CREECH ST MICHAEL . SOM . ST MICHAEL – Scratch Dials

ST MICHAEL . CREECH ST MICHAEL. SOM

GRADE I C12 origins, mainly C13; C15 perp additions and C19 restoration. A most attractive building, highly praised as an uncommonly interesting church PEV. Called All Saints until C16. Traces of C17 wall paintings. 6 bells, earliest 1590. Additional dials found. 5m E of Taunton. 51.0224 / -3.0355 / ST274252

DIALS

DEH visited St Michael in Sept 1913 and noted a group of 3 dials on W side of the porch. He recorded All three of these dials are close together, very poor in construction, and one or other of them is probably only a copy dial, but the lines of all have been added to, and it is difficult to say which is the original. Dial 2 is the least explicable.

There are 3 other dials (one is debatable): 2 on E side of the porch, in much the same position as Dials 1-3; 1 on the W window jamb of the whitewashed chapel. This last is in good condition comparatively; and the more precise design suggests it was the latest and presumably superseded the others in accuracy and legibility.

DIAL 1

DEH: 152. (1) This dial is on the w. side of the s. porch, 4 feet 8 inches above the ground. The noon line is 4 inches in length, the style hole is filled, and the aspect is s. by 8° e.

A fairly conventional morning dial with 9 (10?) lines, with the lines marking (roughly) Tierce and noon cut deeper. It’s difficult to interpret the pocks, if that is what they are. Several correspond with the relevant radials; the vertical seems to have a 2nd pock lower down (Mass time marker?). Possibly they were added later.

DIAL 2

DEH: 153. (2) This dial is close by the side of No 1. The noon line is 4 inches in length, the style hole is filled, aspect as above.

Dial 2 is confusing. How did that mish-mash of lines, hole-infilling, and extensive repair come about – and when? There’s no doubt that in the mix is a very basic dial with 2 lines curving left that appear to radiate from the mortar line above.

The 4 quite deep and almost parallel incisions just below the 2-line dial are problematic. It’s hard to see them as part of the overall dial design on that stone. And 4 verticals in a row would make a poor marker for noon. Also, it does not seem that they would converge at the same position as for the identifiable dial. In fact, seen on their own, they might be taken as an apotropaic mark of the grid and pock kind (though they are not convincing in that respect either).

DIAL 3

DEH: 154. (3) Six inches above No. 2, a dial with noon line 3 inches in length, the style hole filled, aspect as above.

This morning dial has 3 lines that radiate from the stone overhang, There is a small hole at the apex where presumably a thin style was inserted. The upper line ends with 2 clear pocks, and must have marked the most significant Mass time of the day (in this case, Tierce)

DIAL 4

A rough, eroded, and damaged dial on E jamb of the porch, level with dials 1 – 3. There are 6 detectable lines, 2 very faint. Again, a morning dial, with Tierce marked with a pock. The filled gnomon hole is big, but that may have occurred over time.

DIAL 5

This small dial is in the corresponding position opposite dial 3. It is simpler and less well defined, with a small style hole and 3 detectable lines radiating from the hole, only one being easily visible. It might be classified as ‘doubtful’ but for its relationship to dial 3 on the other side of the entrance, which I think upgrades it to ‘plausible’.

DIAL 6

This attractive dial, originally completely encircled, has survived the passage of time rather better than the others. There are 18 lines that make up a 3/4 circle, with a deeper cut noon line and a large style hole. The angles between the lines are somewhat random but I expect that the dial was effective as a marker of the progress of the day.

The way in which the dial stone has been cut to fit the space could suggest that it was relocated. In a way it might make more sense if rotated 90º clockwise, but testing that theory using a photo didn’t look right.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

TINTINHULL . SOMERSET . ST MARGARET OF ANTIOCH – Triple Polar Scaphe Dial

St Margaret of Antioch . Tintinhull . Somerset

GRADE I † C13 et seq, on early C12 site. Gradual development but (unusually) with little obvious C19 work BHO. Good C16 bench ends. S porch built c1440, originally thatched, with the cube sundial added later. The scratch dials of St Margaret will be written up separately from this unusual dial that, in fact, is not strictly cubic. 5m NW of Yeovil; just S of dread A303. 50.9746 / -2.7156 / ST498197

