The tale of time on Belton’s Sundial

This year we’re marking the 30th anniversary of Moondial, the much-loved children’s book by BAFTA award-winning author Helen Cresswell.

Inspired by the sundial at the heart of Belton’s formal gardens, the story tells of a young girl who discovers that the sculpture is in fact a magic portal to the past. The popularity of the book boomed when the BBC commissioned it for a children’s television series and radio play.

Regarded as a nostalgic favourite by followers of 1980s children's drama, Moondial was filmed almost entirely on location at Belton House, and now, thanks to the Cresswell Family, Belton’s library offers a unique opportunity to see the original manuscript, personal memorabilia and Helen’s very own first edition copy of the book. The exhibition will be on display until November.

Belton’s sundial was created by Gaius Cibber, a renowned sculptor of the period who also worked on St Pauls Cathedral and Hampton Court Palace for Sir Christopher Wren. It was placed in the Dutch Garden by Sir John Brownlow sometime between 1721 and 1754. Carved from limestone, the pedestal of the sundial shows Cronus, god of time, and Eros, god of love.

The base of the sundial is showing signs of deterioration, and vital remedial works are now being carried out to ensure the stability of the pedestal. But at almost 300 years old, this much-loved garden sculpture is well-deserving of some TLC*. All proceeds from this year’s raffle fundraising at Belton will go towards the costs of restoration.

*Tender Loving Conservation