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
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.
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.
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”
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
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