Affpuddle - St Laurence

Affpuddle

Affpuddle

St Laurence

The church has a splendid perpendicular style tower (1462), decorated with flint and ashlar chequer work.

Inside are interesting pew ends, some with poppy head finials, A pew in the North aisle is inscribed:- "Thes seyts were Mayd in the yeare of our Lord God MCCCCCXLVII (1547) the tyme of Thomas Lylynton, vicar of this Cherche." Lylynton, a monk of Cerne Abbey, was appointed vicar here in 1534; in 1539 the Abbey was dissolved and the monks scattered.

The pulpit, of about the same date, has five panels containing finely carved figures below which are medallions with the symbols of the four evangelists and the fifth of the pelican. There are four bells dated 1598, 1655, 1685 and 1722. They are rung by a chiming mechanism.

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Blandford - St. Catherines

Blandford

Blandford

St. Catherines

This ancient church is buried among a new housing development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

 

Blandford St. Mary

Blindfold St Mary

Blandford St. Mary

 

This pleasing little church has been largely divorced from its parish as a result of the Blandford bypass, so it now sits in not much more than a hamlet.  The exact origins of the building are unclear, but a deed referring to it was assigned during the reign of Henry II (1154-89). The east chancel wall, the roof of the nave and the tower are said to be late C14, although Sir Nikolous Pevsner was not convinced and suggested that it might be earlier.  The rest is Victorian of various dates, with an arcade added in 1919, which replaced two slender iron pillars.  The north aisle and transept, in memory of Sir John Smith of Down House, were erected in 1863.  The pulpit and lectern were gifts by the family the Rev Mansfield, who had been Rector .  Oil lamps replaced candles in 1907 and were replaced by electric lights in 1936.  In 1949 the north transept was converted into a chapel as a memorial to Henry Holt and Leonede Beaver.  The bells were re-hung in 1975 and in 1985 the pews were removed from the north aisle to provide an open area and the font was moved to its present position. 

Inside, there is a monument to Francis Cartwright (1758), holding a drawing of Came House, who would have been a contemporary of the Bastard Brothers of Blandford fame.  Also a very pleasing Madonna and Child.

The Rev John Pitt was Rector of the parish 1645-77.  His second son, Thomas, joined the East India Company eventually becoming Governor of Madras.  He purchased the famous 'Pitt Diamond' from a Bombay dealer, which he sold in 1717 to the Duke of Orleans, Regent of France, for the sum of £130,000.  It became part of the Crown Jewels of France and can be seen in the Louvre in Paris.  Governor Pitt prospered mightily, buying large estates in the West Country and was a benefactor of this church.  He died in 1726 at Swallowfield, near Reading, but was buried here.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

 

Bloxworth

BloxworthBloxworth

St. Andrew

The village of Bloxworth is situated in a particularly beautiful wooded part of Dorset, which has been accurately described as a rural idyll.  It has attracted some illustrious rectors in the past.  Perhaps the most eminent was John Morton (1420 - 1500), who set out as a lowly country priest, but rose to become the Cardinal Archbishop of Canterbury (1486) under Henry VII.  His was an adventurous life.  As Bishop of Ely he appears in Shakespeare's play Richard III, he became a king maker, a prisoner in the Tower of London, but finally responsible for joining the red and white roses to form the Tudor dynasty.  A much later Rector, splendidly called Octavious Pickard-Cambridge, occupied the position from 1868 until his death in 1917.  In the meantime, he catalogued 800 different Dorset species of spiders and wrote a book on the subject.  Unfortunately, he was also responsible for the 'improvement' of the church in 1870.

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©


 

Fortunately the 14c tower was largely left alone, but the nave was altered and a new elaborate chancel added to the design of G. Evans.  Nevertheless, with its wagon roof it remains a most attractive building.  The Savage chapel, on the northern side, is late 17c and has a superb cartouche in memory of Sir John Trenchard and nearby an interesting circular window.  The Purbeck marble font is 13c.  The hour glass attached to the pulpit is 17c, although Sir Frederick Treves in his 'Highways and Byways of Dorset' says the glass was broken and the orifice between the bulbs sealed up during the subsequent repair.  After the Reformation (1559) preaching became obligatory and an hour glass ensured that the congregation received what was due.  This one ran for an hour!  There are some elegant candlesticks in the chancel and the encaustic tiled floor in the sanctuary is a particularly good example of Victorian tiling.

