LIMINGTON . SOM. BLESSED VIRGIN MARY – Scratch Dial (inside porch); 2 Vertical Dials

St Mary . Limington . Som.

LIMINGTON . SOM . BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

GRADE I. C14 with earlier C13 features -1st Rector recorded 1215 BLB; C15 work and later; C19 restoration. One of several good village churches with dials in the vicinity of RNAS Yeovilton. 50.9989 / -2.6546 / ST541223

DIALS

DIAL 1

South Somerset is unusual for the number for scratch dials located inside a (later added) S. porch beside the original doorway. Limington is one (see also BLACKFORD, for example). St Mary also has medieval graffiti and other marks in the porch, some shown in the images below. As often over the life of a church, walls were whitewashed so the paint flecks are not unusual. For a good example of an ‘internal’ porch still painted over, see WAYFORD.

NOTE: There are also 2 vertical dials, one above the other, on the S. buttress of the tower. In due course I’ll add a link to a separate post about them

St Mary . Limington . Som. – Scratch Dial inside the S. porch

DEH visited St Mary in May 1915 and noted that ‘the lines are sharp and clean cut’. He records:

197. (1) This dial is on the e. side of the inner door of the s. porch. It is 4 feet 11 inches above the floor, the noonline is 5 inches in length, the stylehole, which is in a joint, is filled, and the aspect is s. by 20° e. Type 2

DIAL 2

DEH also found a second dial and, from his description, I missed it on my visit and walked straight past it. He records:

198. (2) This dial is on a buttress to the w. of the priest’s door. It is 5 feet 1 inch above the ground, the noonline is 4 inches in length, the stylehole is 1/2 inches deep by 3/4 of an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 15° e. Type 5c.

I took a rather bad photo of the buttress from a distance and can find no obvious dial. However I did find what may be an eroded and be-lichened dial on the angled buttress at the E. end, facing SE. There’s more than one part circle here. So this may be a third dial – or it doesn’t rank as a dial and (if he saw it) DEH discounted it. The latter, most likely. Limington is yet another church to revisit and check. I will amend accordingly.

GSS Category: Scratch Dials

Photos: Keith Salvesen

CHILTON CANTELO . SOM . ST JAMES – trace dials? (unrecorded)

St James . Chilton Cantelo . Som

GRADE II* C15 tower, ‘earlier fragments’ BLB. Later church significantly restored mid C18 (‘unremarkable’). An early church made Gothic. Located N. of Yeovil, S. of the dreaded A303, an area with several good dial churches and some intriguing village names. 50.9974 / -2.6138 / ST570221

DIALS (?)

This buttress on the tower is not one to get too excited about. However, 2 stones caught my attention. The top eroded or damaged stone shows most of a semicircle. It does not appear to continue onto the stone below. The lower stone has – just below the mortar line – a similar very faint semicircle, with a more visible one underneath. To the left are some scratchings including a crescent.

One feature of this group is that the damaged stone may have been relocated; it doesn’t match those around it. Overall it is probably best to view these marks as doodles – using a nail and string? – more than dials. It is not recorded by DEH of BSS. All the same, it was worth taking a close look. Any views, positive or negative, welcome.

St James . Chilton Cantelo . Som – traces of scratch dials?

GSS Category: Scratch Dials (possible)

Photos: Keith Salvesen

HOUGHTON . HANTS . ALL SAINTS – Scratch Dials

All Saints . Houghton . Hants

ALL SAINTS . HOUGHTON . HANTS

GRADE II*. Early C12 origins, C13 aisles, C14 chancel, C15 alterations, 1875 and 1882 restorations BLB. One of several attractive villages on or close to the River Test. Houghton is midway between Stockbridge (N) and Romsey (S). Exploring locally – especially Mottisfont – is well worthwhile (nice pubs as well). 51.0922 / -1.5139 / SU341326

All Saints . Houghton . Hants – Scratch Dial 1

DIAL 1

The dial is located on a quoin stone on the nave E. of the porch and ‘crudely cut’ BSS. There are 17 lines in all, some very eroded; and 3 pocks that are probably unrelated. The gnomon is of particular interest. For obvious reasons, discoveries of plausible remains of a gnomon are very scarce. BSS records (1994) that the stub of one was noted, the hole being otherwise filled. I did not notice the hint of a stub, and the photos suggest an intact mortar filling with a neatly rounded pock in the centre.