St Margaret of Antioch . Tintinhull . Somerset – Scaphe Sundial

ADDENDUM 4.11.22

I wrote this piece without access to the BSS dial records, temporarily unavailable online. I had originally described this dial rather broadly as a cube, aware that it wasn’t quite right. Having now got back into the archive, I am better informed (if not wiser). Some of the points I raise below are clarified. Here is the official entry:

There are 3 polar scaphe dials on the porch gable. Possibly C17 or C18. The dial probably showed all hours of sunlight when correctly installed. Now the orientation is incorrect, the polar axis points East and the dial is shaded by a yew tree. The stone is heavily lichened.

DIAL

The large block of stone cut as a sundial is balanced (as it seems) on the end of the S porch roof. Its usefulness as a dial nowadays is reduced by it being partly obscured by the shadows of nearby trees. I have not seen similar dials in England but I believe there are a few in Scotland.

I originally confessed that I had no idea how this dial might have worked in practice, nor could I comment on the design, nor suggest how many dials (3?) or even ‘shadow casting edges’ there are. John Foad BSS has kindly marked up 2 images which help to understand the way the dial functioned.

St Margaret of Antioch . Tintinhull . Somerset – Scaphe Sundial

GSS Category: Polar Dial; Scaphe Dial; Scaphe Sundial; Multiple Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen; thanks to John Foad for clarifying the design

HINTON ST GEORGE . SOM. ST GEORGE – Scratch Dial

Hinton St George Church . Som

ST GEORGE’S CHURCH . HINTON ST GEORGE . SOMERSET

GRADE I † C13 origins: masons’ marks on the fabric date from C13 and are identical with some found at Wells cathedral BHO. Development mainly C15 (tower) and C16, with C19 work by Wyatt and later attention. Poulett family much in evidence. Good graffiti / protection marks. Fine gilded weathercock dated to 1756. 4m N of Crewkerne . 50.9107 / -2.8286 / ST418126

DIAL

Hinton St George Church . Som – Scratch Dial

A single scratch dial tucked away on the W side of a buttress, and of doubtful value as a time marker, both for position and orientation. There are 4 lines with terminal pocks on the left side; and a single pock at the top (ie midnight). The gnomon hole, already quite big, has been crudely enlarged – and quite recently, by the look of it.

An explanation for the unpromising location and the unsatisfactory design is that the dial was relocated at some stage, perhaps when the tower was built (and the buttress added?). It is far from unusual for a dial reused in this way to be inverted, as if decommissioning it. An inversion of the image above makes far more sense, with the noon line marked by a single pock, and the radials to its right. An afternoon dial.

Hinton St George Church . Som – Scratch Dial (inverted)

GRAFFITI & APOTROPAIC SYMBOLS / PROTECTION / MARIAN MARKS

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

RIMPTON . SOM . ST MARY – Vertical Dial

St Mary . Rimpton . Som.

ST MARY . RIMPTON . SOMERSET – VERTICAL DIAL

ST MARY † Grade 1. Early C13, alterations c.1500, N transept added C19. Between Sherborne & Marston Magna, on the Som. / Dorset boundary. Scratch dials, vertical dial, porch graffiti and protection (‘witch’) marks. 50.9948 / -2.5565 / ST610218

St Mary . Rimpton . Som. – Vertical Dial

Quite a while ago I wrote (in 2 parts) about the 4 main medieval scratch dials at the church. The links are below. I recently revisited St Mary for a further look at the dials (there are a couple of others to write up) as well as some interesting church marks including a small hexfoil within the porch. A revised single post featuring all of the above will emerge in due course.

DIAL

I also photographed the Vertical Dial for BSS records. It is located on the end merlon of the parapet, easily visible. It has a simple, almost square face. The plain metal gnomon is fixed into the top of the dial stone, and into the mortar line under the stone below it.

There are other unmarked (no lines, pocks, numerals) dials in the S Somerset / W Dorset region and I though this was one. However, later examining the main photograph in the gallery below, I detected 2 faint lines in U L quadrant that seem deliberately cut. There’s a ghost of a line on the opposite side. So possibly this was once a conventionally marked dial that has slowly and very evenly eroded.

