As you are walking through the church yard, look up at the south wall of the Church Tower, where you will see markings which you might never have noticed before. This is our sundial. Because of the way the masonry blocks around it are worked, we believe that it was installed around 1470, when the Church Tower was raised by masons working for Lord William Hastings. It is a 'declining vertical sundial,' the creation of which would have required complex mathematical calculations. The knowledge needed to create such a sundial was first recorded in Europe around 1450, only two decades before ours was built, but a rich and powerful man such as Lord Hastings would have had access to the finest craftsmen of his age.
Sitting in his 'Solar,' the main sitting room in the Castle just to the south of the Church, he and his family would have been able to tell the time on sunny days by looking across to the Tower. It is possibly the oldest sundial of its kind in the UK and is remarkably accurate.
Click on the link to read our booklet about the sundial, whose restoration in 2000 was St Helen's Millennium Project.