Abbotsbury Parish Church

AbbotsburyAbbotsbury Parish Church

St. Nicholas

The church stands in this most attractive village near the famous tithe barn and other remains of a Benedictine Abbey, founded shortly before the Norman Conquest. This great abbey lasted for 500 years until Henry VIII dissolved almost all the monasteries between 1536 and 1541. The present church stands slightly to the north of where the huge abbey church once stood and, in monastic times, was used by the secular parish. It and only half of the original tithe barn remain.


 What we see today is essentially a C14 fabric in origin with a C15 tower.  There was extensive rebuilding about the end of the C15.  The chancel has an attractive plastered barrel ceiling dated 1638.  Note C15 painted glass in the south aisle, late C12 effigy of an abbot in the porch, Jacobean pulpit with tester still showing bullet holes sustained in a skirmish during the Civil War and the superb C18 reredos.  Note also a small thanksgiving memorial recording the fact that no lives were lost from Abbotsbury during the Word War II.




The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

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Abbotsbury Hidden Chapel

AbbotsburyThe Hidden Chapel - St. Lukes

Pick a dry day and some good walking shoes to visit this exquisite fragment of a 13c Cistercian cell and you will be handsomely rewarded.  The chapel is only 32 x 18 ft., but beautifully sited in a wood above a small ravine.  The building is roofless and all that remains now is the west wall, three tombs, an altar constructed from the debris and an interesting crucifix, with Christ wearing a crown.  The tombs are of David and Olga Milne-Watson, who built Ashley Chase House, and a friend.

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Abbotsbury St Catherine's Chapel

St Catherine's ChapelSt. Catherine's Chapel rests on a hill a short distance to the south-west of the village of Abbotsbury.  It is worth the effort to climb up to it because the views are spectacular.  Built in late 14c by the great abbey in the village and, although only 45 x 15 ft. internally, it is immensely strong with massive buttresses and thick walls, which support a stone tunnel-vaulted roof with eight transverse ribs.  A notice inside records the fact that once a year spinsters could pray to St. Catherine:

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Holy Trinity

The hamlet of Bincombe lies in a fold to the east of a very sharp bend in the road from Dorchester to Weymouth.  This is seriously rural and the little church exudes peace and tranquillity.  There has been a building on the site for over 800 years although all that remains of that period are the blocked up north doorway and squint (hagioscope).  Note the rounded Norman chancel arch.

The south door is dated at 1779.  The Victorians extensively altered the chancel and raised the floor in 1862.  The furniture is of the same period.  The organ was originally in Broadwey church, but moved to Bincombe in 1901.

The Purbeck marble font is early (pre 12c) because careful inspection reveals the marks of fixings associated with a locked cover.  This was a requirement after 1236 to deter the theft of consecrated water for superstitious purposes.

The clock was installed as a thanksgiving after World War II.

In the churchyard lie two German-born soldiers of the York Hussars who were shot for desertion in 1801.  There was a large camp on Bincombe Down where the Grand Old Duke of York may have marched 10,000 men up and down the hill!


The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©


Buckland Ripers

Buckland Ripers

St. Nicholas

The tiny church and hamlet are fitted into a fold in the downland.  This is delightfully rural Dorset.  The origins of the church are ancient with the first recorded patron, Peter de Mallory, in 1310. However, owing to a fire in 17c it had to be largely rebuilt in 1655.

As usual, the Victorians were busy, providing  a new roof, pews and a new window in the medieval chancel.  Note, the handsome lectern.






The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©



St. Mary the Virgin

This delightful little church has possible origins in Celtic Christianity, but the present building dates from about 1260.  There is a gentle approach with clipped yews, which leaves one quite unprepared for the huge graveyard behind.

On entering through the porch of 1722, one's attention is immediately drawn towards the most attractive chancel beyond the arch.  A northern aisle was added by public subscription in 1834.  This appears to create an almost square body to the church and means that the occupants of the new aisle cannot see into the chancel.  There is a balcony across the entire west end, which accommodates both pews and organ.  There are two bells, housed in a C14 bellcote above the west wall, with an intriguing mechanism of levers and chains to ring them.  One bell, C13, is the second oldest in Dorset. (The oldest being in St. Michael and All Angels in the parish of Hanford near Child Okeford.)

Registers date from 1699 and churchwardens' accounts from 1729.  There is a well preserved stoup, an excellent Jacobean pulpit, a font dated at about 1150 and an interesting C15 grave slab (mounted on the north wall) engraved with the effigy of a man, possibly an early incumbent


 The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Fleet - New Church

Fleet new church

Holy Trinity

The church stands back from the road behind rather impressive gates and is surrounded by mature trees, giving it a very rural and peaceful feel.  It was built in 1827-9, to a design by Strickland (his only recorded church in Dorset).  The building was erected because the old one, just a quarter of a mile nearer the sea, was largely demolished by a great storm in November 1824.

This is a simple 'Commissioners type' church with a moulded plaster roof and large windows, which allow plenty of natural light.  The similar but smaller roof in the chancel apse is particularly pleasing.

During WW II the whole area was occupied by American troops prior to the Normandy landings and consequently the church has very close links with the United States.



The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Fleet - Old Church

Fleet old Church

Old Church

The chancel is all that remains of the old church after a very violent storm wrecked it in 1824. Much of the village was destroyed and the sea even breached the Chesil Bank.  

This was a notorious area for smuggling during the C18 and was immortalised in the novel The Moonfleet by J M Falkner.  The 'new' church of Holy Trinity was built nearby on safer ground in 1827-9.








The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Langton Herring

Beer hackLangton Herring

St. Peters

This charming little church stands quite prominently in the centre of the village next to the pub.  There has been a church here for a very long time and with absolute certainty since 1299 when the first rector was recorded.

As with so many churches, this one was 'improved' and enlarged by the Victorians in both 1827 and 1858 when the south aisle was added.  However, the little tower and some lancet windows were left undisturbed.  The font is C15. The chancel rails are C17 and the pulpit was made in 1787.  

The charming little three stop organ is by William Hill & Son and Norman & Beard of London.  The attractive case is new and half closing the cabinet doors gives a pianissimo effect for quieter occasions.

Note the large clock on the west wall.  Was this installed to discourage the preacher from over long sermons? Note also the Christian fish symbol, made of stones, which is let into the left side of the path approach to the main entrance in the tower.


The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©


Church imageOsmington

St. Osmund

This is an attractive church with a long history and a first recorded vicar in 1302.  Sadly only parts of the pointed chancel arch and bits of the arcade shafting remain from the original, however the tower is 15c.  The rest is a Victorian restoration of 1846 by Benjamin Ferry, who was responsible for many churches in the county.

There is a rather glum roughly carved inscription in the small chancel that reads as follows:

"Man's life.
Man is a glas: life is
a water that's weakly
walled about: sinne bring
es death: death breakes
the glas: so runnes
the water out

Note the very fine lectern.  The font is square Purbeck stone decorated with four pointed arches on each side. The pulpit is Victorian.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

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