Dial

A new issue of the Fixed Dial Register has been published, designed for sale to the general public. 4,500 dials in the British Isles are included, with a full description and one large photograph per dial and up to three additional smaller photos. Coordinates can be copied and pasted directly into mapping apps like Google Maps or Streetmap. The register is in the form of a pdf file, indexed and book-marked by county. Click here to see a couple of sample pages.

The register costs £15 and is available from sales@sundialsoc.org.uk, on DVD or USB Memory Stick. Christmas is coming!

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On the south wall of the western tower of St Andrew’s church is a slate sundial in an architectural terracotta aedicule with flanking Ionic pilasters and a tented and scrolled pediment. Above the dial are carved a skull, scythe and hourglasses, and below there are the heads of cherubs.  A motto across the upper and lower boundaries of the chapter ring reads: ‘Watch and Pray Time Flies Away’.  The dial was designed, made and signed by the celebrated ecclesiastical sculptor Harry Hems of Exeter, and was the gift in 1889 of Mr Charles Turner of Sydenham, Somerset.
We have had no report since 1973, so I would encourage any member in the vicinity to visit and confirm the current state of the dial, and to let me have a report and photographs.  While there, look for the mediaeval fireplace in the north wall which is said to be almost unique, and also for some quaint epitaphs on the monuments.

The Ebenezer Chapel at Hebden Bridge was built in 1777.    The Particular Baptists outgrew it by 1857 and it became a Sunday School till 1883.  It was sold after the first World War and had various other uses until 1973 when, after being the offices of the Hebden Bridge Times, it became the village Arts Centre, and remains as such today.

The design latitude and declination are both inscribed on this fine dial, together with a motto which reads ‘Quod Petis Umbra Est’ (What thou seekest is a shadow). The sturdy gnomon has a decoratively sculpted lower edge, and although it is quite thin, there is an appropriate substyle gap in the chapter ring. Unusually for a vertical dial, it is flanked on each side by EoT corrections for 38 dates in the year.

Thanks to John Lester for the following description:

Some would describe this dial on the church porch as Jno Berry’s masterpiece. It is certainly a fine dial though the slate has become badly cracked since it was engraved in 1762. It follows the usual pattern with winged heads in the top corners and the date displayed around the arch. Below this is a traditionally lugubrious motto, “Tempus fugit mors venit” (Time flies, Death comes) and underneath that a sun face surrounds the gnomon root. A further motto appears below which reads “Nos ut umbra” (We are like a shadow). The hours shown are VI to VI with a decorative cipher at noon. The half hour divisions each have a fleur-de-lys decoration and quarters are also shown.  The dial not only has 12 declination lines which show the length of daylight in Arabic numerals and, less precisely, the signs of the zodiac, but also set of vertical lines indicating the direction from which the sun is shining. As if that were not sufficient, Berry has provided lines which tell us the time of noon, relative to our own local time, at eleven places around the world! Of the more obscure ones, Fort St. George and Surat are on the East and West sides of India while Port Royal was the original name of Kingston, Jamaica. Finally, the maker has added his own name at the bottom of the plate in modestly small letters. Even Pevsner mentions this dial though he offers no praise whereas Mrs Gatty devotes generous space to it and gives details of Berry’s life.

Maud Heath was a pedlar woman who in 1474 left sufficient money to endow the causeway which crosses the Avon just before it reaches Chippenham in Wiltshire.  The best preserved section is a raised footpath supported by 64 brick arches, allowing the river to flow underneath in times of flood.  Half way along the causeway, at Kellaways, stands a pillar erected in 1698, and bearing this cube sundial.  The original Latin mottoes were translated by the Rev W L Bowles and inscribed on the lower section c 1828.  The Rev Bowles had a reputation for absent-mindedness.  At a school prize-giving he presented a Bible to one child, having written in it “With the author’s compliments”.

Two other dials grace the causeway.  Towards the eastern end, at East Tytherton, a very vandal-proof quincentenary memorial dial was built in heavy stone in 1974 (SRN 3089), and at Langley Burrell, at the western end, you will find a well preserved small vertical of 1719 on the church of St Peter’s (SRN 3085).