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

SHARNFORD . LEICS . ST HELEN – Scratch Dial

ST HELEN . SHARNFORD . LEICS

GRADE II † C13, C14, C15, alterations (including removal of spire), additions, restoration C18 on. Nave reroofed following a fire in 1985. 12m SW of Leicester. 52.5228 / -1.2887 / SP483918

DIAL

St Helen . Sharnford . Leics – Scratch Dial

The dial is quite high up on a buttress by the window E of the porch. It is in poor condition, esp. the upper part if (as BSS suggests) there was a complete circle originally. It’s hard to determine how many lines radiate from the large gnomon hole. There is a clear noon line that terminates in an emphatic pock. There are ± 7 lines in the lower semicircle. See the BSS image below that seems to eroded 6-to-6 horizontal lines as well, and also a hint of a line in the upper part RHS.

The 2 smaller pocks in the lower half are inside the circle rather than on the circumference. They are level with each other and equidistant from the central hole, suggesting an intentional symmetry with (approx) hours 9 & 3. The same applies to the similar-sized upper pocks. In fact, the 4 pocks form a square and their position tends to confirm the ‘complete circle’ theory.

BSS DIAL IMAGE FOR ST HELEN’S

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

Photos: Erika Clarkson

CHURCH STRETTON . SHROPSHIRE . ST LAURENCE – 2 scratch dials (unrecorded)

St Laurence . Church Stretton . Shropshire

GRADE 1. Church. C12 nave with C13 transepts, crossing and chancel; tower upper stage C15, vestry added 1831; transept aisles added 1868 in restoration; further restoration 1882 and 1932. Large and dignified PEV. Attractive small town and gateway to the remarkable and beautiful Long Mynd (518m). 52.5382 / -2.8088 / SO452936

DIALS

St Laurence at first sight is clearly much expanded and restored over the centuries. Parts of a much earlier church are evident. The existence of any external decorative features such a scratch dial seemed highly unlikely*. However the stonework round the small doorway looked older, reused, possibly in its original configuration. It was certainly worth walking along the path to take a look.

St Laurence . Church Stretton . Shropshire – doorway with medieval stones and 2 scratch dials

On the W. side of the doorway is a single stone with 2 simple part-dials incised. Their edge positions show that 3 stones were originally involved, but no other stones round the doorway matched the patterns, nor had obvious cuts. So in fact the positions of the stones must have been altered. From what remains of the dials, it is hard to guess how they must have looked but presumably their style holes must have been in the mortar dividing the 3 stones. Possibly this stone is inverted.

The dials are unrecorded by BSS, and I can find no other reference. It is understandable that in their present state they attract little or no attention. Perhaps the moral for dial sleuths is that any church that has a ‘dial-y’ look is worth a quick investigation.

* If I had explored further, the church records mention exterior carvings including St Laurence holding a gridiron, and a rare sheela-na-gig, probably of Saxon date. 

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

Photos: Keith Salvesen

SUTTON BINGHAM – ALL SAINTS

DEDICATION † ALL SAINTS – C12 / C13

LISTING † Grade 1

LOCATION † Closworth, Somerset (nr Yeovil) 50.8978 / -2.6443 /  ST547111

Close to the W. shore of Sutton Bingham reservoir, tucked behind the Manor House up a track, a small and simple church dated from 1111AD with a wonderful interior, in particular the well-preserved wall paintings / murals of C13 / C14. One of the bells is dated to c1250

DIAL † DEH – dial 220 Type 3 June 16th, 1915

“This dial, which is faint, contains few lines and is probably in its primitive condition. The wall is Norman work and does not appear to have been restored.  is on the s.w. corner of the nave. It is about 6 feet above the ground, the noonline is 9 inches in length, the stylehole, which is in a joint, is filled and does not show, and the aspect is s. by 10° e”

All Saints Church . Sutton Bingham . Somerset
All Saints Church . Sutton Bingham . Somerset

GSS Category – Scratch Dial

THORNFORD (1) . DORSET . ST MARY MAGDALENE – Rare Sill Scratch Dials

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

DEDICATION † ST MARY MAGDALENE – C14 / C15, later restoration

LISTING † Grade 2*

LOCATION † S. of the Sherborne – Yeovil A30 road, approx half way between the towns 50.9175 / 50°55’3″N /  ST603132

One of the larger local villages, with more facilities than most inc. a school, a pub, a nearby station & a cricket club. In Doomsday book as Torneford

DIALS † Two unusual ‘sill’ scratch dials, both in the quoins of the E. corner of the window sills either side of the blocked chancel doorway, with the window jambs acting as gnomon. There is a rare internal dial in the chancel, to be featured when access to the church is possible (Covid).

ADDENDUM 2022: the rare interior dial on N side of the Chancel is now written up 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, 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

St Mary Magdalene Thornford Dorset Scratch dial location
Dial locations: E. corner of each window sill, jamb acting as gnomon

GSS Category – Scratch Dial