Woodford Halse Archive

St Mary’s Scratch Dial
St Mary’s Scratch Dial

Woodford Buildings

St Mary’s

In the report on the work done on the church in 1878 it was mentioned that it was hoped to install an organ as soon as subscriptions reached the sum of £160. It appears that those hopes were not realised for a considerable time, as the Northampton Mercury of 24th. October, 1902 reported as follows:

“In 1878, when the church as restored, the sum of £100-9-4d was collected for an organ for the church, but with the consent of the subscribers the money was put to the church fund and a small organ costing £43 was bought, this was no longer sufficient for requirements and it was proposed to buy a new one, at a cost of £180.”

It is thought that the present organ was installed in 1904.

There are one or two points about the church worthy of mention. The clock was installed to commemorate the Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887, though it was not received until the next year, the clockmakers had such a demand for them that they could not fulfil all their orders in Jubilee year. It was last re-gilded in 1954, the weathervane being re-gilded at the same time, the cost of both being met from money left over from collections made to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Under the carpet in the chancel there is a small brass, commemorating Nicholaus Stafford, thought to have been vicar here at one time, though his name does not appear on the list of incumbents exhibited in the church. The list does appear to be faulty in some respects as names of vicars have been found that do not appear on the list.

Outside the church, near to the priest’s door in the south wall, there is a mass dial, scratched on the wall. A mass dial is an ancient method of telling the time, a primitive sundial. There is no gnomon, a stick held in the centre hole would suffice, if the sun is shining of course. They can be found on the south wall of many an ancient church and although their presence has been known for 200 years or more, no-one has solved the riddle of why and when they were scratched.

By kind permission of Woodford Halse Archive