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 ©

Chideock RC

Abbotsbury

 

CHIDEOCK

Roman Catholic

Mary the Immaculate Mother of God and Queen of Martyrs and St.Ignatius

The Christian community here can trace its roots to the 11th Century, but nothing remains of the earliest building in the parish church of St.Giles, which was erected in C14 in the mainly Perpendicular style.

The Roman Catholic church of Mary the Immaculate Mother of God and Queen of Martyrs and St.Ignatius at Chideock is not easy to find. Like so many Dorset churches you need to know roughly where it is before setting out in search. Turning north off the A35 by the parish church leads eventually to the church on the right side of the road (not to be confused with the mortuary chapel, which lies near the parish church). The effort will be abundantly rewarded.

The building lies at the bottom of a sloping path and one is immediately struck by the large circular moulding, incorporating a statue of Our Lady, which forms part of the elevation above the entrance narthex. Inside, there is a breathtaking riot of colour and craftsmanship, with the eye being drawn towards the exquisite gilded stature of Our Lady above the altar and immediately below the domed cupula. The building was completed in 1872 in the Romanesque style and is largely, physically, the work of Charles Weld who lived in the attached manor house behind. 

 The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©


 

Above the nave and on either side below the clerestory are paintings by members of the Weld family of the Chideock Martyrs and others. Of the 360 people who died for the Catholic faith between 1535 and 1681, five are regarded as the Chideock Martyrs.

Either side of the altar are chapels. One dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the other to St. Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus. The sculptures on either side of the chancel arch and supported on columns were executed by Charles Weld.


 

 

At the rear of the church on the southern side is a beautiful little baptistry.

This is a really wonderful little much loved church that most handsomely repays a visit.

 

 

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 ©

Chilfrome

Chilfrome

Holy Trinity

Chilfrome is a delightful little hamlet set amidst water meadows.  There is no intrusion by modern buildings, almost as if all development ceased in 19c.

In the chancel arch of the little church there is evidence of an earlier building of 13c, but nothing else remains in this Victorian rebuild of 1852.  Inside it is a pleasing composition with a stone pulpit, accessed through the chancel arch and corbels sculpted into angels by the eminent Dorset craftsman Benjamin Grassby, who was responsible for some of the very best work in the county.*

(*For some other examples see Long BredyNorth PoortonEast Holme)

 

 

 

 The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Christchurch Priory

Abbotsbury

 

Christchurch Priory

The approach to the town of Christchurch from the west is rather dismal.  Nevertheless, once in the High Street one is soon encouraged by glimpses of the great tower of the Priory.  However it is not until entering the churchyard that the enormous size of the building becomes obvious.  The great west tower of 1490 and the huge C14 porch, where the prior met the civic dignitaries, dominate the view.

CHRISTCHURCH PRIORY is said to be the longest, at 310', parish church in the country and it is certainly one of the grandest and most interesting. The exterior of the 12th Century North transept is an astonishing piece of decoration. The huge North porch, of the 13th Century, provides as impressive an entrance as can be imagined and leads into the three-storey Norman nave, the vault of which is actually of plaster, added by Garbett, who did much work at Winchester Cathedral, in 1819. The 13th Century provided the clerestory and the aisles so the nave represents a long running building campaign. The crossing, probably originally supporting a tower, and transepts are also fine Norman work but passing through the remains of a once-splendid 15th Century screen one finds oneself in the Great Quire which, with the Lady Chapel, further East still, dates from the early part of the 16th Century; apart from Bath Abbey and the Henry VII chapel at Westminster Abbey it is one of the last major contributions of monastic building before the Dissolution. The vault is a splendid lierne with pendants running down the sides, a motif repeated in the ornate Lady Chapel, almost a separate building. From a little earlier is the West tower, big and tall but almost dwarfed by the great length of the church.

