HOLWELL . DORSET – ST LAURENCE: 3 Scratch Dials

DEDICATION † St Laurence. Mainly C15, some rebuilding C18, with restoration and additions in 1885 by Crickmay, the notable Dorset architect. One of a number of local churches with stocks.

LISTING † Grade 1

LOCATION † Not actually in Holwell but 1m N. towards Bishop’s Caundle, in a hamlet known as The Borough. Just before you turn down the lane to reach the church, don’t miss the UK’s oldest letter box still in use. It is dated 1853, just one year after roadside boxes were introduced. 50.9064 / -2.4289 / ST699119

DIALS

On the buttress E. of porch, 2 eroded scratch dials one above the other; a further small rough dial in the upper half of the lower dial. A possible dial, unrecorded, at the W. end quite high on the SW. face of a buttress. If a dial, it is inverted and presumably repositioned. The dials were photographed on different days in different lights from bright sunshine to overcast, hence the colour variations

GLP records that the 3 dials are ‘very important as 2 of them are cut across two adjoining stones. This means that they must be in situ’. He dates them to late C15.

There is also a later dial, included below: On parapet above porch arch, square stone dial with incised degrees, perhaps 18th century BHO

THREE DIALS ON THE BUTTRESS

St Laurence . Holwell . Dorset – 3 dials on one buttress

DIAL 1 (upper)

Semicircular with a full complement of 6-to-6 radials, eroded on R side. A disorganised pattern of lines for straightness and distancing, with many ending with pocks. Lines and pocks extend to the stone below, especially the noon line. GLP records 16 lines, 6 with pocks, further pocks including a cross formation at the end of the noon line (triple pock cross BSS). He notes some half-hour lines and comments that the dial is very accurately cut.

St Laurence . Holwell . Dorset – scratch dial 1 (upper)
St Laurence . Holwell . Dorset – scratch dial 1 (upper)

BSS diagram

DIAL 2 (lower)

Dial 2 is encircled, most visibly the upper L quadrant, the R side being eroded. Compared with Dial 1, the details are indistinct. The photos below were taken in different lights to help with examination. The radials – many with terminal pocks – are within the lower half of the dial, with Dial 3 located in the upper half (see below).

GLP notes 11 lines with 6 ending in holes, plus the masonry joint as the horizontal, very inaccurately drawn with only one line in the correct position. GLP concludes that, though impressive, the dial was probably of very little use.

St Laurence . Holwell . Dorset – scratch dial 2 (lower)
St Laurence . Holwell . Dorset – scratch dial 2 (lower)

St Laurence . Holwell . Dorset – scratch dial 2 (lower)
St Laurence . Holwell . Dorset – scratch dial 2 (lower)
BSS diagram

DIAL 3 (inset in Dial 2)

A small rustic dial embedded within the top half of Dial 2. Eroded stone and lichen make it hard to analyse the dial much more. The BSS diagram below is the most helpful guide. GLP mentions 3 lines and a very worn circumference line. He notes that this dial, as with Dial 2, would have been of very little use.

BSS diagram

DIAL ABOVE THE PORCH

Featured here for interest and completeness, and will be written up on the OLD DIALS page

The dial is above the S. porch. Hard to date, but relatively complex. There are no numerals, and the lines from 6am to 6pm mark the hours, half-hours and the quarter-hours, carefully graduated. Some lines (eg 8am) are emphasised. There is no gnomon though there must have been one. The presumed site seems to be slightly off-centre at the top, where there is an area of damage. The dial was renovated in 1998 by S&L Kellard of Street, and the decision must have been made not to add a modern gnomon.

