Dom Ethelbert, a monk at Downside Abbey, was the pioneer of modern scratch dial recording and analysis. From 1911 onwards, he visited dozens of churches the county of Somerset, and made careful notes of the dials that he found. He travelled by motorcycle, and was not the only Downside monk to use one. He also carried a camera, and considering the time he was exploring, he took many good and clear photos of the dials he found

All subsequent dial enthusiasts – eg A.R.Green in the 1920s – owe a great debt to DEH, and his work deserves separate consideration and earns his own page.

I have recently been to the Abbey to find out more about DEH, and to examine his notebooks and his itinerary maps. In due course I hope to have permission to add at least a few details to this page.

Meanwhile I will soon feature DEH’s main book, and the small field booklet that he published in 1929


This little book was published by popular demand, the public imagination for scratch dials having been stirred by DEH’s original book, by then well out of print. It contains the complete text of the original but omits entirely the specific sections for each Division of Somerset. Instead there are new photographs, and blank pages for notes. This was the first Field Guide for scratch dials, about as niche as one could get.