There are very many treasures, the greatest of which is undoubtedly the magnificent 14th Century Jesse screen behind the high altar. Even though many of the figures have gone one can appreciate the power of the reclining Jesse, flanked by David and Solomon, in the bottom stage; in the next the solemn adoration in the face of a kneeling king presenting his offering to the Christ child; and in the upper stages the exuberant portrayal of the ox and ass, the shepherds with their dog, the sheep on the hill and the angel choir above. Beside it is the huge and jewel-like chantry, never used for its purpose, of the Countess of Salisbury, who was beheaded on Tower Green on the orders of Henry VIII - she was connected with all the families who had a better claim on the throne than the 'upstart' Tudors. The woodwork, including magnificent misericords, in the Quire and the stonework in the Lady Chapel are of the highest quality.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©


A day is needed even to begin to appreciate the glories of this wonderful building.

At over 311ft (94.88 metres) it is the longest parish church in England and a great deal longer than several cathedrals.  The building was commenced in 1094 when a Saxon church was demolished to make way for it.  It was planned by Ranulf Flambard, a colourful character, who was dean of St Paul's Cathedral, London, and an important functionary at the court of King William II (Rufus 1087-1100), the third son of the Conqueror.  Unfortunately, when Rufus was killed in a riding accident, Flambard fell from the favour of King Henry I and was banished.  In due course, he returned and was responsible for starting to build Durham Cathedral.  If he had stayed, perhaps the whole building would have been completed in the Norman style, whereas his contribution was limited to just the nave (below the clerestory, which was added later) and the crossing.  By 1150 the initial church was complete with an apse at the east end and cruciform in shape.  Henry of Blois, the Bishop of Winchester and brother of King Stephen (1135-1154) persuaded the Pope to set up a community of Augustine monks and create the whole building infrastructure for a major monastery.  With the High Altar dedicated to Christ the Saviour, it is not surprising that the town became known as 'Christchurch'.

In 1290, a clerestory was built above the triforium and the roof dramatically raised, which greatly improved the nave illumination.  During this work, a legend arose that an exceptionally skilled carpenter worked on the massive wooden beams used in the roof, but was never present at meals, nor seen receiving his pay.  Eventually, amid much distress, there was a crisis because one of the beams had been mistakenly cut one foot too short.  The next morning, miraculously, not only was the beam the correct length, but it had been placed in exactly the right position.  The carpenter was never seen again and it was universally accepted that he must have been the Christ.  The beam can still be seen high up on the southern side at the rear of the Lady Chapel.

 

Church Knowle

Church Knowle

St. Peter

There has certainly been a church here since Domesday (1086) because it uniquely mentions that there was a priest present.  The list of rectors starts at 1327.  The guide book says the original building was "a perfect little cruciform church, with chancel, nave and western tower, and with north and south transepts and a south porch."  However, the reforming zeal of some Victorians simply could not leave it alone, although Pevsner says that the west tower had been rebuilt in 1741.

In 1833 - 41 a new north aisle was constructed and the squints on either side of the chancel arch were cut down to the ground and now form two narrow entrances to the chancel.  Nevertheless, it is a delightful church and has an interesting gallery.

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Colehill

Colehill

St. Michael and All Angels

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

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

The church is normally locked.

 

  

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

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 ©

Compton Valence

Compton Valence

St. Thomas of Canterbury

This is a very important country church, occupying an attractive site behind a mellow stone wall. Between 1839 and 1840 Benjamin Ferry, the distinguished Victorian architect, made a very genuine attempt to re-create a medieval church, complete with an apsidal chancel.  This was before Pugin and Scott, who are more usually associated with the style.  The embattled tower is 15c and has been most skillfully grafted into the 'new' structure to form a pleasing building.

Benjamin Ferry was responsible for at least ten other churches* in Dorset, including alterations to Christchurch Priory, and a number of private houses and public buildings.

(*The others are: Holy Trinity Dorchester: All Saints Dorchester: Little Bredy: Melplash: Osmington: Plush: Tarrant Hinton: Tincleton: Winterborne Whitechurch)

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Coombe Keynes

Coombe Keynes

Holy Rood - Redundant (now a village hall)

The building has its origins in the 13c with a tower and pyramidal roof of Purbeck stone tiles.  It was the Mother Church for Wool. 

