Askerswell

Alton St. PancrasAskerswell

St. Michael and All Angels

When this church is viewed from the road leading down from the A35 trunk road it seems to stand very upright and one is immediately aware of the magnificent tower of 1403.  By 1858, the original church, which reached back to 1304 was in a sorry state and a new building was grafted onto the old tower to a design by Talbot Bury.

The font has been dated at 1154 and there is an interesting organ with an attractive arrangement of the pipes.  Outside, there is an important 14c English sculpture of Calvary and is found on the left side of the west door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

 

Beaminster

Beaminster

St. Mary

There has been a church in Beaminster since Saxon times, although no one knows exactly where it was.  The present truly magnificent building, set slightly above the little town it serves, rests upon a site where once a Norman structure stood.

Outside the most distinguishing feature is the superb tower of about 1500, which has been described as 'one of the glories of the West Country'.  It has 41 'crocketted' pinnacles, which make the pinnacles appear to be standing free of the tower, while each actually rests on a springer stone sculpted to form devils or mythical animals.

The rest is mainly C15 and C16 with both a north and south aisle.  Inside, this large church has a spacious loftiness about it and plenty of light.  The western columns of the arcade are early C15 while the eastern are late C15 and probably installed when the Norman tower was demolished. The nave ceiling is a Victorian restoration, but the side aisles ceilings are C17. The impressive corbels are by Burge and Allen who also carved corbels for the House of Commons.  The most attractive chancel screen is by H. Read of Exeter and installed in 1913.  The Jacobean oak pulpit of 1619 is all that remains of the original triple-decker.  Now mounted on wheels, it can be moved around the building at will.  There is a good example of stairs that would once have led to a rood loft extended across the chancel arch.  (Rood lofts carried figures of Christ crucified)  Note also the squint or hagioscope that enabled priests in the side aisles to synchronise the Elevation of the Host by watching the high altar.

The present clergy vestry was once a mort house, dating from C13, where bones that had been dug up in the graveyard were stored.

The font is Norman.  It was thrown out by the Victorians in 1863, but found in a stone mason's yard and returned in 1927.  (Not the only example see Kimmeridge and Chaldon Herring).  The lectern is modern and made at Beaminster School while the Paschal Candle stand and the Advent Candle stand are also modern and were made by Ronald Emett of Broadwindsor. The very impressive organ is by Anton Skrabl of Slovenia and was installed in 2008.  Among the monuments are two fine examples to the Strode family.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges text by Robin Adeney and photo DHCT ©

Bettiscombe

BettiscombeBettiscombe 

St Stephen

This is a most attractive setting for a rural church, tucked in under Pilsdon Pen with Marshwood Vale laid out below.  There are just a scattering of houses with the old rectory next door.  Certainly not a village, more a hamlet.   The tower is medieval, but the rest is the result of a sensitive restoration by John Hicks of Dorchester.  The work, which was completed in 1862 included re-using some of the original windows.  

The stone pulpit is Victorian.  The font is also Victorian and carved by Benjamin Grassby, whose exquisite work can be found in many of Dorset's restorations of the period. (see Long Bredy and North Poorton)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

 

Blackdown

BlackdownBlackdown

Holy Trinity

This is a simple chapel-style building serving a small community, almost hidden in a most attractive valley.  It was designed by E L Bracebridge (his only recorded church in the county) and built 1839-40. There is an impressive stainless steel spire on the roof, which has the effect of bringing the church very much up to date.  At the rear, a stairway leads to a blocked-up doorway that would certainly have led to a gallery, now no longer.  

In 1958 the church installed electric lighting, but there was still an old iron stove used for heating. Then on 16/17 December 1961, in the time of Rev F B Horsey the church caught fire, and all that remained were the stonewalls. It was once thought it was the action of the Chard Fire Bug, but it was probably caused by excessive heat from the stove chimney, which had been lit for the next day’s service and which went up besides the gallery timber.


A citation for faculty to build the new church arrived in November 1963, but it was argued that the restored building rebuilt in 1964, by Spillers of Chard, should be designed for the dual purpose of church and village hall, but those supporters did not get their way. The architect Mr Stark of Jackson and Stark, Dorchester was responsible for the modern interior. 

The walls were repaired and replastered on the inside; a new roof was added, complete with the stainless steel bell spire. The consecration service was held on November 29 1964 by the Ven, the Archdeacon Maddocks, and televised on Tuesday December 1st.

Inside the church is quite plain, but light and airy.  There is no pulpit.  The cauldron style font is imaginatively mounted in a steel frame and the lectern is worthy of close inspection

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

 

Bothenhampton - New Church

bothenhampton1.jpgBothenhampton - New Church

Holy Trinity

This most attractive church, an early example of the Arts & Crafts movement, was consecrated by  Rt. Rev. John Wordsworth (Bishop of Salisbury 1885-1911) on 17th January 1890 to replace an old building.  The architect was Edward Prior, who had designed the remarkable Pier Terrace of 1885 at West Bay when he was only 33.  It is cleverly sited slightly above the village, but below the adjacent hill.

The church is entered through a southern porch via an ancient oak door transferred from the 'old' church.  The interior is truly stunning.  The aisle sweeps up towards the chancel and above, three huge pointed stone arches leap across the interior from almost floor level in a very pleasing and theatrical fashion.  A fourth arch is integral with the west wall and massive oak arches are employed in the chancel roof to form an immensely strong and visually attractive structure.  The nave, which is only 48 feet long, is lit by lancet windows on either side with a rose window high on the west end to give further light.

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©


 

The stone pulpit, which is reached from behind, was encased in carved oak panelling by E.H.Gilbert of Bridport in 1904 to hide painted decoration by Macdonald Gill, whose work had ceased to find favour by then.  The communion table was a gift of the architect and probably by A.H.Mason, a cabinet maker associated with the Arts & Crafts movement and carries a front panel in painted gesso by W.R. Lethaby  The church guide says the east window is by Christopher Whall who is much associated with the movement, although Sir Nikolaus Pevsner suggests it is probably also by Lethaby.  The chancel screen of 1910 in wrought iron is by R.B.Williams & Sons of Bridport.  The magnificent font was a gift from a churchwarden at the time of the consecration and is in the form of an alabaster bowl supported by forest marble columns on a base of alabaster, in turn mounted on circular steps of blue Keinton stone.  There is a most beautiful lectern, not mentioned in the guides, but well worth noting.  The seating is of 1966 and specified as 'Coventry Cathedral' type.

There is a superb village and church guide by Cyril Kay, twice a churchwarden of the church.

