HOLWELL . DORSET – ST LAURENCE: 3 Scratch Dials

DEDICATION † St Laurence. Mainly C15, some rebuilding C18, with restoration and additions in 1885 by Crickmay, the notable Dorset architect. One of a number of local churches with stocks.

LISTING † Grade 1

LOCATION † Not actually in Holwell but 1m N. towards Bishop’s Caundle, in a hamlet known as The Borough. Just before you turn down the lane to reach the church, don’t miss the UK’s oldest letter box still in use. It is dated 1853, just one year after roadside boxes were introduced. 50.9064 / -2.4289 / ST699119

DIALS

On the buttress E. of porch, 2 eroded scratch dials one above the other; a further small rough dial in the upper half of the lower dial. A possible dial, unrecorded, at the W. end quite high on the SW. face of a buttress. If a dial, it is inverted and presumably repositioned. The dials were photographed on different days in different lights from bright sunshine to overcast, hence the colour variations

GLP records that the 3 dials are ‘very important as 2 of them are cut across two adjoining stones. This means that they must be in situ’. He dates them to late C15.

There is also a later dial, included below: On parapet above porch arch, square stone dial with incised degrees, perhaps 18th century BHO

THREE DIALS ON THE BUTTRESS

St Laurence . Holwell . Dorset – 3 dials on one buttress

DIAL 1 (upper)

Semicircular with a full complement of 6-to-6 radials, eroded on R side. A disorganised pattern of lines for straightness and distancing, with many ending with pocks. Lines and pocks extend to the stone below, especially the noon line. GLP records 16 lines, 6 with pocks, further pocks including a cross formation at the end of the noon line (triple pock cross BSS). He notes some half-hour lines and comments that the dial is very accurately cut.

St Laurence . Holwell . Dorset – scratch dial 1 (upper)
St Laurence . Holwell . Dorset – scratch dial 1 (upper)

BSS diagram

DIAL 2 (lower)

Dial 2 is encircled, most visibly the upper L quadrant, the R side being eroded. Compared with Dial 1, the details are indistinct. The photos below were taken in different lights to help with examination. The radials – many with terminal pocks – are within the lower half of the dial, with Dial 3 located in the upper half (see below).

GLP notes 11 lines with 6 ending in holes, plus the masonry joint as the horizontal, very inaccurately drawn with only one line in the correct position. GLP concludes that, though impressive, the dial was probably of very little use.

St Laurence . Holwell . Dorset – scratch dial 2 (lower)
St Laurence . Holwell . Dorset – scratch dial 2 (lower)

St Laurence . Holwell . Dorset – scratch dial 2 (lower)
St Laurence . Holwell . Dorset – scratch dial 2 (lower)
BSS diagram

DIAL 3 (inset in Dial 2)

A small rustic dial embedded within the top half of Dial 2. Eroded stone and lichen make it hard to analyse the dial much more. The BSS diagram below is the most helpful guide. GLP mentions 3 lines and a very worn circumference line. He notes that this dial, as with Dial 2, would have been of very little use.

BSS diagram

DIAL ABOVE THE PORCH

Featured here for interest and completeness, and will be written up on the OLD DIALS page

The dial is above the S. porch. Hard to date, but relatively complex. There are no numerals, and the lines from 6am to 6pm mark the hours, half-hours and the quarter-hours, carefully graduated. Some lines (eg 8am) are emphasised. There is no gnomon though there must have been one. The presumed site seems to be slightly off-centre at the top, where there is an area of damage. The dial was renovated in 1998 by S&L Kellard of Street, and the decision must have been made not to add a modern gnomon.

DIAL 4 (unrecorded, plausible)

As mentioned above, there is a possible dial quite high on the SW. face of a buttress at the W end. If it is a dial, it must have been repositioned and inverted in the process (shown reverted below)

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen