"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 ©