DIAL 4 (unrecorded, plausible)

As mentioned above, there is a possible dial quite high on the SW. face of a buttress at the W end. If it is a dial, it must have been repositioned and inverted in the process (shown reverted below)

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

MELBURY BUBB . DORSET . ST MARY – Scratch Dial (unrecorded)

Melbury Bubb . Dorset . St Mary

MELBURY BUBB . DORSET . ST MARY THE VIRGIN

GRADE 1. Church origins obscure; existing building dates from C15 with substantial C19 rebuilding. Renowned font carved from the column of a C10 Saxon cross and inverted. Excellent chest tombs. Next to a fine C17 Manor. The hamlet – Hardy’s ‘Little Hintock’ – is a few miles SW. of Sherborne, nestled into a peaceful hillside with outstanding views over the Blackmore Vale, shielded from the roar of the lethal A37 Yeovil – Dorchester road. 50.8571°N / 2.5753°W / ST596065

DIAL

BSS register and GLP describe a ‘doubtful’ dial: On W. buttress of tower, late C15. A doubtful dial consisting of a single horizontal line leading to a shallow hole. This could be the remains of a painted dial, or a piece of graffiti.

BSS Diagram of the doubtful dial

This church is local to us. We can see it clearly from our house 2 miles away. Since I started this blog, I have checked the buttress two or three times and failed to find a mark similar to the diagram. There are some horizontal faults in the stone, but I haven’t seen anything as precise.

Recently I decided to try again, choosing early evening on a sunny day when the light would be shining directly onto the face of the buttress. Which it did. This is what was revealed, faintly visible in direct sunlight.

Melbury Bubb . Dorset . St Mary – Scratch Dial

There’s an element of wish fulfilment with amateur dial sleuthing – each hole a potential gnomon location; two or more proximate lines as radials; adjacent erosion faults and dots as dial pocks. However, close inspection here revealed a clear design conforming to dial norms.

Melbury Bubb . Dorset . St Mary – Scratch Dial

The central hole has horizontal and vertical lines leading from it that divide the enclosed area into quadrants. There is the trace of a circle, slightly off-centre from the style hole. The upper vertical extends close to the circumference; the lower vertical (noon-line) stops slightly short of it; the left horizontal extends beyond almost to the lichen; and the right horizontal extends into the lichen. There’s a trace of what could be a 1-line to the right of the noon-line.

Melbury Bubb . Dorset . St Mary – Scratch Dial annotated

Having examined the dial in situ, made some measurements, and checked my photos I am convinced that this is a simple scratch dial probably from C15 soon after the tower was built rather than later. In any event I have convinced myself.

The remarkable font deserves inclusion. HE describes it as a cylindrical tapering stone bowl, reversed, formerly base of a shaft, carved with continuous design of beasts: stag, horse, wolf, and ?lion, and lesser beasts, and interlacement, C10. There is a helpful description and annotated diagram in the church.

I have seen St Mary described as a ‘one-treasure church’, but the whole interior, the churchyard with its early chest tombs, the lovely setting of the church and hamlet – and possibly a C15 mass dial – make it rather more than that.

Melbury Bubb . Dorset . St Mary – the C10 Saxon-origin font

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

HERMITAGE . DORSET . ST MARY (2) – Scatch Dial 2 (unrecorded)

Hermitage . Dorset . St Mary . C14

ST MARY . HERMITAGE . DORSET – Scratch Dial 2 (unrecorded)

DEDICATION † ST MARY C14; C17 restoration; further work c. 1800

LISTING † Grade II*

LOCATION † 4 miles N. of Cerne Abbas; S. of Sherborne 50.8611 / -2.4991 / ST649069

A very small, simple church (‘free chapel‘) tucked away under a hillside in a discreet corner of this hamlet. Approached along the edge of the drive of the former Rectory. Supposed hermetic origin. If you didn’t know it was there, you’d miss it – the bell-cote hardly shows above the trees.

DIAL 1 – LINK TO POST HERE

Hermitage . Dorset . St Mary . Scratch Dial

DIAL 2 (UNRECORDED)

Hermitage . Dorset . St Mary . Scratch Dial 2 (unrecorded)

A return to Hermitage to check for other church marks / graffiti produced an unexpected reward – a second dial, hitherto unnoticed and unrecorded, on a quoin stone at the W. corner of the S. side. In strong sunlight, it was clearly visible through a coating of lichen.

Hermitage . Dorset . St Mary . Scratch Dial 2 (unrecorded)

The dial is encircled, with a clear cut noon-line that extends vertically but less markedly to a diameter. There is a fainter full width 6-line, so that the visible lines form roughly equal quadrants. No other radials are definite, though the rough cut at 10 might be one and seems to emanate from the centre. There is a hint of (part of a) second circle on the right side. At the centre is a very small hole in the lichen, so assessing its actual size is not possible. The gallery below includes photos taken from 3 slightly different angles.

