MELCOMBE HORSEY . DORSET . ST ANDREW – Scratch Dial

St Andrew . Melcombe Horsey . Dorset – north aspect

MELCOMBE HORSEY . DORSET . ST ANDREW

GRADE 1 † C14 origins, additional work C15, Chapels C16, partial C19 restoration. Adjacent to a fine manor house. The Parish confusingly includes Melcombe Bingham, Bingham’s Melcombe and Higher Melcombe, all in a secluded area steeped in medieval history. To explore further, BHO. 50.8178 /  -2.324 / ST772020

DIAL

The church stands in the parkland of Bingham’s Melcombe House, a pleasant walk down a long drive. A single dial is recorded, located on a quoin stone of S.E. buttress of C16 Horsey Chapel. There are other church marks of interest (see below).

St Andrew . Melcombe Horsey . Dorset – scratch dial

The dial is inverted, with 5 radials pointing upwards from a large cement-filled style hole. There are good reasons to suppose the dial was repositioned: it predates the building of the chapel, and so is cut on a reused stone; it is inverted (as often the case with relocated dials); and GLP points out that its angle would receive sunlight for half the day at most.

St Andrew . Melcombe Horsey . Dorset – Scratch dial diagrams (BSS)
St Andrew . Melcombe Horsey . Dorset – south aspect

UNRECORDED DIALS?

There are 2 other configurations on earlier parts on S side of the church that give pause for thought. Both images below show patterns that are distinctly dial-ish.

The first is plausible in several respects: style hole just below the mortar line; 2 large pocks in the mortar line (the RHS one beyond the edge of an apparent circumference); the hint of a part-circle above the horizontal; a distinct curve of pocks in lower L quadrant; eroded and less organised pocks lower R.

The second candidate is less clear. It is at an angle L of the S doorway – a conventional place for a dial. The case for it is weaker and unfortunately it looks less dial-like in the photograph than at the time. Doubtful rather than plausible.

St Andrew . Melcombe Horsey . Dorset – scratch dial?

St Andrew has plenty of further interest in the broader category of church marks. The porch is very rewarding. I usually post about such marks separately but the ones below deserve a place here.

The top row shows Marian V V marks (Virgin of Virgins), one type of so-called ritual protection mark (or apotropaic symbols) designed to ward off evil. There are plenty of less commonly found marks. The main photograph shows mediaeval porch seats with a magnificent inscription (G – PIC?) dated 1589.

GSS Category: Scratch Dials; Apotropaic Marks, Marian Marks, Church Graffiti

All photos: Keith Salvesen

LILLINGTON . DORSET . ST MARTIN – 3 scratch dials & a theory

St Martin . Lillington . Dorset

ST MARTIN . LILLINGTON . DORSET

GRADE I † C13 origin, chancel & tower C15, porch C17, south chapel C18. Restored 1848. A small hamlet, a fine church, a tithe barn, a manor house. Sir Walter Raleigh prayed here. Perfect rural Dorset – secluded in a valley, reached only by narrow lanes, and very much a longcut for traffic. 2m over the fields from our house, 15+ minutes drive. 50.9127 /  -2.5283 / ST629127

DIALS

St Martin has 3 scratch dials, all very different. There is a further contender that I put forward as a plausible but very rare type of dial (with a small degree of approval from BSS).

DIAL 1

St Martin . Lillington . Dorset – Scratch Dial 1

Dial 1 is located on the SW. face of the buttress at the W. end of the tower. It consists of a style hole encircled by a somewhat elliptical ring. There are traces of an inner circle or partial circle, clearest seen at the bottom of the dial. GLP describes it as very eroded, and dates it as C15 (ie when the tower was built). He refers to 2 lines but I did not notice them and I can’t pick them out in the photos.

DIAL 2

St Martin . Lillington . Dorset – Scratch Dial 2

Dial 2 is at 90º to Dial 1, on the SE. face of the same buttress and indeed on the same stone. There are 5 clear lines radiating from a filled style hole, forming what might be called an ‘afternoon dial’. It’s hard to tell which is the noon line: possibly the lowest lines are angled to allow for the dial not facing due S.

GLP also dates this dial as C15. He notes that it may not be in its original position, or may have been (partly) rotated ‘then it might… have been reasonably accurate’. BSS records ‘possibly re-positioned and rotated’. But because this dial and Dial 1 are on the same stone, rotation may be less likely.

DIAL 3

St Martin . Lillington . Dorset – Scratch Dial 3

Dial 3, between of the nave window and the side-chapel, is possibly C13. The chapel, added in C18, shades the dial for half the day. GLP counts 4 lines, at least one ending in a pock, and notes shallow marks between lines possibly marking 1/2 hours. BSS also records 4 lines. I presume the uppermost mark or scar is viewed as subsequent damage. The style hole looks as if it has, or has had, metal in it.

VERTEX DIAL?

On the same buttress as dials 1 & 2 and on the stone immediately below them, is a fairly deep hole drilled precisely and straight into the corner of the stone. Because of the proximity to the other dials at right-angles to each other, I wondered if this strangely-placed hole was also a dial (and if so, whether unique). So I experimented with a stick, with the result shown below. My conclusion is that a prominent gnomon in the vertex would give a clear indication of the passage of time throughout daylight hours. In a way, it might be rather more effective than a normal dial. I could clearly see the shadow from the E. end of the church.

I put the theory out there. As always, any observations would be welcome.

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

STRATTON, DORSET – ST MARY

St Mary . Stratton . Dorset
St Mary . Stratton . Dorset

DEDICATION † ST MARY THE VIRGIN C12 origins, re-fenestration & expansion in C15.
West Tower C15. Chancel rebuilt in 1891, north porch added: ‘date of drastic restoration’ BLB

LISTING † GRADE I

LOCATION † 3 miles NW. of Dorchester in the Frome valley, and thankfully set back from the race track of the A37. A charming church, a village green, and an agreeable pub The Saxon are happily contiguous. 50.7425 / -2.4958 / SY651937

St Mary . Stratton . Dorset . Scratch Dial
St Mary . Stratton . Dorset . Scratch Dial

DIAL † W. jamb of the blocked S. door, inverted, and with 4 discernible lines. The muddle of stones in and around the doorway helps to explain repositioning. GLP suggests that the crossing line ‘may be an attempt to mark Tierce’.

Stratton Dial Diagram GLP

DIAL 2? A POSSIBLE CANDIDATE

Close to the featured scratch dial recessed inside the blocked doorway, there is a larger stone on the outer jamb with a possible second dial. There are 2 clear radials converging on the mortar line, one long and one shorter. If a second dial, it is also inverted. It seems later than its companion. The amount of obvious reworking of the doorway area over time might explain the move of the dial stone.

The 12th-century S. doorway, now blocked, has chamfered jambs of two orders, a round head to the outer and a rebuilt segmental head to the inner order; the label is chamfered BHO

St Mary . Stratton . Dorset . Scratch Dial
St Mary . Stratton . Dorset . Scratch Dial – possibly….
St Mary . Stratton . Dorset . Scratch Dial (possible, unrecorded)
St Mary . Stratton . Dorset . Scratch Dial – possibly…

NOTES † BHO highlights the bells: five; 1st recast at the Closworth foundry, 1753; 2nd by Thomas Purdue, 1695; 3rd by Thomas Purdue, 1658; 4th by Roger Purdue, 1627; 5th by George Purdue, 1619. C13 font.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen