A sunny link with the past.

Posing behind the sundial.
Graham Stevens
Restored sundial.
Graham Stevens

Graham Stevens has sent in a couple of photos relating to a sundial which stood in his Uncle Harold’s garden many years ago. His brother Chris rescued it before the land was redeveloped and had it tucked away in his garage for about 30 years until he recently decided to have it restored. You can see how bright it looks now. Nice that it was saved and here’s its story courtesy of Graham.

In 1969 my brother Chris bought the SE corner of my Uncle Harold Thomas’s garden with a frontage on Lottem Rd whilst Uncle Harold was still resident in his Old Jordan’s house in Maurice Rd. When Uncle Harold moved a few years later my Uncle Ray bought the land and property. It remained as an overgrown garden for a short time and sundial remained in its position in the orchard garden which was just across a shallow dry ditch next to my brother’s house which he  had built in the early 70’s.
So when Uncle Ray pulled ‘Old Jordans’ down and started the development of the land Chris rescued the sundial as a family heirloom, hoping it might be the same vintage as other artefacts brought down from the Battersea Rise House on Clapham Common by our Gt Grandmother, Sarah Stevens.

In the mid-80’s Chris sold his house but naturally took the, by now rather tarnished, sundial with him.  A few weeks ago after keeping it with him at several different addresses across SE Essex he rediscovered it, gave it a bit of a clean-up and decided to do  some research on its provenance. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as old as we had hoped, end of 19th century but more likely to be a 1930s’ reproduction (there is, believe it or not a British Sundial Society!).
So it would appear that Uncle Harold and Auntie Maggie installed the sundial when they were lovingly establishing their garden about this time. The history of the garden (in verse of course) was written by Uncle Harold and I have got to dig it out sometime (forgive the pun).
PS. For a definitive version of the Clapham House story please go to Frank Whitnall article elsewhere in the Archive.

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