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 ©

 

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 Parish

Abbotsbury

 

Blandford Parish

St. Peter and St. Paul

By the beginning of the C18 Blandford was a 'hub' for the coaching business with numerous coaching inns and there was a thriving button manufacturing industry making it a most successful town.  In 1731, it suffered a quite catastrophic fire, which left 480 families homeless and created countless orphans.  It was, however, an opportunity to rebuild most of the town and the result is that succeeding generations have been bequeathed some of the finest Georgian façades in the country.  Without question the jewel in this architectural crown is the parish church designed and built by the Bastard brothers, John and William, between 1733 and '39.  It is probably the best C18 church outside London and has a plain classical exterior with a western tower surmounted by a wooden cupola.  This last element was not by the brothers, who had intended a spire

 

 

 

 


 

Inside, the building is exceptionally fine with Portland stone columns and impressive roof.  There is a very grand mayoral chair made by the Bastards for the Bailiffs of Blandford, dated 1748 (John occupied it from 1750 to '52).  In 1794, a gallery was built over the west end and a new organ installed.  This superb instrument with Crown and Prince of Wales feathers adorning the top was destined for the Chapel Royal, Savoy, but proved to be too large.  More galleries, north and south, were created in 1819, but have since been removed.  Originally, there was just a shallow apse, however in 1895 this whole end of the building was moved bodily eastwards so that a chancel could be inserted.  This was Victorian ingenuity at its best and the decorated ceiling of the 'new' chancel is most attractive

There are box pews and a Wren pulpit from St. Antholin in London.  An interesting C18 octagonal font, probably designed by the Bastards, rests on a beautifully tiled floor at the rear of the church and is very similar to the font in Charlton Marshall.

Outside the west entrance, note the monument to the Blandford Fire.

This is an exceptional building and worthy of any effort required to visit it!

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.

 

 

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 ©

 

Bourton

BourtonBourton

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 ©

 

Bradford Abbas

Bradford AbbBradford Abbas

St. Mary the Virgin

Bradford Abbas must rank as one of Dorset's most important village churches.  This is a largely 15c building with a magnificent embattled and pinnacle west tower with many niches, two still having the original figures.  Close to the tower is the remains of a 15c preaching cross.

The exact origins of this church are unknown, but according to the excellent guide book, when St Aldhelm became the Bishop of Sherborne in 705, his policy was to encourage churches in the nearby villages and this may have been one of them. Certainly, the present building was started by William Bradford, Abbot of Sherborne (1436 - 59).  Originally, there would have three altars in addition to the high altar.  By 1828 when a new incumbent was installed, he had to report that the building was in a sorry state with the roof leaking so badly that it could not be used in wet weather.  By 1848, things had improved and the seating increased by 183.  The wall above the rood screen and the box pews were removed in 1848.  In 1890 the roofs were completely repaired and the internal walls stripped of their plaster and re-pointed with the grim grey seen today.  The vestry was added in 1911.

The chancel screen is 15c.  The pulpit is good example of Jacobean craftsmanship and dated 1623.  There is a superb 16c font carried on four pillars decorated with the figures of Aldhelm, the first Bishop of Sherborne, Bishop Osmund of the 11c, Richard Beauchamp and John the Baptist.

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 ©

 

Branksome Park

Church imageBranksome Park

All Saints

Branksome Park is undoubtedly one of the smarter neighbourhoods of Poole, although some think it really belongs to Bournemouth. It was developed from about 1880 as an elegant up-market residential area where the large houses were furnished with equally large gardens. Now, many have succumbed to blocks of flats, but the tranquil wooded feel remains.

All Saints church was designed by Burton & Stevens and built in 1877 to provide for the spiritual needs of this growing community. It is a simple chapel style building that features a bellcote and a polygonal apse. Nevertheless, inside the work was beautifully executed and the large windows allow natural light to flood in. This was to be Burton & Stevens only church in Dorset, but their legacy is a building that harmonises perfectly with its surroundings.

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Briantspuddle

Blandford

Briantspuddle

The village has no church of its own, but shares the lovely building at Affpuddle, in whose parish it lies.  However, at the entrance to the Bladen Valley, part of Sir Ernest Debenham's pioneering village development, there is a superb war memorial executed by the renowned artist, Eric Gill, in 1916-18.

It is a tall slender structure in Portland stone, featuring the Virgin and Child and higher up on the other side, a shrouded Christ showing the stigmata and holding a reversed sword.  Girdling the base are these immortal words by Juliana of Norwich:

'It is sooth that sin is cause of all this pain
But all shall be well and all shall
be well and all manner of thing shall be well.'