Hermitage . Dorset . St Mary . Witch marks and graffiti

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; witch marks and graffiti

All photos: Keith Salvesen

MAIDEN NEWTON . DORSET . ST MARY (3) . SCRATCH DIAL 2? (unrecorded)

St Mary . Maiden Newton . Dorset

DEDICATION † St Mary. Mid C12 / earlier foundation; main development C15; C19 restoration

LISTING † Grade I

LOCATION † 8 miles NE. of Dorchester, 12 miles SE. of Yeovil, in the valley below the A37 racetrack. Hardy’s ‘Chalknewton’. More of a small town than a village, with a few shops, a garage and a station rather than (as elsewhere locally) a single shop and a halt. 50.7775 2.5727 SY597977

DIAL 1

See detailed post for the recorded dial in the chancel doorway (RHS) HERE

St Mary . Maiden Newton . Dorset . Scratch Dial on Chancel doorway

DIAL 2 (?)

The dial is at eye-level on the quoin of the buttress between the porch and the Chancel door. It is not recorded, and I can see why (a) it may have been overlooked and or (b) why, if noticed, it may have discounted as a definite dial. So I’ll argue the case.

This is a pock dial with no radials. There are 3 large pocks on a slight curve, and a couple of small ones slightly out of line. There are other pocks lower down, two of which (presuming a gnomon in the mortar immediately above) seem to relate to the large pocks – one might even be a noon indicator.

Using a crow’s feather as a style centred in the mortar above the large pocks, the shadow cast was photographed at about 11.30

St Mary . Maiden Newton . Dorset . Scratch Dial 2? (unrecorded)

St Mary . Maiden Newton . Dorset . Scratch Dial 2? (unrecorded) . ‘Timed’ with a crow’s feather
St Mary . Maiden Newton . Dorset . Scratch Dial 2? (unrecorded) . Details of the pocks
St Mary . Maiden Newton . Dorset . Scratch Dial 2? (unrecorded) . Location c/w Dial 1 beside the Chancel door

NOTES † There is a fine sundial ‘on S. face of tower, square slab with simple capping, iron gnomon and date 1630BHO. See OLD DIAL menu LINK

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos : Keith Salvesen

PULHAM . DORSET . ST THOMAS À BECKET – SCRATCH DIAL

St Thomas à Becket . Pulham . Dorset

PULHAM . DORSET † ST THOMAS À BECKET

GRADE II*. Fragments indicate C12 origin, otherwise mainly C15 with later additions and rebuilding. The dial survived the C19 work. C16 gargoyles of note. Situated some way down a long lane on the NE. edge of the village, next to the sizeable rectory. 9m SE. of Sherborne. 50.8754 / -2.4111 / ST71108

St Thomas à Becket . Pulham . Dorset – Scratch Dial

DIAL

The dial is set low down on the E. side of the S. porch. Dated by GLP as early C16. Faint, rather randomly cut, and much eroded. 6 definite lines, as GLP recorded. As dials go, it is somewhat underwhelming. In fact I had missed it on an earlier visit, so I am glad I returned to check again.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

UP CERNE . DORSET – SCRATCH DIAL

Up Cerne Church . Dorset . Scratch Dial

UP CERNE CHURCH / CHAPEL . UNKNOWN DEDICATION

GRADE II*. Former parish church, now a private chapel in the grounds of the Manor House*. Largely rebuilt in 1870. A few C15 fragments remain. A secluded hamlet with only 2 or 3 cottages besides the Manor and its extensive lake. Excellent walking country. Hidden in a valley midway between Sherborne and Dorchester. 50.8232 / -2.4865 / ST658027

Up Cerne Church . Dorset . ‘Dorset Churches’

DIAL

The dial is quite high on a square quoin stone on the S. Nave. It is inverted and was perhaps saved as an interesting feature – and moved – during the major C19 rebuild. The stone itself is not matched by others nearby and is clearly older, with significant damage.