It is hard to date. The dial stone differs from the ones around it. At a guess, it was added C19, perhaps when other work was carried out (eg adding the N transept). BHO notes that in 1827 the church was ‘repaired and beautified’. Perhaps adding the dial was part of that process.

RIMPTON 1 (scratch dials 1 & 2)

RIMPTON 2 (scratch dials 3 & 4)

GSS Category: Vertical Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

KINGSTONE . SOMERSET . ST JOHN & ALL SAINTS – Scratch Dial

St John . Kingstone . Som. Credit: Julie Ann Workman

ST JOHN THE EVANGELIST & ALL SAINTS . KINGSTONE . SOMERSET

GRADE II* † Records from 1291; C14 chancel, porch; C15 tower, nave. A village with a long history, close to the Fosse Way, recorded in DB as Chingestone. 1m SE of Ilminster. 50.9188 /  -2.8851 / ST378136

DIAL

St John . Kingstone . Som.

This is an unusual dial, not least because there is a pair of style holes L and R and they are both similarly large. The dial stone is quite badly damaged and it is difficult to analyse the dial. R seems to be the primary hole for the gnomon. The only discernible noon line is below R, marked by a single pock halfway to the mortar line below. On either side, at roughly 11 and 1, are the only 2 clear lines in the whole design. It’s hard to see the purpose of L at all, and perhaps it was a later addition that didn’t add much.

DEH visited in 1915 and included his own theory:

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen except header image as credited (a huge improvement on my own rain-affected photo).

STOKE ST GREGORY . SOMERSET – Scratch Dials; Vertical Dial

ST GREGORY . STOKE ST GREGORY . SOMERSET

GRADE I † Early C14, octagonal tower (cf neighbouring N Curry and nearby) completed C15. C19 restorations. BLB notes A very fine church, similar in design to Church of St Michael, North Curry CP but not so extensively restored in the C19.  Admired by PEV. 12m E of Taunton. 51.04 / -2.9312 / ST348271

DIALS

Two dials are recorded for St Gregory, both of which merited additional comment by DEH. He recorded the first – remarkably decorative – on his visit in 1912. He revisited in 1916 and recorded the second dial, relocated to an obscure corner inside the church. In addition there is a (probable) 3rd dial, unrecorded.

DIAL 1

Dial 1 is on the E side of the S porch. It seems likely that there was originally a simpler dial that was embellished over the years. Although not all are now visible, it is reasonable to assume that there was a full complement of 24 lines.

DEH noted: this dial has been decorated. The noon line is lengthened outside the circle and ends in a small cross. This cross is plainly an addition. The noon line is also carried upwards above the circle and also ends in a cross. This cross may be original. The line throughout its length is true and clean cut, so that it may be part of the primitive dial.

DIAL 2

Dial 2 is a rare example of a scratch dial repositioned within a church during restoration / rebuilding (cf Thornford Dorset). DEH must, I think, have been told about it: under no normal circumstances would a dial researcher think of the location without a tip-off. Even knowing the right area, I didn’t spot it straight away.

DEH gives the precise location: This dial is within the church, on the w. splay of the easternmost window in the s. wall. It is on the top stone of the splay, the noonline is about 5 inches in length, and the stylehole, which appears to be an inch in diameter, is filled with plaster. DEH

The dial is a semicircle that looks as though it may originally been a full circle cut across 2 stones. The visible lines are mostly before noon. The noon line is possibly marked as the narrow gap between 2 almost vertical lines.

DEH noted: This dial is the only one that has been found inside a church. It was obviously placed in its present position at the time the late XV century window was inserted, and must have been brought from some other part of the building.

DIAL 3

Found on a buttress W of the porch. I have little doubt that this design is a dial, previously unrecorded. It is at least partly encircled, with 2 close candidates for style hole. There are several pocks that are somewhat random now but seem to have been deliberately made (and are not seen on adjacent stones). It seems convincing to me as a somewhat age-worn remnant.

