GRADE I † Late C12 or early C13; porch added C15, C19 general restoration. A pretty and rewarding small church to visit, close to the R Stour. A simple building, comprising a nave, chancel and porch, topped with a small bell cote. Useful photos HE. Seems off the beaten track but only 3 miles E of Sturminster Newton. 50.9304 / -2.2606 / ST817145
The dial is on S side, inside the C15 porch. It is cut into the R end of the original doorway arch (as you look at it; other sources say at the top of the L jamb). It clearly precedes the new porch by at least a century; GLP dates it C13.
This is more or less a 1/4 ‘afternoon’ dial, quite roughly cut. Of the 5 lines (GLP suggests 7 but I could not make them all out). Only one line is before noon, and gives the impression of being an afterthought. 4 have slight curves. None of them (now) is connected to the style hole. The noon line is emphasised in both depth and length. GLP suggests some lines recut. There are 5 pocks rather randomly placed.
NOTE: the pleasing name for the village seems to derive from its historical manor, the ‘hame’ of William de Mohun
GRADE I † C13 origins, gradual expansion to C16 – nave, tower, north aisle, chancel, south porch. General restoration first half of C19, further restoration later C19. A fine Dorset church in a lovely setting. 6m W of Shaftsbury. 50.9932 / -2.2948 / ST794215
St Michael has 3 dials, all different in style and complexity. With the lengthy development of the church over 3 centuries, and subsequently 2 significant C19 restorations, not all may be in their original positions (for example dial 3 is nearly 3m from ground level). If moved, at least they remained the right way up.
Dial 1 is on W side of the S porch. The squared-off stone looks relocated – especially as the porch was a late (C16?) addition. There are 9 lines of varying length, with bad erosion in lower R quadrant.
The dial is / was encircled but little of the circumference line remains. GLP notes that the noon line is marked with a pock where is meets the circle and that the dial is rather inaccurately laid out and the lines do not converge on a point.
Dial 2 is on a quoin stone on the SW corner of the tower. 6 long lines radiate from the blocked gnomon hole to the lower L quadrant, in effect forming a ‘morning dial’. It is not accurate.
The dial stone seems to match the others round it. Possibly it is in its original position, but it could have been moved as a block with similar stones either during the medieval period or (more probably) in C19.
Dial 3 is quite high up on the S wall of the tower and difficult to examine closely. Luckily the lines, though lightly incised, are legible and the overall design is clear.
The are 12 in all, with the noon line extending upwards from the style hole to the mortar line above. Unlike the other dials, GLP notes that this one is accurately laid out, suggesting that it may have been the last dial to be cut.
ACTUAL / PLAUSIBLE / DOUBTFUL / NOT
2 other stones caught my eye during my visit. Both are dial-ish and in appropriate locations. Which category do these fall into?
GRADE I † A fine church with C12 origins, gradually enlarged C13 & C14. C19 restoration by T H Wyatt. BLB link. A village irrevocably associated with the 6 Martyrs, at least one of whom (James Hammett) lies in the churchyard. The tree where the Martyr’s met stands just outside the churchyard of St John the Baptist, on the main road through the villageBE. 10m E of Dorchester. 50.7497 / -2.298 / SY790945
Both dials are on the S transept wall, dial 1 being on a quoin stone and dial 2 being below a window. They are easily visible. GLP has some doubts about dial 2, explained below.
Dial 1 is located on a quoin stone of the S transept, with the gnomon hole in the lower half. There are 6 detectible lines, 2 of which point upwards. In addition there are about 11 pocks, though it is hard to be sure of the exact number. The BSS recorded configuration shows 3 holes marking the horizontal, with the main cluster either side of the noon line, which is emphasised with 2 holes (as are 2 other lines). GLP notes the dial is very accurately laid out and no line is more than 1″ from its ideal position
This design cut just below a window on S wall looks decidedly dial-ish as a very simple way to record the passage of the day. There are no detectable lines or pocks, but a stick in the now-cemented style hole would have served some purpose. The circle was perhaps to attract attention and / or highlight the shadow cast. This minimalist approach is not especially rare: for example there’s a similarly-sized slightly more elaborate dial at HAZELBURY BRYAN.
