The British Sundial Society

Promoting the Art and Science of Gnomonics since 1989

This is said to be the earliest green slate dial in Devon. It is a break-arch dial with the date 1710 running round the top of the arch. It has been suggested that it might have been made by John Berry but the early date and lack of signature makes this very unlikely. There is a sun-face surrounding the root of the gnomon and in a shield below that are the names of the churchwardens Joseph Palmer and William Karslake who style themselves ‘Gents’. It has the hours VI – VI subdivided into halves, quarters and periods of 7 1/2 minutes. The half hour markers each have a fleur-de-lys decoration and noon is indicated by a decorative cipher. The upper corners appear blank: if there ever were any cherubs there, they have flown.

Thanks to John Lester for this description.

The regular one-day BSS meeting will be held as usual wat Sutton Hall, Stockcross, Newbury RG20 8LN on Saturday 26th. September from 10:00 until 4:00. There will be exhibits of dials and related material, talks and a bookstall.

Full details are available here. Thanks as ever to David Pawley for organising the event.

No need to book, just turn up on the day. Guests are welcome, as are long-standing members and first-time visitors. Do come along to this highly popular event, and have a most enjoyable and relaxing day out.

This dial is on the headstone of Samuel Turner, which he designed himself.  He died in 1784, aged 67.  An inscription describes the man: “His occupation a shepherd, his amusements were the beautiful scenes of nature, his retirements the study of surveying, dialing, engraving &c”  On either side of the direct east dial are carved a map of a farm, surveying instruments (compasses, ruler and protractor), two sheep, and an image of Samuel with palette in hand painting a picture of a farm house.  For a full description see Roger Bowling’s article in Bulletin 23(ii), June 2009.



It was splendid to see all of you who attended the Nottingham conference. Chris Lusby Taylor is to be congratulated and thanked for his third conference. Recognising that three years is a long enough stint for anyone, several proposals were made at the conference and several volunteers came forward and, as with the editorial role, the conference role has now evolved into a team. The 2016 team has got off to a flying start and you will see elsewhere in this Newsletter that they have announced both a date and a venue.

I am delighted to note that David Pawley has once again arranged the annual meeting in Newbury which, this year will be on Saturday 26 September. Please put this date in your diaries.

I must also take this opportunity to thank Nick Orders for serving as our Librarian for several years and to welcome our new Librarian John Wilson. He is a recent BSS joiner but he has been a member of the Nottingham Subscription Library for some years and is very familiar with its organisation.

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Known as Queen Mary’s Dial, this has been called the finest example of its facet head class. It takes the form of a sandstone prism standing on its point, with 20 triangular facets elaborately carved with coats of arms and monograms of King Charles I and his Queen Henrietta Maria.  There are various bowl, heart and triangular sinkings with dials.  In some the gnomon is the nose of a carved face, in others it is an open fret worked metal plate.  The top of the pedestal is an inverted hemisphere above a square column decorated with acanthus leaves and mounted on three high spreading octagonal steps.

The steps are probably later than the dial, which is dated 1633 and was made for the Scottish Coronation of Charles I by John Mylne III, Master Mason to the King.  Royal Accounts show that it cost £408 15s 6d (Scots) plus further charges for painting and gilding, illustrating that at the time it was customary to paint these stone sculptures.

The June edition of the BSS Bulletin will be delivered to members shortly. For those who can’t wait, or for non-members who want to see what they are missing, a sample article by Geoffrey Lane about the Pewterer’s Hall glass sundial is available now.


1. Editorial

2. The Chetwode Quadrant: A Medieval Unequal-Hour Instrument – John Davis

6. New Dials (1): A Horizontal Stereographic Projection Dial for South Africa – Malcolm Barnfield

7. 24-Hour Sundial in the Shadow of the Moon – Martins Gills

7. Total Eclipse 2015 – Douglas Bateman

8. In the Footsteps of Thomas Ross: Part 11. The Dyallis of William Aytoun – Dennis Cowan

15. Re-Imagining the Pewterers’ Glass Sundial – Geoffrey Lane

17. English Pottery Sundial Picture – Malcolm Barnfield

18. Who Made these Ivory Diptych Dials? – Mike Cowham

20. Mike Groom—Obituary – Ben Jones

21. Setting the Bead on an Horary Quadrant Without a Date Scale – Frank H. King

21. The Eclipse as Seen in Fife – Dennis Cowan

22. Anton Schmitz – Bildhauermeister; Or, how a young German soldier eventually joined the British Sundial Society – Douglas Bateman and Ursula Schmitz

28. A Proposed Heliochronometer – Alan Mitchell

30. New Dials (2): Armillary Dial in Eire – Mark Lennox-Boyd

31. Sundial Discoveries in India and Sri Lanka – Martin Jenkins

35. New Book – Bonnin

36. Restoration of the Hole Park Sundial – Brad Dillon

37. The Hole Park Dial, Unrestored – John Davis

38. Newly Reported Dials, 2014 – John Foad

41. BSS Annual Conference: Nottingham, 10–12 April 2015 – Geoff Parsons, John Lester, Irene Brightmer and Frank Coe

45. Minutes of the 26th BSS Annual General Meeting

46. Trustees’ Annual Report

48. BSS Accounts for the Period 7 February to 31 December 2014