 

 

Bothenhampton - Old Church

Boten oldBothenhampton - Old Church

Holy Trinity

The origins of this building are probably Norman, however the chancel is 14c and the tower 15c.  In the 1880s the church had become too small and decayed to be worth repairing so it was decided to apply for a faculty to build a new larger one a mile and a half away.  Most of the old church was demolished leaving just the tower and chancel.  Inside there is a fine 18c reredos with altar rails.  

By the 1970s the building had passed into the hands of the Redundant Churches Fund and was in need of substantial repair.  The work was overseen by the eminent architect, Kenneth Wiltshire, and by 1975 the Fund had been awarded a Certificate of Commendation for the conservation.

Even in its truncated form, this is a very pleasing and peaceful little church, well worth a visit.

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

 

Bradpole

Blandford

Bradpole

Holy Trinity

This is an exceptionally difficult church to photograph because it is not possible to get far enough away to frame the whole building.  It is a large church of 1846 in the Early English Style with a curious spire, which was added to the tower in 1863.   C.E.Ponting further added to it in 1897.  The pale blue paint on the tower ventilators and porch doors is interesting if a little bizarre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

 

Bridport St. Swithun

Blandford

Bridport

St. Swithun

Towards the western end of Bridport lies the suburb of Allingnton, notable because of its proximity to what was the Gundry Rope Works, once the town's principal employer. The older houses, arranged mainly along the north/south road, were built to accommodate the artisans. The church of St Swithun, which is set dramatically back at the southern end of this narrow road, is an unexpected surprise. 

The brilliant white rendered building is by any standard magnificent with an impressive portico supported on four Tuscan columns with a circular cupula above and described by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner as having "a delightful front." This is the work of Charles Wallis in 1826-7. Internally, the building is rectangular with a flat white ceiling. Nevertheless, on entry the eye is naturally drawn forward to the large and very striking crucifix that hangs above the central altar. Either side are chapel altars and, being a high church, facilities for reserving the sacrament. There is a gallery at the rear which stretches across the entire width of the building and supports the splendid organ.

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Broadoak

Blandford

Broadoak

St. Paul

This simple little church is a chapel-of-ease and just serves the hamlet of Broadoak.  It was erected during the 1860s at the instigation the the Symondsbury incumbent, Revd. Henry Rawlinson, who was also responsible for Eype church.  Of great importance is the Broadoak Chalice, which was purchased as a thanksgiving offering by local farmers in 1866 for being spared from the effects of a particularly virulent cattle disease called Rinderpest.  This condition, similar to foot-and-mouth, had wiped out herds all over West Dorset, ruining many farmers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Broadwindsor

Blandford

Broadwindsor

The Navity of John the Baptist

This large and attractive church stands above the village and harmonises brilliantly with it.  It is very probable that there was a church on the site in Saxon times, but there is now no evidence of it.  The earliest indications are from C11. The cylindrical columns of the south arcade are C12 and originally would have carried curved arches and not the present pointed ones, which belong to the Norman/early English period.  The north aisle was added in C13.  During C14, the nave roof was raised and the a clerestory inserted, the tower was built and the chancel extended eastwards.  During C15, the tower was remodelled with a new stair turret and the south aisle entirely rebuilt.

Towards the end of C17 or early C18 a double-decker gallery was installed to accommodate the choir in the upper storey, while the lower was for men who were not prepared (or perhaps unable?) to rent pews in the main body of the church. 

In 1818 the rood screen and loft were removed.  By 1848, along with many other churches in the county, the building had been allowed to seriously decay and there was a proposal to dramatically improve the building, including a spire for the tower.  However this proved to be too expensive and improvements were restricted to just a new porch, repairs to the tower and, interestingly, the box pews were increased in height so that the incumbent could only see his congregation when he was in the pulpit!  The rent from pews was a most important element in the income of the church and the position and quality of the individual pews were crucial to the social standing of the families renting them.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©


 

In 1868, the chancel and much of the nave were demolished to make way for a longer nave, the provision of a vestry, the rebuilding of the northern aisle and enlarging the southern porch. (See the photo) 

demolish

Surprisingly, the old box pews were swept away in favour of the 'new' open design.  By this time, the Victorians enjoyed a degree of display of their finery and that could not be seen in a box pew.  The architect was J Mountford Allen of Crewkerne.

The font is Norman.  There is a large painting of Moses and Aaron, which is thought to be mid C17.

A really excellent church guide is available.

 

 

Burstock

Burstock

St. Andrew

This charming church in a peaceful and very rural setting is, for once, a happy marriage of a C15 tower with a Victorian remainder.  The successful rebuild of 1877 is by P H Peters and is the only recorded example of his work in the county.  

Note, there is no pulpit although there is a generous reading desk.  The tub font with rope moulding is Norman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Burton Bradstock

Burton Bradstock

St. Mary

This is an impressive church standing on the edge of the village it serves.  At first sight, the building appears to be in every respect conventional, but with a lean-to extension attached to the south side.  Yet it really seems to work rather well and the overall effect is pleasing.  

The church is mainly C14 and early C15, but in 1897 E.S.Prior (famous for his work at Bothenhampton) designed a new south aisle and arcade.  The central tower is impressive and there is a delightful chapel in the north transept.  There are some lovely wagon roofs in the nave and transepts and the unique sea-green panelling was installed and painted at the same time as the south aisle was built.  The pulpit is from the 1930s and the splendid seagull lectern from 1969.  The organ by Bate and Sons was installed in 1938.

 

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Catherston Leweston

Blandford

Catherston Leweston

St. Mary

There has been a church on this site since 1337.  However, the present chapel-style building dates from 1857 when it was completely rebuilt to a design by J L Pearson of London.

This is an estate church and closely related to the large Tudor-style mansion nearby.  Church and house share the same drive and the slightly inappropriate huge gateway.  The church bell came from Sevastopol.  

This is also a church for those who particularly appreciate fine workmanship in wood.  It is one of only two built by the Victorians in Dorset that employed oak both for the roof and pews, whereas the normal was pine. (The other is Frampton.)  The beautifully carved roof is supported on carved stone angel capitals.  There is an impressive stone pulpit, an interesting organ and some important stained glass.  Note, the sad lament by a mother for her son on a grave under the east window outside.

This is a gem of a little church in a charming setting.