DIAL 2

The dial is located low down on the SE. corner of the chancel. 4 lines, with the hole in the horizontal mortar line and filled. BSS records (1996) the dial as originally complete but with the right half replaced by another stone. The fact of a new quoin stone seems certain. The intriguing questions are what the dial might have looked like when complete; and whether the other half was used elsewhere on the exterior during any of the later additions and restorations.

I checked dial 1 on a fleeting evening visit, and didn’t look for another. The BSS image below suggests that the upper L quadrant, the horizontal mortar line where the lines converge, and the hole at the intersection might be worth investigating when I am next passing.

All Saints . Houghton . Hants – Scratch Dial 2

GSS Category – Scratch Dial

All photos Keith Salvesen except Dial 2, BSS records

PEWSEY . WILTS . ST JOHN THE BAPTIST – Scratch Dials

St John the Baptist . Pewsey . Wilts

PEWSEY . WILTS . ST JOHN THE BAPTIST

GRADE I. Saxon origins. C11 Norman and later development inc. C12 nave, C13 aisles, C16 tower, C18 expansion, C19 restorations. An interesting church, with C12 Norman limestone font with suspended cover; and wonderful early C17 clock. Enjoy the Kennet & Avon canal while you are there. 51.3379 / -1.7664 / SU163598

DIAL

The dial is on S. side of the chancel, on the E. quoin stone of E. end buttress. The appearance is of a classic 6-to-6 dial (not within a semicircle) on a lovely colourful stone. 11 clear lines (the 9 line is not visible – erosion? Omission of the Terce line seems unlikely). The longer 11 line extends to the mortar line below. 3 lines are emphasised inc. noon line. There are several pocks, a few at the end of lines – those at the ends of the horizontal must almost certainly part of the dial.

I wrote ‘appearance’ above, because looking closely at the photos, the dial is in fact slightly less straightforward. There are 2 faint lines and the hint of another in the upper right quadrant (see large image below).

St John the Baptist . Pewsey . Wilts – Scratch Dial

DIAL 2? (unrecorded)

In several places on the outside walls there are groups of church marks and graffiti – initials, dates, apotropaic (witch) marks / Marian symbols. While photographing these I noticed a very small rustic dial scratched in the angle of wall and buttress on the S. side. I might have ignored it or classified it as ‘doubtful’, but the crude cuts in the stone running from the putative style hole suggest a casual dial attempt – possibly a trial run, and / or a contribution to the gallery of marks in this area.

GSS Catregory: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

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

MELBURY BUBB . DORSET . ST MARY – Scratch Dial (unrecorded)

Melbury Bubb . Dorset . St Mary

MELBURY BUBB . DORSET . ST MARY THE VIRGIN

GRADE 1. Church origins obscure; existing building dates from C15 with substantial C19 rebuilding. Renowned font carved from the column of a C10 Saxon cross and inverted. Excellent chest tombs. Next to a fine C17 Manor. The hamlet – Hardy’s ‘Little Hintock’ – is a few miles SW. of Sherborne, nestled into a peaceful hillside with outstanding views over the Blackmore Vale, shielded from the roar of the lethal A37 Yeovil – Dorchester road. 50.8571°N / 2.5753°W / ST596065

DIAL

BSS register and GLP describe a ‘doubtful’ dial: On W. buttress of tower, late C15. A doubtful dial consisting of a single horizontal line leading to a shallow hole. This could be the remains of a painted dial, or a piece of graffiti.

BSS Diagram of the doubtful dial

This church is local to us. We can see it clearly from our house 2 miles away. Since I started this blog, I have checked the buttress two or three times and failed to find a mark similar to the diagram. There are some horizontal faults in the stone, but I haven’t seen anything as precise.

Recently I decided to try again, choosing early evening on a sunny day when the light would be shining directly onto the face of the buttress. Which it did. This is what was revealed, faintly visible in direct sunlight.

Melbury Bubb . Dorset . St Mary – Scratch Dial

There’s an element of wish fulfilment with amateur dial sleuthing – each hole a potential gnomon location; two or more proximate lines as radials; adjacent erosion faults and dots as dial pocks. However, close inspection here revealed a clear design conforming to dial norms.

Melbury Bubb . Dorset . St Mary – Scratch Dial

The central hole has horizontal and vertical lines leading from it that divide the enclosed area into quadrants. There is the trace of a circle, slightly off-centre from the style hole. The upper vertical extends close to the circumference; the lower vertical (noon-line) stops slightly short of it; the left horizontal extends beyond almost to the lichen; and the right horizontal extends into the lichen. There’s a trace of what could be a 1-line to the right of the noon-line.