VERTICAL DIAL

As plain a dial as you could wish to find, yet casting a strong shadow. BSS view is that it dates from the 1880s restoration and it doesn’t look as if the dial has been touched since then! It’s worth pointing out that (as the photos show) the lamp bracket works as effectively as the dial itself.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Vertical Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

NORTH CURRY . SOMERSET . ST PETER & ST PAUL – SCRATCH DIAL?

St Peter and St Paul . North Curry . Somerset

ST PETER & ST PAUL . NORTH CURRY . SOMERSET

GRADE I † Norman origin, gradually growing from c1300 to a substantial building for a village. C19 further expansion and rebuilding. Mostly local sandstone, some blue lias (as found on the Jurassic Coast). Octagonal tower cf neighbouring Stoke St Gregory. 8m E of Taunton. 51.0255 /  -2.9717 / ST319255

DIAL?

DEH visited in 1912 and somewhat hesitantly included this church in his pioneering survey of Somerset dials: There is a doubtful dial on the w. side of the s. porch. It consists of a much worn stone, with a stylehole (?) which is filled up, and some marks that might be lines. The stone is so soft and worn that it is impossible to say with certainty whether it was once a dial.

There is nothing extant in that location to match the description given. The reference to soft, worn stone suggests the blue lias component of the porch front (built c1502). If so, the obvious candidate for a dial is shown in the photos: but how might such a confiruration have worked? BBS does not mention it. The conclusion must be… not a dial.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

Photographs: Keith Salvesen

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.

BRYMPTON . SOM . ST ANDREW – Scratch Dials, Medieval Graffiti

St Andrew . Brympton . Som

ST ANDREW . BRYMPTON . SOM

GRADE I † C13 origins, mainly C14 / C15; C19 restoration. Set in the grounds of an historic house Brympton D’Evercy and adorned by an unusual (striking?) bell turret. The remnants of a lost medieval village. A mere 2m W of Yeovil yet hidden away in its own parkland, and best reached by map reading, satnav or luck. 50.9359 / -2.6856 / ST519153

DIALS

St Andrew has 2 dials, one on each of the paired corner buttresses of the S transept (HE notes only one). There is a plausible dial fragment on the buttress on the W end of the nave.

DIAL 1

DEH visited St Andrew in July 1915 and recorded: 189. (2) This dial is on a buttress at the s.e. corner of the s. transept, at a height of 4 feet 1 inch above the ground. The noonline is 5 inches in length, the stylehole is 1 1/4 inches deep by 3/8 of an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 15° e. Type 3.

St Andrew . Brympton . Som – Scratch Dial 1

There are 4 clear lines and one less so. As judged from the noon line, the dial is slightly offset. There is a faintest hint of a line to the right of the noon line, which would make design sense; or perhaps for some reason that area remained blank (and see Dial 2). The strong line mid-afternoon may indicate that the important Mass at St Andrew was none.

DIAL 2

DEH: 188. (1) This dial is on a buttress at the s.w. corner of the s. transept, at a height of 4 feet 11 inches above the ground. The noonline is 3 inches in length, the stylehole is 2 1/4 inches deep by 3/4 of an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 10° e. Type 5c.

St Andrew . Brympton . Som – Scratch Dial 2

The dense covering of lichen makes it hard to give an accurate description of this dial. It looks like a conventional semi-circular fan dial with an emphasised horizontal (6-to-6). There are 7 lines for certain; as with Dial 1, the lower R quadrant is less well defined – perhaps less deeply incised and gradually eroded, or because locally the afternoon was not significant for services and could be ignored.

DIAL FRAGMENT?

The markings on the SW face of this buttress are strange. Are these eye-catching striations related to marking the time of day? It seems most unlikely. However, it’s worth zeroing in on the 4 short lines on the stone below. A case could be made that this is a dial fragment on a stone that was at some time relocated there. Alternatively, this is the lower section of a dial in its original position, with the stones now above it displacing the rest of the dial with its style hole.

