My main activity over the past three months has been working with Christine Northeast and Bill Visick to produce a normal-length Bulletin for March.
There is nothing like doing something yourself to discover exactly what is involved. I have to repeat what I said in the December Newsletter, but with even more admiration and awe, and stress just what a Herculean burden John Davis has shouldered for so many years.
All members should be aware of what a debt of gratitude we owe John Davis for developing the Bulletin into the splendid journal that it is now. Alas, we have collectively rather taken his role for granted and John signalled to me last year that he could no longer continue in the way to which we have become accustomed.
The trustees feel that editing and producing the Bulletin is an unreasonable burden to expect of a single person, especially given the importance that we all attach to it. A team of just one also leaves the Society exposed to undue risk.
As I noted in the last Newsletter, bringing the Bulletin to fruition is capable of being organised on a more collegiate and collective basis. Most of the effort goes into liaising with authors, ensuring that articles conform to Bulletin style, and proof-reading. It is unnecessary to have more than very modest computing skills; a rudimentary knowledge of Word is all that is required. It is much more important to have had experience reading through and commenting on text that has been written by others. If you have ever done that, then you are well qualified to help!
I am most grateful to the four members who responded to the appeal I made for volunteers: Frank Coe, John Foad, Chris Lusby Taylor and Darek Oczki. I have also engaged Mike Shaw and Mike Cowham.
Christine and I are working on the June issue and we shall be happy to be involved a little further into the future but we would appreciate additional volunteers.
As always, I am anticipating our annual conference with considerable pleasure. I am confident that Nottingham will contain our usual broad range of eclectic and entertaining presentations, contributions and activities.
Finally, candidates looking for photo-opportunities in the run-up to the forthcoming General Election in the U.K., might usefully study Fig. 12 on page 22 of the March Bulletin. How many of today’s candidates will have sundials dominating the front covers of their election flyers?
Notification of the the 2015 Annual General Meeting: The AGM will take place at 9.00am Saturday 11th April 2015. It will be held at the East Midlands Conference Centre, University Park, Beeston Lane, Nottingham, NG7 2RJ. Although the AGM is held during the annual conference, any member can attend. If you are not a conference delegate please notify me of your proposed attendance to avoid any security/entrance complications.
The Society is now a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). In accordance with the resolution passed at the 2014 AGM the ‘old’ Society, charity number 1032530, has been dissolved and all its assets and liabilities transferred to the ‘new’ CIO, charity number 1155688. The ‘old’ Society no longer legally exists and the Charity Commission has removed it from the register of charities.
Whilst the essential purpose and feel of the AGM is, and will be, the same, there are a few consequential changes of detail as a result of becoming a CIO.
Future AGMs need to accord with the new CIO constitution. It was circulated to members in March 2014. This constitution was required by the Charity Commission and represents its best practice governance. The CIO constitution stipulates
The single category, Trustee – replacing the former constitutional distinctions between Officers (Chairman, Secretary & Treasurer) and other members of Council. AGMs therefore elect and return Trustees. Could those wishing to stand as Trustee please advise me of their intention to do so?
A third of elected Trustees retire each year by rotation. The exception is the CIO’s first AGM when all inaugural trustees are required to retire. Retiring trustees are eligible for re-election.
Given that, during 2014, the Society existed as two separate legal entities, there are implications for the accounts.
The ‘old’ Society’s closing accounts, for the period 1st January to 8th August 2014, showing the transfer to the CIO of all assets and liabilities have, as required, been submitted to, and accepted by, the Charity Commission. They are presented (in summary) in the March 2015 Bulletin and (in full) on the members section of the website. Should any member wishing to see the full accounts not be able to access the website please contact the Treasurer.
The CIO’s opening accounts to 31st December 2014 will be received at the 2015 AGM and, as soon as the Examiner has finished them, on the members’ section of the website before the AGM.
Changing tack completely, on 20th January, David and Jenny Brown, Bill Visick, and Chris Williams conducted workshops for some 120, year 7 to 9, pupils of Cheney School (Oxford) on classical dials and time keeping. The day was enormously successful judging by the unsolicited written testimonials received and the receipt of a return invitation. Do have a look at the new items on the website. We will report in more detail at Nottingham.