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Charmouth

Charmouth

St. Andrew

Erected in 1836 to a design by Charles Fowler (this was his only church in Dorset) it replaced an earlier building of 1290.  This is a very tall Commissioners' type church, featuring a gallery with a rather splendid organ across the western end of the nave.  The area below the gallery has been sensitively enclosed to form a church room.  The 1885 open pulpit, constructed of stone and marble, with tester of 1961 above, is interesting.  The reredos with a painted Lamb is also of great interest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Chideock

Chideock

St. Giles

 

There has certainly been a church on this site since the 13th century (maybe earlier) and, being alongside the busy main road, it must have seen many changes from the stage coach to the roar of almost continuous modern traffic.  Yet this building really is a delightful sanctuary from the rigors of modern life.

The nave is C13 and the north transept C14.  The building had to wait until C15 to receive a south aisle, the tower, the porch and the Arundell chapel for the Lords of the Manor.  The 1883 chancel and nave north windows arrived to a design by G.R.Crickmay of Weymouth.  The perpendicular font 14 or C15 has a flat bowl and a simple more recent cover.  The attractive organ appeared in 1892 and was originally placed in the Arundell chapel, effectively obscuring it.  However, in 1969 the instrument was moved to its present position. 

                     

The ornate cross, displayed in the chancel and shown right, came from Palestine where it was damaged when used by Christians to separate Jews and Palestinians.

Detail of the black marble monument in the south aisle thought to be Sir John Chideock dressed in typical Henry VIII armour.

This is a beautiful little church, well worth visiting.

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Chilcombe

Chilcombe

 

This is a hidden church found at the end of a long country lane and sharing one of the most delightful sites in the county with a mellow farmhouse.  This is a very small church at just 35 by 14 feet with seating for 40.  There is a simple bell-cote at the west end.

This is essentially a Norman church, but like many it was altered in C14 and 15 and there have been later restorations.  The font is Norman.  Note, a very important wooden panel, partly carved and partly pokerwork, representing the scourging, the crucifixion and rising of Christ.  Sir Fredrick Treves in his 'Highways and Byeways in Dorset' suggests that it may have been recovered from one of the ships of the Spanish Armada wrecked on Chesil Beach in 1588.

 

 

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Dottery

Dottery

St. Saviour

"We have been able to provide a church for a part of our parishioners whose distance from the parish church has in great measure deprived them of its ordinances."  So the Revd Dr. Alfred Edersheim announced in the Loders Parish Magazine in 1882.

Alfred Edersheim was a very distinguished man.  Born of Jewish parents in Vienna in 1825 he came from a wealthy background, his father was a banker, and Alfred received a good education.  Unfortunately his father's bank collapsed and Alfred was forced to fend for himself.  He began to teach languages in Pesth (now Budapest) and while there met a Presbyterian minister.  He began with missionary work and married.  In due course he was appointed to a church in Aberdeen where he began the first of many books.  In 1860 because of his failing health he moved to Torquay where his wife died.  He remained in Torquay for some years, writing several more books.  He became Anglican and in 1875 was ordained. With his second wife he moved to Loders on being appointed vicar. 


 

Once there he realised that the people who lived in Dottery and Pymore were a long way from the parish church.  He began holding services in one of the cottages but by 1881 the congregation had outgrown any cottage and it was obvious that they needed a church of their own.  He enlisted the aid of the local landowners, farmers and parishioners who together by their efforts collected enough money to build what he described as an "iron church".  He called it St. Saviour's Mission Church; it was started in November 1881 and completed in January 1882.

The dedication ceremony took place on February 4th 1882 and the magazine records that the church was filled to overflowing.  Nine clergy attended, headed by Archdeacon Sanctuary (see Powerstock) and including Edersheim and his curate, WP Ingledow.  The Archdeacon read the prayers of dedication, impressively according to the account, and he also preached on the text "My house shall be called a house of prayer".  The collection amounted to £2.1s.4d.  The vicar announced that they lacked various items which he hoped would be supplied by the liberality of the people.  After the service the clergy and the vicarage party (the vicar had eight daughters) went to higher Pymore Farm where they were entertained to "a substantial tea" by Mr John Marsh the grandfather of the present farmer.  Services followed on the following Sunday when the preacher was the Chaplain to Portland prison. Edersheim left Loders shortly afterwards but not before completing his most famous book, "The life and Times of Jesus the Messiah" in two massive volumes.  It has been described as a monument of learning but somewhat short of critical acumen.  From Loders he went to Oxford holding various University appointments until his death in Mentone in 1889.  

The iron church as he described it is, in fact, made of corrugated iron rather like a Nissen hut of war time memory except for a nice pointed roof and little bell turret.  A porch protects the doorway from wind and rain.  Unless you know it is there it is very easy to miss it.  It is just short of the Bridport, Broadwindsor, Broadoak cross-roads. In front of the door is a magnificent hydrangea bush covered with white flowers in season.  

Inside the seating is plain benches on either side with a small font.  At the east end is the clergy stall with a pulpit behind it while the other side houses the harmonium.  On the clergy desk is a magnificent prayer book donated by Edersheim and for use on the altar is a book of altar with a beautiful carved wooden cover.  It also has Queen Victoria's name still in situ so that the unwary priest can pray for "thy servant, Victoria, our Queen".  Behind the altar is a newly restored reredos.  Behind the clergy stall is a small vestry with just room for a table, cupboard and the priest.

A small but loyal congregation meets on the first and third Sundays for Holy Communion and I am sure that Alfred Edersheim would be pleased to know that his church is still going strong.  He wrote in the magazine: "It is earnestly hoped that the church so auspiciously opened may prove a blessing in the district which from its distance from the parish church, has been left too long without the ordinances of the Church".

The Dorset Historic Churches Trust gratefully acknowledges and wishes to sincerely thank Rev. Bill Hill for permission to use his short history of the church above.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

 

Drimpton

Drimpton

St. Mary

The church was built in 1867 to a design by Allen of Crewkerne and sits slightly raised above the surrounding houses. The building is entered through a most effective, if slightly visually disappointing, modern porch.  Inside, it has a simple chapel-style layout, but very pleasing with large windows that allow daylight to flood in.  The smallness and sensitivity of the design provide a most attractive and intimate atmosphere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

 

Fishpond

Fishpond

St. John

This is rural England at its best!  The tiny village perches on the side of the escarpment and the little church clings to the side.  It has absolutely magnificent views, albeit rather spoilt by vast electricity pylons and cables.

