GRADE 1 † C12 Norman origins, mostly enlarged and rebuilt C13 -C15 with relatively little remaining of the earlier church. One of several ‘Puddle’ villages in the Piddle valley, each of considerable merit. St Mary is of exceptional interest for its furnishings and monuments (RCHM Dorset Vol III), including a C12 font. Atmospheric interior; like a Dickensian law court (SJ 1000 *** p.159). 50.7483 / -2.3433 / SY758943
From a distance the dial of St Mary might easily be taken for an ammonite, especially as the church is only 20 miles from the famed Jurassic Coast. It is located on the E buttress W of the S chapel, on the L side of a large quoin stone. This is a very crudely cut dial (GLP) with 13 rather randomly cut lines extending from a now-filled gnomon hole. Its position and condition suggest that it was relocated during rebuilding or restoration. The left side is badly damaged: it would be interesting to know how it originally looked when intact.
GRADE II † The remains of the original parish church, dating from C12, now known as the Old Chancel. The chancel, C14 tower and a linking arcade (Norman, EE) are all that’s left. Superseded by the new church, the Old Chancel retains its dignity and interest, and is obviously well looked after. It continues in use as a Sunday School. 52.7648 / -1.9353 / SK044185
It would not be surprising for there to have been a dial cut somewhere on the original church. TWC in the dial list for Staffs in his 1935 booklet doesn’t mention one here, although he mentions others in the area (Alrewas and Longdon, for example). On a recent visit Erika Clarkson found two candidates. Neither is immediately convincing; perhaps plausible at the highest.
?Dial 1 (if it is one) has its gnomon hole rather low on the stone, when it might have been centred or in the mortar line above. There are a couple of definite faint lines in the lower L quadrant that certainly seem to emanate from the hole. And a vague stubby noon line too? It’s hard to fit what could be a part circle of pocks with the offset position of the hole.
?Dial 2 is similarly vague for interpretation. The line LHS is plainly a fault in the stone, but there are 3 very faint lines descending from what could be a very shallow style hole. The middle appears to be slightly longer signifying the noon line. Again, I think it can’t be categorised higher than plausible at best. However I have seen accredited dials that look even less likely to the amateur (me).
In checking some sources, I came across this rather attractive old postcard of the Old Chancel, a minor compensation for not being more positive about its putative dials.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial
All photos: Erika Clarkson with thanks for staffing Staffs as it were. PC unattributable.
GRADE II* † C13 2-stage tower, chancel, chapel incorporated into C19 church (G.E.Street). An attractive juxtaposition of squat tower and much later elongated expansion. A couple of miles from Rugeley. 52.7813 / -1.9309 / SK047204
A small and crude dial, perhaps (given the C13 origins) an early one. After centuries of erosion of the sandstone, it remains deeply cut. 4(?) lines descending from the style hole. It’s hard to tell the significance of the upward line that cuts deeply through the hole and downwards. This is not an extended noon line, yet obviously it has a purpose – maybe to add emphasis to the main service of the day (the Mass time Nones?). It’s unclear whether the dent in the stone RHS is anything to do with the dial – it doesn’t directly relate to the style hole. Probably unconnected damage.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial
Photo Credits: Dial by Erika Clarkson; header image from the St Mary Colton FB page HERE
Some time ago I wrote about the intriguing scratch dial rather hidden away through a low archway at the E end of the church: LONGBURTON SCRATCH DIAL 1
The village is better known dial-wise for the vertical dial on the S-facing tower buttress (see below). Yesterday I went back to look for apotropaic and other church marks, and to my surprise found an excellent conventional sundial hidden in plain sight and hitherto unrecorded. I can’t think how I – or any dial gatherer – would miss it…
The previously unrecorded dial is near the base of the same buttress as the vertical dial. There are 4 lines, the more clearly cut noon line being longer and reaching the edge of the dial stone (and possible trace of extension onto the stone below). The angles are almost equal. There is the distinct trace of a circle in around the top half, but strangely the gnomon hole would not be at its centre.
The dial is high up on the buttress of the tower, and nearly as wide. It is quite eroded, esp. RHS. The lines are contained within a frame, and half hours and some quarter hours are also marked.
BSS notes Triple dot motif at head of half hour lines. Gnomon formed from iron strip with supporter. Supporter is detached at contact with gnomon
The dial numerals are Roman, yet there are Arabic numerals in both bottom corners signifying the date. It is hard to make it out, but I think it is 1798. There are the remains of an inscription along the top of the dial, just the last 2 letters being discernible (O & W?).
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
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 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
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).
GRADE I † Dated from c1300, with a C12 tower that was originally separate, later incorporated when the church was extended and (BLB) much altered. Attractively distinctive to look at. 15m W of Leominster. 52.2045 / -3.0384 / SO29156
St Mary is a multi-dial church with 6 recorded, one of which is doubtful. They range from conventional to basic. 3 are clustered on adjacent stones.