Up Cerne Church . Dorset . Scratch Dial

The dial is roughly formed, with an endearingly wonky eroded semicircle containing a curve of rather haphazard pocks. The horizontal line is clear. If there was a noon line, damage to the stone has erased it, together with (presumably) other features of the dial. It’s hard to tell if the striations in the damaged quadrant evidence radials.

Up Cerne Church . Dorset . Scratch Dial

*The Manor House and its grounds are private. There is no public access to the church, which is barely visible from the road. I was fortunate (being local) to be able to gain permission to visit. This is not a dial worth visiting on the off-chance

Up Cerne Church . Dorset . Scratch Dial

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos Keith Salvesen except the church – Dorset Churches online

TOLLER PORCORUM . DORSET . ST ANDREW & ST PETER – TWO SCRATCH DIALS

St Andrew and St Peter . Toller Porcorum . Dorset

ST ANDREW and ST PETER † TOLLER PORCORUM . DORSET

GRADE II*. C14 chancel & nave; C15 W. tower, N. porch. Much of interest in the church of the village of swine (or possibly wild boar). Font, bells, gargoyles, ‘dropped’ chancel, and a fine stained glass millennial sundial. Midway between Dorchester (S.E.) and Crewkerne (N.W.) 50.7799 / -2.6224 / SY562979

St Andrew and St Peter . Toller Porcorum . Dorset – Scratch Dial(s)

DIALS

Two adjacent dials – one doubtful – high up on a quoin stone on the N. aisle. Dial 1 is definitely a dial, though hard to see for erosion, lichen and height. Dial 2 is a possible dial with a style hole, but no longer other visible dial attributes if there ever were any. The stone has plainly been relocated.

Toller Porcorum Drawing BSS
St Andrew and St Peter . Toller Porcorum . Dorset – Scratch Dial(s)

Besides being relocated, the orientation of the dial suggests it is inverted or possibly – as GLP suggests – rotated by 90º. He detected 4 pock marks in or close to the upper-left quadrant (see BSS diagram above). I did not notice them and they are only faintly visible in my photos (taken with my camera held above my head), highlighted in image 1 below. I did detect 4 faint lines / partial lines. The overall configuration (image 2) would make better sense if the stone were rotated 90º anticlockwise.

Dial with pocks highlighted; dial with lines added

As for possible Dial 2, GLP suggests it might have been a practice style hole or an earlier discontinued attempt at a dial. It’s hard to see why a such a very slightly different location was thought better, though. My amateur theory is that the stone was originally on the S. side, set at 90º anticlockwise, with the time-telling part of the true dial being (as often) in the lower left quadrant. The (then) upper hole might have been an earlier very basic time of day indicator – just a stick in a hole to cast a shadow without the need for refinements.

LINKS for information about the church, the village and its history:

BLB TOLLER PORCORUM

BRITAIN EXPRESS TOLLER PORCORUM

The charming stained glass millennial sundial is a striking addition to an already attractive building. It features on GSS in a different dial category, but it merits inclusion here. [Secretly, this is the dial I prefer]

St Andrew and St Peter . Toller Porcorum . Dorset – Stained Glass Millennial Sundial

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos – Keith Salvesen

PIDDLEHINTON . DORSET . ST MARY – TWO SCRATCH DIALS

St Mary . Piddlehinton . Dorset

ST MARY † PIDDLEHINTON . DORSET

GRADE 1. C15 tower, S. aisle; C16 chancel, nave, S. porch; C19 restoration, additions. Mainly perp style. 6 miles N.E. of Dorchester. 50.7733 / -2.4045 / SY715971

DIALS

Two adjacent but very different scratch dials on the S.E. buttress of the tower. The image above shows how they are composed on the buttress. There are also two vertical dials, one Old (1794) the other Modern. There is a plausible third scratch dial – see below.

DIAL 1

St Mary . Piddlehinton . Dorset . Scratch Dial 1

More than twenty pocks in a varied configuration, with a concentration in the UL quadrant. 3 rings are evident there, and the pattern of the pocks suggests that 3 circles were once complete. A number of faint and indistinct radials, with emphasised vertical (noon) and horizontal lines. GLP points out significant variation in the hours in the divisions marking the hours.