BSS CONFERENCE – Nottingham, 10-12 April
Our annual conference will, as previously announced, be held at Nottingham University on the weekend after Easter: April 10-12. The venue is actually a plush conference centre on the campus, so everything is within two adjacent buildings and, unlike last year, there is plenty of parking space!
Nottingham is the home of the Society’s library, a meridian line and several unusual sundials which we aim to show you. The conference runs from Friday afternoon to Sunday after lunch. The residential conference fee includes all meals and refreshments, including the traditional Gala Dinner on Saturday, so is excellent value.
Bookings need to be received as soon as possible, please. There is a booking form with this Newsletter. You can also print it from the Web site at http://sundialsoc.org.uk/category/events/
Most urgently, will anyone who wishes to give a talk please let me know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org As always, we invite members to bring dials and related objects to exhibit. A new ‘tradition’ started last year: to bring a sundial-related cake. Please use your imagination, design and bake a cake and bring it for judging and eating.
Chris Lusby Taylor
I am very grateful to all the members who have contacted me about my inability to produce the December (and now March) Bulletins and for all the nice things said about the journal. Luckily, the team of Christine, Frank, and several others have taken the load from me and are doing a grand job. I am trying to stay involved in the production and keeping various lines of research open, so please do continue to contact me if you come across anything interesting.
There is an exhibition called: ‘Painting Paradise: The Art of the Garden’ at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, from 20 March to 11 October 2015. Phone +44 (0)20 7766 7340 for tickets, or see:
As well as showing works by Leonardo da Vinci and Carl Fabergé, it will include the two original Thomas Tompion sundials from Hampton Court Palace, now rarely seen. Additionally, for visitors on Wednesday 29th April, at 13:00–14:00, the Assistant Curator of Decorative Arts for the Royal Collection, Sally Goodsir, will be giving a talk on ‘The Art of Dialling’. This will be targeted at the general public but will use, as examples, dials from the Royal Collection. Book your tickets now!
The booking form and background information on the June 18-21 NASS conference in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada can be found at : http://sundials.org/index.php/features/nass-conferences.
A couple of frustrating technical issues have delayed progress on the website, however, with those now mostly behind us, I hope to be able to make progress in various directions: updates to Bridol, Mass Dials and, courtesy of Jill Wilson, the “Biographical Index of British Sundial Makers from the Seventh century to 1920” – please watch this space.
In the meantime, you will see information about the recent educational event on ancient Greek and Roman sundials run by the BSS at Cheney School in Oxford with plans for David Brown’s DIY Hemicyclium Dial.
Additional content or requests for features are always welcome.
HELP AND ADVICE
You may have noticed that, what was formerly called the Restoration Specialist, is now termed Help and Advice. This is a much more appropriate title as it describes more exactly what the tin contains. Enquiries come in at a rate of about one per week, some from overseas, and vary widely in content: a fourteen-year-old wanting help with a sundial aspect of his GCSE Astronomy work; opinions sought on ‘ancient’ metal dials (frequently of Pearson Page provenance); help required in interpreting the many facets on a newly-discovered old, but genuine, Scottish dial; guidance wanted on sources of sundials in Germany, to find one that would echo a remembered sundial in USA; questions about dials registered by BSS but in the care of the National Trust. There is no set pattern and queries are frequently beyond the knowledge and ability of this ‘specialist’ (and Frank King as back-up) to answer them adequately. This is when the vast experience and ability of several BSS members is tapped, and I am grateful for their willing and freely-given help. Occasionally the enquiries lead to BSS and NASS membership, and the prospect of Bulletin articles. Long may the process continue!
Thank you to all who responded to my request for thoughts on the format of a new published Register. The DVD and the A5 abridged Register appear to be popular, but there is less support for a repeat of the traditional A4 full printed Register in two – or probably now three – volumes. Following a suggestion from John Davis, I am considering publishing, instead, a number of local volumes, each covering a county or a group of small counties. This would give rise to about 25 volumes, each about the size of a Bulletin, which could be individually purchased. Each volume would contain the same detail and photos as are found in the traditional full Register. The advantage is that many members want hard copy for their own area or when visiting, but don’t want the bulk and cost of the full printed set. I would appreciate your views on this.
As announced elsewhere, the Mass Dial Register will appear on-line as BRIMDOL – but it is a long way from completion at the moment. Bill Visick came to sunny Gloucestershire to see the Register and managed to copy all its Megabytes onto a teeny-weeny memory stick. We still have to decide when it will be practicable to start creating BRIMDOL, as Bill is busy with the Bulletin and there is a bedroom full of data still to be entered.