S Porch: E.Aspey may have worked on the church

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

HOLTON . SOM . ST NICHOLAS – Scratch Dials

St Nicholas . Holton . Som

ST NICHOLAS . HOLTON . SOM

GRADE II* † C14 onwards. A small and pretty village W. of Wincanton on a hillside, and a church with a view. Seemingly off the beaten track approached from S / E but in fact rather close to the dread A303 to N. 51.0401 / -2.4503 / ST685268

DIALS

An outstandingly rewarding Priest’s door. Both sides of the doorway have dials, part dials, traces of dials, together with a variety of graffiti and other church marks. DEH visited St Nicholas in April 2014, for some reason recording only 2 dials, one each side of the doorway. There are certainly 5, with a plausible 6th.

St Nicholas . Holton . Som – Priest’s Door

DIALS: EAST SIDE

St Nicholas . Holton . Som – Scratch Dial 1 (E side)

Dial 1 RHS The main dial of 2 is quite roughly incised. A full circle (though not circular); 12 (or so) lines of varying lengths, widths, depths and graduation; all enclosed (at the time or later?) in an approximate rectangle. The lowest 4 lines, with large terminal pocks, are deeply cut. There is an extended part-eroded noon line. The style hole is surprisingly large: with an emerging peg or rod that size, a passer-by would have been able to check the time of day / of Mass from some distance away.

St Nicholas . Holton . Som – Scratch Dial 2 (E side)

Dial 2 RHS In the context of this multi-dial doorway, this is very simple. It is almost level with another minimalist dial on the W. side. Below the small style hole are double noon lines; or perhaps 2 lines bordering a ‘midday space’ between them. They seem intentionally incised below uncut stone directly under the hole. There are pocks in the area but my feeling is that they relate to Dial 3 (with one debatably either).

St Nicholas . Holton . Som – Scratch Dial 3 (E side)

Dial 3 RHS is above and to the L side of dial 2, by the door surround. There is a small shallow hole with a crescent of 5 or 6 pocks in the lower L quadrant of its (imaginary) circumference. Possibly the lowest pock, distanced from the rest, is a Mass mark (Terce?) for dial 2. A faint line can be seen directly pointing at the top pock. Others, if any, are completely eroded. I might describe this dial as merely ‘debatable’ or ‘plausible’, were it not for the neat and apparently intentional configuration.

St Nicholas . Holton . Som – Scratch Dial 3 (E side)

DIALS: WEST SIDE

St Nicholas . Holton . Som – Scratch Dial 4 & 5 (W side)

One of the most interesting sides of any Priest’s Door I have come across. There are 3 dials in all, from remarkably exuberant to extreme simplicity. Additionally there are barely visible traces of part circles and lines that, in medieval times, might have been part of the scheme.

St Nicholas . Holton . Som – Scratch Dial 4 (W side)

Dial 4 LHS The upper of 2 main dials. Encircled, with a blocked style hole, 8 clear lines more of less in the lower quadrants. One deeper incised, probably emphasising a local time for Mass. 3 fainter / more eroded lines above the horizontal (including a ‘midnight line’), of decorative use only.

St Nicholas . Holton . Som – Scratch Dial 5 (W side)

Dial 5 LHS Immediately below and touching Dial 1. Unusually adventurous. A large blocked gnomon hole, encircled, and roughly centred within a crudely cut square frame. There are 10 (11?) lines, all except one being in the lower half. The lower R quadrant is significantly eroded with just the faintest hint of ‘missing’ lines. The few pocks seem to be part of the overall design. Most remarkable are the extended lines. The prominent noon line and the faint flanking lines dive confidently downwards.

St Nicholas . Holton . Som – Scratch Dial 5 (W side)

I imagine the noon line – some 4 times longer below the incised frame than between the frame edge and style hole – is close to a record. It effortlessly passes through the crumbled mortar joint onto the stone below.

St Nicholas . Holton . Som – Scratch Dial 6 (W side)

Dial 6 LHS is, like its low-level counterpart RHS, extremely simple – a small style hole with just a cross below it marking the noon line. There is a trace of a line at 5 that may be part of it but I’d prefer to think of this dial as simply a hole and a cross.

St Nicholas . Holton . Som – Scratch Dials 4 – 6 (W side); dial locations

GSS CATEGORY: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial

ALL PHOTOS: Keith Salvesen