The church is in a very simple chapel style and was built in 1854 to a design by an unrecorded architect.  However, it is the brilliant abstract stained glass in the east window by Arthur Buss (1967), which makes a visit so rewarding.  Note, the slate floor to the altar area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Hooke

Beer hackHooke

St. Giles

As is so often the case, this church has been altered or restored throughout the ages. The nave is essentially C16 with C15 windows. The chancel was added in 1840 when the opportunity was taken to restore the chancel arch. The impressive tower was added to a design by G R Crickmay of Weymouth, who was also responsible for the chancel. There is a splendid barrel roof to the nave. The chantry chapel on the south side is entered through a wide and generously decorated arch. The area houses the electronic organ. The hexagonal font is C15. 

The most important artifact in the building is the superb sculpture of St Giles executed by Benjamin Grassby. He was a superlative London craftsman who made his home and workshop in Powerstock after falling out with his employer. He entered the statue in a class at the Dorset Industrial Exhibition in 1878. It won its class and he was awarded a silver medal. Grassby's work can still be found in 45 Dorset churches. (See East Holme, North Poorton, East Lulworth, Longbredy, Morden and West Lulworth to name just a few)

An interesting church well worth a visit.

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Littlebredy

Beer hackLittlebredy

St. Michael & All Angels

A Church has stood on this site since the 13c, but today's visitor mostly sees the reconstruction of about 1850, carried out by the third Robert Williams of Bridehead (1811-1890), to the designs of Benjamin Ferry, with additional architectural contributions from Williams' brother-in-law, Arthur Acland.  The only visible relics of the older church are the tower and porch beneath it, and some of the features in the chancel, such as the vestry doorway, the piscina beside it in the south wall, and some of the windows, though the nave and south aisle also pre-date the Victorian transformation.

Robert Williams was a keen Tractarian in his youth, but a close friendship with John Henry Newman at Oxford did not survive the latter's conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1845: indeed Williams seems to have reacted violently in the opposite direction - he apparently destroyed all correspondence from Newman, to the loss of his subsequent archivists - and his works here certainly demonstrate a strong "Low Church" influence.  Hence, in particular, there is no screen between nave and chancel, and no extravagance in church furniture, where wood is preferred to brass throughout.

All the same, great care was taken to ensure quality in the 1850's restoration, when the nave was lengthened, the north aisle was added, and, most significantly in visual terms, the church was embellished with one of Dorset's few steeples.  The stone for the rebuilding came from Caen in Normandy, the estate Bailiff having been sent there to buy it direct from the quarries.  Care that only the best materials should be used extended to a written offer by Williams to Acland at one stage to take up the newly-laid library floor at Bridehead and use the oak in the Church, rather than settle for inferior timber if that were otherwise the best available.  (This contingency did not in fact arise.)  The stones of the new spire were fastened with dowels made of flint, rather than metal.  It is not known whether this was the fruit of architectural theory or an attempt to emulate the building of Solomon's Temple (see 1 Kings, chapter 6, verse 7).  Whatever the reason, it proved a costly foible retrospectively, when the spire had to be repaired in 1963.

There are six bells in the tower, of which two are Mediaeval, one is Victorian, one was cast in 2002 from the material of three discarded 1850 bells, and two, dating from 1933, came here second-hand from Cornwall during the major restoration of the bells in 2002.  They are inaccessible to the visitor, but a longer description is to be found on a notice board beside the tiny belfry just west of the porch, which houses the chiming mechanism.

Apart from the Bridge family, who died out here in the early 1800's, most of the internal memorials recall the Williamses of Bridehead.  The most notable is that of Jane (1739-1841), the daughter of one Francis Chassereau, who came, aged 14, to this country from Niort, in France, after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.  Those whose history is shaky may like to be reminded that the Edict of Nantes of 1598 had guaranteed freedom of worship to Huguenots (French Protestants).  Its Revocation in 1685 (by Louis XIV, at the instigation of Madame de Maintenon, who had secretly become his second wife shortly before) led to large-scale emigration from France of those who feared subsequent persecution.

Two distinguished churchmen are also commemorated here.  The grave of Frederick Wallis, Bishop of Wellington, N.Z., is marked just east of the church by a tall memorial carved from a New Zealand tree, sent for the purpose by his erstwhile Diocese at the time of his death in 1928.  The rest of the timber was stored on the estate and used for Williams graves until it was finally used up in 1948.  Bishop John Wordsworth of Salisbury married (as his second wife) Wallis' sister-in-law, and he is commemorated with a plaque on the north wall of the chancel.  The father-in-law of both bishops, Sir Robert Williams of Bridehead (1843-1943) was President of the Church Missionary Society for over 25 years, among his many other public offices.

Historically, the parish of Littlebredy has been linked with those of Long Bredy and Compton Valence, but reorganizations in the late 20c have severed ecclesiastical links with the latter.  The parish is now the most eastern of the Bride Valley Team Ministry and the Deanery of Lyme Bay (in the Archdeaconry of Sherborne, Salisbury Diocese).

The Dorset Historic Churches Trust gratefully acknowledges the above contribution based on notes originally prepared by Judge Giles Best (resident of Littlebredy 1965 -1977) and supplied by Sir Philip Williams, Bt.

 The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Litton Cheney

Litton Cheney

St. Mary

The church of St. Mary is perched high up above the bulk of the village and adjacent to a delightful old rectory with a magnificent magnolia tree in the garden.  It is an awkward building to photograph because of the difficulty in getting sufficiently far away for a proper perspective and the need for a wide angle lens - in reality the tower does not lean!

The origins of the church are certainly Norman and maybe earlier.  There are sections of the nave and the porch which are 14c and the tower is late 14 or early 15c.  The chancel arch is of the same date; note the blocked-up hagioscopes (or squints) on both sides, which would once have given a view of the altar from the side chapels.  In 1878 the building was radically restored and a north chapel added.  The altar came from Balliol College, Oxford, and the bowl of the font is thought to be Norman, although the base is modern.  The barrel roof of the chancel is most attractive and there are some interesting oil lamps.

At the rear of the building is a delightful children's corner. 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges text by Robin Adeney  and Drone Photograph by Richard Noble DHCT© 2018

Loders

Beer hackLoders

St. Mary Magdalene

This is an exceptional church set in a beautifully gardened, walled churchyard. Nearby stands the manor house whose lord endowed the church and enjoyed the right to choose the vicar. The Lord of the Manor and his family still sit in the chancel with the incumbent.

The building has Saxon origins and the remains can be seen in the north wall, the chancel and a walled-up doorway opposite the porch. In the C12 the manor was presented by the Earl of Devon to the Abbey of St Mary de Montebourg in Normandy, whereupon some French monks took possession and brought with them the art of cider making. In 1399 King Richard II presented Loders to the Carthusian monastery of St Anne at Coventry. King Henry IV (1399-1413), wishing to placate the French, restored much property to the original French owners, including this and to celebrate, the monks built the Lady Chapel in the 'new' perpendicular style. The chapel was connected to the chancel through what is called an ambulatory (or covered way), which is now partly blocked up, giving the appearance of a squint (or hagioscope). After the Suppression of Alien Houses of 1414, Loders passed into the ownership of the nunnery at Syon at Isleworth (Middlesex).

