Wareham Lady St.Mary

Postcode for SatNavBH20 4ND
O.S. Landranger Map reference195-925872

Alton St. PancrasWareham

Lady St. Mary

The most impressive view of Lady St. Mary is from the road from Stoborough.  It seems to tower above the other buildings on the river bank, yet it is almost impossible to photograph the whole, except from the rather dreary north.  Tradition has it that St. Aldhelm (639 - 709) founded this church and, although added to, it remained untouched until 1841.

As with so many wonderful churches in the county, the Victorians simply could not leave them alone.  In many cases if work had not been done the structures would certainly have collapsed, but a dilapidated roof is hardly an excuse to demolish the nave.  What we now have is a Saxon church with a plain Victorian nave.  Nevertheless, it remains an exceptional church of great interest.

The south chapel with 13c vaulting is dedicated to St. Edward, who was martyred at Corfe in 978.  The 14c chancel is magnificent  with a superb east window and range of four sedilia with a double piscina in the eastern bay.  The landmark tower was added in 15c.  Later, galleries and box pews were added, although both were removed by the Victorians.  There is a unique 12c octagonal decorated lead font mounted on a Purbeck stone base.

Of its many illustrious rectors, probably the most celebrated is Rev. John Hutchins who was the incumbent from 1744 to 1773.  He was responsible for producing the definitive history of Dorset's buildings, which is still in use today. (See alsoBradford Peverell)

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©