GRUNDISBURGH . SUFFOLK . ST MARY – Vertical Dial

ST MARY . GRUNDISBURGH . SUFFOLK

GRADE I † Late C13; C15 enlargement and alterations. Tower c1730 with a plaque over the doorway: This Steeple was Built The Bells set in Order and Fixt. At the Charge of Robert Thinge Gent. Lately Deceased A.D. 1731-1732. Dial undated. 8m NE of Ipswich. 52.1133 / 1.2459 / TM223510

The vertical sundial is immediately below the clock. As David Ross has written, what is immediately obvious as you walk up the path to the door is a large sundial set against the south wall of the tower, below a Victorian clock – as if the Victorians did not quite trust the sundial. Both timepieces are set below a round-headed window that would be perfectly at home in a railway station. (David Ross, Britain Express)

PEV (Suffolk E) is also unenthusiasic about the tower, which showed how the Georgians could be every bit as insensitive as the much-maligned Victorians. 

HOW THE DIAL WORKS

BSS: The break-arch shaped dial has a motto within the arch which reads: Life pas’s like a shadow. Roman and Arabic numerals are used to show the time. Surrounding the gnomon root are two arcs showing the time at two other places. One scale has Roman numerals (for Long 39deg W) and the other one with Arabic (for Long 120 deg E).

The main dial shows 5am to 4pm in half and quarter hours. The gnomon rod has an ‘S’ shaped supporter and also includes a nodus. The nodus is associated with the 11 declination lines numbered 8, 9, J0,J1, J2, J3, J4, J5, J6 (8 to 16 for hours of daylight) with outer lines unnumbered.

MOTTOS

LIFE PAS’S LIKE A SHADOW

A rare variant of the many inscriptions that link Life with Shadow(s). Pas’s is said to reflect the Suffolk dialect at the time. There is another example of the ‘misspelling’ (as we might say now) of the word pass. At St Mary, Bucknall, Shropshire, the 1712 dial is inscribed Tyme Paseth.

Tempus Fugit on the C19 clock is… comfortingly familiar

If you want to find out more about St Mary and other churches in Suffolk, I recommend the website of Simon Knott SUFFOLK CHURCHES a journey through the churches of Suffolk

GSS Category: Vertical Dial; Sundial Motto

All photos: Keith Salvesen