GLP calls it a dubious dial, and suggests that it would work if hour lines were marked in some other way, possibly with paint. It is not included in the BSS record for Tolpuddle
GRADE 1 † C12 Norman origins, mostly enlarged and rebuilt C13 -C15 with relatively little remaining of the earlier church. One of several ‘Puddle’ villages in the Piddle valley, each of considerable merit. St Mary is of exceptional interest for its furnishings and monuments (RCHM Dorset Vol III), including a C12 font. Atmospheric interior; like a Dickensian law court (SJ 1000 *** p.159). 50.7483 / -2.3433 / SY758943
From a distance the dial of St Mary might easily be taken for an ammonite, especially as the church is only 20 miles from the famed Jurassic Coast. It is located on the E buttress W of the S chapel, on the L side of a large quoin stone. This is a very crudely cut dial (GLP) with 13 rather randomly cut lines extending from a now-filled gnomon hole. Its position and condition suggest that it was relocated during rebuilding or restoration. The left side is badly damaged: it would be interesting to know how it originally looked when intact.
Some time ago I wrote about the intriguing scratch dial rather hidden away through a low archway at the E end of the church: LONGBURTON SCRATCH DIAL 1
The village is better known dial-wise for the vertical dial on the S-facing tower buttress (see below). Yesterday I went back to look for apotropaic and other church marks, and to my surprise found an excellent conventional sundial hidden in plain sight and hitherto unrecorded. I can’t think how I – or any dial gatherer – would miss it…
The previously unrecorded dial is near the base of the same buttress as the vertical dial. There are 4 lines, the more clearly cut noon line being longer and reaching the edge of the dial stone (and possible trace of extension onto the stone below). The angles are almost equal. There is the distinct trace of a circle in around the top half, but strangely the gnomon hole would not be at its centre.
The dial is high up on the buttress of the tower, and nearly as wide. It is quite eroded, esp. RHS. The lines are contained within a frame, and half hours and some quarter hours are also marked.
BSS notes Triple dot motif at head of half hour lines. Gnomon formed from iron strip with supporter. Supporter is detached at contact with gnomon
The dial numerals are Roman, yet there are Arabic numerals in both bottom corners signifying the date. It is hard to make it out, but I think it is 1798. There are the remains of an inscription along the top of the dial, just the last 2 letters being discernible (O & W?).
GRADE I † C12 origins, C13 nave, C14 tower & S porch; seemingly no C19 makeover. Plenty of interest to admire here – see entry in HE. 3m NE of Bridport. 50.7458 / -2.7225 / SY491942
St Mary has 2 dials, both on the E side of the porch (late C14). Dial 1 is easily visible on the jamb. Dial 2 is tucked into a corner on the angle formed by the S wall and a staircase that was added C15. After that addition, Dial 2 was probably little use before noon (if at all).
Dial 1 is a good example of the interface between the simple dial function of marking the hours, and decorative design. This is a lovely and ambitious 24-hour dial, with 19 lines and 26 pocks. Although considerably eroded, it intricacies remain clear. There are radial variations of angle, length and emphasis. There are single pocks, double pocks, half-way pocks. GLP notes that the dial is quite accurately laid out and seems to mark most of the hours and some of the half hours as well
Dial 2 is badly degraded, I suspect rather more so than when last surveyed. 3 lines emerge(d) from a gnomon hole in the dial stone. An amateur (me) would be unlikely to give it a second glance, especially in that position. In its present state it no longer matches the drawing originally made. Or I have made an ID mistake (quite possible)? GLP describes it as a very fragmentary inverted dial. Which perhaps suggests that the stone was moved / turned when the staircase was built. Or, possibly, it was a dial stone used from elsewhere on the building and intentionally inverted (as often the way with moved dials).
ST CANDIDA & HOLY CROSS . WHITCHURCH CANONICORUM . DORSET
GRADE I † C12 onwards on a Saxon site, with tower not until C15; C19 restoration. Also known as St Wite (hence Candida?), whose relics are in a shrine inside the church.* A building of outstanding interest in a secluded valley, the Cathedral of the Vale. Too much else to be said for inclusion here. For more details, see BLBBE & ST CANDIDA WIKI 5m NW of Bridport. 50.7554 / -2.8565 / SY396954
Dial 1 can be found in a corner of the W buttress of the S transept. It has 12 lines, and the stone has been cut to give a rectangular outline to the dial, the gnomon hole being R of centre. Sited uncomfortably in a corner, the dial seems unlikely to have been effective and certainly not year-round. Nor would it have been very visible to passers-by. So it seems likely – given the way the lower lines are truncated – that the dial was re-sited during later renovation.
