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 ©