BISHOPS SUTTON . HANTS . ST NICHOLAS – 4 Scratch Dials (2 inside porch)

St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants

GRADE I † C12 origins (nave c1150) on Saxon site, still with Norman features. Gradual C13 / C14 development and C18 / C19 works / restoration. Wooden-shingled bell turret, as other churches locally (eg Medstead.) Of relevance here, S porch added C18. 2m E of Alresford. 51.0843 /  -1.1362 / SU605320

DIALS

ARG visited in 1923 and recorded dials 1, 2, 3 but not dial 4 (high up above dial 3). Dials 1 & 2 are LHS of the original Norman doorway, within the later-added porch. ARG rightly discounted the very prominent OS benchmark below dial 3 that had elsewhere been recorded as a dial.

DIAL 1

The most striking of the dials, not least because of the graffiti that surrounds it. It is cut on the W jamb (outer) of the original Norman doorway (c1150), inside the much later S porch. There are 4 strong lines descending from the style hole in the mortar line, and a short arc LHS.

St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Scratch Dial 1

The image above also shows the much less distinct dial 2 at the same level on the inner jamb. The triangular design above both is ornamentation on the slim column. Dial 1 is remarkably undamaged / unweathered considering the long period before the porch was added. It must have predated the C17 graffiti, which is itself in very good condition.

St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Scratch Dial 1
St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Scratch Dial 1

DIAL 2

Dial 2 is also cut on the W jamb (inner) of the original Norman doorway (c1150) within the S porch. Very faint and hard to make out, even close to; easy to overlook. There are 4 discernible lines, with the hint of a double line at noon. The remains of whitewash make examination even more difficult.

St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Scratch Dial 2

St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Scratch Dial 2

DIAL 3

St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Scratch Dial 3

Very visible as one walks up the church path, on a quoin stone on the SE corner of the nave. The dial is cut inside an eroded semicircle, with the style hole in the mortar line. Unsophisticated. There are 11 lines radiating below the horizontal, at rather random angles. It looks uncomfortable, as if it may originally have extended upwards onto an earlier stone: ARG notes that it is on one of the original large quoins C1150 (which does not match nearby stones), suggesting relocation of the adjacent stones or even of the dial stone itself.

ARG suggests that there is no obvious vertical / noon line. However the 2 deeper cut lines either side of noon may be intended to emphasise a ‘noon space’ between them, as is occasionally found elsewhere. ARG also posits that Dial 3 may be an interesting example of a ‘summer-only’ dial, though I can’t tell why: it faces more or less due S.

DIAL 4

Dial 4 is high up on a quoin stone above Dial 3. It’s a very simple small dial with 4 lines leading from a style hole in the dial stone. There is a presumed Mass line (Terce), a noon line, a very faint short line, and an extended slightly curved line. BSS comments that the dial was at some time repositioned, being of little use in its present location.

St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Benchmark below Dial 3
St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Graffiti RHS doorway inc. apotropaic VV mark

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Medieval Sundial

All photos: Keith Salvesen