WILTON . WILTS . COUNTY CROSS – Multiple Dial

St Mary and County Cross, Wilton

COUNTY CROSS . MULTIPLE SUNDIAL WILTON. WILTS

Passing through Wilton on a tedious A30 journey, I paused to visit St Mary**, a partial ruin in the historical Market Place in the centre of the town. On the E side of the churchyard was a tall monument. On closer inspection it turned out to be large multiple dial, badly eroded and damaged. And as with cube dials, it is rarely possibly to get clear shots of every side of a multiple dial. Later investigation revealed much more of interest, considered below.

BLB dates the structure pre-C18. It is hard to imagine how the dial must have looked originally, or the shape of the various elements, or the location and angles devised for the metal gnomons. There appear to be 6 scaphe dials, and plenty of angles for casting shadows. It’s hard to read much more than that. Fortunately BSS has records of the fine dial at Moccas, Herefs for comparison. It has a broadly similar design, and is in superb condition.

In a way, though, the dilapidation of the Wilton multiple dial goes rather pleasingly with the ruins of the adjacent church.

COUNTY CROSS

In due course I researched the dial in more detail, discovering that it had at times been known as County Cross. The informative BLB entry makes it clear that there is much more to the structure than its function as a sundial.

Grade II Pre-C18. An undatable jumble of forms in stone. The octagonal base with 4 seats is probably mediaeval (it is illustrated in a drawing of Wilton done circa 1568), possibly also the square pillar above this. The upper parts are probably C17 and include a heavily sculpted block, possibly a cross or more probably a sundial on corner cannon balls with above, also on corner cannon balls, a moulded base for the C17 godrooned vase which caps this structure.

A print of St Mary by Kershaw & sons (active 1850-80) offers a rather idealised version of the Cross / sundial.

St Mary and County Cross, Wilton . c1850 . Kershaw (RarePrints)

**ST MARY’S CHURCH . WILTON

St Mary and County Cross, Wilton

The remains of the C15 church of St Mary are in the historic Market Place in the centre of Wilton. Listed Grade II*, it was declared redundant in 1972 and is in the care of CCT. Only the chancel, part of the nave, and 3 arcade arches are left. It is an attractive grouping. Not to be confused with the very fine C19 ‘Italianate Church’ on the A30 to the West.   51.0801 / -1.8628 / SU097312

GSS Category: Multiple Dial; Scaphe Dial

Photos: Keith Salvesen; Moccas archive BSS; RarePrints

CAIUS COLLEGE CAMBRIDGE – GATE OF HONOUR SUNDIAL

Gonville and Caius College Cambridge – Sundial over the Gate of Honour

This handsome modern set of dials was installed in 1963 as part of the 400th anniversary celebration of the college’s re-foundation by John Caius. There are 6 vertical sundials, arranged in 3 pairs placed round the hexagonal tower. They were designed by astronomer and Fellow, Dr Message, and the Junior Bursar Dr Powell. The bronze dial faces are painted with vitreous enamel. They replace the original set of sundials dating from 1557, of which only traces remained.

There is something very satisfying about this set of dials. The symmetry, the proportions, the materials, and the design all seem to work in harmony. Cambridge colleges have many sundials between them, many original and ancient (Queen’s College sundial is a perfect example). Of the modern dials, the Gate of Honour is adorned by arguably the finest.

Gonville and Caius College Cambridge – Sundial over the Gate of Honour

The college has three gates that represent the stages of academic life: matriculation, entered through the Gate of Humility; undergraduate life, with regular passage through the Gate of Virtue during a student’s career; and finally graduation, with students passing through the Gate of Honour to the Senate House to receive their degrees.

Gonville and Caius College is one of the oldest colleges of Cambridge University. It was founded in 1348 by Edmund Gonville, who has suffered the cruel fate of rarely being mentioned nowadays; the college is almost invariably referred to simply as ‘Caius’, after John Caius, the man who re-founded the college in 1557 at a time when it had fallen on hard times.

52.2057 / 0°7’1″E / TL447584

GGS Category- Modern Dial