This large antique garden sundial once resided in the grounds of Fort Belvedere, a Grade II listed country house in Surrey, built in the 1750s. Pictured is a black and white photograph of the front of Fort Belvedere circa early-mid 19th century showing what we believe to be this sundial in the centre of the driveway.
Fort Belvedere was the residence of various members of the British royal family during the late 18th to mid 20th centuries. Perhaps the most notable was King Edward VIII, who signed his abdication at Fort Belvedere in 1936, passing the throne to his brother, George VI, and subsequently Queen Elizabeth II. This spectacular antique garden sundial dates from the 1830s, around the time when Fort Belvedere was undergoing significant renovations in a gothic revival style. To this day, Fort Belvedere remains a part of the British Crown Estate and resides within the grounds of Windsor Great Park.
Part garden ornament, part sundial, the design is thought to be based on a ‘flower clock’ developed by Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), a Swedish botanist who created a system for naming plants and animals that is still used until this very day. Like a sundial indicates the time using the sun, Linnaeus’s flower clock suggests that particular plants opening and closing their flowers at particular times of the day can be used to accurately indicate the time.
Resembling the shape of a pocket watch, this antique garden sundial sits on a carved limestone base and features a lead insert on both sides above the markings AM and PM. Though weathered through time by the elements, inscriptions of names of flowers and botanical plants remain present, projecting outwards and clockwise in the shape of a clock.
Provenance: Once located in the grounds of Fort Belvedere, Surrey.
Image source: ‘Fort Belvedere’ via Scene Therapy (scenetherapy.com)