churchThe Church of St Mary is 11th century in origin.  The  North aisle arcade is early 12th century with scallop capitals and single heads in the spandrels.  The church was restored in 1907 and re-roofed in oak.   The chalice shaped font is formed from one 13th century Purbeck marble bowl resting on the upturned remains of another.  The base of the second font can be found in the churchyard.  Interesting stained glass:  The north window of the chancel contains a miscellany of painted glass of 15th to 18th century.  There is a Swiss Last Judgement dated 1610  set between panels of English medieval fragments.  Also a Swiss heraldic panel of 16th century showing a half man emerging from a crown and holding antlers in each hand.  Note also the roundel by William Glasby (1931) showing an image of the church.


Blandford Forum Parish Church



Blandford Forum Parish Church

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 ©




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.



Bryanston - St. Martin



St. Martin

This magnificent estate church stands apart from the bustle of the great house it serves.  It was built for Lord Portman in 1895-8 at about the same time as the new mansion was being erected to a design by EP Warren and was one of the first churches to have electricity installed.  Bryanston is now a public school and the church serves most fittingly as a chapel.








The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Charlton Marshall

St. Mary the Virgin

This is an exceptionally attractive church, although its setting so close to the main A350 road cannot possibly have been envisaged when it was built.  All that remains of the original medieval church is the tower.  The rest was rebuilt in 1713 entirely at the expense of Dr. Sloper, who was the rector.  At the time the living was one of the wealthiest in England.

The design was almost certainly by Thomas Bastard, whose sons William and John, were to be largely responsible for the rebuilding of nearby Blandford Forum after the disastrous fire of 1731.  The walls are of chequered flint and stone.  Pevsner says that the north aisle arcade "has the medieval elements superficially georgianised".  Nevertheless, the interior is exceptionally pleasing. The rather dominating pulpit decorated with very fine marquetry and a magnificent tester with golden pelican above is of particular interest.  The reredos, which entirely fills the east wall, has the Lord's Prayer written in gold lettering on the middle section and the Ten Commandments on either side.  There are some good monuments. The font with a superb wooden cover, which can be raised by means of a pulley and a golden cherubic counter weight, is of particular interest.  Note, it is very similar to the font in Blandford parish church. The pews are not of 1713 because the original box pews had to be removed when the burial vaults below the church began to give off a bad smell.  However, the current seating and some of the wall paneling was made from the old pews when remedial work was done to the vaults.  The choir stalls and lectern are relatively new.

Outside, note the village stocks to the left of the porch and, above, the double-faced sundial to catch the morning and afternoon sun.

This is a delightful church, which generously rewards the visitor.


The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©



St. Martin

The origins of this very attractive church, with a proud upstanding tower and constructed largely from flint, are shrouded in mystery, although the guide suggests there has been worship taking place on the site for about a thousand years.  However,  the oldest elements of the present building are the superb C13 pillars with moulded Purbeck marble capitals and arches found in the south arcade.  The chancel is C14 and the north arcade is late C15.  The Victorians could not resist a restoration in 1874, but it was restrained and the medieval atmosphere of the building was mercifully allowed to survive.

There is a good, largely unembellished, Jacobean pulpit.  A strange stairway  leads very steeply to the bell chamber and is well worth a look.  Other items of interest include two hagioscopes (or squints), a piscina, a stoup and an ancient font reputedly from the original church.

The organ was bought from Holy Trinity, Dorchester when it was declared redundant in 1977.

This is a lovely country church that generously rewards a visit.


The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©


St Nicholas, Durweston


St. Nicholas

 The bulk of Durweston stands to one side of the busy Blandford to Sturminster Newton road.  This was once part of the Portman estate, whose great house, Bryanston, is nearby.  

