SHERBORNE ABBEY . DORSET . ST MARY THE VIRGIN – Vertical Dial 1745

St Mary the Virgin . Sherborne Abbey . Dorset

GRADE I † Founded by St. Aldhelm in AD 705 as a Saxon Cathedral, Sherborne Abbey became a Benedictine monastery, and following the Dissolution of the monasteries, a Parish Church of some splendour. Of all the architectural features, the astonishing [earliest major PEV] fan vaulting is arguably the finest. This is not the place for discussion of the merits of the church. The Wiki entry is a helpful source for an overview of SHERBORNE ABBEY 

St Mary the Virgin . Sherborne Abbey . Dorset

The large Vertical dial at the E end is impressive and visible from some distance. The Old Shirburnian Society records:

The south-facing vertical dial on the south-east end of Sherborne Abbey was erected in 1745 by Sherborne School at a cost of £5.5s.0d. It was built by the Sherborne architect Benjamin Bastard (1690-1776), son of Thomas Bastard of Blandford Forum. 

The modern gnomon is effective and casts an attractive shadow; it could be argued that its style and fixings do not quite do justice to a C18 dial.

The gallery above might suggest overuse of saturation, but the photos – at various distances to show other features – were taken on an iPhone on a bright sunny early winter’s morning, and are un-enhanced (not always the case, I must admit). We were fortunate enough to be married in this glorious building.

GSS Category: Vertical Dial; Abbey Church

All photos: Keith Salvesen

LONG MELFORD . SUFFOLK . HOLY TRINITY – Scratch Dial

Holy Trinity . Long Melford . Suffolk

GRADE I † A magnificent church, the longest in Suffolk. Exemplar for the conversion of wool prosperity into stonework. Largely C15; W tower rebuilt 1903 (Bodley). SJ rating ***** a treasure house of English medieval art. A good overview at Great English Churches LONG MELFORD 4m N of Sudbury. 52.0878 / 0.7209 / TL865467

DIAL

Holy Trinity . Long Melford . Suffolk – porch

The dial is located on the buttress E of the porch, and easily visible. The style hole is in the mortar line, with 5 lines radiating downwards LHS to a perimeter arc. The presumed noon line and 1 are emphasised. There is a single, fainter afternoon line. The dial stone fits rather awkwardly into its space and the partly unfilled mortar line is strange. A possible relocation?

Holy Trinity . Long Melford . Suffolk – scratch dial

Seen in detail, there is a gap between the top end of the lines and the gnomon hole. The angles between the lines are graduated (rather than evenly spaced) as one might expect with a later dial. However, the angles widen as they approach noon rather than (as one would expect) narrowing. A left-field explanation might be that the church itself is at an angle, for which the dial is compensating. At some stage I need to investigate further but meanwhile, best to publish this and hope that someone can provide an answer.

Holy Trinity . Long Melford . Suffolk – Scratch Dial

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial

All photos: John Renner, with thanks

MUDFORD . SOMERSET . ST MARY (2) – 2 Scratch Dials

St Mary . Mudford . Somerset

ST MARY . MUDFORD . SOMERSET

GRADE I † Mostly early C14 and C15. Built with local stone: lias and ham. A fine C17 cube dial, 2 slightly unrewarding scratch dials, impressive gargoyles. A complete set of 5 bells dated 1582, 1621, 1623, 1664 and 1666, all by Purdue family. Some pews have graffiti from C17 on. 3m N of Yeovil. 50.9773 / -2.6086 / ST573199

I have previously posted about St Mary with the emphasis on the splendid CUBE DIAL high on the apex of the E end. I mentioned 2 scratch dials but because they fall into the separate Medieval Dial category I am giving them some more attention here.

MUDFORD: TWO SCRATCH DIALS

The two dials are on the inner face of the buttress at the E end of the church, one above the other – a less than optimal position. They were obviously relocated and incorporated during expansion / restoration and used as quoin stones for the buttress, though pointless as dials where they are now. The stones themselves are similar, but it seems unlikely that the 2 dials were adjacent before being moved.