DIAL 2

This is a busy dial for the amateur to interpret. GLP concludes for several reasons that it is later than Dial 1. He suggests that the 2 ‘iron stubs’ may evidence an attempt to update (add sophistication to?) the dial by adding a gnomon. The large photo in the gallery shows the debatable ‘style and single noon line’ dial – see notes

DIAL 3?

A plausible third scratch dial is incorporated in the lower dial (noted as ‘doubtful’ elsewhere). I have come across these before, and most certainly appear to be dials of the simplest kind. A clear and deliberate vertical line leading downwards from an apparent style hole suggests a noon line cut below a style. At the most basic level, this would function as a marker of the passage of the day. The overall configuration on the buttress suggests a progression in sophistication from that early marker. So I prefer ‘plausible’ to ‘doubtful’.

St Mary . Piddlehinton . Dorset . Scratch Dial 3?

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

BATCOMBE . DORSET – ST MARY MAGDALENE . SCRATCH DIAL (unrecorded)

Batcombe . Dorset . St Mary Magdalene

DEDICATION † St Mary Magdalene. C15 (on the site of a ?C11 church). Mid C18 rebuilding / restoration (after collapsed chancel). A few early fittings. Screen, font, bells, wall tablets of note. Fragment of stone in middle S. buttress of chancel with pre-conquest interlacement BHO

LISTING † Grade I (Pevsner Dorset 106; BHO)

LOCATION † Remote extended hamlet deep in farming country a few miles SW. of Sherborne and NE. of Dorchester. Nestled under the north flank of a long ridge. Reached by lanes to N. and a very steep narrow lane down from the ridge. The church is immediately below, set into the hillside. 50.8331, -2.543, ST618038

Batcombe . Dorset . St Mary Magdalene . Scratch Dial

DIAL † Previously unrecorded. On the SW. face of the NE. buttress of the tower, about 4′ high. An encircled rustic dial with 2 clear radials, 3 less defined and at least one trace line (see annotated image below). Others lines may have eroded. The style hole is mortared (as so often) so tracing the centre point is not possible. In any case, while the circle is accurately incised, the rest of the dial is randomly cut.

Batcombe . Dorset . St Mary Magdalene . Scratch Dial

The noon-line (if intended as such) is a diameter rather than radius, cut straight to the style hole and bent below it. There are some pocks on the dial stone, 3 of which may relate to the dial itself. The dots at each end of (non-)vertical diameter line suggest an approximate noon-line rather than 2 separate radials.

Batcombe . Dorset . St Mary Magdalene . Scratch Dial (annotated)

NOTES † A small ritual protection mark – a tiny shield-shaped face – to the right of the entrance door. Such apotropaic symbols were carved or scratched usually by a door or window or in the porch to prevent evil from entering the church and to repel it from the vicinity

Ritual Protection Mark / Apotropaic Symbol / ‘Witch Mark’, Batcombe . Dorset . St Mary Magdalene

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos Keith Salvesen

MAIDEN NEWTON . DORSET . ST MARY . SCRATCH DIAL

St Mary . Maiden Newton . Dorset

DEDICATION † St Mary. Mid C12 / earlier foundation; main development C15; C19 restoration

LISTING † Grade I

LOCATION † 8 miles NE. of Dorchester, 12 miles SE. of Yeovil, in the valley below the A37 racetrack. Hardy’s ‘Chalknewton’. More of a small town than a village, with a few shops, a garage and a station rather than (as elsewhere locally) a single shop and a halt. 50.7775 2.5727 SY597977

St Mary . Maiden Newton . Dorset . Scratch Dial on Chancel doorway

DIAL † On arch stone, E. side of chancel door. GLP dates as early C15, with a ‘rough arc of 5 holes across 2 stones’. I was at a loss to see how this dial could have worked with such a shallow arc and without a style hole. However GLP points out that the arc’s approximate centre lies in a joint between 2 stones, so subsequent repointing presumably covered up the hole

NOTES † There is a fine sundial on S. face of tower, square slab with simple capping, iron gnomon and date 1630 BHO. See OLD DIAL menu LINK

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos : Keith Salvesen