CHARLTON MUSGROVE . SOM . ST STEPHEN – Scratch Dials & Vertical Dial

St Stephen . Charlton Musgrove . Somerset

ST STEPHEN . CHARLTON MUSGROVE . SOMERSET

GRADE II* † C13 (with earlier record), gradual development. An attractively simple and harmonious country church. A slightly canted C20 vertical dial over the doorway (see below). Not an easy church to find – it is not where the signposts suggest (you may end up in Barrow). There’s a sign to St Stephen at the Wincanton end of the racecourse. 51.0678 /  -2.4008 / ST720299

DIALS

There is one scratch dial recorded for the church by DEH who visited in 1914, on LHS of the inner original doorway of the later added S porch. St Stephen is yet another S Somerset church, within a small radius, to have an inner dial. There is a second previously unrecorded dial, a completely different design, on the W side of the Priest’s door. The vertical dial is also shown below.

DIAL 1

DEH: This dial is on the e. side of the inner door of the s. porch. It is 5 feet 6 inches above the floor, the noonline is 2 inches in length, the stylehole, which is in a joint, is filled, and the aspect is due s. Type 2. April 17th, 1914.

St Stephen . Charlton Musgrove . Somerset – Scratch Dial 1

Dial 1 is quite large and half hidden by a prayer board that I briefly relocated. It is cut on 2 stones, with the gnomon hole in the mortar line between them. It is encircled with a complete circumference, the upper half having neither radials or dots. The horizontal / mortar line / gnomon hole must have been damaged, with later extensive repair across the middle of the dial.

St Stephen . Charlton Musgrove . Somerset – Dial 1

There are only 4 visible lines, none straight (in contrast with the accurate circle). The angles are roughly equal. The 2 a.m. lines (L of the noon line) terminate on the circumference. The single p.m. line extends some way beyond the circle; the noon line much more so, plunging downwards almost to the stone below. This feature is found even more dramatically at HOLTON 4m W

DIAL 2

St Stephen . Charlton Musgrove . Somerset – Scratch Dial 2

Dial 2 is on W side of the priest’s door and features a ring of pocks with no lines at all. Judging from the position of the style hole in the centre (approx) of the dial stone, and the curvature of the dots, the dial was presumably a complete circle originally. The upper L quadrant must have been damaged at some time and at some stage replaced by the smaller stone, with additional mortar to make the fit. Most of the dots are quite clear, a few are not: certainly 12, possibly a couple more.

DOUBTFUL DIALS

The first pattern below is on the E side of the Priest’s door, at the same height as Dial 2. It would not be unusual to have this arrangement. It is in some ways dial-ish but I can’t take it further. I tried inverting (reverting?) the image but to no great effect. The second scratching was worth a closer look and although I’ve seen similar ones counted as dials, this one isn’t very plausible.

ST STEPHEN . CHARLTON MUSGROVE . VERTICAL DIAL

A modern dial dated 1916 set into the apex of the porch with the inscription Vigilate et Orate (Watch and Pray). The dial shows hours, half-hours, and quarter-hours. Each hour line ends in a small arrowhead. The dial stone is slightly canted and the footing of the gnomon is on the 11 line for accuracy. The noon line is emphasised with a deeper incision.

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

FORDE ABBEY. DORSET – 2 Unusual Sundials

FORDE ABBEY . DORSET

GRADE I † Cistercian Abbey dating from C12, becoming a fine stately home C17 with beautiful gardens and landscaping. Near Chard. 50.8434° N, 2.9113° W

DIAL 1

Dial 1 is prominently in the centre of the parapet, crowned with a broken pediment and ball. It has been dated late c17 or early c18. The spindly gnomon has been considerably bent to make the dial as accurate as possible (and see dial 2), given the orientation of the building. At some time, the top end has had to be re-fixed into the stone.

BSS records as Located in roof line castellations. An apparently blank dial plate with painted numbers on the stonework outside – possibly a later innovation. Upright white sans-serif hour numerals VII – IIII. Noon is marked with a square box and 4pm as IIII. Long thin rod gnomon with unusual support formed by a second rod to the tip, itself with a short stay near its foot. Declination is E.

DIAL 2

Dial 2 is located high on a tower, in effect at right-angles to dial 1. It is basically all gnomon and no actual dial face. I haven’t seen a large spindly design like this before. Although it has a rather home-made look to it, the design and positioning must have been carefully calculated, As with dial 1, the orientation of the building necessitated a corrective angle in relation to the sun’s movement. The shadow cast by this rather intriguing ‘gnomon sundial’ seems completely adequate for marking the passage of the day even without additional markings.