There must have been a considerable reduction in the congregations between the 13c and 19c because when the Victorians rebuilt it in 1861 to a design by John Hicks, they removed the south aisle.  This reduction continued into the 20c leading to the church being declared redundant in 1967.

 

 

 

 


 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Corfe Castle

Abbotsbury

 

Corfe Castle

The village of Corfe Castle grew up as a result of the castle and because it remains one of the greatest tourist attractions in Dorset, it still prospers.  The stone-built village is very attractive in its own right and the church, set right in the middle, holds centre stage.

Around the year 978 AD legend has it that King Eadward (Edward) was hunting in the region and having become detached from the rest of his party became tired.  He sought refuge and some drink at a nearby hunting lodge.  He was met by 'Elfrida the Beautiful', who gave him a goblet of wine, but in an unguarded moment plunged a knife into his back, killing him.  His horse bolted and the body eventually fell off.  Elfrida ordered that it be found and it was dragged into a lowly cottage of a blind woman where rags were thrown over it.  During the night the room was filled with a silvery light and the woman, who had been watching over the corpse, miraculously had her sight restored.  In due course, the body was taken via Wareham to Shaftesbury for burial and Elfrida’s son, Ethelred, who would be known as ‘The Unready’, was proclaimed King.

The exact origins of the church are unknown, but the castle was started in the 11c and since the fortunes of both are bound up with each other, it is reasonable to assume that a building of some sort must have existed.  By the 12c the nave and most of the chancel had grown to more or less the size they are today.  In the 13c it was enlarged again with the additions of a south aisle to the nave and aisles on both sides of the chancel.  The tower was added in 15c.


 

The church, dedicated to the murdered king, suffered damage from time to time due to its proximity to the castle.  It was particularly badly abused by Cromwell’s men during the English Civil War when they mounted a gun on the tower and stabled their horses in the building, even using the font as a drinking trough.  Lead was stripped from the roof, cut and rolled-up to make bullets.  When the war was over, Parliament made a grant of £50 towards making good the damage. (see Nether Compton)

However, the large and magnificent 15c tower has survived, as have its splendid gargoyles.  The rest of the present building is by T H Wyatt of 1859 – 60 in the early 13c French Gothic style.  The reredos is by G E Street (1824 – 81) and was added in 1876, during the time he was building his masterpiece at Kingston.  There are wonderful Purbeck marble columns topped with foliated capitals and the modern communion table set below the altar is most appealing.

There is an interesting black marble font with a 1947 cover by Martin Travers.  Outside, high up on top of the gable at the east end of the chancel stands the most attractive 1931statuette of St. Edward, by F H Newberry.

 

 

Corfe Mullen

Corfe Mullen

St. Hubert

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

 

Corscombe

Corscombe

St. Mary

There has been a church in this delightful setting since, at least 1315, when the list of known vicars was started.  None of the original structure remains because it was entirely rebuilt in 15c.  Of this work only the west tower, three bays of the south arcade, the north porch and parts of the north wall survive.

In 1746, in common with many others, the building was found to be badly decayed and the whole was repaired and the vestry rebuilt at the expense of one Thomas Hollis.  By 1876 the church was once again in a sorry state and was rebuilt and expanded by extending the nave eastwards and enlarging the chancel and south aisle.  These works were to a design by Mr Allen of Crewkerne and mostly paid for by George Troyte-Chaffyn-Grove.

Note on the list of Rectors William Grey, who in 1512 was only 21 years old and had to have a dispensation from the Pope.

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

 

Corton

Blandford

Corton

St. Bartholomew

The hamlet of Corton is awkward to find at the bottom of a very steep concrete road.  The name comes from the Old English 'corf' and 'tun' meaning a farm by a cutting or gap, which is a most appropriate description.  This is an ancient place mentioned in the Domesday Book and well worth the effort because not only are there some lovely views, but the little chapel of St. Bartholomew is quite enchanting.  The chancel is 13c with an impressive original stone altar and piscina.  The building suffered considerable neglect and, at one time, was used to house cattle.  In 1897 the west end and the roof were rebuilt.  The inside is very simple with cheerful green timbers in the roof.  The font is an attractive stone bowl on a wooden pedestal.