This dial (if it is one) is as simple as could be – 2 holes, large and small, on the vertical. It is located on the W jamb of the C13 blocked door of the chancel. BSS describes it as a ‘Noon Mark’, a style in the upper dial indicating the passage of the day either side of noon. GLP suggests this might originally have been a painted (as opposed to incised) dial. I wondered if the 2 slightly inward-curving faint lines descending from each side of the lower hole were there to emphasise noon (as was done using pocks).
* In 1900 the tomb was opened and was found to hold a lead casket containing the bones of a small woman. On the casket was the Latin inscription “HIC-REQESCT-RELIQE-SCE-WITE” (“Here lie the remains of St Wite”) ST CANDIDA WIKI
GRADE I † Pre-conquest origins. Significant Saxon features. Splendid Norman doorway. C12 font. Development C12 et seq, with C19 restoration. Archaeologically uncommonly interestingPEV; inc. by Simon Jenkins. BLB Listing. 51.4286 / -1.8579 / SU099699
The vertical dial is below the parapet, L of the porch. From a distance, the only distinct marking on the face is a faint square frame for the dial. Closer examination reveals at least the ‘X’ of noon. The footing of the gnomon is in a badly damaged area. Most notably, the dial is at a canted angle so that it faces south. Hard to date – there’s no clue in the usual resources. C18 perhaps, esp. as roman numerals were used?
GRADE II* † C12 origins then C13 and C14 addition and rebuilding. Much C19 work inc. rebuilding tower & S porch. A most attractive long low church with timber belfry and spire. A rewarding church to explore: see BHO. 3m S of Stockbridge; 7m N of Romsey. 51.077 / -1.4872 / SU360309
There are 4 dials recorded for the church, but only 3 are visible. The 4th seems now to be concealed behind a boiler. The 3 visible dials are all on the jambs of a S nave window. ARG notes that the window was inserted into an old doorway All are inverted, presumably during the 1880 restoration. Maybe this links up with the rebuilding of the S porch and relocation of stones originally there (a more obvious position). BHO notes various window alterations and the movement of stones incised with ornamental crosses and inscriptions… the stones have unfortunately been reset upside down.
Dial 1 is inverted on the L jamb. LHS and below, the style hole is badly damaged. Otherwise, the 12 lines are more or less clear, with differing lengths and angles. There is a trace of a semicircle, marked by perimeter pocks. The noon line is considerably elongated and, with 1, has larger perimeter pocks. 1 also has a short extension of 4 dots, perhaps to emphasise a service significant to this church or community.
DIALS 2 & 3
Both dials are on the R jamb, inverted, on the same stone, and actually touching. Unusually (perhaps very rare) both are complete circles with 24-hour marking. Dial 2 has 24 radials; Dial 3 has 24 pocks.
Dial 2 is encircled and imaginatively decorative, with radials for a full 24 hours. The spacing is somewhat random. The style hole is quite deep, and obviously enlarged. The (upside-down) noon line is deeper cut, as are 10, & 11. So too is 1, which is also extended with 2 pocks. This corresponds with Dial 1 and seems to confirm that some importance was attached to that time of day.
Dial 3 is also a complete circle, with a small style hole. It is eroded, with only the (upwards) noon line and a couple of fainter lines clear. Most of the daylight hours are marked by pocks on the circumference; close examination has shown that in fact there are 24 pocks. It appears as if squeezed into the space between the upper stone and the lower edge of the stone
St Peter & St Paul . Kings Somborne . Hants – Scratch Dials 2 & 3
Dial 4 is located on the SE quoin stone of the Chancel. The record indicates that it has 12 lines, mostly curved, and 2 above the horizontal. BSS notes Position is obscured by a hut containing an oil tank. So much so that I couldn’t find it at all. I intend to try again next time I’m in the area – perhaps taking a torch.
ARG in 1923 recorded that the dial consisted of a circle with 10 lines in the lower half, 5 of which end in pocks; and 2 lines in the upper half. None of the lines are straight; most are distinctly curved. Sadly, although he photographed dials 2 & 3, he did not take dial 4.