Dial 1 is very simple: a style hole with 2 lines descending, the noon line and 1pm. A rod gnomon would very clearly mark the noon part of the day, perhaps indicating that Mass was not quite yet… or that it had been missed…

There is a similar 2-line dial at BROADMAYNE Dorset, where the 2 lines are at either side of the vertical (ie at 11 and 1), cut so that ‘noon’ is in effect the space between them. At COMPTON PAUNCEFOOT there is a large dial on the facade with 3 lines: noon and one each side.

Dial 2 has 4 clear lines radiating from the style hole. These are E of the vertical, marking roughly 1 to 4 (there is no noon line). On both dials there are faint hints of other lines now eroded.

DEH recorded the Mudford dials in May 2015 during a tour of several churches in the area

CUBE DIAL

St Mary . Mudford . Somerset – Cube Dial

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

BROADMAYNE . DORSET . ST MARTIN – 3 Scratch Dials

St Martin . Broadmayne . Dorset

GRADE II* † C13 chancel; C14 nave and lower tower with porch (top stage added later); extensive mid-C19 restoration and rebuilding by J Hicks (Thomas Hardy is said to have drawn the plans while apprenticed.) Portland Stone. 5m SE of Dorchester. 50.6788 /  -2.3857 / SY728866

DIALS

There are 3 dials. 2 are adjacent on E side of the porch which is (unusually) set in the tower. Dial 1 is eroded but visible. Dial 2 is vestigial and easily overlooked (eg by BHO / RCHM). Dial 3 is relocated well out of sight on the NE quoin of the church, a place it could never have been originally. It is much the clearest cut of the 3.

DIAL 1

St Martin . Broadmayne . Dorset – Scratch Dial 1

Dial 1 is visible as one walks up the path from the gate, but the details remain unclear even close to. The BSS record shows 12 lines within a partial circle, the lower part cut off at the edge of the dial stone, suggesting it may have been relocated during rebuilding. I’ve visited St Martin twice, in sunlight and in early evening, and frustratingly I haven’t been able to make out the complete dial shown below. The colour of the stone is a factor. RHS is quite eroded; or perhaps LHS was more deeply incised because it marked the most signifiant time of day for observance.

DIAL 2

St Martin . Broadmayne . Dorset – Scratch Dial 2

As indicated above, dial 2 is unrewarding. Records suggest 4 lines and 2 circles, though I couldn’t see the latter. The images below have been recoloured to bring out the details, such as they are…

DIAL 3

Dial 3 is a small and simple one, with 4 lines. The noon line is emphasised; and the Mass line (Tierce) has a cross.

UNRECORDED DIAL?

The fact that the hole in this buttress stone is centered made me look at it more closely. In 3D rather than in the photo, it is a plausible dial with 2 quite long lines, being the noon line and ‘1.00pm’. With a stick in the hole, it would have been perfectly serviceable for marking the sun’s progress from morning to afternoon. There is a similar dial at MUDFORD Somerset, where the 2 lines are at 11 and 1, cut so that the noon line is centered between them.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial

All photos Keith Salvesen; Diagrams BSS

TINTINHULL . SOMERSET . ST MARGARET OF ANTIOCH – Multiple Scratch Dials

GRADE I † C13 et seq, on early C12 site. Gradual development but (unusually) with little obvious C19 work BHO. Good C16 bench ends. S porch built c1440, originally thatched, with the polar scaphe sundial added later, see LINK. The multiple scratch dials of St Margaret are shown below. DEH recorded 4, but there are several more. 5m NW of Yeovil; just S of dread A303. 50.9746 / -2.7156 / ST498197

DIALS

I visited St Margaret some time ago and have mislaid my notes on the various locations. The dials are all on the S side and all but one are in predictable locations though a couple are not easy to see. Most are on buttresses. One dial (3) is quite high up and would be easy to overlook. There are enough dials for me to skip – and for you to be spared – analysis of each one individually (for the time being at least).

DIAL 1

On the buttress at E end of the church

DIAL 2

On the same buttress as dial 1

DIAL 3

High on a buttress, E end

DIAL 4

S buttress

DIAL 5

On the buttress E of the Priest’s door

DIAL 6

Close to Dial 5

DIAL 7

S buttress

DIAL 8

S buttress near doorway

DIAL 9

E of porch

DIAL 10 (?)

According to the very useful resource Sundials On The Internet, the smallest known scratch dial is at St Margaret’s, location unspecified. It measures a mere 2 inches in height. Possibly it is the hole below. There is a very similar one at Leintwardine Shrops that has been deemed a dial, though it’s just hole with a couple of minimal indentations around it. I saw no other candidate, and had I not known about the 2″ dial I would have passed this by without a second glance.

