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The mass dial of North Mymms 1584

North Mymms Notes - No 1


Photograph of the mass dial at St Mary's church North Mymms  Image from Mike Allen
The mass dial at St Mary's church North Mymms
Image from Mike Allen, from the Images of North Mymms collection
If you visit St Mary's church in North Mymms, look up at the corner of the building just above a large tomb, and study what looks like a broken piece of stone. If you spot it, you will be looking at the remains of a mass dial, used before The Reformation to mark the time of mass and other services.

According to local photographer and historian Mike Allen, who has researched the North Mymms mass dial, they are typically circles, usually about six inches in diameter, with lines radiating from a central hole.

A wooden or metal peg, called a gnomon, was put in the hole, and its shadow marked the time of day. There were marks which gave the times for services, including morning mass, noon, and vespers (evensong).

Mike has illustrated his article (embedded below) with photographs and drawings from his Images of North Mymms collection.