Puddletown

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Postcode for SatNavDT2 8SN
O.S. Landranger Map reference194-758944

Puddle townPuddletown

St.Mary

The great Edwardian surgeon and chronicler of all things Dorset, Sir Frederick Treves, wrote "The feature of greatest interest in Puddletown is the church, one of the few in the county which has been happy escaping the hand of the restorer.....  No church can compare with this in human interest and nowhere can one come into closer communion with the homely spirit of the Dorset of the past."  His words were as true at the turn of the last century as they are today, because this must be one of the most exciting parish churches in the county.

There was certainly a church here in Saxon times, probably on the present site, but the oldest part of the building is a section of the tower, which is not older than 1180-1200.  This may have been a restoration.  During the 13c, the building was made cruciform by the addition of transepts. The bulk of the present structure was erected in about 1400, when the magnificent oak roof was added.  In 1505, there was a further restoration, when the opportunity was taken to raise the roof so that a clerestory could be inserted.  Further works included adding the north aisle, raising the tower by a further 20 feet with an external staircase and the provision of a parapet around both church and tower.   Patronage was in the hands of the Prior of Christchurch Priory until the dissolution in 1539.  He had granted permission to hold a weekly market and fairs twice a year.  (The fairs continued until the 1914-18 war.)   Reginald Pole, the son of the Countess of Salisbury, was vicar here from 1532 to 1536.  He went on to become a Cardinal and Archbishop of Canterbury under Queen Mary.  (See Christchurch Priory - Salisbury Chantry.)