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Inventory no. 39619 - Former Display Label


Signed 'N. O | 1542'. Brass. Octagonal, 206-211 mm. (c.81/4 inches) diameter.

The circular hour scale shows the hours IIII-[XII]-VIII, subdivided by half hours. In the unused (night-time) segment of the plate is a crowned Tudor rose flanked by the large letters H and R, amongst foliage; and beneath it, inside the hour circle, is the motto 'VIVE LE ROY H 8'.

The gnomon is a replacement, and its angle of 541/2° (corresponding to a latitude in the Lake District and North Yorkshire) is unlikely to be that of the original. It may have been added in the 1890s, when the sundial was found in Chester and came into the possession of the Storrar family. Later, for about 50 years before its acquisition by the Museum, the sundial was fixed to the wall of a house at Aldbourne, Wiltshire.

The initials at the centre are probably those of Nicholas Oursian (f.1531-68), clockmaker to Henry VIII and afterwards to Edward VI and Elizabeth I. A French Huguenot, Oursian was naturalised in 1541, and thereafter enjoyed a salary of 4d a day as keeper of the King's clocks at Hampton Court Palace. A clock at Hampton Court is inscribed on a bar 'N. O. 1540'. Oursian probably worked under the direction of Nicholas Kratzer.

This is the earliest known signed and dated English sundial.


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