Read more: Loders

Long Bredy

Beer hackLong Bredy

St. Peter

.The church rests in a fold in the chalk downland, a little apart from the rest of the village, at the end of a road that it shares with buildings that were once the church school and school house.

There may have been a Saxon church here, but it is first recorded when land was given to the great Abbey at Cerne Abbas.  The chancel is C13 and the tower C15.  In 1842, Benjamin Ferry designed a refurbishment of the chancel but, almost everything else was swept away in John Hicks's 'restoration' of 1862/3, including "an old ugly gallery perilously supported on a single iron pillar".  A south aisle and small vestry were added at the same time.  In fairness to the Victorians, it would appear that they had little alternative, because "the greater proportion of the building was in a very dilapidated condition..."

Without doubt, the most important feature of this undertaking is the work of the sculptor, Benjamin Grassby of Powerstock.  His skill in crafting the corbels and capitals is a sumptuous bequest to posterity.  Perhaps the most important of his work is to be found in the font. The bowl is of Purbeck marble with medallions of alabaster depicting the emblems of the four Evangelists let into the vertical surfaces.  It is supported at the corners by serpentine columns and a Purbeck marble shaft.  The whole rests on a Purbeck marble plinth found buried under the old floor belonging to the original font.  Grassby's work can be found in a number of Dorset churches. (see North Poorton)

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Lyme Regis

lychett-minster1.jpg

 

Lyme Regis

St. Michael the Archangel

The wonderful rather squat building seems to cling to the hill as if the elements and the sea, which is only twenty yards away from the west wall, might seek to tear it away.

There has been a church here certainly since AD 774 when the land was granted to the monks of Sherborne, who needed a source of salt from the sea to preserve food.  However, the present building dates from Norman times and the remains can be found in the porch and the base of the 58 ft tower where there is an excellent Norman arch.  The upper parts of the tower are C16 and the nave was completed around 1506. 

There is a superb barrel roof and bosses with an impressive mural of 1850 depicting 'The raising of the Cross' at the junction wall with the chancel.  Below is a screen of 1889.  In 1885, steps in the nave were removed and the whole sloped up towards the east, which always creates a most pleasing theatrical effect.

In a pew near the front there are arms, which were for the use of civic dignitaries. The splendid Victorian font in the baptistry under the tower, was erected in memory of Rev Hodges, vicar 1833-80.  There is an exceptional Jacobean pulpit with canopy of 1613 and the west gallery is 1611.  Note, the small window in the northern wall of the porch, which is a memorial to Thomas Coram, a wealthy sea captain and merchant.  He was so appalled by the destitution of children in London that he set up a Foundling Hospital, into which he poured all his money, eventually dying a pauper.

In September 2009 a new purpose-built traditional pipe organ arrived from the Anton Skrabl works in Slovenia. This superb three manual instrument with mechanical key action and electric stop selection occupies most of the central section of the west gallery.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Mapperton

Church imageMapperton

All Saints

Although the approach along a drive, bounded by beautifully manicured lawns and an avenue of trees, creates both anticipation and excitement, nothing could prepare one for the sheer pleasure of seeing this delightful suite of manorial buildings. 

The stone house, in the form of an 'L', is from mid C16 and is surely one of the most beautiful in Dorset. The little church creates the final element of a 'U' shape with it, thus creating a courtyard. 

The origins of the church are medieval, and thought to have been started by Robert Morgan, who was one of the few men allowed to wear a hat in the presence of King Henry VIII '.........in consideration of diverse infirmities which he hath in his hedde.' The present building is mostly as commissioned by Squire Brodrepp in 1704. The round headed windows may have been designed to harmonize with the house. However, each of these memorable windows has an heraldic or pictorial medallion of stained glass, dating from 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Brodrepp is reputed to have paid the sum of £10 for them.

The font is Norman.

 

 The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Marshwood

Church imageMarshwood

St. Mary

This interesting Victorian church sitting on an exposed hilltop site next to a primary school was originally built in 1841, but re-modelled, apart from the tower, in 1884 to a design by G. Vialls.

Inside, the building is simple with the chancel arch just suggested by Purbeck marble columns, but it does have a south side aisle.  The chancel pews and red wall lamps were designed by Thomas Hardy, the celebrated novelist.  The church silver was given to the cathedral at Juba in the Sudan.

Most impressively, when this contributor visited in March 1995 the offertory box had been wrenched out of the wall, but still the church was open for visitors - surely an example for others.

 

 

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Melplash

Church imageMelplash

Christ Church

This is an interesting Neo Norman church of 1845 built at the expense of the local land owner, James Bandinel., to a design by Benjamin Ferry. He was a friend of Marc Isambard Brunel (father of the great engineer Kingdom Isambard Brunel) and was instrumental in the construction of the Thames Tunnel and at one time secretary to William Wilberforce. This large church was built in anticipation of a big increase in population to produce flax for the Bridport rope and net industry.  Unfortunately, it did not materialise.

The building is cruciform with a massive central tower containing just two bells.  Originally the sanctuary was apsidal, however in 1975, which marked the 900th anniversary of the Salisbury Diocese, a decision was taken to divide off the nave with a glazed screen and remove the pews. 

The area is used for exhibitions, meetings, social functions and badminton.  In this bold and brave alteration, the altar was moved to the north transept, the apse became the baptistry and the south transept effectively became the nave.  The result is a building much used and a church more in keeping with the community it serves.  The guide says that before the alterations 50% of the income went in heating, now the revenue from badminton covers the cost.

Note, the church was modelled on the old Norman church at Shoreham in Sussex and the font is a copy of a broken font found at Whitchurch Canonicorum.

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Monkton Wyld

Church imageMonkton Wyld

St. Andrew

The hamlet of Monkton Wyld is so close to the western boundary of Dorset that it is almost in Devon.  This is very rural hill country with only a scattering of houses here and there and yet quite suddenly and rather unexpectedly, you come upon a simple war memorial with this superb church behind and all held in a fold of the hill.  Beyond the exquisitely styled lych gate a path, bounded by beautifully clipped yews, leads to the porch.

