Charles Darwin's Dial at Down House

Charles Darwin's Sundial at Down House is still to be seen at the head of the garden, near the verandah. Information from English Heritage's records indicate that it has been moved in the past and if a recent timed photograph is to be believed, it does not appear to be quite correctly aligned. 


Nevertheless It is a commendably simple but accurately delineated, dial set on a lovely baluster pedestal - clearly positioned for use in earlier times to set the house clocks. It is some ten inches in diameter and it displays the hours 4am to 8pm in 30, 15, 10, 5 and 1 min divisions and is entered in the National Register as SRN 5143. The dial plate is of course now showing some signs of its age and it can be difficult to read.  Some early pictures of this very dial are to be found in the Cambridge University Library.  These show that the original dial possessed a sigmoidal solid gnomon and that a realistic replacement has been fitted in the period since.  In 2007 the present gnomon was regrettably knocked by a scaffolding pole and the dial was subsequently restored by John Davis so any current misalignment will have occurred since then.



Two images VL Thomson, 2018


Another dial, this time one that commemorates Charles Darwin, is to be found nearby in the village of Downe on the south face of the bell tower of Church of St Mary the Virgin, at the junction with High Elms Road and Cudham Road. It is an octagonal Direct South dial set high on the wall. is constructed in bronze and has a sunburst at the top with rays coming from it forming the hour lines. It sports the expected downward pointing gnomon. Faint Roman numerals can be seen around the edge and it is delineated in quarter hours only. That dial is SRN 1047 in the National Register.  Its maker is unknown. A slate plaque below the sundial declares that it is in memory of Charles Darwin 1809-1882 who lived and worked in Downe for 40 years.

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