Although clearly originally erected to record the names of the seven who fell in the First World War, it also now records a further six more who perished during the Second World War.

The design of this most striking monument has a resonance with medieval market crosses and is regarded as a major example of this most talented artist's work.  Gill was also an important graphic designer and his fonts are found in the majority of computers today.

 

 

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 ©

Bridport St.Mary

Blandford

Bridport

St. Mary

This is a wonderful mellow stone church with an adjacent school, set surprisingly far south from the town centre on the West Bay road.  

Although there was certainly a church on or near the site much earlier, the oldest parts of the present building are the pointed arches of 1225 in the north and south transepts.  The 72 foot tower and supporting arches are 1400.

In 1860, the Victorians employed John Hicks, the Dorchester architect, to undertake an extensive restoration.  At the time, he had Thomas Hardy, who would later become the world-famous novelist, as an architectural pupil, so it is reasonable to assume he would have worked on this important project.  Hicks was responsible for the building or restoration of at least 27 churches in the county. (For further information see East Holme) The project involved the complete rebuilding of the chancel and lengthening the nave by two new bays.  The work allowed the destruction of some unsightly galleries.  The end result is a triumph because the new and the old have been skilfully and very sensitively grafted together.  The Caen stone pulpit is also of this period and features the Sermon on the Mount in relief.

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©


 

In the north transept, there is a recumbent figure of a knight.  The chain-mail covering of the head and body together with the kick spurs suggests that it belongs to the period before 1300.  The identity is uncertain, but it might well be John Gervase who held land locally and was a generous benefactor to the church.

The cross under the east chancel window was given in memory of a churchwarden and the silver-work represents the pebbles on the Chesil Beach.  The window in the Lady chapel was erected in memory of Queen Victoria.

The parvis chamber over the south porch used not to be open to the body of the church.  Originally, it would have been used by visiting priests, who served the three chantries which the church contained in Mediaeval times.  Note the chimney outside that once led to a fireplace used to keep them warm in winter.  The font is 1400.

The first organ was installed in 1815 by G B England and rebuilt in the north chancel in 1884.  In 1934, a pneumatic action and mobile console were added.  A legacy made a complete restoration by Geo. Osmond of Taunton possible in 1984, which incorporated Walker organ components from a redundant church in Tonbridge Wells.

In 1996, the roof was badly damaged by fire, although it has now been fully repaired.  During the restoration the opportunity was taken to lay a new stone floor, fit new lighting and provide modern pews.  Note the most attractive bosses in the stunning wagon roof.

There is an excellent guide available for this superb church.

 

Broadmayne

Blandford

Broadmayne

St. Martin

Broadmayne is a village dominated by the busy road, however the church standing back and slightly above is a haven of tranquillity.

The rather rare south tower, which was started in 13c, but not finished until 15c, is the only really old part of the structure.  The rest was rebuilt by John Hicks of Dorchester in 1865 – 6.  Perhaps the most notable items in this church are the sculpted corbels.  These take the form of angels and although very Victorian and somewhat wan for today’s taste do certainly express piety.  These are by Richard Boulton, whose work is to be found in several Dorset churches of this period.  An obviously very gifted artist, he was sufficiently recognised to have his work featured in the Great Exhibition and incorporated in buildings as far apart as Winchester Cathedral and the Courts of Justice in Bombay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Brownsea (Poole Harbour)

Blandford

Brownsea

St.Mary

A long journey to a church sometimes heightens the anticipation and just occasionally one can feel a bit let down.  Brownsea, being an island, involves a lengthy trip including a ferry, so there is plenty of time to hope for something special.  This building and setting certainly does not disappoint and is well worth any effort involved in reaching it.

There is evidence that there was a chapel here in the 11c when the island belonged to Cerne Abbey and legend has it that it was the only building when King Canute landed.  The present church built on or near the site of the old one was consecrated in 1854 and was designed by a Mr. Blanchard in the Gothic Revival style.  It was paid for by the island owner, Col. Waugh, with possibly some help from the government. The Colonel was also responsible for major improvements to the Castle, however these expenses, coupled with the failure of his clay working enterprise on the island, led to financial disaster.  Whilst the church is attractive, it is best known for its very fine fittings and particularly the family pew incorporated into the base of the west tower.  The ceiling of 1446 and 16c panelling is thought to have come originally from Crosby Place in London.  Above the fireplace is an 17c Italian painting of the Crucifixion. A south chapel, to act initially as a burial vault for Mrs. Van Raalte, the owner's wife, was added to the tower in 1908. It now contains a tomb with a very fine life size effigy of Mr. Van Raalte.

Outside, note another owner, Cavendish-Bentinck's, burial under an ornate Venetian well-head.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©