The BSS Conference in Cheltenham was a great success!

Location of Cheltenham within the British Isles


The 2012 Annual BSS Conference was held at The Cheltenham Chase Hotel
Friday 13 April to Sunday 15 April 2012

***We've now had 2,838 visitors to this page!!!***
Hmmm, if there is that interest in a 2012 Conference, why do you suppose the BSS Council refuses to summarise their more recent ones...

No fewer than 84 delegates attended and heard a near record number of interesting papers.  Everyone enjoyed both the venue and all the presentations. 

Why did the BSS Council NOT want you to see this page?  Well, judge for yourself.  They did not like mention of the criticism of the Council over their appalling conclusions from the membership survey - yet that occurred, and to be fair two on the Council wanted it out in the open and discussed. Yet discussion was still suppressed.  Something similar happened at Edinburgh (over integrity) and AGAIN at Greenwich (over Christopher Daniel's Library Books). Each time open discussion was suppressed.  Why the need for secrecy? Not surprising that there is a deep disquiet among some members about the present BSS Council.

It's interesting too that the Council do not now summarise their post AGM discussions at all; yet only a maximum of some 80 or so members attend the AGM - and that in a good year - and the membership of the Society is around 350.  Summaries for all the membership are important and were never suppressed in Christopher Daniel's day.

Now, we do not see delegates to recent conferences being asked at the end to say what they liked and disliked - and of course for the results of that poll to be published.  Whyever not? We did for Cheltenham and others before it. See "What did delegates think of the 2012 conference?" below on this page for this analysis for the Cheltenham Conference.

This page is now devoted to a Review of the Cheltenham Conference, its programme, outcome, delegate comments and a whole load of photographs!  It's proving very popular - with a huge number of visitors since it was started in July 2011. Over SEVEN times the total BSS membership!   Thank you all for coming.



The Cheltenham Chase Hotel in the Cotswolds



Presentations at Cheltenham:
Professor John Heilbron, Emeritus Professor of the History of Science and Vice-Chancellor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley delivered the 2012 Andrew Somerville Memorial Lecture on “Traces of history at the Pope’s Gnomon”.   Other papers included:
Cathedrals as Solar Observatories.
Al Shatir's Sundial at the Great Mosque in Damascus - Roger Bailey
The Gaocheng Calendrical Observatory, China - Allan Mills
Elliptical Sundials - General and Craticular- Fred Sawyer
See Naples and Dial - an Italian Job - Frank King
Excavated Sundials - John Davis
The Olympic Sundial - David Brown
More Mirror Magic - Chris Lusby Taylor
Two sundials on a Norwegian Outfarm - Johan Wikander
Trying to follow in Tony Moss's footsteps - Kevin Karney
Modern free computing tools to help the Dial Designer - Kevin Karney
A Garden Heliochronometer - Martin Hogbin
A multi-dial for schools and dialling talk presenters - Tony Moss popular demand!

The BSS Conference Auction was back for 2012!

Chris Daniel was our Auctioneer and David Young managed the Lots. 

An excellent time was had by all and a grand total of £448 was raised for the Society.  Thanks to everyone who took part.


   Click for more details about the 2012 auction
Go to Comment on the Discussion Forum and AGM

[Hit the back button to return here]

And now...The Conference Report

This has now been published in the BSS Bulletin.  Click on the thumbnail below to read or download Chris Lusby Taylor's excellent report of the conference (530kB pdf).





Courtesy: J Davis Bulletin Editor


The full programme of events at Cheltenham can still be seen here:
Click for the 2012 Programme  [Hit the back button to return here]

Want to see reviews of other recent BSS Annual Conferences? 

Click for Edinburgh (2013), Wyboston (2011) and/or Exeter (2010)
Want to know more about BSS, EoT and sundials generally?  Go to the independent Information Page


Here are a few views of the venue for our 2012 Conference. To pause the scrolling at any time simply hover your mouse over the display. These images may also be viewed as stills with captions, here: ¤  Hotel images

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[Need to be able to find this page again?  No problem, just go to or just Google BSS Cheltenham Conference]

Key facts and quick links....

  • The Conference was generally judged to be a great success. A short summary is here

  • The complete programme, details of the dial tour and the auction catalogue may all be viewed here.

  • A summary of the questionnaires that delegates were asked to complete at the end of the conference may be found here

  • No fewer than forty pictures taken at and around the conference can be seen here

  • In a 'lively' discussion, delegates tempered the council's ideas for a change in society direction by showing the Council's analysis was almost completely wrong. See summary here.

  • At the meeting we played a clip from a radio Interview that our Chairman, Frank King, had with Chris Evans on the 28th March 2012 about sundials.
    Details of how to hear it yourself are here!


Review of the 2012 Conference

Here we look back at some of the various events and outcomes of, the 2012 Conference. 

Scroll down to see a detailed summary of the conference.

The 2012 Programme



This year our programme of oral papers was particularly strong.  Just click on the image of the printed programme at the left to see the full depth of the talks, the abstracts and all the other aspects of the conference too.

Conference Summary A concise summary of the outcome of the conference was contained in a submission for the Newsletter. 
The text of this may be found here. The Organiser's Report to the Trustees on the Conference may be viewed here
Some pictures taken during the Conference


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Some pictures taken during the conference


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Some pictures taken during the conference

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Here are some pictures taken during the Conference.  Click on any of the thumbnails for a larger view...
Images © J Davis, C Lusby Taylor 2012 and used with permission


Here are some pictures taken during the Conference.  Click on any of the thumbnails for a larger view and hit the back button to return here...
Images © J Davis, C Lusby Taylor 2012 and used with permission.

