THORNFORD (2) . DORSET . ST MARY MAGDALENE Revisited – Rare Scratch Dials (interior & sill)

St Mary Magdalene Thornford Dorset (Keith Salvesen)
St Mary Magdalene, Thornford, Dorset

ST MARY MAGDALENE . THORNFORD . DORSET

GRADE II † C14 nave, chancel, 3-stage W tower; C15 nave rebuilt, N chapel added. Victorian restoration 1866. 14 Consecration Crosses (usually 12 or fewer). S. of the Sherborne – Yeovil A30 road, approx half way between the two towns 50.9175 / 50°55’3″N /  ST603132

I last wrote about St Mary at a time when churches were locked for Covid reasons. I was able to feature the 2 extraordinary and very rare external sill dials in a post HERE Recently, I returned to the church to investigate the third and most unusual dial located actually inside the church. Here is that dial, with a recap of the sill dials.

Scratch Dials located inside a porch are not especially rare, with quite a few examples within a 25 mile radius of Thornford. They are found where dials were originally cut in the stone surrounds of a medieval church doorway and a porch was subsequently added. In some cases, the new porch entrance had a new dial cut to replace its redundant predecessor.

St Mary Magdalene, Thornford, Dorset – interior scratch dial

THORNFORD DIAL 3 – INSIDE THE CHURCH

Very rarely is a dial found actually inside the church itself. This may occur when a dial stone has been relocated from the outside to repair an interior wall; or as part of wider building works, as with Stoke St Gregory Somerset. Thornford has a most interesting example.

INTERIOR DIAL

St Mary Magdalene, Thornford, Dorset – interior scratch dial

A remarkable dial – relocated, inverted, overpainted, and all but hidden in the chancel on the N side of the church on the E face of the window jamb, with a wooden toy castle for company. There are 8 lines of almost the same length, somewhat rough-hewn. 2 are barely perceptible.

Thornford – interior dial (BSS)

TWO RARE SILL DIALS

St Mary was one of the earliest churches to be covered in this project, probably because it is only 2 villages away from ours. I featured the 2 the two very rare ‘sill’ scratch dials, both on the quoins of the E. corner of the window sills either side of the blocked chancel doorway, with the window jambs acting as gnomon. These are not unique, but I believe there are fewer than 5 other examples. The link to that article is HERE.

St Mary Magdalene Thornford Dorset Scratch dial 1a
Thornford – window scratch dial 1a
St Mary Magdalene Thornford Dorset Scratch dial 1b
Thornford – window scratch dial 1b
St Mary Magdalene Thornford Dorset Scratch dial 2a
Thornford – window scratch dial 2a
St Mary Magdalene Thornford Dorset Scratch dial 2b
Thornford – window scratch dial 2b

NOTES † Stone screen, c15 font, early organ, a number of Consecration crosses (RCHM says 14), from badly eroded Hamstone to clear-cut. Tithe Tomb in the churchyard with a basin into which tenants contributed to the wealth of the Lord of the Manor by making an annual payment ‘on St Thomas’s Day’ to be allowed to keep their own hay

GSS Category – Scratch Dial; Sill Dial; Interior Dial

All photos – Keith Salvesen

WINFRITH NEWBURGH . DORSET . ST CHRISTOPHER – 6 Scratch Dials

St Christopher . Winfrith Newburgh . Dorset

ST CHRISTOPHER . WINFRITH NEWBURGH . DORSET

GRADE II* † C12 origins, chancel added C13, nave & tower C15. Considerable C19 restoration & rebuilding. Quite a large church, with its gradual development evident. 6 confusing scratch dials. SE of Dorchester, W of Wareham. 50.6585 /  -2.277 /  SY805843

DIALS

The scratch dials are in a group arranged around the S. door of the chancel. There are 6 in all (BHO records 4) but on the very dark local ironstone none is very clear. BSS / GLP dates them to C15, and their diagrams below are very helpful in marking the locations and configurations. I should say at once that I couldn’t definitively identify dial 3 (at / near the apex of the doorway’s arch) at the time nor in the photos I took see below.

St Christopher . Winfrith Newburgh . Dorset – the ‘Dial Doorway’ with 6 scratch dials

GLP concluded that none of the dials was in its original position. 1, 3, 6 are inverted; the stones of 2, 4, 5 were shaped after the dials were cut, truncating them. Perhaps the entire doorway was originally built using reshaped stones from elsewhere on the church; or perhaps an existing doorway was later rebuilt or reshaped.

