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The restoration of the Armillary Sphere Sundial

1st March 2017 By Ipswich School in Ipswich School General

In Memory of Ipswich School Headmaster Dr John Blatchly MBE

On Thursday 5 January, the Mayor of Ipswich, Councillor Roger Fern, revealed a newly restored sundial in Christchurch Park, dedicated to the memory of the late Headmaster of Ipswich School, Dr John Blatchly.

In the ceremony attended by Dr Blatchly’s widow and son, the Mayor stated the sundial was a “remarkable installation, celebrating John’s life and all the contributions he made to the town and the life of Ipswich.”

Councillor Fern was also a headmaster at an Ipswich primary school and would often speak with Dr Blatchly, who would say “As one headmaster to another…” and would then provide a useful piece of information. As he cut the ribbon, the Mayor repeated this phrase, and told the crowd that Dr Blatchly was “a lovely man and a lovely human being.”

The sundial was restored thanks to funding from a number of local organisations, including the Friends of Christchurch Park, Coes, Ipswich Borough Council, Ipswich School, Suffolk County Council, The Friends of the Ipswich Museums, The Ipswich and Suffolk Club, The Ipswich Society, The Lord Belstead Charitable Settlement, as well as a number of individual donations.

The original sundial was located in the Rock Gardens in the Lower Arboretum back in the early twentieth century. It was removed from the gardens when they were being redesigned, and was then displayed in the gardens of Christchurch Mansion until it became neglected, and needed repairing, with much of the stonework and ironwork missing. It was languishing at the back of the Mansion until the Friends of Christchurch Park announced, last summer, their intention to restore it and put it back on display in the Park.

Dating back to the Middle Ages, armillary spheres consist of a set of rings, which represent the cosmos with the Earth at its centre. You can tell the time by looking at the shadow cast by the longitudinal ring which faces south. The solar time in Ipswich is 4 minutes and 30 seconds ahead of that in Greenwich, and so there will always be slight differences in the time on the sundial and the time on your watch, especially when British Summer Time is in operation – an hour will need to be added to the time on the sundial.

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