SUNDIALS ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT


SUNDIALS ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT

On a recent impromptu  visit to the Isle of Wight, we came across a number of sundials. Sadly we didn’t go to Brading, so we missed the annelematic sundial and the unusual ‘public’ sundial there. On the other hand, I did get to see the Mary Watts ‘Arts & Crafts’ sundial at Tennyson’s former home Farringford (now a hotel in the process of renovation), of which more below… 

1. A CHURCHYARD SUNDIAL AT GODSHILL

2. TWO SUNDIALS AT A PRIVATE HOUSE NEAR SHORWELL

This sundial was in an overgrown sunken garden. I used my phone on a dull rainy day – hence the image quality…

3. THE MARY WATTS ‘ARTS & CRAFTS’ SUNDIAL AT FARRINGFORD 

Among Tennyson’s coterie of friends and regular visitors to Farringford were painter G.F.Watts and his wife Mary. You’ll find all you need – or (probably) want – to know about them here WATTS GALLERY COMPTON. Having seen this pedestal in real life, my completely amateur view is that a suggestion that our own sundial (unearthed by me as a child from a pigsty at my home) is a Watts pedestal is unlikely to be correct. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed by this one: very much Compton style, but not to my taste (if one is allowed to say that…). The lettering is incised, whereas on mine it is embossed (I’m not sure MW used that technique). So although mine has an authentic Liberty plate, the ID of the commissioned pedestal maker remains a mystery – probably lost through the standard Liberty practice of failing to credit their artists or to retain records of their commissioned work. To see the ‘Pigsty Sundial’ and examples of sundials at the Watts Gallery, click SUNDIALS and scroll down through the gallery.

FOR COMPARISON: THE ‘PIGSTY’ SUNDIAL – PEDESTAL AND GNOMONLESS LIBERTY DIAL

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A FINE MULTI-FACETED SCOTTISH SUNDIAL AT KELBURN CASTLE, AYRSHIRE


A FINE MULTI-FACETED SCOTTISH SUNDIAL AT KELBURN CASTLE, AYRSHIRE

If you want to find a good choice of multi-faceted sundials, Scotland is the place to go. A considerable number may be found at country houses and castles, or elsewhere having originated from a large estate. Many, perhaps most, are 200-300 years old. Some are relatively simple; others are so complex that their purpose is clearly as much ornamental as horological. Good examples can be found at Glamis, Haddo House, Castle Fraser and Culzean Castle. The photos below of a wonderful 1707 multi-faceted oblelisk sundial were taken at Kelburn Castle in Ayrshire*.

The sundial from each angle – the polyhedral part, and the stem below

East Side

North Side

West Side

South Side

The ‘Spire’

I later regretted not having counted the number of individual dials. This is one of the most important sundials in the United Kingdom. Some restoration has been carried out, and it now appears to be in overall good condition. It is heartening to think that, more than 300 years after this obelisk was installed at Kelburn, the castle is still occupied by the same family.

*Although the grounds are open to the public, this historic 1707 sundial is in the private part and I am grateful to the Earl of Glasgow for permission to use photos that I took while at Kelburn as a guest.

LES CADRANS SOLAIRES: THE AMAZING CERAMIC TILE SUNDIALS OF COARAZE, PROVENCE


The sundials shown below are in Coaraze, a small medieval ‘village perché’ (650m) in the Alpes-Maritimes, Provence, north of Nice. They include sundials by artistic polymath Jean Cocteau, novelist, poet, dramatist, designer, artist and filmmaker; Ponce de Leon; and Henri Goetz, among others. They are located in two places in the village (1) on the front and side walls of the Marie (2) at the top of the village on a south-facing walls in the square in front of the church

MONA CRISTIE – LA CHEVAUCHÉE DU TEMPS

GEORGES DOUKING – LES ANIMAUX FABULEUX

JEAN COCTEAU – LES LÉZARDS (lizards are the historic symbol of the village)

GILBERT VALENTIN – LES  TOURNESOLS                     

FABIENNE BARRE (2008) – on the side wall of the Marie, with a view of the village

ANGEL PONCE DE LÉON – BLUE TIME (1961)         

HENRI GOETZ – LE PYTHON ET SA COURONNE EN VERT ET OR (1961)                        

SACHA SOSNO (2007)                        

“BEN” – BENJAMIN VAUTIER (2008)

CALENZANO ALTO’S ANALEMMATIC SUNDIAL, ITALY


This excellent analemmatic sundial is installed in the square at the very top of the small medieval town of Calenzano Alto, which perches on a hill above the major industrial sprawl and motorway network of the Arno plain between Prato and Florence.

The sundial takes up a substantial area of the large piazza, and consists of a central sun/moon stone mosaic with radiating ‘sight’ lines to small brass plates numbered from VI to XVIII (in fact number VI is missing, the rest are there). The gnomon is the person who stands at the centre of the sun. There are no buildings close enough to obstruct the sun’s light, so on a sunny or even a bright day, the time can be easily told at least approximately… were it not for the cars that are normally parked all over the square!

SUNDIALS FROM AMSTERDAM (a change from Tulips)


1. MODERN 1993 SUNDIAL ON PRINSENGRACHT ON A c17 HOUSE (? a midwife’s house)

2. MUSEUM VAN LOON, KEIZERSGRACHT – THE OLDEST (1578) OF THREE

2. MUSEUM VAN LOON, KEIZERSGRACHT – ARMILLARY SPHERE

3. MUSEUM VAN LOON, KEIZERSGRACHT – ARMILLARY SPHERE (CLOSE-UP)

4. MUSEUM VAN LOON, KEIZERSGRACHT – A FINE SOUTH-FACING SUNDIAL ON THE GARDEN SIDE