BURCOMBE . WILTS . ST JOHN – Scratch Dial; Vertical Dial

St John . Burcombe . Wilts


GRADE II* Saxon origins (vestiges still visible); C13, C15; rebuilt tower 1667 (unusually, lower than the nave roof-line); restorations (Wyatt). Split from Burcombe village (S Burcombe) by A30 and hard to find. St John is the sole remnant of N Burcombe. Declared redundant 2005. I could not gain entry. 5m W of Salisbury. 51.0798 / 1.8971 / SU073311


St John . Burcombe . Wilts – Scratch Dial

The Burcombe dial is a slight secret, mentioned in TWC‘s Wiltshire dial list but not elsewhere that I can see. St John is also hard to find: check the location carefully before you try. This is a pretty dial, a messy mix of lines and pocks below the horizontal. The noon line – usually an eye-catcher – is upstaged by lines with varying degrees of curve and pocking. It’s hard to interpret, but the two ‘raking light’ photos add a bit of perspective.

St John . Burcombe . Wilts – Scratch Dial


St John . Burcombe . Wilts – Vertical Dial

St John also has a canted vertical dial above the porch, with a pleasingly robust gnomon. It fits in with the stonework around it and looks old. However any details on the dial face have been eroded. Unfortunately I didn’t have a proper camera with me to check closely for lines etc. but I wouldn’t expect revelations.

Quaere placename – a mapping mistake

In the early 17th century, when John Speed prepared a map of Wiltshire he copied a version by Christopher Saxton, which showed but did not name North Burcombe. On his own map, Speed labelled the village Quaere (Latin for query), presumably because he intended to check the name later, but never did, and his engraver copied the annotation as if it were the village’s name. Later map printers in turn copied Speed’s map and ‘Quaere’ appeared on maps of Wiltshire for 145 years until Emanuel Bowen corrected the mistake in his 1755 map of the county. (WIKI)

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Vertical Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen