AlderholtThere was a church in Alderholt in medieval times. However it and its graveyard were destroyed by Cromwell's army in 1649, suggesting that the area was strongly Royalist during the Civil War.  So for 200 years the parish was without a church, until the present one was built in 1849.  The porch and chancel were added later. 

Read more: Alderholt


churchThe hamlet of Almer lies to the north of the busy A31, from where the church can be glimpsed beyond an attractive pond.  This is a bit of a mixture, but has its origins in the C11.

Read more: Almer

Canford Magna

Canford Magna

No known dedication

In the past, there have been some who have suggested that this church is not very beautiful, but 'beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder' and this commentator finds much of it most attractive. More importantly, it is hugely interesting, steeped in history and obviously very much loved by its congregation. The setting, despite its proximity to the famous school of the same name, is both peaceful and charming. 

This is the oldest building in the Borough of Poole, with a foundation reaching back to the late Saxon period, probably around 1050. That structure now forms the chancel. A nave was grafted on to it by the Normans, who also added the slightly oddly placed northern tower of 1180. It may have been erected to buttress the church from falling down. There are still some little Norman windows, although the lighting must have been considerably improved in C14 by the addition of further windows. The chancel arch, south chapel and aisle are also Norman. High in the north wall of the south aisle there are the remains of an excellent example of a Rood loft access stairway. 


In 1829 the nave was extended westward and it was into this extension that a gallery to carry a magnificent organ was installed in 1976. In 1846, Canford Manor was bought by Sir John Guest of Guest Keen and Nettlefold (G.K.N.), who during a period of frantic railway building, had made a fortune from creating most of the world's railway lines. In 1876 his son ,Ivor, retained the architect, David Brandon, to restore the church. He furnished the chancel with individually sized stalls for the benefit of the various members of his family. The chancel's east window depicts the four gospel evangelists and was erected in memory of Sir John Guest. On either side there is an exquisite, if somewhat glum, mosaic angel by Salviati, which were probably installed during the 1876-8 restoration.

There are some very good monuments to the Guest and Willett families, mainly C19 and 20. Of particular interest is the one that records the unfortunate and apparently untimely death of Montague (Monty) Guest at Sandringham, while he was attending the King's birthday party. The octagonal Purbeck marble font is Early English C13. 

The lack of a known dedication is worthy of comment in that it may actually have been St. Augustine because the 'east' end is not orientated directly to the east, but in the direction of the sun rising on St. Augustine's day.

Outside, near the south porch is a Scottish granite tomb dedicated to Sir Henry Austen Layard, who brought a frieze from Nineveh to Canford during C19. This frieze was subsequently sold by the school for £7.7 million.

This is an exceptional church, which is a real delight to visit.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©



All Saints

All Saints is one of the most delightful little churches in Dorset and benefits from an elevated position where the views can be really magnificent.  It is a small whitewashed building under a tiled roof with the chancel and part of the nave reaching back to C13.  The rest is C18 and the curved tops to the south windows are typical.  There is a bellcote.

Inside is an entirely unspoiled C18 interior complete with box pews, a three-decker pulpit and musicians' gallery, which now houses the organ.  In the chancel there is a long bench on the south side, where once, the servants from the rectory would have sat and opposite, but raised up, is another, once  reserved for the Earl of Pembroke should he be minded to visit from Wilton.  The boxes in the nave were traditionally used by individual farms in the parish. The font is a good C18 example.

In 1974, the altar rails were presented by the Dorset Historic Churches Trust as a tribute to Sir Owen Morshead, the first Chairman of the Trust.

This is a really splendid little building, which deserves to be on any list of churches to visit while in Dorset.


 The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©



St. Michael and All Angels

Colehill is a leafy suburb of Wimborne and this church seems to harmonise rather well with its setting.  It was designed by W.D.Caröe and consecrated in 1895.  The architect was also responsible for a number of other churches in Dorset, most notably the east end of the Lady Chapel at Sherborne Abbey and a chapel in Gillingham Church, both in 1921.

This is a very interesting brick-built church with mock half-timbering and intriguing roof elevations and shapes.  The use of dormer windows in the nave roof hint at clerestory.

The church is normally locked.



The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Corfe Mullen

Corfe Mullen

St. Hubert

This beautiful little seven hundred year old church nestles on the south side of the busy A31 Dorchester - Wimborne road. 

Hutchings tells us in his 'History of Dorset' that it was a simple C13 two cell building consisting of a nave, chancel and C14 squat brown stone western tower. There is a delightful mellowness about it all and it is not surprising that Sir Frederick Treves, the eminent Victorian London surgeon and writer about all things Dorset, described it as "a church of warm colours, such as a painter in water colours loves". 