Delegate Questionnaire Results

What did delegates think of the 2012 conference?

In common with the practice of the last three years, all delegates to the conference were given a questionnaire to complete and asked to return it after the end of the meeting.  The total attendance over the three days was 84 delegates, a figure which included 23 couples so the highest response we could reasonably expect was approximately 61 returns since most (though not all) couples only send in one return between them.  In all we have received 41 questionnaires back -  that's 67% of our highest expectation which is good by any standard and is one of our highest ever responses.  The thumbnail below links to a table that summarises the responses that have been received.   However it should be noted that comments that were expressed as questions have not been included in the analysis.  In the interests of openness anyone wishing to see any or all of the actual responses or who might wish to do their own analysis of the responses, may see an 'anonymised' PDF of them here (NB the file is 2.8MB in size).

Click the thumbnail below (or this text!) to see a one page summary of the results of the 2012 Delegate Questionnaire.

Delegates' views after the conference       

In summary:

  • Everyone without exception enjoyed the conference and appreciated the all-in-one venue

  • Every respondent thought that the conference was good to excellent value for money

  • All those staying at the hotel liked the accommodation

  • Delegates enjoyed the conference for its lectures, to meet other people, the venue, the dial tour and the auction

  • 92% felt we should consider an hotel based conference again

  • 88% wouldn't even change anything next time

  • 65% of delegates had viewed this conference page at some time before the meeting and all but one had found it useful

  • About half (51%) of delegates felt the discussion forum should be repeated (see summary below)

  • Very few delegates recorded problems of any sort. In fact nearly 60% of delegates had no suggestions for improvement at all.

Thank You!
The Conference has been generally acclaimed a success!  Thank you to all our speakers and to all those who brought displays, for helping to make this conference so enjoyable.
The Conference Organiser, Patrick Powers would also like to thank the many members who have sent him messages of thanks and appreciation regarding this, his last conference as organiser.  The organiser's final report to the trustees about the conference may be seen

The Saturday afternoon Dial Tour

On the Saturday afternoon we embarked upon our usual coach tour of some nearby dials and took a look at some of the Cotswold scenery in the process. 

This year's tour concentrated on some of the many vertical dials in the North Cotswolds.  As will be appreciated many of the prettiest of Cotswold dials are on mediaeval churches in villages where access by coach is virtually impossible.  However we still managed to see nine and a bit dials: The wonderful Great Decliner in Moreton in Marsh, seven of the dials on the High Street in Chipping Campden (where we could also browse the High Street shops) and a real puzzle, the dial on top of a dial in Bishops Cleeve.  A composite picture of all the dials we visited can be seen at the left or in larger size here.  Here is some information about the dials we saw.

First off, on the Redesdale (Market) Hall of Moreton in Marsh is the Great Decliner, SRN 0933. It declines some 83 degrees East. The Hall was erected in 1887 by the 1st Baron Redesdale, the grandfather of the Mitford sisters. We then set off North again to Chipping Campden to see seven dials all on the High Street.  First,  SRN 0752 , on Crosby House, formerly Meadow Cottage, the date of the house is recorded as 1691.  Then SRN 0753. Made in 1700. The gnomon has a curl at the end and it also has a nodus but there’s now no clue why.  Next, SRN 0609 on Dial House. Isaac Warner lived there. He was a from Gloucestershire clock-making dynasty. The Warners moved here in the early 18th Century. Like most High Street dials his doesn’t go beyond 3 pm. This too has a nodus without obvious reason now. Then SRN 0750 at the Cotswold House Hotel. Built in 1815 by Richard Miles, a grocer and chandler in a fair way of business, this superb Regency building has featured in a Miss Marple TV series. There, on an outbuilding to the rear, is a delightful dial, We know Richard Miles paid for it, but who made it and who designed it?  SRN 0754, is over Sundial House (Lloyd Loom Interiors) near the Market Hall. The house was remodelled in the 18th Century and the 1647 dial seems to have been similarly treated. The gnomon has been reset in the wrong place so it doesn’t even show anywhere near the right time.

SRN 0751, is on the recently closed Jaffé Neale Bookshop and is dated 1690 . It is canted out from the wall allowing a later time in the afternoon to be shown than the other dials which, owing to the curve of the street, face more or less south-east. Maybe the dial has been brought from elsewhere? This ‘bookshop dial’ was originally said to be used to set the Town Hall clock but you cannot actually see the Town Hall from here as the Market Hall is in the way. Finally in the town we saw SRN 0608,  on Grevel’s House at the end of the High Street, almost opposite Church Street. William Grevel - a rich London wool merchant lived in this magnificent house at the end of the 14th Century. It is perhaps the oldest house in the High Street. We don’t know if they had a dial then but the house has one today, dated 1815.

From Chipping Campden we turned for home but stopped at the village of Bishop’s Cleeve where there is an intriguing vertical dial SRN 3454 on the church of St Michael’s and All Angels. In fact it is one dial on top of another. The partly hidden dial has both lines and numerals all of which seem correct for the location but the stones seem to have been rearranged. Whatever happened?               
[Thanks to Jill Wilson for this commentary]


The BSS Chairman's Radio Interview!
Just a bit of fun

At the 2012 meeting, and perhaps rather mischievously, there was played a clip from a radio Interview that the Chairman, Frank King, had had with Chris Evans on Radio 2 on 28th March 2012.  It was about sundials.  It makes interesting listening.  Not only does it extol the interest that there is in sundials of all types but it proves to be the first 'interview' that Chris Evans has had where he did not ask a question!!  An mp3 audio version of the interview (it is 800kB in size) may be downloaded to your PC and played using Windows Media Player or another proprietary package like IrfanView here

Noticed an error or an omission?
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