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'A device which during hours of sunlight indicates the time by a shadow cast by a stationary arm (gnomon) on a dial marked in hours. The shadow is cast at different points of the dial because of changes in the position of the earth in relation to the sun'

Find out more about sundials and the measurement of time at the Old Royal Observatory, Greenwich (open daily - free admission).
Greenwich Park walk

Dolphins by Christopher St J Daniel has been relocated to the garden of the Old Royal Observatory. The shadow of the gap between the tails gives the time to within one minute.
It was made for the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977
Greenwich Park walk

The Millennium Sundial is by the boating lake. It should have been on the meridian but is some 2 metres off due to incorrect information being supplied. The diallist (Christopher St J Daniel) is unhappy about this as it makes the sundial incorrect by about 8 minutes but it is difficult to see how it could be rectified.
Greenwich Park walk

In the medieval period the only times of importance were church services. St Mary's Church in Bexley has five mass dials carved on the corner of the south wall of the nave to the east of the porch. A gnomon would have been inserted into the central hole.
Bexley walk

Seven Dials in Covent Garden was laid out by Thomas Neale in 1694-1714 as a respectable residential suburb. Seven streets radiated from a central polygonal space featuring a Doric column with 6 dials. As the area became less fashionable houses were converted into shops, lodgings and factories, many with immigrant workers. The column was removed in 1773 and re-erected at Weybridge, Surrey in 1882. The replica replacement was put up in 1989. Covent Garden walk

Dial Square was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh in 1717 as the gun machining factory of the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich. Named after the sundial of 1764 on the entrance gateway this was where Arsenal Football Club began in 1886. Only the south side now remains, the remainder of the 'Great Pile' having been demolished.
Woolwich walk

Dial House in Twickenham was built for Thomas Twining (of tea fame) in the 1720s. The sundial is dated 1726. When Elizabeth Twining died in 1889 it was given, on her wishes, to the parish for use as a vicarage. It was occupied after repairs in 1892 and transferred to the Bishop of Kensington in 2001.
Twickenham walk

The building at the east end of Fournier Street in Spitalfields has been a place of worship for Huguenot refugees, Methodists & Jews and is now a mosque. The date of 1743 can be seen on the sundial with the latin message 'umbra sumus' - we are shadow.
Spitalfields walk

To celebrate the millennium two polar dials were set up on the Thames path by the Royal Engineers and Tylers & Bricklayers Company. One is outside the City of London School and the other is on the east side of the Greenwich Peninsula. Designed by Piers Nicholson they are mounted on plinths of 2000 engineering bricks. Roman numerals denote winter time and Arabic numerals summer time. Greenwich Peninsula walk

St Margaret's Church adjacent to Westminster Abbey has dials on each side of the tower designed by Christopher St J Daniel.
Victoria Street walk

LEFT: A vertical declining noon mark and mean time dial has been carved onto one of the new buildings of Paternoster Square.

RIGHT: In Embankment Gardens in front of the Savoy Hotel is a stainless steel equatorial armillary dial. This was designed by Christopher St J Daniel for the centenary of the Savoy.


There is a large sundial on a mound outside Tower Hill tube station. Constructed in bronze and stone in 1990 it depicts the history of London Transport 1066-1982. Can you spot Margaret Thatcher and why does she feature in 1381?
Aldgate, London Wall and Shadwell & Wapping walks

There is another large dial at St Katherine's Dock on the riverside by the Tower Thistle Hotel. The stainless steel ring supported by chain link cables was designed by Wendy Taylor in 1973.
Shadwell & Wapping walk

The extravagant Burdett-Coutts memorial sundial in St Pancras Gardens around the old church has recently been restored. St Pancras walk

The extension to Trinity Hospital (almshouses) in Old Woolwich Road features a sundial.

There is a wall dial in the outdoor section of the Garden Museum housed in the old church of St Mary's Lambeth. Lambeth & Kennington walks

Holland Park has two sundials: a convential sphere on a column in the Formal Gardens and an unusual one by Wendy Taylor in the 'D' Garden featuring two large tortoises! Holland Park Walk

The sundial on the tower of Chelsea Old Church is dated 1692 but was remade in 1957 following WWII bomb damage. Chelsea walk

The Argos store on Wimbledon Hill Road has a mural sundial designed by Christopher St J Daniel in 1996.
Wimbledon walk

There are matching dials on the Cheapside and Milk Street faces of the building occupied by O2.

Sundials can also be found at Cleaves Almshouses (Kingston-upon-Thames), the grounds of Chiswick House (south of the Italian Garden), Whitehall (Cheam) Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, Redcross Street Gardens (Southwark) Brockwell Park walled garden and Ravenscourt Park.

On Hilly Fields SE4 you can be a gnomon! By standing on the current month as marked out your shadow is cast on or between one of twelve stones placed in a circle. Ladywell Walk.
There is a similar sundial in Charlotte Turner Park in Deptford. Green Deptford Walk

HORNIMAN'S GARDENS in Forest Hill also have a 'human' sundial. This dial by Barry Small can be found by following the Horniman Drive exit from the centre of the park. A butterfly by Edwin Russell is to the right of the main entrance path to the museum. A double polar dial (pictured left) by John Moir & Richard Klose is on the left of the path to the conservatory which has a window dial by Roselyn Loftin (pictured right). There is a Roman dial by David Brown on the raised bed in this area plus a Tea-time dial by John Moir & David Young on the adjacent wall. There are ten sundials altogether.
The Horniman Trail is available online [
click here] or a leaflet can be obtained at the museum information desk. See also

For details of a sundial trail along the Thames [click here]

There is also a City sundial trail which includes dials in the Inns of Court and city churches such as St Sepulchre, St Clement Danes, St Katherine Cree and St Dunstans-in-the-East [click here]


Sundials a book by Christopher St J Daniel is published by Shire ISBN 0-7478-0558-X
Find out more about sundials on the British Sundial Society website [
click here] 2009

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