The tale of time on Belton’s Sundial

In 2017 we marked 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.

Belton’s sundial was created by Caius 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 was showing signs of deterioration, and vital remedial works had to be carried out in 2017 to ensure the stability of the pedestal. But at almost 300 years old, this much-loved garden sculpture was well-deserving of some TLC*. Proceeds from 2017’s raffle fundraising at Belton went towards the costs of restoration. Thank you to all who bought a ticket.

*Tender Loving Conservation