LICHFIELD CATHEDRAL . STAFFS – C17 / C18 Cube Dial on a Column

Lichfield Cathedral – Cube Dial on Column

GRADE II Large Cube Dial on a tall column. BLB / HE give the most complete descriptions: Date uncertain, probably C17 or early C18; 1st recorded 1781. Ashlar. Tall quatrefoil pier on plinth, with ring and moulded capital supporting cube with dials and gnomons to each face, reeded domical (domed) cap. An unusual feature whose origin is unknown, removed in 1781 and re-erected to the west end of the cathedral in 1785, removed and sold in 1881, and returned and re-erected on its present site in 1929.

BHO notes: A sundial near the south doorway of the cathedral was removed in 1781 and re-erected in 1785 at the west end in order to regulate the clock on the tower. It was removed in 1881 and passed into private hands. It was returned to the cathedral in 1929 and placed on a pedestal in its present position south of the nave.

The clock in question was (without going into detail) probably the first Cathedral clock, which was in position by 1491. BHO suggests that the original clock was still in place in early C17 and probably not replaced or superseded by another clock until late C18. If so, the dial’s removal and re-erection in 1780s would have been to regulate the original clock.

The handsome domed dial has a single gnomon on each face. The gnomons and lines obviously differ on each side. Numerals are Arabic rather than Roman.

Assuming the Cathedral conforms to the usual church orientation, the Cube’s angle in its position on the S side of the building is some 45º out of true from what might be expected. Presumably the explanation is that the cube was originally cut for a different position, and after several relocations its present position and orientation provides optimum accuracy. Any other suggestions would be welcome.

Lichfield Cathedral – Cube Dial on Column

GSS Category: Cube Dial; Column Dial; Pillar Dial; Pedestal Dial

Credits: Erika Clarkson for amazing photos, with thanks