GSS Category: Old Dial; Gnomon Dial; C17 dial; C18 dial; Vertical Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

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

ROCKBOURNE . HANTS . ST ANDREW – Scratch Dial

St Andrew . Rockbourne . Hants

ST ANDREW . ROCKBOURNE . HANTS

GRADE I † C12 cruciform church enlarged C13 and thereafter. Small timber bell turret added C17. Victorian restoration 1893 (CE Ponting), with addition of porch. Set into an alarmingly steep hillside, with a considerable drop for the unwary. Approached by a now-rare permissive path through private property. Currently (2022) there are building works, with the W end under wraps. 10 miles S of Salisbury. 50.9642 / -1.8368 / SU115183

DIAL

St Andrew has one dial, prominently situated on the buttress of the S chapel and best seen from quite high up the slope. ARG visited in 1923, describing it as very distinct. C15.

St Andrew . Rockbourne . Hants – scratch dial

ARG recorded 13 lines in a semicircle, each ending in a pock, with the angles (almost) equidistant. He noted that the lines are all in the lower half, but does not mention the interesting tilt of the dial, the purpose of which is unclear. Perhaps an adjustment of angle to allow for the slope (as it was in C15 when the dial was cut) and achieve greater accuracy? The large gnomon hole is blocked with a cement plug.

Looked at closely there is a 14th line also with a dot, fainter than the rest, on the upper right side, squeezed in between the clearer top two lines. There are 2 or 3 additional dots that form part of the circumference and possibly were at the end of fainter lines now eroded. Overall, a medieval dial that is less straightforward than it appears at first.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

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

TATENHILL . STAFFS . ST MICHAEL & ALL ANGELS – 2 Scratch Dials

St Michael . Tatenhill . Staffs

ST MICHAEL & ALL ANGELS . TATENHILL . STAFFS

GRADE II* † C13 core, much enlarged C15 inc addition of tower. Restoration late C19 (Bodley). An attractive mixed sandstone church typical of the region. 5m SW of Burton-on-Trent. 52.7959 / -1.6967 / SK205220

DIALS

There are 2 dials on the S side of the church, both close to nave windows. Dial 1 is already recorded; I can find no reference to dial 2.

DIAL 1

A simple circle dial with a style hole that has been enlarged at some time (quite recently by the look of it). There is a noon line, with lines for 11, 1, and 2 either side. The dial has a pleasing greenish coloration.

Tatenhall . Scratch Dial . BSS

DIAL 2

Dial 2 has 3 distinct lines radiating directly from the style hole. 2 terminate in dots. There’s no doubt that this is a scratch dial. There are other dots, apparently deliberately made, that may roughly mark a circumference but it’s hard to tell.

Because of the configuration of the dots I wondered – if the stone was relocated at some time – how the dial would look if rotated 90º. There’d be an emphatic noon pock below smaller pocks that might form a rough boundary. The 3 lines might then be markers for afternoon service(s). Maybe.

St Michael . Tatenhill . Staffs – Scratch Dial 2 rotated

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Erika Clarkson, with thanks again for her researches in Staffs

PEMBRIDGE . HEREFS . ST MARY – 6 Scratch Dials

St Mary . Pembridge . Herefs

ST MARY . PEMBRIDGE . HEREFS

GRADE I † C12 and C13 origins on Norman site; nave, transepts and chancel arch rebuilt during early C14; N porch added late C14. Restorations 1871 and 1903-1909. Large and impressive (PEV). Fine interior, monuments, glass. Of equal note, the wonderful detached belfry with its hint of nordic influence – not to be missed. I have included a few images and notes at the end of this article. 52.2173 /  -2.8929 / SO390580

DIALS

St Mary merits a collective noun for its dials. A confusion? There are obvious dials, plausible dials, doubtful dials, and 1 or 2 not previously noted as far as I can make out. On my visit I wasn’t equipped with details of dials I might expect to see, and I simply recorded the ones I found. All are on the S wall, starting from the W end. There are some differences from the BSS records.

DIAL 1

St Mary . Pembridge . Herefs – Scratch Dial 1

Dial 1 is a straightforward design among an attractive arrangement of stones. 7 lines, a couple emphasised, some faintly extended, hole in the mortar line.