Polar Sundial. St Margaret . Tintinhull . Som

GSS Category: Scratch Dials; Mass Dial; Medieval Sundial; Multiple Scratch Dials

All photos: Keith Salvesen

WEST CLANDON . SURREY . ST PETER & ST PAUL – 4 Unusual Scratch Dials

St Peter & St Paul . West Clandon . Surrey

GRADE II* † Saxon origins, mentioned DB, no remnants remain. Nave dated c1180; rebuilding ± 1200, chancel added; tower added then or soon after. Mid-Victorian restorations; shingled spire rebuilt 1913. Much of interest within the church – see HERE for highlights. 6m NE of Guildford. 51.2509 /  -0.5052 / TQ044512

DIALS

There are 4 dials, each of significance. On the S wall of the chancel, there is a wonderful dial framed in ashlar stone as if to emphasise its qualities. Inside the church – not just inside the porch – are 3 dials cut on the same stone. Interior dials are almost inevitably the result of relocation and are scarce enough (cf THORNFORD); 3 together must be very rare.

DIAL 1

POSITION Relocated from a buttress to the S wall of the chancel, enclosed by a surround of 4 stones set into the local flint and described elsewhere as …marred by the addition of an inappropriate stone frame (an arguable view?). BSS notes a possible inversion based on variations in the size of the dots; but that would nullify the point of the emphatic noon line design. Unless the 4 pocks were added later of course…

DATE The dial seems so sophisticated in design and execution that I had thought it ±C15. However BHO records a stone on which is cut an early circular sundial probably of the 12th century; it has three circles and is divided in twenty-four spaces by radiating lines; four dots mark the hour of noon and a small cross that of six p.m. A Surrey survey records Dated c 1180 by Johnston (1900, 74), SyAC, 21 (1908), 83-100. This date certainly corresponds to the construction of the nave / the additions soon after. So this is a very early dial probably dating from the construction of the church in its present form and clearly merits its prominent location and ashlar protection.

DEREK RENN in his research on the dials of Surrey considered this dial to be the most elaborate in the county, describing it as three concentric circles divided by 24 equidistant radii, having drilled holes at the intersections, as well as on the arms of an external cross and beside another line at right angles to the cross.

HOW THE DIAL WORKS AS A CALENDAR

DR also explains ingeniously how the dial might have worked: This would function best as an equatorial dial… mounted in the plane of the equator with its upright pointer parallel to the earth’s axis and not vertical, but even then little more than one-half of the dial would be necessary. A possible explanation is that the dial also functioned as a calendar: a peg was moved daily from hole to hole, the cross marking the point at which the peg progressed to the next circle. Another peg counted the number of complete circuits of the ‘board’ for the year on the four separate holes, with the odd days as well. In arithmetical terms: 24 x 3 x (4+1) – 360, +(4+1) = 365

DIALS 2 – 4

These 3 dials are closely grouped on a single stone on the north face of the west jamb of the south doorway. It would be interesting to know where they were originally located, and when / why they were moved to their present position with a purely decorative function.

DIAL 1 has 7 lines including the horizontals in a late a.m. to early p.m. formation. They are rather untidily incised and only 6 are clearly distinguishable. They are within a very faint perimeter curve, with 3 extending beyond it.

DIAL 2 has 5 lines radiating from a large (for its size) style hole. The lines are interestingly formed: 2 lightly cut a.m. lines; 2 deeper cut p.m. lines and extended noon line. The incisions of the latter 3 are unusually decorative, with one being slightly wedge-shaped. Overall, it seems clear that the afternoon was the most important time for daily religious purposes.

DIAL 3 is fully encircled with one clear line roughly corresponding to Tierce. The other 2 (3?) are faint and rudimentary in comparison. Another large style hole completes the design.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Multiple Dials; Early Dials

All photos: Keith Salvesen. Research material: usual resources BLB HE BHO &co; David Ross; Derek Renn

KILMAINHAM . DUBLIN . ROYAL HOSPITAL / IMMA – Vertical Dial

Kilmainham . Dublin . Royal Hospital / IMMA -Vertical Dial

A painted (gold Roman numerals and hour lines on white) vertical timber dial 1000 mm wide by 1200 mm high on the south wall of the courtyard of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham over the entrance to the dining hall. It has an ornate scroll gnomon also painted gold. The RHK, built in 1684, was in use as a retirement home for soldiers until 1927. Following restoration the building was reopened in 1991 as the Irish Museum of Modern Art .