Dial 1 is on the S wall, a fan-shaped edged quadrant radiating from the mortar line and stretching across 3 stones. It is near-symmetrical along the noon line. The 5 lines are spaced almost equally, the outer ones being incised more deeply, perhaps to draw attention to service times. The ‘1’ line is of interest, less accurately cut, bifurcating as it crosses onto the stone below, and ending in a single pock. This feature is so specific that it was presumably intended to emphasise a time of day of particular significance in the local community.
Dial 2, on the S wall, is far simpler than Dial 1 but is also near-symmetrical from the noon line. 3 lines, the one to the L more of a straight scratch than a cut. The style hole is in a fault line in the stone (which may well be subsequent damage). Possibly the ‘1’ line crudely divides halfway down, beginning with a pock. This would match the similar emphasis in Dial 1, and perhaps supports the theory of a special ‘event’ mark.
Dial 3 is also located by the door on the S wall, very damaged and eroded. 4 clear lines radiate from a style hole in the mortar line (there are also 2 very faint lines). Only the uppermost in the lower R quadrant survives for its full length.
DIALS 4 & 5
Dials 4 & 5 are beside and below Dial 2. Both are faint and barely more than token efforts at a dial, as if a youthful assistant priest had a knife and time on his hands.
Dial 6 is a very simple dial (if it is one): a style hole within a deeply cut circle, and what could be a stubby noon line. The close-up b&w BSS photograph gives a good idea of it. There’s not a lot of confidence in the record: Position not known. Noon line only? Circle only and faint line at 90L. Possible noon marker. Doubtful dial.
Richard & Catherine Boztum, in their excellent illustrated booklet (cited below) of Herefordshire Church marks and scratch dials include dials 1 – 5, but not this one.
I also have my doubts. St Mary has plenty of Church graffiti – initials, scratchings, small crosses, and in particular a number of apotropaic symbols (ritual protection marks). The design of ‘Dial 6’ is one of many forms of ‘witch mark’. And on St Mary itself, there is a more elaborate version of the circle-and-centre-hole mark.
Having in mind the rather basic design of some of the dials above, there are a couple of candidates that I photographed for later inspection. The first is at least plausible and matches the noon line symmetry of dials 1 & 2. The other is unconvincing. You be the judge…
GSS Category: Scratch Dials; Multi-dials
Photos: Header image: Ruth Harris (Geograph / Wiki / CC); all other photos Keith Salvesen except dial 6 BSS
REF: Botzum R and C : Scratch Dials, Sundials and unusual Marks on Herefordshire Churches. Lucton, Herefs, 1988
GRADE II* † C12 origins then C13 and C14 addition and rebuilding. Much C19 work inc. rebuilding tower & S porch. A most attractive long low church with timber belfry and spire. A rewarding church to explore: see BHO. 3m S of Stockbridge; 7m N of Romsey. 51.077 / -1.4872 / SU360309
There are 4 dials recorded for the church, but only 3 are visible. The 4th seems now to be concealed behind a boiler. The 3 visible dials are all on the jambs of a S nave window. ARG notes that the window was inserted into an old doorway All are inverted, presumably during the 1880 restoration. Maybe this links up with the rebuilding of the S porch and relocation of stones originally there (a more obvious position). BHO notes various window alterations and the movement of stones incised with ornamental crosses and inscriptions… the stones have unfortunately been reset upside down.
Dial 1 is inverted on the L jamb. LHS and below, the style hole is badly damaged. Otherwise, the 12 lines are more or less clear, with differing lengths and angles. There is a trace of a semicircle, marked by perimeter pocks. The noon line is considerably elongated and, with 1, has larger perimeter pocks. 1 also has a short extension of 4 dots, perhaps to emphasise a service significant to this church or community.
DIALS 2 & 3
Both dials are on the R jamb, inverted, on the same stone, and actually touching. Unusually (perhaps very rare) both are complete circles with 24-hour marking. Dial 2 has 24 radials; Dial 3 has 24 pocks.
Dial 2 is encircled and imaginatively decorative, with radials for a full 24 hours. The spacing is somewhat random. The style hole is quite deep, and obviously enlarged. The (upside-down) noon line is deeper cut, as are 10, & 11. So too is 1, which is also extended with 2 pocks. This corresponds with Dial 1 and seems to confirm that some importance was attached to that time of day.
Dial 3 is also a complete circle, with a small style hole. It is eroded, with only the (upwards) noon line and a couple of fainter lines clear. Most of the daylight hours are marked by pocks on the circumference; close examination has shown that in fact there are 24 pocks. It appears as if squeezed into the space between the upper stone and the lower edge of the stone
St Peter & St Paul . Kings Somborne . Hants – Scratch Dials 2 & 3
Dial 4 is located on the SE quoin stone of the Chancel. The record indicates that it has 12 lines, mostly curved, and 2 above the horizontal. BSS notes Position is obscured by a hut containing an oil tank. So much so that I couldn’t find it at all. I intend to try again next time I’m in the area – perhaps taking a torch.
