rough-hewn. 2 are barely perceptible.
TWO RARE SILL DIALS
St Mary was one of the earliest churches to be covered in this project, probably because it is only 2 villages away from ours. I featured the 2 the two very rare ‘sill’ scratch dials, both on the quoins of the E. corner of the window sills either side of the blocked chancel doorway, with the window jambs acting as gnomon. These are not unique, but I believe there are fewer than 5 other examples. The link to that article is HERE.
NOTES † Stone screen, c15 font, early organ, a number of Consecration crosses (RCHM says 14), from badly eroded Hamstone to clear-cut. Tithe Tomb in the churchyard with a basin into which tenants contributed to the wealth of the Lord of the Manor by making an annual payment ‘on St Thomas’s Day’ to be allowed to keep their own hay
Passing through Wilton on a tedious A30 journey, I paused to visit St Mary**, a partial ruin in the historical Market Place in the centre of the town. On the E side of the churchyard was a tall monument. On closer inspection it turned out to be large multiple dial, badly eroded and damaged. And as with cube dials, it is rarely possibly to get clear shots of every side of a multiple dial. Later investigation revealed much more of interest, considered below.
BLB dates the structure pre-C18. It is hard to imagine how the dial must have looked originally, or the shape of the various elements, or the location and angles devised for the metal gnomons. There appear to be 6 scaphe dials, and plenty of angles for casting shadows. It’s hard to read much more than that. Fortunately BSS has records of the fine dial at Moccas, Herefs for comparison. It has a broadly similar design, and is in superb condition.
In a way, though, the dilapidation of the Wilton multiple dial goes rather pleasingly with the ruins of the adjacent church.
In due course I researched the dial in more detail, discovering that it had at times been known as County Cross. The informative BLB entry makes it clear that there is much more to the structure than its function as a sundial.
Grade IIPre-C18. An undatable jumble of forms in stone. The octagonal base with 4 seats is probably mediaeval (it is illustrated in a drawing of Wilton done circa 1568), possibly also the square pillar above this. The upper parts are probably C17 and include a heavily sculpted block, possibly a cross or more probably a sundial on corner cannon balls with above, also on corner cannon balls, a moulded base for the C17 godrooned vase which caps this structure.
A print of St Mary by Kershaw & sons (active 1850-80) offers a rather idealised version of the Cross / sundial.
**ST MARY’S CHURCH . WILTON
The remains of the C15 church of St Mary are in the historic Market Place in the centre of Wilton. Listed Grade II*, it was declared redundant in 1972 and is in the care of CCT. Only the chancel, part of the nave, and 3 arcade arches are left. It is an attractive grouping. Not to be confused with the very fine C19 ‘Italianate Church’ on the A30 to the West. 51.0801 / -1.8628 / SU097312
GSS Category: Multiple Dial; Scaphe Dial
Photos: Keith Salvesen; Moccas archive BSS; RarePrints