Melbury Bubb . Dorset . St Mary – Scratch Dial annotated

Having examined the dial in situ, made some measurements, and checked my photos I am convinced that this is a simple scratch dial probably from C15 soon after the tower was built rather than later. In any event I have convinced myself.

The remarkable font deserves inclusion. HE describes it as a cylindrical tapering stone bowl, reversed, formerly base of a shaft, carved with continuous design of beasts: stag, horse, wolf, and ?lion, and lesser beasts, and interlacement, C10. There is a helpful description and annotated diagram in the church.

I have seen St Mary described as a ‘one-treasure church’, but the whole interior, the churchyard with its early chest tombs, the lovely setting of the church and hamlet – and possibly a C15 mass dial – make it rather more than that.

Melbury Bubb . Dorset . St Mary – the C10 Saxon-origin font

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

STANTON ST BERNARD . WILTS . ALL SAINTS – SCRATCH DIAL

Stanton St Bernard . Wilts . All Saints

STANTON ST BERNARD . WILTS . ALL SAINTS

Grade II. Mid C13, with a Norman font suggesting earlier origins. Tower C15. By early C19, dilapidated and demolished (apart from the tower) and rebuilt. The work was inferior and re-rebuilding was soon required. Close to the Kennet & Avon canal between Devizes and Pewsey. 51.3598 / -1.8703 / SU09162

DIAL

Badly eroded and degraded, the dial is located on the SW face of the buttress S of the W door. Apart from the semicircle at the top it is hard to discern how the dial might have looked. At first sight, this is a dial cut across 2 stones (there’s a hint of a circle on the lower stone), with the style hole presumably lost in the damaged area (the mortar line looks too high for one). Listed by TWC; not in the BSS register

Alternatively, possibly the combination of dilapidation, demolition and double rebuilding in C19 included rearranging some of the stonework of the tower that otherwise survived the chaos. Conceivably the present visible ‘semicircle stone’ was parted from a companion stone cut with the rest of the dial that was repurposed elsewhere.

Stanton St Bernard . Wilts . All Saints – Scratch Dial and Graffiti

Apart from the dial, there are quite a few witch marks and graffiti / initials. I take the double triangle mark beside the dial to be an emphatic ritual protection mark rather than, for example, a mason’s mark.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Witch Marks; Graffiti

All photos – Keith salvesen

STOCKBRIDGE OLD CHURCH . HANTS . ST PETER – Early Scratch Dial

St Peter Old Church . Stockbridge . Hants

ST PETER OLD CHURCH . STOCKBRIDGE . HANTS

GRADE II* . C12, later expansion until decay by C19 rendered it ‘unfit for public worship‘. Radical action was taken and the church demolished leaving only the chancel. The ‘new church’ was built in contemporary style on the High Street. Much of the old church was transferred to the new one (including a dial stone, to be featured another time). The old church is still in use and much of interest remains including Elizabethan wall paintings, early bells, and a C13 (or C12?) font. Also a medieval oak door carbon-dated to 1354. 51.1131 / -1.4876 / SU359349

DIAL

The church information leaflet notes ‘…a Mass Clock ca. 1214 on the door jamb of the west door’. However such a precise date is arrived at, this is a striking example of an early dial and a most unusual one in being set in an approximate rectangle rather than (if anything) a semi or complete circle. In Hants I know of one other, at Laverstoke.

St Peter Old Church . Stockbridge . Hants – Scratch Dial

The dial is set facing south among a selection of witch marks and graffiti scratched around the doorway. I counted 8 (possibly 9) lines rather haphazardly drawn and positioned ’round the clock’, with several pocks on the dial and its perimeter (also a dot pattern below). The noon line seems faintly to be extended. The style hole is filled. I wonder if it is unusual for such a very early dial to mark a full 24-hour cycle?

BSS gives the condition as fair and specifies 8 lines. Pocks are not noted. Comment: Repositioned?Irregular outline. Crudely cut or made. Cannot be classified. Unique shape.

Green ARG includes Stockbridge new church in his indispensable book of 1926 ‘Sundials – Incised Dials or Mass Clocks’. He visited in May 1922 and there is a detailed entry covering the dial stone removed from the old church and repositioned, inverted, high up at the W. end of the N. aisle. I will post about this dial in due course. However ARG makes no specific mention of visiting the old church, and there is no entry for it except in his concluding list of Hants dials.

