St. Aldhelm

This little church stands on a knoll above the hamlet it serves.  It has a most impressive porch attached to the south tower.  Inside there are benches on both sides where the farmers had to wait before being summoned by the rector to pay their tithes.  The doorway into the church is Norman replete with zigzag.  The rest of the building is 15c in origin.  There is a splendid harmonium to provide the music and an Elizabethan pulpit with arabesque panels.  Impressive woodwork in the roof.







The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©




St. George


This is a really splendid genuine Victorian church with its associated school alongside.  The nave was built in 1810 and lengthened in 1837-38.  Ewan Christian was responsible for the rest, including the apse, but not the tower, which was completed in 1903-5 to a design by C E Ponting and at a cost of £1,656.  The wooden ceiling to the Apse is most attractive.


Note the most impressive organ and at the rear of the building an excellent funeral carriage by Goodfellow of Wincanton.





The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©


Buckhorn Western

Buckhorn Western

St. John the Baptist

There is a legend suggesting that Christianity came to the area shortly after Joseph of Arimathea had established his settlement at Glastonbury.  Later the parish was linked with the monastic community of Marsh Court only a mile away.  What is absolutely certain is that there was a church on the site from earliest times and parts of the present building date from early C13, which is when the incumbents were first recorded.  As a result of the generosity of Sir Francis Stapleton, the Patron, in 1870 the Victorians restored and enlarged the church to a design by G R Crickmay of Weymouth. 

As with several Dorset churches, the chancel is out of alignment with the nave signifying Christ's drooping head on the Cross. The interior is classically Victorian with some splendid chandeliers.  In the north side of the chancel, there is a recumbent effigy of a knight not wearing armour, but clad in tabard and hose and said to be Alexander Mobray, who died in the village in 1410.  Font is C14.  

Note the piscina with the beautiful flower shaped water outlet.

There are two painted panels attached to the walls of the ringing chamber at the base of the tower, which at one time formed the front of a singing gallery.  These were painted by Sir James Thornhill FRS, the first painter to be knighted.  He lived in Stalbridge and was MP for Weymouth.  His other works include: the Dome of St. Paul's Cathedral: The Princess Apartment at Hampton Court: Kensington Palace and Blenheim. Hogarth studied under him and eventually became his son-in-law.

 The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Compton Abbas - New

Compton Abbas New

St Mary the Virgin

This is an exceptionally attractive church with a broach spire designed by George Evans of Wimborne and erected during 1866-7.  Inside, the ribbed chancel with apse makes a very pleasing focus of attention.  There is a Lady chapel and a Norman font featuring 'trails', which may have been re-cut by the Victorians.

The church was built so that it was nearer the centre of the main village, thus rendering the 'old' church redundant.






The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Compton Abbas - Old

Compton Abbas Old


Only the tower remains of the building, which became redundant when the toll road was built around 1870.  It would have been to this church that the Dorset Club Men were taken during the English Civil War.  Note the remains of an ancient preaching cross.  On the 22nd August 1995 the only occupants of the old churchyard were two splendid geese!  (See Compton Abbas).








The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

East Orchard

East Orchard

St. Thomas

Rather like West Orchard, this church serves a small scattered rural community traditinally dedicated to dairy farming.

The building consists of a nave with a chancel and topped with a simple single bellcote. It was designed by Evans & Pullan and constructed in 1859-61.

The church is locked







The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©


East Stour

East Stour


The village of East Stour lies a few miles out of Shaftesbury on the busy A30 Sherborne road. A sharp bend forces a driver to slow down just as the church appears set back from the road. 

The church is squat with a square tower that imparts a solid and somewhat timeless appearance. In fact, it is an 1842 rebuild of an earlier church in the then fashionable Norman style. All that remains of the original building is the C12 font and a nice carving of a pelican, which has been incorporated into the lectern. Nevertheless this is quite an impressive building by George Alexander who was also responsible for the nearby St. John the Evangelist at Enmore Green 1843 (Shaftewsbury), St Mary at Motcombe 1846 and St Bartholomew at Sutton Waldron 1847.

Perhaps the most distinguished past resident of the village was the author Henry Fielding, who grew up here from 1710 and returned at the start of married life in 1734. His most famous work is 'Tom Jones.'



The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Fifehead Magdalen

Fife head Magdalen

St. Mary Magdalene

This is a delightful little church serving a charming and very rural hamlet, that has been a settled since ancient times.  It was mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086), however the first mention of a church is found in the records of the Abbey of St. Augustine in Bristol in the mid C12 and the first recorded Rector was instituted in 1307.

The present building dates from C14 when there was a simple nave, chancel and south tower.  A north mortuary chapel was added to house the Newman family monuments in 1750.  There were no further significant alterations until 1904 - 5.

The magnificent candle-lit brass chandeliers in the nave, the 1637 entrance door and the excellent barrel roofs are especially worthy of note.

There are two fonts; the one at the back of the building is particularly interesting because it has elements dating from both C15 and C18.  The stained glass west window is from 1973.

This church handsomely rewards a visit.


 The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Fifehead Neville

Fifehead Neville

All Saints

A haven of delightful tranquility, the village rests in a timeless wooded rural setting, with a name derived from its Domesday estimate of 'five hides'. The little church with its plain bellcote sits on raised ground adjacent to a large and rather splendid residence.

The first vicar was John de Purcombe, who was installed in 1298. Nothing remains of the original church because the oldest part is the C14 south wall and the chancel arch of the same period. There were major alterations in 1736 when the tower was taken down and the large round headed windows placed in the south wall. The rather plain oak pulpit with fielded panels is also from C18. The chancel is entirely of 1837. Note the piscina is unusually sited on the east wall.

The Purbeck stone font, on a green sandstone base, is C14 and was moved to its present position from beside the door in 1970. The beautiful richly carved lectern must be C19, although the guide books are coy about its origin.

This is a delightful church, which is well worth a visit.

Continuing east from the church the road crosses the river Divelish by a ford adjacent to an ancient, possibly medieval, packhorse bridge. The bridge is six foot wide and there are two six foot spans with pointed arches. One of only three in Dorset. (The others are at Rampisham and Tarrant Monkton)

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©


Bradford AbbHammoon

St. Paul

This delightful little church stands in the centre of the hamlet of Hammoon, just to the north of the remains of a C14 village cross.  The chancel and the south wall of the nave are C13.  It was altered in C15 and again in the C19 when the nave was lengthened and the little bellcote added.  The early C15 reredos is particularly important because it is a fine example of West country work.  It was found in a south London dealer's yard in 1945 and had been an overmantle to a fireplace.  It is thought that it had originally been created for a church nearby since it is made from local Ham stone.

The roof is a good example of C15 construction by a double framed pitch with moulded and cambered tie beams connecting the principal rafters.  The oak pulpit is dated 1635 and the font is C14.  There is a large sculpted C14 head, reputedly taken from the bridge, but which may well have originated in the church.  Note, the largely unexplained offset of the chancel - it is aligned with the nave, so that it cannot be said to be 'drooped'.



The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

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