DIAL 1

Dial 1 is on L side of the doorway. Inverted, with 5 lines pointing upwards. Style hole area heavily filled (possible repair of damage?). GLP suggests the lines are not convergent so very inaccurate.

DIAL 2

Dial 2 is above dial 1, on the lowest stone of the doorway arch. Parts of the dial have been cut off at the edges. There are 12 lines, 5 pocks and a cement-filled style hole. Of all the dials, it is more or less correctly orientated, with a noon line emphasised by depth and length.

DIAL 3

This is my candidate for dial 3. GLP describes it as very worn and inverted. Apart from the very clear unfilled style hole, he describes 2 trace lines above the dial. I couldn’t detect the 2 lines. The BSS diagram (see below) indicates dial 3 as being on the apex stone, but I found no evidence of a dial there.

DIAL 4

Dial 4 is upper R side of the arch. There are 9 lines radiating from a plugged style hole, one (perhaps 3) with terminal pocks. The dial has clearly been rotated 90º clockwise. Sited correctly, the deeper incised lines L side would become midday lines. GLP considers it clearly and accurately marked (given the correct position).

DIAL 5

Dial 5 is below dial 4 on a larger stone. It is very degraded and it isn’t easy to read. BSS notes 3 lines, and a pock possibly marking noon. My impression was of 2 additional trace lines. This dial is recorded as repositioned, set at a very oblique angle, and could never have been used in its present position.

DIAL 6

Dial 6 is lower down on the R jamb approx level with dial 1. Again, it is inverted, with 6 distinct lines radiating upwards. One is marked with a cross, probably the Mass line.

Dials 2 -5 B&W: the hole top L presumably marks 3.. No clues on the apex stone
Winfrith Newburgh – 6 dials diagram

BSS DIAGRAMS OF THE 6 INDIVIDUAL DIALS

NOTE: because of the dark ironstone I have brightened the images to make them clearer

GSS CATEGORY: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Medieval Sundial

All photos Keith Salvesen; diagrams and research material GLP / BSS

TARRANT GUNVILLE . DORSET . ST MARY – Scratch / Transitional Dial

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Dorset

ST MARY . TARRANT GUNVILLE . DORSET

GRADE II* † Mainly C14, tower C15. C12 vestiges of earlier church. General C19 restorations including by T H Wyatt. A slightly unharmonious impression reflects the changes. Roughly midway between Shaftsbury to NW & Blandford to SW. 50.9135 /  -2.1078 / ST925126

DIAL

A single dial on S porch E of doorway. GLP calls it a remarkable dial, somewhat damaged. Its perplexing design has provoked several theories. The most straightforward is that it is in fact a transitional dial rather than a true scratch dial. BHO notes: Scratch Dial: on S. wall of porch, with black-letter numerals and stump of iron gnomon, early 16th century, which is probably meant generically rather than specifically. GLP, with his compendious knowledge of Dorset dials, dates this one much earlier, late C14.

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Dorset – porch

The dial stone is far larger than any other porch stone and seems out of place. The first impression is of a large dial doubly encircled but with the upper half damaged and eroded over the centuries. GLP suggests remnants of large dial with all hour lines marked. The fact that the gnomon hole – still with the stub of an iron rod – is almost exactly at the centre of the dial stone supports the theory of an originally complete circular dial rather than partial arcs. In the upper L quadrant there are hints of double circumference lines continuing upwards.

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Dorset – scratch / transitional dial

LINES & POCKS

The details of the dial are intriguing. There are 10 lines leading to numerals carved in blackletter / Gothic form. Legible numbers run from 5am to noon, then there are 2 lines with eroded numerals. There is a plausible very faint near-horizontal line RHS. Hours 9, 10, 11, & 12 are marked with a cross rather than the roman numeral X (see diagram below).

There are also 5 pocks. 4 decorate the noon line. 1 is halfway down the 11 line which is nearly vertical, indicating (I think) that the dial was cut to take account of the orientation of the wall.

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Dorset – scratch / transitional dial

GNOMON

Unusually, the dial has the stump of an iron gnomon. It seems unlikely to be original and looks more square than round (cf GLANVILLES WOOTTON , also in Dorset). Whether original or not, there is no way of telling how (if at all) it was angled.

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Dorset – scratch / transitional dial

GLP suggests that the dial may be an interesting transitional dial and notes that it would probably not have been accurate. One theory is that this was a horizontal dial set vertically; or with a horizontal design used for this vertical dial. He concludes that it is as much a decorative feature as a real timekeeper. My query is whether C14 dials were sophisticated enough to be making the transition from basic scratch to accurate scientific dials.

