Sundials (2)

We’ve not had a sundial for a while, so today, I bring you some of Greenwich’s newest (though we don’t really seem to have any really old ones – publicly-viewed, at least, maybe there are some private ones someone can tell me about…) solar clocks.

These are on the new block at Trinity Hospital, right at the back of the garden, which, considering what new blocks of almshouses normally look like these days, they haven’t made a bad fist at. Modern, but at least with some kind of nod to the style of the original. That end of the garden was really only where they had the compost bins, so they didn’t lose much in the way of horticultural delights. And I’m told that the old block, despite its being extremely pretty, was very cramped, cold and dark, not to mention damp. I bet there’s been a stampede for the new wing by the ’21 retired gentlemen..’


I even like the plaque on the side that reminds us that the place is funded by the Mercers’ Company in the City. I don’t know how many mercers are still in the City these days (I have a jewellery-making friend who got quite excited to be invited to a dinner held by the Goldsmiths Company, thinking they’d meet loads of like-minded metal workers, and there were only about two there – the rest were bankers) but the main thing is that they’re obviously still pretty wealthy and looking after sundry elderly people around Britain.

The only thing I find rather sad is that I never once saw then delightful little arched door that opens from the Thames entrance into the ancient courtyard of the historic block open this year. It just gathered last year’s Autumn leaves and made the place look very neglected. Maybe I was just there at the wrong time, but I miss that little secret view.

But back to the sundials. The first looks pretty straightforward – a simple stick-with-a-gold-bobble that points to Roman numerals. I confess I’ve never actually seen the sun shine on it there – it’s a bit of a dark road, but I’m sure there are times when it’s sunny there – and besides we don’t really need sundials to tell us the time any more. They’re pretty and that’s all I care about.

The second is more of a puzzle to a simple Phantom. The signs of the zodiac on lines which appear to lead to each symbol’s ‘opposite’ sign, and a little gnomon which is so short it doesn’t look as though it could cast a shadow on anything unless the light source was immediately above it. I haven’t got much of a clue on this. A moon clock or something? Maybe someone who speaks Latin can translate the motto for me?

Whatever. It’s a lovely thing – and hooray for lovely things still being used to decorate modern buildings. I’ll like it even more if someone can tell me what it all means…

2 Comments to “Sundials (2)”

  1. woodsy64 says:

    I spotted the strange symbols sundial for the first time this morning and came here looking for more info on it.

    I’m told that the Latin motto translates to: “and a season for every activity under heaven”.

    Still none the wiser.

  2. woodsy64 says:

    …5 mins research later – it’s a Noon Dial!

    Info found here: http://www.thegreenwichmeridian.org/tgm/location.php?i_latitude=51.484216