 

 

Bryanston - St. Martin

Blandford

Bryanstone

St. Martin

This magnificent estate church stands apart from the bustle of the great house it serves.  It was built for Lord Portman in 1895-8 at about the same time as the new mansion was being erected to a design by EP Warren and was one of the first churches to have electricity installed.  Bryanston is now a public school and the church serves most fittingly as a chapel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Charlton Marshall

Carlton Marshall

St. Mary the Virgin

This is an exceptionally attractive church, although its setting so close to the main A350 road cannot possibly have been envisaged when it was built.  All that remains of the original medieval church is the tower.  The rest was rebuilt in 1713 entirely at the expense of Dr. Sloper, who was the rector.  At the time the living was one of the wealthiest in England.


 

The design was almost certainly by Thomas Bastard, whose sons William and John, were to be largely responsible for the rebuilding of nearby Blandford Forum after the disastrous fire of 1731.  The walls are of chequered flint and stone.  Pevsner says that the north aisle arcade "has the medieval elements superficially georgianised".  Nevertheless, the interior is exceptionally pleasing. The rather dominating pulpit decorated with very fine marquetry and a magnificent tester with golden pelican above is of particular interest.  The reredos, which entirely fills the east wall, has the Lord's Prayer written in gold lettering on the middle section and the Ten Commandments on either side.  There are some good monuments. The font with a superb wooden cover, which can be raised by means of a pulley and a golden cherubic counter weight, is of particular interest.  Note, it is very similar to the font in Blandford parish church. The pews are not of 1713 because the original box pews had to be removed when the burial vaults below the church began to give off a bad smell.  However, the current seating and some of the wall paneling was made from the old pews when remedial work was done to the vaults.  The choir stalls and lectern are relatively new.

Outside, note the village stocks to the left of the porch and, above, the double-faced sundial to catch the morning and afternoon sun.

This is a delightful church, which generously rewards the visitor.

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Cheselbourne

Cheselbourne

St. Martin

The origins of this very attractive church, with a proud upstanding tower and constructed largely from flint, are shrouded in mystery, although the guide suggests there has been worship taking place on the site for about a thousand years.  However,  the oldest elements of the present building are the superb C13 pillars with moulded Purbeck marble capitals and arches found in the south arcade.  The chancel is C14 and the north arcade is late C15.  The Victorians could not resist a restoration in 1874, but it was restrained and the medieval atmosphere of the building was mercifully allowed to survive.

There is a good, largely unembellished, Jacobean pulpit.  A strange stairway  leads very steeply to the bell chamber and is well worth a look.  Other items of interest include two hagioscopes (or squints), a piscina, a stoup and an ancient font reputedly from the original church.

The organ was bought from Holy Trinity, Dorchester when it was declared redundant in 1977.

This is a lovely country church that generously rewards a visit.

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Durweston

Durweston

St. Nicholas

 

The bulk of Durweston stands to one side of the busy Blandford to Sturminster Newton road.  This was once part of the Portman estate, whose great house, Bryanston, is nearby.  

Like many others in the County, the site has been occupied by a church for a long time.  The tower of the present flint and greensand building certainly reaches back to C15, although the rest is a skilful Victorian restoration of 1846 by P C Hardwick.  Durweston appears to have been his only church in Dorset, although he was responsible for a parsonage in Haydon, some interiors in Sherborne Castle and alterations to St Giles House (1854). The font is C12 or 13. Inside the church and above the south doorway there is an ancient sculpture of an apparently headless man shoeing a horse.  However, the horse is standing on only three legs, while the hoof and leg being attended to is separate!  This is the legend of St Eloy, the patron saint of blacksmiths and metal workers, who put the leg back on the horse afterwards.  He was apprenticed as a goldsmith in Limoges in France, later finding great favour with the king.  He became the Bishop of Noyon before dying in 659.

