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.
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.
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.
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.
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