It is hard to know which of the many different functions of the Friends of DHCT Annual Event is most important.
What was clear was that this year Lady St Mary Church in Wareham provided a very warm and welcoming venue on a very warm and welcoming autumn day. The gathering of some 70 members and supporters found plenty to enjoy about the historically important building and plenty to look back upon through a summer season of church visits all over the county.
As ever our stained glass expert, Sue Smith, was on hand to explain the history and importance of the windows of the church, which are chiefly by Percy Bacon Brothers – though the spectacular 2011 west window by Andrew Johnson was beautifully illuminated by the October sun and provided a major focus of interest throughout the day.
The history of the church and the way that it fits into the story of Wareham and the adjoining pre-conquest Priory site were described by the ever-engaging architectural historian, Dr Tim Connor. Apart from a number of important pieces of documentary evidence of the development of the building through the Middle Ages, Dr Connor was also keen to explain the way that architecture is “a crutch for devotion” as changing theological fashions dictated the shape of the structure through the ages.
Members were also lucky enough to welcome again the leading expert on local building materials, Mr Treleven Haysom from Langton Matravers, who led a fascinating tour inside and outside the church, describing and explaining the different stones employed in the building, where they came from, how they had been quarried and how long they may have been in place. Mr Haysom epitomized the more academic part of the day, relaxed, entertaining but absolutely authoritative.
To introduce some variety, during the afternoon members were entertained by two musical interludes, firstly by the impressive Keysworth Cello and Violin Duo and secondly by the “resident” DHCT organist, David Bruce-Payne, who showed off the capabilities of the majestic three-manual organ in Lady St Mary.