The site has been occupied by a church for a long time.  The tower of the present flint and greensand building certainly reaches back to C15, although the rest is a skilful Victorian restoration of 1846 by P C Hardwick.  Durweston appears to have been his only church in Dorset, although he was responsible for a parsonage in Haydon, some interiors in Sherborne Castle and alterations to St Giles House (1854). The font is C12 or 13. Inside the church and above the south doorway there is an ancient sculpture of an apparently headless man shoeing a horse.  However, the horse is standing on only three legs, while the hoof and leg being attended to is separate!  This is the legend of St Eloy, the patron saint of blacksmiths and metal workers, who put the leg back on the horse afterwards.  He was apprenticed as a goldsmith in Limoges in France, later finding great favour with the king.  He became the Bishop of Noyon before dying in 659.

Perhaps the most important vicar to have held the living was the Rev Lord Sidney Godolphin Osborne, who arrived in 1841.  He was the brother-in-law of Charles Kingsley, the author of 'The Water Babies' and, for a while, curate at neighbouring Pimperne.  Although the aristocracy were well represented among Victorian clergy, it was usually the 'younger son' and only exceptionally rarely the title holder.  However, 'SGO' as he was known, proved to be an outstanding example of a campaigning parson.  He was appalled by the lot of the agricultural labourers in his parish and tirelessly promoted their cause through the press, by giving evidence to the Poor Law Commissioners and any other means at his disposal including reminding the Church of its responsibilities.  Of course these activities did not win him too many friends among the landowners and efforts were made to muzzle him, although without success.  Unemployment coupled with terrible conditions prompted him to encourage many to emigrate, some at his expense.  Between 1815 and 1895, 13 million people left the United Kingdom for good; 100,000 from Dorset alone. He died in Lewis, where he had retired, in 1889.

In 1991, the eminent sculptor, Don Potter, aged 89, accepted a commission to carve stone figures of the Madonna and Child and St Nicholas.  These have been placed in separate niches in the tower and demonstrate how this brilliant artist has harmonised his work with an ancient setting.  Don Potter was a pupil of Eric Gill before branching out on his own and teaching at Bryanston.  He died in 2004 aged 102.

  The Trust gratefully acknowledges text by Robin Adeney ©



Fontmell Magna

Fontmell Magna

There has been a church on the site since before the Domesday Book of 1086, however only the lower part of the tower of the original remains.  During 1862 - 3 it was almost completely rebuilt to a design by the Wimborne architect, George Evans, who was responsible for four other Dorset churches (1).

The most distinguishing feature of the building is a parapet that extends around the whole and which is partly composed of portions salvaged from the earlier church.  Hutchins, the celebrated 18th century Dorset historian, noted that part of it was dated 1530.

Inside, the building is rather plain and typically Victorian, but it is lightened by a very elaborate, brilliantly white, Caen stone pulpit, decorated with the four evangelists.  Unusually, there are no external steps because it is 'built-in' and access is through a door from the vestry.  There is an attractive, very upright, lectern, which is fashioned from lead and mounted on a cast-iron base.  In a corner, below a most attractive stained glass window, rests the remains of a font thought to be at least a thousand years old.

There is a striking memorial in the churchyard to Philip Salkeld, who was the fourth son of the rector.  He died on 10th October 1857 from wounds sustained when 'blowing the Kashmir gate' during the Indian Mutiny; an act of conspicuous gallantry for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

(1) Melbury Abbas 1851-2: Compton Abbas 1866-7: Bloxworth 1870: Poxwell 1868 - pulled down


The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Gussage All Saints

Bradford AbbGussage 

All Saints

The church lies at the western end of the village, one of three Gussages. It is early Decorated 14c with a tower that was built in three stages and finished in 15c. The first recorded vicar, Galfred de Wermondsworth, was installed in 1347 and the parish registers go back to 1560.

The interior is impressive with a very lofty feel.  The Victorian restoration by the architect, Ewan Christian, involved moving the original chancel arch to the north wall in order to form a frame for the organ.  The present chancel arch was installed by the eminent Dorchester architect, John Hicks, The east window, by Bell & Beckham, was installed in 1909 in memory of Rev Waldey.

The most attractive one-manual 18c Walker organ was a gift from the incumbent, Rev Charles Waldey (1857-75), who was responsible for the church restoration.  The instrument, contained in a mahogany case, had originally been designed for use in a private house and was later used by Sir James Turle at Westminster Abbey for choir practice.