One decision that has been made, is the introduction of ‘Reduced Information Format’ (RIF) entries to the Register. This means that only the basic information of geographical location, position on the church and condition are entered. Together with a photograph, this should ensure that any dial registered should be findable. In the event that further information is required, this can be retrieved from the archives and entered into the Register. So far, this has speeded things up greatly and the monster county of Oxfordshire is nearly completed. Thanks here to Ian Butson and John Lester for their excellent reports, even if they sometimes differed in the number of dials found at a church!
Two correspondents found dials for us:. Jeremy Lodge in Nottinghamshire, a local historian at North Collingham, found a mystery square dial and asked if it was a mass dial? We concluded that it was a an early scientific dial and Jeremy was sufficiently intrigued to ask for some ‘academic’ texts about our dials – Dom Ethelbert is still the answer 100 years on! The other correspondent was a NADFAS organiser from Birmingham in charge of recording Wixford in rural Warwickshire. There turned out to be no less than 14 dials at the church. Fortunately, our NADFAS lady was in touch with the churchwarden and we could get access to the 14th dial, which was horizontal on an inside windowsill and presents a bit of a mystery, although it is a dial clear enough. Also in this remote church was a magnificent tomb brass, one of the finest in the country.
I have also had correspondence with Johan Wikander about dials numbered from dawn to six at noon and then twelve in the evening. I was surprised to find a couple of mass dials where this occurred with dot numerals being used round the circumference. I now await Johan’s comments and comparison with Scandinavian dials.
Finally, thanks to Maureen Harmer for her patient exploration of Sussex churches and excellent photographs.
It is with sadness that we have to announce the death of two long-standing members: Michael Maltin and Mike Groom. There is an obituary of Michael Maltin in this issue of the Bulletin; there will be one of Mike Groom in the next issue.
We would like to welcome new members to the society: Mr K Barrett from Surrey; Mr J Vernon from Jersey and Mr G Parks from Wiltshire.
NEWBURY – TheNewbury one Day meeting is on the fourth Saturday in September, which is the 26th September 2015. Look out for the flyer in the June Bulletin with all the details.
Michael Maltin: Our, and my, very great friend, Michael Francis Aston Maltin DFC (1920-2015) passed away peacefully, with his family present, at home early on Sunday morning 25th January. Wendy and I were very privileged to spend a lovely few hours with him before Christmas, at his bedside, downstairs, at home on 18th December 2014. We had a good time together, reminiscing over past times. He spoke of how much he enjoyed the Newbury meetings and of meeting you all. I’m sure we all shall treasure his lovely short talks, always so very interesting and illustrated with some simple homemade device. He had a very uplifting funeral at North Woodchester church on Friday 6th February 2015. The church was packed with friends and family, on a cold but fine sunny day. Bless you and farewell Michael. I should love to hear from you with your memories of Michael and his talks.
PLEASE NOTE MY NEW EMAIL ADDRESS.
The next competition will take place in 2015-16, with the results being announced at the 2016 Conference. Reminders will be included in the September and December 2015 editions of the Newsletters, with entry forms and a copy of the rules also being included in the Bulletin at the same time.
ORRERY TO GIVE AWAY
It is best described as a “project”, having been stored in various sheds and garages for some time. Most of the parts are present except the planets and the arms that support them, but at least these are the easiest to replace. There is some superficial corrosion, enough to need a good clean but not enough to render the parts as useless. It comes with a substantial hexagonal wooden base (which could also serve to support a dial), 19″ across, 32″ high, this also needs some work to make it presentable. The Orrery is clockwork and looks to have been well made quite a while ago, mostly of brass but with some steel. No date is visible but it may be Victorian.
I was given the whole thing by a clockmaker friend but, like him, I have too many other commitments to complete the refurbishment. It would be a shame to let it go, so I thought a member may well find they would like it or perhaps pass it on to someone else. Once re-furbished, it will make a most impressive display. It is located in Woodford Green near the Southern end of the M11 motorway. It would be difficult and expensive to post, so collection would be preferable. Of course, it is not a sundial but the ideas and areas of interest are so closely related I thought I would offer it to the Society first. It will be free to anyone who is interested. Contact me for photos and further details.