The Dial at Rousham Gardens

Rousham Gardens are open to the public by prepaid admission 365 days a year. The house is open too but only to parties of 12 or more each at (currently) twice the garden entry price.  The house, built in 1635 by Sir Robert Dormer, is still owned by the same family.

Yorkshire architect William Kent, English architect, landscape architect and furniture designer of the early 18th century. added the wings and the stable block and the gardens.  It remains one of the few gardens of this date to have escaped alteration, with many features still to be seen such as the ponds and cascades in Venus’s Vale, the Cold Bath, the seven arched Praeneste, Townsend’s Building, the Temple of the Mill, and, on the skyline, and a sham ruin known as the ‘Eyecatcher’.

There in front of the dovecote - or more correctly, the Pigeon House - stands a lovely horizontal sundial by Dolland which is registered with the British Sundial Society as SRN 5989.



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Images copyright VL Thomson and reproduced with permission



The dial is approximately 12 inches in diameter.  It shows 4am to 8pm solar time in 30, 15 minute divisions using Roman numerals for the hours (using IIII for 4pm). On another scale it shows in Arabic numerals 20, 10 and 2 min marks. A Noon gap separates the two halves of the time scales by the width of the gnomon. Numerals are to be read from outside the dial and the engraved hour lines pass through the numerals.

There is an EoT watch faster slower scale. The gnomon is approx 7/16ths thick with semicircular side supports on either side and with a shaped back edge. Set on a tapering baluster pedestal and circular capital and base. The whole set in one of the paths.  The dial face is showing signs of wear but is still readable with care.

Sadly the dial was pushed over some years ago (when children were admitted) and the owner informs us that it was re-erected without being lined up.  Consequently the dial is currently out of alignment by some twenty degrees!  We are told that this will be looked at.


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