Before addition of the War Memorial
The Village Cross, made of limestone, was presumably erected by Abingdon Abbey C14. Given its position, in the middle of the green, it was likely to have been originally erected as a market cross around which goods were sold at annual fairs.
Formerly the shaft stood on three steps. Later a sundial was added to the top and in the 20th Century it was further altered when a war memorial was inserted below the shaft.
Sundial. This photo shows the remaining base of the gnomon (courtesy of Ian Butson). This sundial is on the register of the The British Sundial Society.
The top square-faced stone is aligned N-S/E-W rather than aligned with the plinth. No markings are visible. Prior to the insertion of the war memorial it would have been at an easier height for reading the time but still seems quite high.
Before railways, each town and village kept its own time using sundials to set local clocks. Thus Charney Bassett time would have been about 5 mins behind Greenwich Mean Time. The railways moved to have time standardised across the country so that timetables could operate. A Royal decree in 1880 finally established GMT across the country.
From ‘Islands of the Vale’ by Eleanor G Hayden. 1908
A turn past a couple of inns, sitting cheek by jowl in apparent amity, brings us to the green, where the few dwellings retreat to stand at a respectful distance off the grass. In the centre is an ancient sun-dial raised on three steps of inconvenient height. The hollows which generations of children climbing up ‘to see the time’ have made in them, and in the pillar of the dial itself….I put my feet into the children’s marks, and …., I too climbed up to see the hour. The gnomon was still fixed to the plate. Time, however, as though in despite, had erased the figures that none should mark how he went forward to his end. A modern guide-book sets down the dial as a cross, to the indignation of the villagers. ‘He’ve allus bin a dial,’ they exclaim, ‘an’ never nothen else. What should us want wi’ a cross then?’ Aye, what indeed? Have they not had the Cross in their midst for well nigh a thousand years, as the stones of their own church can testify?