The porch is wooden and open at the sides, yet the tracery and colonnettes suggest an anticipation of the quality awaiting inside.  The building is superbly proportioned and surmounted in the middle by an elegant 120 ft. broached spire with twin tiers of lucarnes.  It was constructed in 1848-9 from flint with Caen stone dressings in pure Decorated style to a design by R.C.Carpenter.  Richard Cromwell Carpenter was (and is) a well regarded architect who specialised in Ecclesiological design and is important particularly for his exceptionally sensitive restoration of Sherborne Abbey (1850-5).

Inside, the church is breathtaking; every aspect speaks of the highest quality.  The nave is simple and unadorned and, as a result, the eye is naturally drawn forward towards, first the richly decorated choir screen, with a carved and painted rood, and then beyond to the chancel with its luxurious altar rails and coronas (candle sticks).  There is a superb pulpit with a magnificent curved stairway leading up to it and the choir screen has an elegant pair of brass gates.  The chancel is, according to Pevsner, almost as long as the nave and very much in line with the teachings of the Ecclesiologists.  It has a stenciled painted ceiling.

The parish of Monkton Wyld was formed in 1850 from part of Wooton Fitzpaine.  In 1891 the civil parish consisted of 327 people, but with only 162 in the Ecclesiastical parish.  So this has never served a large population and was originally built at the expense of a wealthy person who lived in the nearby mansion.  (Now a holistic education centre).

The church and its lovely setting is undoubtedly one of the little gems of Dorset and well worth visiting.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Morecombelake

Church imageMorecombelake

St. Gabriel

This simple chapel-style building that lies to the south of the main road in the village well-known for its Dorset knobs, gives no idea of the interesting things inside.  It was erected in 1841 largely at the expense of the incumbent of Whitchurch Canonicorum, in whose parish it rests.  The design is probably by T.H.Wyatt and Brandon.  It replaced the ancient 13c church at Stanton St. Gabriel, which had fallen into a ruinous state.  

The chancel screen is of particular interest because it was formed from what was left of the rood screen at Stanton St. Gabriel.  Note, the tub shaped Norman font, the new, most attractive, chiselled texts, picked out in red, in the porch and a most moving painting of Christ on fabric. There is a generous pulpit and the little organ at the rear of the building came from an obsolete Methodist chapel, for a nominal sum because "it would be used for the glory of God."

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Mosterton

Church imageMosterton

St Mary 

This is a church which appears rather dull from the outside, but the chapel-style interior is full of great interest and well worth a visit.

It was built in 1833 to a design by Edmund Pearce, which is his only recorded church in the county.  There is a large gallery across the west end and large windows allow light to flood into the building.  However, it is the sensational 1975 stained glass in the east window of the chancel on an appropriately agricultural theme that is so attractive and inspiring.

Note, the diminutive, but most attractive organ.

 

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

North Poorton

Church imageNorth Poorton

St. Mary Magdalene

This is a delightful little Victorian country church, which replaced the nearby ruin of an earlier building.  It was built in 1861-62 to a design by John Hicks and many consider it to be his finest achievement.   The new building was very much the responsibility of Rev. Thomas Sanctuary, who was the Archdeacon of Dorset and vicar of Powerstock (1848 - 89)

The setting is serenely peaceful and the building seems to harmonise extraordinarily well.  Sir Nikolaus Pevsner describes the 52 ft. octagonal minaret on the north side of the nave as a "tower with a spire".  It contains a single bell and is the most striking feature of the building, although the inside is also interesting.  The exquisite capitals were sculpted by Benjamin Grassby, who was responsible for work in several Dorset Churches.  Interestingly, Joan Brocklebank, in her excellent book 'Victorian Stone Carvers in Dorset Churches' suggests that there was some friction between Grassby and his Worcester employer during his employment on this project and may have led directly to his establishing a workshop in Powerstock to be near his patron, Thomas Sanctuary. The  brilliant white richly carved stone pulpit is certainly arresting, although this is probably the work of Grassby's erstwhile employer, R.L.Boulton.  The Victorian font is magnificent and the decorative floor tiling around it worthy of close inspection and very similar to those found in Powerstock.  The simple second font came originally from West Milton old church.

 

 

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Pilsdon

Church imagePilsdon

St Mary 

Pilsdon is an ancient place, taking its modern name from 'Pilesdone' in the Domesday Book of 1086, which probably meant a hill with a peak.  Pilsdon Pen, a mile away to the north is, at 908 ft., the highest point in Dorset, but the hamlet rests fairly sheltered at its foot.  This is delightfully rural countryside with only the thinnest scattering of houses.

The most attractive yellow stone C17 manor house with mullioned windows is, by far, the most impressive building in the area.  It had a side role to play in the flight of Charles II after the Battle of Worcester.  After his abortive attempt to sail to France from Charmouth, he returned to Trent, stopping for the night in Broadwindsor.  However, his pursuers were convinced he had holed-up in Pilsdon Manor because it then belonged to Sir Hugh Wyndham, a well-known Royalist judge (see Silton).  Not satisfied with the owners denials, the troops, having turned the place upside-down to no effect, suggested that one of his daughters was Charles in disguise!  Having found that was false too, they rode off.  (For Charles's exploits see 'Charles II's 19 days by Jonathan Caseley)

The exquisite little church of St Mary has C13 origins, with C15 windows.  Major restorations took place in 1830 and again in 1875 when Pevsner suggests the bell-turret was erected.  There is a simple tub font, a stoup and a canopied piscina.  The two carved stone figures on the north wall are interesting.  Today, the church has no pews, just straw bales to sit on and is used, several times a day, by the Pilsdon Community for their simple, yet incredibly beautiful, services.

The setting of the church next to the manor house within a most attractive garden, brimming with flowers, makes this a truly inspiring visit.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Puncknowle

Church imagePuncknowle

St. Mary the Blessed Virgin

This is an ancient village even by Dorset standards with a name pronounced 'Punnle'.  There is plenty of evidence of dense population in the late Stone-age and the Romans were certainly here.  Today, the village is most attractive with a variety of old and new houses.

The church sits above the village street and adjacent to an old mellow manor house that was once the home of Henry Shrapnell, who invented the shell that bears his name.  The building has its roots in the Norman period, but all that remains now are the chancel arch and the tower with its attractive pyramid roof, although there was some 17c reconstruction.  The wall paintings on the chancel arch are thought to be 14c.  During the Reformation they would have been obliterated with lime-wash and remained so until discovered during the 1891 rebuild.  Only the left hand section is really legible with two pictures that depict the placing of the crown of thorns on Christ's head and either the flagellation or crucifixion.  The simple wooden cross hanging in front indicates where the rood screen would have been.  In 1660, the south aisle, known as the Bexington Chapel, was rebuilt for the benefit of the people of Bexington following the wrecking of their church by the French in the middle of the 15c. Virtually the whole church was rebuilt in 1891 to a design by J. Houghton Spencer.  The pulpit is of this period.  