At some point a north chapel was added, perhaps C18, however the brick built south chapel is definitely recorded as having been built in 1841 during the incumbency of the Revd Plumtre, who was the first rector after the parish separated from Sturminster Marshall.

The church has a very pleasing, if unusual, interior created by the generous size of the north and south chapels, which give rise to a feeling of space and light in the crossing. There are mid C19 galleries above what was the south chapel and another supported on slim spiral cast-iron pillars over the west end, where the splendid organ is found. Above all are the sumptuous plastered wagon roofs adorned by numerous painted beams and bosses.

There is an octagonal C15 font of Purbeck marble and a pulpit in the entrance to the north chapel.

This is a delightful and obviously much loved little church, which hugely repays a visit.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©




St. Nicholas

Edmondsham is a delightful village and the church, which is reached through an opening in a long beech hedge and a lengthy drive, does not disappoint.  There is a C12 arcade of two bays, a chancel arch and flint and greensand tower of C14.  One suspects the Victorians were busy, but the references are coy on the subject.

This very nice estate church is associated with the nearby Elizabethan Edmondsham House.







The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©


Bradford AbbHampreston

All Saints

This fabulously interesting church, situated in a very rural setting, almost certainly has its roots as early as the Saxon period (600-1066).  However, it was not until 1261 that the first Rector was recorded.  As with so many churches, throughout the ages the building has been modified to suit the ebb and flow of parishioners and the changing religious requirements.

The nave, chancel and sanctuary are medieval 14c covered by a 17c wagon roof, now with the timbers exposed. The tower is also 14c, although the west window is of 1892 by Kempe.  The Purbeck stone font dates originally from 13c, but was probably re-cut in 15c.  The rest of the church belongs to a Victorian restoration of 1896, which was absolutely essential because the church had been allowed to become badly dilapidated.  Apart from reversing the decay and enlarging the building, the design by Romaine Walker & Tanner incorporated a new north aisle, organ chamber and porch.  The opportunity was taken to remove galleries on the south side and across the tower that had been installed in 1812.

In the sanctuary there is a delightful sedila with a list of rectors inside.  The oak communion table with turned legs is from the 17c.  The 15c east window  features Christ's Crucifixion.  In the chancel, notice the 12 stone corbels, which look more like gargoyles, but are supposed to remind one "..we wrestle not against the flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world.." (Ephesians 6 verse 12)  The stone pulpit is of 1872.  There is an excellent hatchment of 1803 with the arms of the Greathead family.  This would have hung outside the home of the deceased for some time before being brought into the church.

There is one of the best guides in the county available for this church.

 The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Hinton Martell

BH21 7HE

Bradford AbbHinton Martell


The present structure replaced a much earlier version, which by 1869 had reached '..a state of general decay..' so that it was universally resolved to take it down and build a bigger new church on the site.  The estimated cost was £1,640, a huge sum for a parish largely consisting of farm labourers and without a wealthy landlord to help.  A £200 loan was promised by Queen Anne's Bounty and advertisements taken in local newspapers appealing for subscriptions.  At some point around this time there was a fire and there is some doubt about the provenance of the tower, which maybe the original C15.  The money was raised and a new church built in 1870 to a design by G. R. Crickmay (the author Thomas Hardy was working for him at the time so there maybe some of his work here).  The quite excellent church guide by Canon Wm Bernard suggests that the architect was John Hills of Dorchester, but since there is no reference to him in Pevsner's Guide, it is probably a misprint for John Hicks, who practiced in Dorchester and died in 1869 after which his outstanding work was carried forward by Crickmay. Canon Barnard gave an exemplary service to the parish of 40 years, which must be something of a record in modern times.

The building has a splendid decorated wagon roof to the chancel and some superbly executed corbels by sculptors Boulton and Weaver.  The Purbeck stone font is C13.  This is a 'High Church' and there are some beautiful artefacts associated with this calling of Christianity.


The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©



Beer hackHolt

St. James

A church here was repaired in 1493 so that the inhabitants would not have to walk to Wimborne for services, which they were finding trying in bad weather.  It was completely rebuilt in brick in 1836 to a design by John Tulloch, who was responsible for two or three other churches in the county.  T.H.Wyatt was responsible for the chancel of 1875, which hugely improves the otherwise rather plain interior.  The pulpit is early 17c and was brought from Wimborne Minster in 1858.







The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

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