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Scratch / Transitional Dial

GSS Category: scratch dial; transitional dial; vertical dial

All photos Keith Salvesen; dial diagram BSS / GLP

SIXPENNY HANDLEY . DORSET . ST MARY – Scratch Dial(s)

St Mary . Sixpenny Handley . Dorset

ST MARY . SIXPENNY HANDLEY . DORSET

GRADE II* † Chancel & porch early C14; some C15 & C18 work; remainder of church rebuilt 1877 (Crickmay). For more details (my visit having been curtailed) see St Mary Sixpenny Handley BHO. The village is halfway between Salisbury and Blandford. 50.9552 /  -2.0077 / ST995173

St Mary . Sixpenny Handley . Dorset – Scratch Dial

DIALS

There are two dials recorded for St Mary. I visited just after a funeral service had begun, and I paused for a circumspect and respectful moment at the chancel end of the church, where the dial featured here is situated. I took a couple of photos of the dial before stealing away. The other dial (not noted by GLP) is on the W side of the porch, and I will have to check it another time. Hence the header image is an archive postcard showing the church and its handsome lych gate instead of a photo of the church; and there is a diagram only of the porch dial.

DIAL 1

This large C14 dial looks out of place and seems clearly to have been relocated. The hamstone on which it is cut doesn’t match any others in the vicinity, and the dial is awkwardly angled with the presumed extended noon line some 15º from the vertical. An upper segment appears to be missing from the visible semicircle. There isn’t a definite gnomon hole and the 9 lines seem to radiate from a higher point than the edge of the stone, further suggesting a re-siting. 4 lines extend beyond the circumference. There is a trace of a cross at the end on the apparent ‘noon’ line and GLP notes that it may in fact be a Mass line rather a noon line. Overall he found the dial to be accurately cut.

DIAL 2

Dial 2 is on the W side of the S porch, and the BSS record suggests it is not easy to make out. There is an arc of 7 pocks RHS, from noon on. Not having seen the dial, I am not sure how much else is now visible. I’ll have to time my next visit to the area with more care, and expand this article accordingly.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos Keith Salvesen; Diagrams BSS & GLP

HAMMOON . DORSET . ST PAUL – Scratch Dial (inside porch)

St Paul . Hammoon . Dorset

ST PAUL . HAMMOON . DORSET

GRADE I † Late C12 or early C13; porch added C15, C19 general restoration. A pretty and rewarding small church to visit, close to the R Stour. A simple building, comprising a nave, chancel and porch, topped with a small bell cote. Useful photos HE. Seems off the beaten track but only 3 miles E of Sturminster Newton.  50.9304 / -2.2606 / ST817145

DIAL

The dial is on S side, inside the C15 porch. It is cut into the R end of the original doorway arch (as you look at it; other sources say at the top of the L jamb). It clearly precedes the new porch by at least a century; GLP dates it C13.

St Paul . Hammoon . Dorset – scratch dial inside S porch

This is more or less a 1/4 ‘afternoon’ dial, quite roughly cut. Of the 5 lines (GLP suggests 7 but I could not make them all out). Only one line is before noon, and gives the impression of being an afterthought. 4 have slight curves. None of them (now) is connected to the style hole. The noon line is emphasised in both depth and length. GLP suggests some lines recut. There are 5 pocks rather randomly placed.

NOTE: the pleasing name for the village seems to derive from its historical manor, the ‘hame’ of William de Mohun

GSS Category: Scratch Dial (inside porch)

All photos: Keith Salvesen

TOLPUDDLE . DORSET . ST JOHN the EVANGELIST – 2 Scratch Dials

St John the Evangelist . Tolpuddle . Dorset

ST JOHN’S CHURCH . TOLPUDDLE . DORSET

GRADE I † A fine church with C12 origins, gradually enlarged C13 & C14. C19 restoration by T H Wyatt. BLB link. A village irrevocably associated with the 6 Martyrs, at least one of whom (James Hammett) lies in the churchyard. The tree where the Martyr’s met stands just outside the churchyard of St John the Baptist, on the main road through the village BE. 10m E of Dorchester. 50.7497 /  -2.298 /  SY790945

DIALS

Both dials are on the S transept wall, dial 1 being on a quoin stone and dial 2 being below a window. They are easily visible. GLP has some doubts about dial 2, explained below.