The font is Norman.  Note the superb 1960s iron screen.

Before leaving the village, notice the oriel windows of the houses opposite the church, which have panels of glazed tiles arranged below the windows. 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Salway Ash

Church imageSalway Ash

Holy Trinity

This interesting church, described by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner as "rather Home Counties with tilled roofs", is brilliantly sited to take advantage of its high commanding position. At 250 feet above sea level, the views are wonderful.

Prior to the building of the present church, the vicar of Beaminster and Netherbury, the Reverend William Bookland BA, built a chapel of ease at Coles Ash, which opened in 1842. Although called a chapel of ease, the new building was only a licensed room for divine services. This meant that funerals and weddings had to be conducted at Netherbury. The chapel doubled during the week as a schoolroom and the arrangement continued until the opening of Holy Trinity and it remains part of the school to this day.

The foundation stone for the new church was laid by a Mrs. Reeves on 5th August 1887 and the church was consecrated on 17th January 1890. The church is in the early English style by architects Crickmay of Weymouth.

The organ is by The Sweetland Organ Co. of Bath and cost £125.00. It was pumped by hand for 47 years, until 1951 when it was electrified. Electric light was installed in 1947.

The chancel stained glass is of 1895

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Seaborough

Church imageSeaborough

St. John

The little church lies at the base of Bubb Down next to a splendid 17c manor house and a scattering of other dwellings in this remote, but very beautiful, part of Dorset.

By far the most important artefact inside is the Saxon font, which suggests that there may well have a very early church on this site.  The decoration is an interesting bestiary with four large animals, including a stag biting a serpent, whose coils entwine the feet of other animals and the whole thing is upside-down!  It was almost certainly the base of an Anglo-Saxon carved cross and was probably hollowed out by the Normans.

If there was a very early church here, nothing now remains prior to 1474 when it was rebuilt.  In 1854, the Victorians completely restored the building, leaving only the tower from the earlier structure and re-using some of the stained glass.  At night, it is illuminated with oil lights and the heating is provided by a solid fuel stove.  Musical accompaniment is provided by a harmonium.

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Shipton Gorge

Church imageShipton Gorge

St. Martin

Shipton Gorge owes its name to the Old English 'sceap' and 'tun' meaning 'Sheep farm' and Gorge which comes from the de Gorge family who had fought at the Battle of Hastings and, later when King John lost Normandy, had remained loyal and taken refuge in England. The modern village is a peaceful and very attractive rural settlement surrounded by incredibly beautiful countryside.

There has certainly been a church here for a very long time.  The tower is C14, but there was probably a rebuild in the C17 with box pews and galleries.  However, apart from the tower, the whole thing was rebuilt in 1862, using stone locally quarried in the parish and Bath stone, to a design by John Hicks of Dorchester.  This more than doubled the seating of the old building.  There was a big overrun of the budget culminating in a final cost of just short of £1100. 

The font is early C14 and there are some excellent, beautifully sculpted capitals by Benjamin Grassby (see Powerstock and North Poorton).  Note the colourful organ.

This is a delightful little country church, well worth visiting.

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

South Perrott

Church imageSouth Perrot

St Mary 

This impressive church stands rather upright with a central tower.

The crossings are 12c, although the organ chamber and south vestry are by A. Southcombe Parker and date from 1907-13.

Note, the dry moat behind the church.

The church is locked.

 

 

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Stanton St Gabriel

Church imageStanton St. Gabriel

St. Gabriel

All that remains of the ancient 13c church are the ruined walls.  It was finally abandoned in the 19c when the vicar of Whitchurch Canonicorum largely paid for the building of a new parish church about a mile away in the village Morcombelake.  The simple font with a cable moulding round it was moved to the new building and is still used for baptisms and part of the of the remains of the Rood screen was incorporated into the new chancel screen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Stoke Abbott

Church imageStoke Abbott

St Mary 

Nearby on Waddon Hill evidence has been found of the Roman occupation and there was probably a Saxon church on the present site.  This is an ancient place, which was mentioned in the Domesday Book as belonging to the Bishop of Salisbury.

In 1878 when alterations were being carried out to the north wall of the chancel, a small Norman window was discovered to which a small amount of plaster and whitewash was still clinging.  This has been dated as being between 1100 and 1150, making this one of the oldest churches in the county. The chancel was lengthened in the 13c and the lancet windows were installed. The east window is 15c with late Victorian glass as a memorial to Joseph Symes who died in 1878.  The north chapel, stoup and tower are also 15c, although the two-centred arch is probably 13c. In 1878, there was a major restoration and enlargement, to a design by St. Aubin, whose only other recorded design is a Gothic school in the village of Hilton.  A new north aisle, which incorporated the chapel, was constructed and the south porch rebuilt.  There was some rearrangement of the pews.

The pulpit (restored) is early 17c as are seven oak pews on the south-west side of the aisle.  The altar is a war memorial to those who gave their lives in WWI.  The very important and exceptionally beautiful Norman font features eight heads; four of women and four of men.  They may represent Noah and his three sons with their wives.

As in most country churches, music in the 19c was provided by a church band and when they ceased to exist, a harmonium was installed near to where the lectern now stands.  The small, but rather attractive organ by the Positive Organ Company probably built around 1900 and, after some haggling, was purchased second-hand in 1926 from Dallwood in Devon for £40.  It was hand pumped until 1968.  Note: the church clock, which although bearing no maker's name, was probably made by a member of the Cloud clock-making family of Beaminster some time after November 1716 when its purchase was approved by a parish meeting.  As with many church tower clocks of the period, there is no face and/or hands, the time being simply broadcast on the hour by a striking bell.

There is an excellent guide to the church and village.

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Swyre

Holy Trinity

The first rector recorded here was in 1297, so this is an ancient place.  The tower and chancel are 1406.  The interior is intriguing with its high plaster rib-vaulting above the nave and a barrel roof over the chancel.  The 7th Duke of Bedford rebuilt the nave in 1843.  The pulpit is worthy of note with its painted panels and beautiful modern crucifix behind.