DIALS 2 & 3

St Mary . Pembridge . Herefs – Scratch Dials 2 & 3

Dial 2 is the most interesting of them all, with its double square surround. There are 13 lines, spaced approximately evenly. Some of extend into or beyond the boxes, a couple are above the horizontal. BSS describes the dial as unique and suggests that it appears to be an attempt to follow the pattern for a sundial, but no evidence of sloping gnomon. The conclusion: a very mysterious dial.

Dial 3 is similar to dial 1, with 6 lines radiating from quite a deep hole where the stone meets the mortar line.

DIAL 4

St Mary . Pembridge . Herefs – Scratch Dial 4

Dial 4 is small and unobtrusive, just L of the doorway. The style hole is (slightly oddly?) in the top L corner rather than more prominently nearer the centre of the stone. There are 2 slender but clear lines, and 3 (4?) faint lines L of them.

DIAL 5

St Mary . Pembridge . Herefs – Scratch Dial 5

Dial 5 is below and to the left of dial 4. It is the most insect-like pattern I have come across – a line drawing might resemble a daddy-longlegs / cranefly. No line is straight, but within the wide variations in dial design and accuracy it would probably have served its purpose marking the passing hours. Unless it really is a carving of a cranefly…

St Mary . Pembridge . Herefs – Scratch Dial 5

DIAL 6

St Mary . Pembridge . Herefs – Scratch Dial 6

On darker stone and in shadow on a buttress, it would be easy to miss this dial. If it is one. At the time, I thought it was; and looking weeks later at the photos I still think so, just a noon line and what could be a Mass line.

DIAL CANDIDATES

BSS has a record of 2 dials that I didn’t notice

Here is a candidate for consideration. Two almost parallel lines that look deliberately scratched drop vertically down from an arguable style hole. I have come across a couple of similar dials – though each had some lines – where the vertical (noon line) was emphasised by being the space between two lines.

ST MARY PEMBRIDGE: C13 BELFRY

PEV (Herefs p 542) considers this bell tower remarkable, and points out its structural relationship with Norway’s Stave Churches and Sweden’s Bell Houses. He dates it early C13, with later reconstructed in C17.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Belfry; Bell House

All photo, Keith Salvesen; diagrams BSS

STOUR PROVOST . DORSET . ST MICHAEL & ALL ANGELS – 3 Scratch Dials

St Michael . Stour Provost . Dorset

GRADE I † C13 origins, gradual expansion to C16 – nave, tower, north aisle, chancel, south porch. General restoration first half of C19, further restoration later C19. A fine Dorset church in a lovely setting. 6m W of Shaftsbury. 50.9932 / -2.2948 / ST794215

DIALS

St Michael has 3 dials, all different in style and complexity. With the lengthy development of the church over 3 centuries, and subsequently 2 significant C19 restorations, not all may be in their original positions (for example dial 3 is nearly 3m from ground level). If moved, at least they remained the right way up.

DIAL 1

Dial 1 is on W side of the S porch. The squared-off stone looks relocated – especially as the porch was a late (C16?) addition. There are 9 lines of varying length, with bad erosion in lower R quadrant.

St Michael . Stour Provost . Dorset – scratch dial 1

The dial is / was encircled but little of the circumference line remains. GLP notes that the noon line is marked with a pock where is meets the circle and that the dial is rather inaccurately laid out and the lines do not converge on a point.

Stour Provost . Dial 1 . BSS

DIAL 2

Dial 2 is on a quoin stone on the SW corner of the tower. 6 long lines radiate from the blocked gnomon hole to the lower L quadrant, in effect forming a ‘morning dial’. It is not accurate.

St Michael . Stour Provost . Dorset – scratch dial 2

The dial stone seems to match the others round it. Possibly it is in its original position, but it could have been moved as a block with similar stones either during the medieval period or (more probably) in C19.

Stour Provost . Dial 2 . BSS

DIAL 3

Dial 3 is quite high up on the S wall of the tower and difficult to examine closely. Luckily the lines, though lightly incised, are legible and the overall design is clear.

St Michael . Stour Provost . Dorset – scratch dial 3

The are 12 in all, with the noon line extending upwards from the style hole to the mortar line above. Unlike the other dials, GLP notes that this one is accurately laid out, suggesting that it may have been the last dial to be cut.

Stour Provost . Dial 3 . BSS

ACTUAL / PLAUSIBLE / DOUBTFUL / NOT

2 other stones caught my eye during my visit. Both are dial-ish and in appropriate locations. Which category do these fall into?

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Multi-dials

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