 

 The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©


 

Perhaps the most important vicar to have held the living was the Rev Lord Sidney Godolphin Osborne, who arrived in 1841.  He was the brother-in-law of Charles Kingsley, the author of 'The Water Babies' and, for a while, curate at neighbouring Pimperne.  Although the aristocracy were well represented among Victorian clergy, it was usually the 'younger son' and only exceptionally rarely the title holder.  However, 'SGO' as he was known, proved to be an outstanding example of a campaigning parson.  He was appalled by the lot of the agricultural labourers in his parish and tirelessly promoted their cause through the press, by giving evidence to the Poor Law Commissioners and any other means at his disposal including reminding the Church of its responsibilities.  Of course these activities did not win him too many friends amongst the landowners and efforts were made to muzzle him, although without success.  Unemployment coupled with terrible conditions prompted him to encourage many to emigrate, some at his expense.  Between 1815 and 1895, 13 million people left the United Kingdom for good; 100,000 from Dorset alone. He died in Lewis, where he had retired, in 1889.

In 1991, the eminent sculptor, Don Potter, aged 89, accepted a commission to carve stone figures of the Madonna and Child and St Nicholas.  These have been placed in separate niches in the tower and demonstrate how this brilliant artist has harmonised his work with an ancient setting.  Don Potter was a pupil of Eric Gill before branching out on his own and teaching at Bryanston.  He died in 2004 aged 102.

 

 

 

Fontmell Magna

Fontmell Magna

There has been a church on the site since before the Domesday Book of 1086, however only the lower part of the tower of the original remains.  During 1862 - 3 it was almost completely rebuilt to a design by the Wimborne architect, George Evans, who was responsible for four other Dorset churches (1).

The most distinguishing feature of the building is a parapet that extends around the whole and which is partly composed of portions salvaged from the earlier church.  Hutchins, the celebrated 18th century Dorset historian, noted that part of it was dated 1530.

Inside, the building is rather plain and typically Victorian, but it is lightened by a very elaborate, brilliantly white, Caen stone pulpit, decorated with the four evangelists.  Unusually, there are no external steps because it is 'built-in' and access is through a door from the vestry.  There is an attractive, very upright, lectern, which is fashioned from lead and mounted on a cast-iron base.  In a corner, below a most attractive stained glass window, rests the remains of a font thought to be at least a thousand years old.

There is a striking memorial in the churchyard to Philip Salkeld, who was the fourth son of the rector.  He died on 10th October 1857 from wounds sustained when 'blowing the Kashmir gate' during the Indian Mutiny; an act of conspicuous gallantry for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

(1) Melbury Abbas 1851-2: Compton Abbas 1866-7: Bloxworth 1870: Poxwell 1868 - pulled down

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Gussage All Saints

Bradford AbbGussage 

All Saints

The church lies at the western end of this attractive settlement, which is one of three Gussages, all connected by a little stream. It sits charmingly in a grassy churchyard and without a hard path leading from the road.  At first sight, it looks as if it is yet another product of the Victorian era, but this would be very wrong.  It is early Decorated 14c with a tower that was built in three stages and finished in 15c. The first recorded vicar, Galfred de Wermondsworth, was installed in 1347 and the parish registers go back to 1560.

The interior is impressive with a very lofty feel.  This would certainly have been very attractive to the Victorians who nevertheless embarked on a programme of improvement.  The restoration by the architect, Ewan Christian, involved moving the original chancel arch to the north wall in order to form a frame for the organ.  The present chancel arch was installed by the eminent Dorchester architect, John Hicks, who had Thomas Hardy as a pupil before he rose to fame as an author.  The east window, by Bell & Beckham, was installed in 1909 in memory of Rev Waldey.

The most attractive one-manual 18c Walker organ was a gift from the incumbent, Rev Charles Waldey (1857-75), who was responsible for the church restoration.  The instrument, contained in a mahogany case, had originally been designed for use in a private house and was later used by Sir James Turle at Westminster Abbey for choir practice.

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©


 

 

On the north wall of the nave, near the impressive Victorian pulpit, is a shallow recess containing a tomb, which is canopied with crocheted ogee cusping and wall flower decoration.  This arrangement prompted Sir Owen Morshead to suggest that it is an Easter sepulchre (the only other one in the county is at Tarrant Hinton). However others do not agree because a skeleton was found in it during the 1860 restoration.  Note, under the pulpit there is some exquisite carving.

There are excellent guide boards in the church and it is well worth a visit.

 

 

 

 

 

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