On the north wall of the nave, near the impressive Victorian pulpit, is a shallow recess containing a tomb, which is canopied with crocheted ogee cusping and wall flower decoration.  This arrangement prompted Sir Owen Morshead to suggest that it is an Easter Sepulchre (the only other one in the county is at Tarrant Hinton). However others do not agree because a skeleton was found in it during the 1860 restoration.  Note, under the pulpit there is some exquisite carving.


The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text input by Robin Adeney ©

Gussage St Andrew - Page under construction





Bradford AbbHilton

The attractively rural village of Hilton lies in a fold in the chalk downland beyond the mighty Milton Abbey.  This is a quiet place and the church is tranquil too.  The present building, thought to have been erected in 15c, almost certainly replaced an earlier version because there is evidence of both Saxon and Norman masonry.  The Victorians carried out a careful restoration in 1890. 

On the outside, on the south side, beside the priest's door into the chancel is a dole table below the window.  Widow's loaves would have been placed on this shelf.  Note, the sundial dated 1690 above.

Inside there are a number of very important items.  The windows in the north wall are thought to have come from the cloisters of Milton Abbey after the Dissolution (1536 - 40).  There are two Medieval painted panels hung on the walls of the tower and are regarded as the finest in the Diocese.  At one time they formed part of a very large screen at Milton Abbey, but were removed in 1774 and restored by James Wyatt before being given to the church.  The images are of ten of the Apostles ( Judas Iscariot has been replaced by St. Matthias, St Paul has been added.  Only St. Bartholomew is missing).

The pulpit is Jacobean


The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Langton Long

Beer hackLangton Long

All Saints

This building by T.H.Wyatt of 1861 replaced an earlier church on the same site and is generous for the tiny size of the hamlet it serves.  However, when it was built it catered for the nearby Langton Long House, a large mansion with an army of servants, which was pulled down in 1949.  It has an impressive tower generously adorned with pinnacles and the whole is constructed of very finely worked banded flint and stone.

The exterior gives little hint the exquisite interior, which is an example of Victorian design at its best.  It is complete with a crossing and north and south transepts.  Note also the beautiful font, supported on a central pillar and four marble shafts.





The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Milton Abbey



Milton Abbas Abbey

Milton Abbey occupies probably the most beautiful setting of any church in the county of Dorset.  It rests in a natural amphitheatre surrounded by delightfully wooded hills.  The first church was established here in 933  by King Athelstan, the grandson of Alfred the Great, to commemorate his brother lost at sea.  Legend has it that Athelstan was responsible for the death because he thought his brother was plotting to take the throne and had him cast adrift in a boat with neither oars nor sail.  Almost certainly prompted by guilt, he endowed the Abbey with the income from sixteen manors in Dorset and several important relics of saints from Brittany, thus ensuring a generous income from pilgrims.


King Edgar (959-975) sacked the secular priests and replaced them with Benedictine monks in 964.  It has been suggested that it was still quite a small establishment consisting of a stone church with the monastic buildings constructed from wood. 


The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©


 The monastery appears to have grown in importance during the Norman period, sitting roughly in the middle of the monastic income league for Dorset.  More than Abbotsbury and Sherborne, but less than Shaftesbury and Cerne.  Whilst not a lavish income, it was certainly enough to maintain a programme of building to replace the early temporary structures.