ARG in 1923 recorded that the dial consisted of a circle with 10 lines in the lower half, 5 of which end in pocks; and 2 lines in the upper half. None of the lines are straight; most are distinctly curved. Sadly, although he photographed dials 2 & 3, he did not take dial 4.
GRADE II* C13 origins; mainly C14 with C15 porch; extensive C19 alteration / restoration including complete rebuild of the tower (1861), & later work by Crickmay. A pleasant aspect as one walks up the church path. 5m SE of Wincanton. 51.0213 / -2.348 / ST756247
Sundial: reset on S. wall of tower, square stone plate with arabic numerals and inscription ANNO DO 1599.BHO
A most interesting dial set into the upper stage of the tower. Presumably re-fixed in that position (or perhaps relocated there) during the C19 rebuilding. Despite erosion and damage, the unaffected features are quite well defined. GLP notes that it is one of the earliest dated dials (of any sort) in Dorset.
Although giving the appearance of a large scratch dial with an inscription above it, GLP classifies it as a more sophisticated ‘scientific’ dial, because the angles between the lines measure standard hours. The use of numerals fits in with the inscribed date. GLP calls them roman; BHO has them as arabic. My detailed photos don’t help either way. They do show that the stone was cracked in two at some stage; and they raise the question “where was the gnomon?”
GRADE 1 † C13 origins (possibly back to Saxon); developed C15, C17; late Victorian restoration. Use of local sarsen stone. Hammerbeam roof. Merits a long entry in PEV, especially for the monuments. 5m N of Avebury, 7m NW of Marlborough 51.4858 / -1.8497 / SU105763
St Peter has 2 dials in very different styles, and a couple of ‘not-a-dial’s. There is also a modern-ish sundial on the porch, probably from the late C19 restoration, with a rather gloomy motto that fits in with Victorian mores.
Dial 1 is a fairly large and pleasingly simple dial on L side of a window jamb. 4 lines drop down from the style hole into the lower L quadrant, bounded by a sector of a circle. It looks rather uncomfortable. The puzzle is whether this was the original location (in which case it seems too large for the available space); or whether it is a relocation.
Dial 2 is an encircled dial, the lower half eroded. There is a shallow style hole and various pocks, not all necessarily relevant to dial functions. The significant ones are on the L side, with 3 pocks in a row between the style hole and the perimeter. Below them are less organised pocks. The dial would make more sense if rotated 90º, with the horizontal line becoming the noon line and the less defined line perhaps marking a Mass time (None?). This suggests that the stone was relocated, and certainly the size and colour of the stones around it vary significantly (image 1 below).
Promising but on closer inspection unlikely dials
OUR DAYS ON THE EARTH ARE AS A SHADOW
The C17 porch was restored C19 and then (or later?) this dial was added over the door, with its discouraging message (no hint of the ‘sunny hours’ etc found elsewhere). The dial is slightly angled to face due S for greater accuracy.
GRADE II* † C13 with C12 origins – Norman S doorway; early C16 tower & chapel; C19 additions, restoration. 5m NE of Litchfield. 52.7251 / -1.8798 / SK082141
St James has 4 dials, one of which is previously unrecorded. 2 are marked with roman numerals – perhaps unusually for a single church – and 1 dial has an interesting concentric circle design, possibly unique.
Dial 1 is located on the buttress at the E end of the chapel. There is only 1 line – the noon line – which terminates with a pock. There are 8 other pocks around the dial, and the numerals are unconnected to the style hole. These are attractively and crudely cut, as if by someone in a hurry, and are more or less accurately placed.
Dial 2 is high up on a S side parapet stone. It has roman numerals within a faint eroded semicircle at the end of 9 lines radiating from a filled style hole in the mortar line. IIII stands for IV. Unusually, the midday XII / the end of the noon line has been emphasised by dropping the numeral XII below the semicircle.
Dial 3 is on the central buttress of the S chapel, with the hours marked within a double circle (the top half very eroded). BSS suggests that this design may be unique. In addition to the hour marks, there are 4 clear radials: the horizontals, and 2 lines that correspond with Sext and Nones. The original style hole is in the centre of the circle, but the larger circle above it – joined by the filler – may have been a second one for reasons unguessable. BSS notes that nearby KINGS BROMLEY is similar.
Dial 4 is on the S wall. This is a recent find by Erika Clarkson, who lives in the area (see ALREWAS). She saw through the moss and lichen. A simple dial with ± 6 lines and an interestingly downward angled style hole. Note the radials in the R quadrant with a distinct curve. I can’t find a reference to this dial anywhere, so this one can be added to the record for the church.