Even though clocks existed in the 1670s, public sundials were an important part of everyday life in London and throughout Europe. This story from the Athenian Mercury of 1692/3 (iv, No. 4), the year before the erection of the original Sundial Pillar, provides a graphic illustration of the need for sundials:
"I was walking in Covent Garden where the clock struck two, when I came to Somerset-House by that it wanted a quarter of two, when I came to St. Clement Danes it was half past two, when I came to St. Dunstans it wanted a quarter to two, by Mr. Knib’s Dyal in Fleet-street it was just two, when I came to Ludgate it was half an hour past one, when I came to Bow Church it wanted a quarter of two, by the Dyal near the Stocks Market it was a quarter past two, and when I came to the Royal Exchange it wanted a quarter of two. Thus I averr for a Truth, and desire to know how long I was walking from Covent Garden to the Royal Exchange?"
The following extracts are from The Seven Dials by founder trustee, the late Sir John Summerson.
Book THE SEVEN DIALS - Erected 1694, Removed 1773, Reconstructed 1988-9.
Published By the Trust in 1989.