Kilmainham . Royal Hospital / IMMA -Vertical Dial BSS

I am hoping to be able to get more detailed / close-up photos of the dial…

Kilmainham . Dublin . Royal Hospital / IMMA -Vertical Dial

GSS Category: Vertical Dial

Photos: Keith Salvesen; BSS Archive; Text M. J. Harley BSS

WINTERBORNE WHITECHURCH . DORSET . ST MARY – Octagonal Vertical Dial C17

St Mary . Winterborne Whitechurch . Dorset

GRADE I † Early C13 chancel with trace transepts (BHO); C14 crossing tower; C15 south chapel and nave; restoration mid-C19 (Ferrey). A most unusual late C17 octagonal dial; 6m SW of Blandford Forum, just off the main road to Dorchester (12m). 50.8004 /  -2.234 / ST836001

VERTICAL DIAL C17

The remarkable vertical dial is located at the apex of the S Chapel gable. It dates to late C17 (BHO). The lines radiating from the top end of the gnomon are reminiscent of a scratch dial. The dial is canted for accuracy, and deeply enough to accommodate a rare E dial. Both gnomons are unusual, not least by being more toothed than merely serrated.

THE EAST DIAL

It is very unusual (and possibly unique) to bother to delineate the east or west edge of a canted dial; and really quite strange to use such a tall gnomon, which will only cast a shadow for an hour or two at most. JF / BSS

John Foad (BSS) kindly marked up a close-up of the E. dial to show how it would have worked. He writes: It should have diagonal hour lines on it, though there is probably only room for a couple, as it will only see the sun briefly around 6 each morning. There is a suggestion in the records that there were at one time 2 raised lines, but a magnified image reveals no surviving evidence.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Rare Dial; Canted Dial; East-facing sundial

All photos: Keith Salvesen. Thanks as ever to John Foad for his contribution.

SALISBURY . THE CLOSE . ‘LIFE’S BUT A WALKING SHADOW’ – Vertical Dial 1749

Malmesbury House . St Ann’s Gate . Salisbury . Wilts – Vertical Dial 1749

The Close in Salisbury has plenty to recommend it besides a central building for which superlatives are inadequate. Malmesbury House (GV I) by St Ann’s Gate has a particular claim to fame in sundial terms, with the context succinctly explained in the image below. 51.0659 / -1.7938 / SU145296

The very fine sundial on the house is dated 1749. The motto is part of the familiar speech taken from Macbeth Act 5 Scene 5 as Macbeth reacts to the news of Lady Macbeth’s death. It’s not exactly uplifting.

Below is a short text from the Gospel of St John. The dial itself is in very good condition. My amateurishness precludes any meaningful interpretation of the scientific aspect. I will add any significant details in due course.

GSS Category: Vertical Dial; Sundial Motto

All photos: Keith Salvesen

FOVANT . WILTS . ST GEORGE – Multiple Scratch Dials

St George . Fovant . Wilts

GRADE II † C13, C14, C15, restored 1863 (T.H.Wyatt); tower restored 1988. A sad history of disrepair (C15, C17), but nowadays a most attractive and surprisingly secluded church. One bell (of 6) is C15. A cluster of votive / pilgrim crosses externally. Midway between Salisbury and Shaftesbury, N of A30. Note: the church is some way past the centre of the village – persevere. 51.0654 / -2.0068 /  ST996295

DIALS

St George is a multi-dial church. There are certainly 6, plus one candidate that is debatable and may have a different function entirely. I have a note of an 8th dial, and seen a passing reference to one. Unusually, there are 5 dials spread over 2 adjacent stones, a rare proximity of so many.

DIALS 1 – 3

St George . Fovant . Wilts – Scratch Dials 1 -3

This group of dials are all cut on a single stone. It looks as if the simplest dial (3) was superseded by a similar more detailed one (2) ; and that both were eventually made redundant for practical purposes by a relatively sophisticated replacement (1).