In the excellent 'Dorset -  The Complete Guide', Jo Draper tells us that originally it was a free chapel, which was not subject to the bishop's jurisdiction.

 

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

 

Cranborne

Abbotsbury

 

Cranborne

St. Mary and St. Bartholomew

This is an ancient town that once had a market and a parish of 13,000 acres, the largest in Dorset.  These facts alone would have been enough to guarantee a big and impressive church, however the present building has its origins in monasticism.  The Abbey of Cranborne was established as a Benedictine House in 980 by Aylward Sneaw (Snow) who made the Abbey of Tewkesbury, where he was also patron, subordinate.  As a result of an insubordination by a descendant to Queen Matilda, wife of the Conqueror, the estates were given to William Rufus, who gave then to the Patron of Tewkesbury.  In 1102 the Abbot of Cranborne and 57 monks were removed to Tewkesbury and Cranborne  became just a cell and Priory.  The monastic buildings were demolished in 1703.

The oldest part of the present building is the Norman doorway in the north porch: about 1120.  The church was rebuilt in the 13c and the nave has some very notable murals.  The superb wagon roof was entirely renewed in 1958.  The tower was built in 1440, probably at the expense of the Duke of York, and contains eight bells.  The chancel was rebuilt in 1875. 

The chancel screen, the reredos in the Lady chapel and the tower screen were carved  by Rev. F.H.Fisher, who was vicar from 1888 to 1910.  Note on the south wall a memorial to John Tregonwell, who lived at Cranborne Lodge, subsequently retiring to a 'farm on the coast where a small stream runs into the sea'.  From this grew the town of Bournemouth.

The oak pulpit bears the monogram 'T.P', which stood for Thomas Parker, who was the Abbot of Tewkesbury and Cranborne 1381-1421.  The octagonal Purbeck marble font is 13c.  Note on the north side, the delightful monument to a schoolboy who rests his elbow on a skull and holds a posy of flowers.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

 

 

Creech

Creech

St. John - Redundant

Denis Bond of Creech Grange built this church in 1746 using some of the material from the ruins of 12c priory church at East Holme (see East Holme).  The most significant of these is the magnificent semi-circular chancel arch with characteristic chevron mouldings.  Other Bonds twice added to the building during the 19c.  Nathaniel Bond was responsible for the elegant cupola around 1859.  The pews were renewed in 1913 and the building was re-roofed, rather inappropriately, with asbestos cement sheeting in 1964.

 

 

 

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

 

Dewlish

Dewlish

All Saints

This charming little church, which harmonizes perfectly with its tranquil village surroundings, is approached through an avenue of magnificent yew trees. It is constructed from a mixture of flint and stone. The interesting tower, however, is entirely of stone and was started in the early C14, but since the upper element is perpendicular, may have had to wait until later to be finished. (The perpendicular period ran from mid C14 to mid C16). The north porch protects a rebuilt Norman doorway, replete with characteristic zigzag mouldings.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©
 

Inside, the north aisle, with attractive paneled arches, is from C16. The stalls are made from Jacobean paneling and the pulpit is entirely from this period. The Victorians were busy and T H Wyatt (1872) is credited with the south aisle, although he reused existing medieval masonry. Perhaps the most striking item in the building is the huge monument to Field Marshall Sir John Michel, who died in 1886. His home was at Dewlish House, but during a colourful army career he had served in the Kaffir (South African) and Crimea Wars (1853-6), been shipwrecked on his way to China, defeated mutineers in Bombay and risen to the highest rank. (See his Wikipedia entry) His son, also in the army, appears to have been quite fearless and was awarded the VC.

 

 

 

 

 

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 ©