DIAL 1

St John the Evangelist . Tolpuddle . Dorset – scratch dial 1

Dial 1 is located on a quoin stone of the S transept, with the gnomon hole in the lower half. There are 6 detectible lines, 2 of which point upwards. In addition there are about 11 pocks, though it is hard to be sure of the exact number. The BSS recorded configuration shows 3 holes marking the horizontal, with the main cluster either side of the noon line, which is emphasised with 2 holes (as are 2 other lines). GLP notes the dial is very accurately laid out and no line is more than 1″ from its ideal position

Tolpuddle – BSS diagram

DIAL 2

This design cut just below a window on S wall looks decidedly dial-ish as a very simple way to record the passage of the day. There are no detectable lines or pocks, but a stick in the now-cemented style hole would have served some purpose. The circle was perhaps to attract attention and / or highlight the shadow cast. This minimalist approach is not especially rare: for example there’s a similarly-sized slightly more elaborate dial at HAZELBURY BRYAN.

GLP calls it a dubious dial, and suggests that it would work if hour lines were marked in some other way, possibly with paint. It is not included in the BSS record for Tolpuddle

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

LODERS . DORSET . ST MARY MAGDALENE – Scratch Dial

St Mary Magdalene . Loders . Dorset

GRADE I † C12 origins, C13 nave, C14 tower & S porch; seemingly no C19 makeover. Plenty of interest to admire here – see entry in HE. 3m NE of Bridport. 50.7458 / -2.7225 / SY491942

DIALS

St Mary has 2 dials, both on the E side of the porch (late C14). Dial 1 is easily visible on the jamb. Dial 2 is tucked into a corner on the angle formed by the S wall and a staircase that was added C15. After that addition, Dial 2 was probably little use before noon (if at all).

DIAL 1

St Mary Magdalene . Loders . Dorset – Scratch Dial 1

Dial 1 is a good example of the interface between the simple dial function of marking the hours, and decorative design. This is a lovely and ambitious 24-hour dial, with 19 lines and 26 pocks. Although considerably eroded, it intricacies remain clear. There are radial variations of angle, length and emphasis. There are single pocks, double pocks, half-way pocks. GLP notes that the dial is quite accurately laid out and seems to mark most of the hours and some of the half hours as well

St Mary Magdalene . Loders . BSS

DIAL 2

Dial 2 is badly degraded, I suspect rather more so than when last surveyed. 3 lines emerge(d) from a gnomon hole in the dial stone. An amateur (me) would be unlikely to give it a second glance, especially in that position. In its present state it no longer matches the drawing originally made. Or I have made an ID mistake (quite possible)? GLP describes it as a very fragmentary inverted dial. Which perhaps suggests that the stone was moved / turned when the staircase was built. Or, possibly, it was a dial stone used from elsewhere on the building and intentionally inverted (as often the way with moved dials).

St Mary Magdalene . Loders . BSS

St Mary Magdalene . Loders . Dorset – Scratch Dials 1 & 2

CHIDEOCK . DORSET . ST GILES – Scratch Dial

St Giles . Chideock . Dorset

ST GILES . CHIDEOCK . DORSET

GRADE 1 † C14, C15, with earlier references (1240). 1880 restoration by Crickmay, described variously as ‘major’ and less politely, ‘drastic’. 3m W of Bridport. Best visited outside the summer holiday season… 50.7325 /  -2.8211 / SY421928

DIAL

The dial is on W side of S porch, and rather intriguing. GLP dates it to C15. A large dial spread across most of a quoin stone, with an anachronistic addition. BSS: this may possibly be a scratch dial which has been ‘converted’ by the addition of an ornate but modern shelf bracket which effectively adds a horizontal gnomon.

St Giles . Chideock . Dorset – Scratch Dial

The dial itself has [had] its gnomon in the mortar line, which also acts as the horizontal. There are 22 lines of varying sizes of length, width and depth (a jumble BSS). The early morning Mass must have been the most significant, to judge from the heavily emphasised radial. GLP suggests that some of the many lines may show corrections / adjustments over the years.

Presumably there was originally a straightforward rod gnomon. Maybe it became detached and was replaced by this different design that involved mooring the lower end of the bracket in the noon line. GLP dates the bracket as C18.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen except header image, ‘Dorset Churches’

 

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.

Note: looking at this configuration some time later and having seen a great many more dials in the interim, I’d say this is definitely a dial; and the other is a ‘not-a-dial’

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.