DIAL 1

Dial 1 has 10 lines (including the horizontals) that radiate from the filled gnomon hole, within a semicircle. The spacing of the lines is rather haphazard and it is quite hard to relate their positions to specific hours. One line in LRQ has a cross, presumably to emphasise the afternoon Mass time Nones. In LLQ there are 4 (perhaps 5) holes denoting an important part of the day for observance. The positions of the radials on the 2 earlier dials beneath Dial 1 rather confirm this theory. Is the horizontal line above the semicircle part of the dial? There is a short vertical line from its centre – a short ‘midnight’ line? – that suggests some connection but not one that would assist marking the passage of the day. Probably a later addition, purpose unknown.

DIAL 2

Dial 2 is simple dial with a homespun attempt at incising a perimeter. It has 3 strong lines LLQ, each ending in a pock. The noon area is a confusion of trace / eroded lines with pocks that extend further round the approximate circumference, signifying the early afternoon hours

DIAL 3

Dial 3 is a rustic-looking little dial, presumably the earliest of the group. Although from a distance it seems to be just a pair of stubby lines descending from the style hole, close inspection suggests shallow pocks on a curve beyond the noon line – others perhaps hidden by the lichen. If so, it is more sophisticated that it looks at first sight. But for the size of the style hole, it is a candidate for the ‘smallest dial’ category, of which Tintinhull is supposedly the leader

DIALS 4 – 5

Both dials are together on the same stone, immediately W of the dial stone of dials 1 – 3.

DIAL 4

Dial 4 is hard to analyse in detail because of lichen. The style hole is filled. There is a semicircle – again with an inexact curve – and a hint that there was once a full (misshapen) circle. It is just about possible to make out 12 lines, of which only 6 or 7 are distinct. There are no visible pocks.

DIAL 5

Dial 5 is the only dial with all lines in LRQ: an afternoon dial (but see also dial 8). There are 6 lines, of which 5 radiate directly from the style hole. The line at (roughly) 1pm, if part of the dial, passes to L of the hole.

DIALS 1 – 5

DIAL 6

Dial 6 is different from the other dials, and relatively uncomplicated. The style hole is quite high on the dial stone. There are no radials, simply a gentle curve of several pocks either side of noon. There are 7 in all, and presumably the central one marked noon. There’s a significantly clearer image than mine via the first link below!

DIAL 7 -v- NOT A DIAL

There is debate as to whether this design is a dial, or was incised for some other purpose. Two concentric circles with a hole at the centre are not rare for a dial but one would expect to see lines – even just a noon line – and / or dots around the perimeter of the inner circle. Being sited at the W end, it would only be effective late in the day. Again, this is not particularly unusual where a church has been rebuilt stones relocated – Rimpton, Lillington and Stockbridge are examples.

Sometimes it helps to interpret a possible dial – one that may have been re-sited – by rotating the image. It could be argued that the two small pocks equidistant either side of a notional the noon line indicate a simple rather elegant double-ringed marker of the passage of time in the later part of the day. Alternatively it could be a straightforward dial with two pocks that was moved from the S side to W end. Anyway, it looks more dial-ish with this orientation.

DEH noted that this line-less, pock-less design – a hole at the centre of one or two circles – is not uncommon. He suggests that such configurations may have been dials with the details painted within the circles or on the circumference. This was a common practice and can still be seen in a few churches where there is a dial within the porch, cut next to the pre-porch main doorway. West Camel is one example; Chilthorne Domer nearby even has 2.

Local research (see below), originally in conjunction with Tony Woods / BBS, suggests this may in fact be a form of Consecration Cross or ‘event’ mark. That may well be so. However while these often have double circles, crosses generally (always?) do actually feature a cross or at least some form of incised device.

CONSECRATION CROSS

DIAL 8?

As mentioned earlier, I have a note of – and seen a reference to – an 8th dial. It may have been this faint spidery design with its shallow style hole, the lines all LRQ. If it is a dial at all – on balance I am 66% in favour.

These links will take you to two excellent analyses of the dials by Fovant village online resources. Both are interesting in their own right; the second link provides a good overview of the whole community.

FOVANT HISTORY INTEREST GROUP

FOVANT VILLAGE

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Consecration Cross

Credits: all photos Keith Salvesen; thanks to the Fovant church research groups