NOTE: for a short summary of the Stockbridge churches & dials, see the entry on BRITAIN EXPRESS

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Witch Mark; Church Graffiti

All photos – Keith Salvesen

MONTACUTE . SOMERSET . ST CATHERINE . 2 dials

St Catherine . Montacute . Somerset

MONTACUTE . SOMERSET . ST CATHERINE

GRADE II*. C12 origins on earlier pre-conquest site; extended in C13; tower C15; Victorian restoration. Outcompeted as an historic building by Montacute (the house) NT, worth a visit in its own right, obviously. 4 miles NW of Yeovil. 50.9498 / -2.7178 / ST496169

DIALS

DIAL 1

Repositioned and inverted on a S. buttress. An unusually large style hole, with other holes and pocks that may be markers, or perhaps irrelevant. The top left hole, on the circle, is the most likely to be related – perhaps a emphatic reminder for Mass. The afternoon lines are emphasised and the noon line elongated, though it looks a casual later addition. See below for image with the dial reverted

St Catherine . Montacute . Som – Scratch Dial 1

Father Horne DEH visited Montacute on 18 June 1914 and recorded it thus:

205. This dial is on the second buttress from the tower, at a height of 5 feet 7 inches above the ground. The noonline is 5 inches in length, the stylehole is 1 1/4 inches deep by 3/4 of an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 12° e. Type 5b.

This is a rare example (and perhaps none exists now, a century later) of a possible style fragment found in situ. The record continues:

This dial is upside down, and hence has been moved from its original place. A fragment of the metal style was extracted about an inch in length, and which had rusted down to about 1/2 of an inch in diameter. It appears to be a piece of iron. June 18th, 1914.

DIAL 1 REVERTED

St Catherine . Montacute . Som – Scratch Dial 1 Reverted

DIAL 2

On the second (E.) tower buttress on the S. side, another dial, unrecorded by Father Horne presumably because it doesn’t strictly fall within the – or his – scratch dial definition. However, it is a fine dial in its own right and deserves to feature here even if not quite qualified for inclusion.

I haven’t yet found an analysis of this dial in the usual resources. The lines are unevenly spaced but not graduated. The hours are clearly marked from 8 to noon in Arabic numerals; then faintly (eroded?) from 1 to 5 in Roman numerals. The 3-line is barely visible.

This Arabic / Roman numbering mix is not something I have come across before. It may help to date the dial – late C16 perhaps? Any further information would be welcome.

Ref: Somerset Historic Environment Record: There are two engraved sundials on the south side of the church. The first is semicircular and reset upside down on the second buttress west from the steps down to the boiler house. There are three marker holes. The second is on the E buttress for the tower and the divisions are numbered in a combination of Roman and arabic numbers. 

GSS Category: Scratch Dial(s); Old Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

ODCOMBE . SOMERSET – ST PETER & ST PAUL: SCRATCH DIAL

St Peter and St Paul . Odcombe . Somerset

ST PETER AND ST PAUL . ODCOMBE . SOMERSET

GRADE II*. C13 origins, mainly C15, later restoration, transepts added 1874. 3 miles W. of Yeovil, close to Montacute. 50.9365 / -2.7031 / ST506154

DIAL

The dial, once located E. of the porch, is disappointingly half-concealed by a discoloured and broken perspex sheet screwed over it. It’s a well-intended method of protection, of course, but some say it is preferable to leave a dial to erode naturally over the centuries. Possibly a covering like this could actually cause deterioration.

A number of clear graduated lines are visible in the lower R quadrant. There is a large pock, with a couple of small holes in the mortar below. The large one – between the terminus of two afternoon lines – may well be part of the dial. It’s too large to be the location of the missing screw for the covering. Perhaps that was fixed in a smaller hole in the mortar.

St Peter and St Paul . Odcombe . Somerset – Scratch Dial

Dom Ethelbert Horne DEH visited Odcombe church on June 8th, 1915. He noted: this dial is on the s.e. face of the buttress, and hence may not be in its original position and his record states:

208. This dial is on the s.e. angle buttress of the s. porch. It is 4 feet 4 inches above the ground, the noonline is 3 inches in length, the stylehole is 4 1/4 inches deep by 1 inch in diameter, and the aspect is s.e. Type 3. June 8th, 1915.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photographs – Keith Salvesen