John Hutchins, the celebrated Dorset historian, was rector here in 1729 when he repaired the chancel at his own expense.  He was later rector of Lady St. Mary in Wareham

Note the brasses on either side of the doorway in memory of members of the Russell family from whom the Dukes of Bedford are descended.  In 1506, John Russell, who spoke fluent Spanish, was asked to go to Wolfeton House (near Dorchester) to translate for the Archduke of Austria and his Spanish princess bride.  In due course he travelled to Court with them, so starting the family's rise to favour.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Thorncombe

St. Mary the Virgin

At first sight this appears to be a very large and impressive church for a comparatively small village.  The answer lies with the changing fortunes of industry. 

The original church was dedicated in 1239, but by 1770 it was not large enough to accommodate 'the fourth part of the inhabitants' and eventually the present church, built in 1867 by Mr James Mountford Allen of Crewkerne, was designed to seat a congregation of 400.   200 years ago, the village was a centre for the wool trade and enjoyed a successful lace-making industry and a population of around 1,600 people.  However, it was down to 1,189 in 1871 and today is only 650.

The tower arch was salvaged from the old church, the font was refixed on a Hamstone pedestal, the old 17c high altar was placed in the Lady chapel, the 16c pulpit remounted and several pew ends re-used.  Also salvaged was a stained glass window, now in the south wall.

There are two brasses, one of a man and one of a woman from 1437 that are arguably the best in the county. The organ was given by the parish in 1967.  Perhaps Thorncombe's most famous sons were the Hood brothers, born in the 1720s, who both rose through the navy to be admirals, one becoming a baron and the other a viscount.

The parish started out in Devon as part of the Diocese of Exeter, but transferred to Salisbury in 1843 when Thorncombe became part of Dorset.  In 1982 it was transferred to Bath and Wells.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Toller Porcorum

St. Andrew & St. Peter

Toller Porcorum means Toller (taken from the name of the river, now called the Hooke) of the Pigs and there has been a community here since, at least, the Domesday Book of 1086.  The parish records extend back to 1235, although priests are thought to have served the village for hundreds of years before that.

This attractive Church stands on raised ground in the middle of the village and is constructed of local stone.  The entrance is through a porch in the west 14c tower.  A Victorian spiral staircase gives access to the bell ringing chamber immediately above.  The asymmetrical chancel arch bears the damaged image of a man and a lady, fashionably dressed for 1473.  The chancel beyond is out of alignment with the nave and 'droops' to the south; this was probably quite deliberate to represent Christ's leaning head on the cross.  The font is in two parts.  The lower part with a ram's head is probably 12c while the top is 15c.

The experts seem coy about dating this fascinating building and it may well be difficult because village churches tend to evolve as successive generations make their mark with alterations and 'improvements'.  However, it is certain that there were major works in 1891 when the south aisle was added and in 1894 when the galleries and box pews were removed.

Several sources refer to the earliest of three vicarages in the village, which presently forms part of the outbuildings of Toller House,  having an underground passage between the vicarage and the Old Swan Inn across the road and another leading to the church.  It is very likely these were used for hiding contraband.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Toller Whelme

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St. John

This is a nicely proportioned little church.  Pevsner says it was built in 1871, probably to a design by a Mr. Warr.

The church is locked.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Uploders Methodist Chapel

Methodist Chapel

The delightful village of Uploders nestles in a fold in the West Dorset hills under the ramparts of Eggardon Hill with its Neolithic fort.

The small Methodist chapel was built in 1827 and is the oldest chapel in the Bridport and Dorchester Methodist circuit. It was constructed of stone and has a most attractive door with pilaster framing and a porch supported on Tuscan columns with entablature over. Above the west gable, there is a stone bell-cote with a ball finial above. In the old days the bell was rung for services and fairly frequently to warn of fires in the surrounding thatched roofs.

The plain white interior is pleasingly simple and the eyes are naturally drawn forward towards the simple and very moving wooden cross, set on a pale green background, framed in gold. At the back, there is an elegant gallery above, on one side, a modern organ and on the other, a brilliant, almost hidden, miniature kitchen with attendant let-down serving hatch. The whole interior is flooded with light from six Georgian style round headed windows.

There is an intriguing clock on the front face of the gallery, with its works behind and powered through a cable and a series of pulleys by a weight that hangs by the north wall. It was a gift from Dr Giles Roberts, a popular lay preacher, who was born in West Bay in 1766. He is particularly noted for his famous medicine 'The Poor Man's Friend', which was manufactured for 150 years and sent all over the world.

In 2006 the interior of the chapel was entirely re-ordered. The old pews were removed and modern chairs installed together with a new cross, altar, minister's desk, chair and hymn board by the church furniture maker, Ronald Emett of Broadwindsor.

The chapel is a little jewel of a building that literally sparkles with the obvious love of its congregation.

The Dorset Historic Churches Trust wishes gratefully to record its sincere thanks to Mrs. Ruth Standerwick for the assistance received in the preparation of these notes.

Walditch

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St. Mary the Virgin

The village of Walditch nestles under a protective hill, replete with strip lynchets. This is a delightfully rural settlement with some most attractive stone cottages, although there have been a number of modern developments.

The first recorded church was founded here in 1534. However, the present building dates from a complete rebuild of 1863, in the Early English style. It is a small building designed to accommodate a maximum of 70 worshippers. Unfortunately the name of the architect has been lost, which is a pity since he created a church of beguiling charm and peacefulness. The great Dorset church sculptor, Benjamin Grassby, fashioned the corbels in the chancel to represent foxgloves, ferns and blackberries and must have been pleased with this commission because he featured them in his brochure.

The pleasing square Purbeck font is C12.

On the south wall of the nave there is a memorial to Daniel Stone, who was murdered without motive by his cousin in August 1862. Charles Fooks simply shot him and then turned the gun on himself, but survived. At his trial he said "I didn't like my cousin. He looked at me in a funny way". He was sentenced to death and was hanged publicly at Dorchester, but not before turning to prayer and expressing great sorrow for his crime.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges text by Robin Adeney and DHCT Photography © 2018

West Bay

St. John the Evangelist

This building is at the very center of the little harbour village of West Bay.  It is also one of the youngest churches in the country because it was completed in 1939 and finally paid for in 1949.  It replaced 'The little Upper Room', which was an old sail loft used as a church from about 1860.

It was designed by Randoll Blacking and appears to have been his only church in Dorset, although he was responsible for a font in St. Aldhelm in Branksome and a reredos at Ashmore.  It is a simple building and almost completely white inside.  From the start, it was arranged so that winter congregations could be accommodated in the Lady Chapel and the much larger visitor-augmented summer numbers catered for in the body of the church.  The attractive reredos is noteworthy and the large organ at the rear of the building, purchased from the Methodists in 1972, is a magnificent instrument.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

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