There was a catastrophic fire in 1309, caused by a lightening strike on the spire.  Although the building of a replacement church was soon started, it took a long time and only reached its present size under Abbot William Middleton, who was elected in 1482.  The delay was caused by a number of reasons.  Arguably, the most important was the fact that the Abbey had become exceedingly lax with the brethren failing to adhere to the monastic rules to the extent that they were even keeping women!  In addition, as has been mentioned elsewhere on this website, building in those days tended to be a slow process, partly because it depended on funds being available, but also partly due to the nature of the workforce.  Construction only moved forward between March and September because the unskilled workers had to return to their land for the harvest in the autumn and could not leave until they had ploughed and sown their crops in the spring.  Only the skilled masons etc. remained to work through the winter preparing stones for the next building season.  So it needed a man of vision like Abbot Middleton to drive the project forward.  Gradually a town, called Middleton, had developed alongside the Abbey and this had prospered, partly as a result of a weekly market and an annual three day fair, granted by a charter from King Henry III in 1252 and partly because it was on an important route between Blandford and Dorchester and was used by many pilgrims.  By 1332, it was the biggest provider of a personal tax in Dorset demanded by the King to fund his wars with France



Monastic building continued until terminated by King Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539.  The monks were sent elsewhere, all with pensions, and Abbey's estates sold off. 


John Tregonwell, a lawyer who had assisted Henry VIII in obtaining a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, accepted the surrender of the Abbey and its lands on behalf of the King.  He was anxious to become the owner of the Abbey and after offering bribes to Cromwell for another monastery, was successful in purchasing Milton Abbey and some of its estate a year later for a down payment of £1,000 plus a rent of £12 per year.  He gave the Abbey to the towns people as their parish church and took up residence in part of the old monastic buildings.  Despite the fact that the country had become Protestant, he and his family still practiced Roman Cath

olicism, which stood him in very good stead when Queen Mary ascended the throne.  He was knighted during Mary's coronation and made Sheriff of Somerset and Dorset.  When he died there was confusion over his estate, which led to bitter feuding within the family and was not sorted out for several generations.  Things were more settled by the time John Tregonwell IV married Jane Freke ( the daughter of Sir Thomas Freke - see Iwerne Courtney) whose son, John V, fell in 1605 from the Abbey roof and was saved by his billowing skirts that acted as a parachute.  There were more Tregonwells and more litigation amongst rival beneficiaries until finally, in 1752, the estate was sold to the immensely wealthy Joseph Damer.  His fortune had been amassed in Ireland and he had married Lady Caroline Sackville, the daughter of the second Duke of Dorset.  In the same year he was elevated to the Irish Peerage and created Baron Milton.  The ancient town of Milton close by irritated him and he set about destroying it.  He had the grammar school transferred to Blandford and demolished each house as the leases fell in.  Finally, when only a few houses remained, he flooded them by opening the sluice gates, but he had met his match because one of the tenants was a lawyer who successfully sued and won.  He did, however, build the model village of Milton Abbas, albeit out of sight!

In 1771, he instructed the eminent architect, Sir William Chambers to design a new mansion house in a pseudo gothic style to blend with the Abbey church.  It was not long before the architect and client fell-out.  The architect referring to his client as "..this imperious lord".  Chambers resigned whereupon Damer retained James Wyatt, who finished the house and designed most of the superb interior.  He also worked on the church, although he was responsible for destroying many of the medieval features.  The famous landscape gardener, Capability Brown had been employed, since 1763, to re-model the setting, including the provision of an ornamental lake.  Damer was not a happy man, his wife died in 1775 and his sons were hopeless spendthrifts.  He was elevated again and created Earl of Dorchester in 1792.  He died in 1798 at the age of eighty, whereupon one of his sons reformed and settled down to manage his inheritance.

After passing through the hands of several other family members, the house and estate of over 8,500 acres was sold to Baron Hambro in 1852.  It is to this Danish merchant banker that subsequent generations must be profoundly grateful for his restoration of the Abbey church.  The building was in a poor state of repair and he retained the services of Sir George Gilbert Scott as architect to carry out a complete restoration.  He and his son Sir Everard Hambro were exceptionally good landlords and paid for many charitable undertakings in the area including the provision of a hospital and doctor in the village.  By 1932 the rents from agricultural holdings were abysmal and the house with the estate were put on the market.  It was not until 1939 that the house and church were finally sold to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners with a view to converting it into a theological college.  This was not to be and the building was used as a faith healing centre for some years before being sold again in 1953 to establish a boy's Public School, which it still is.  The Abbey church is used as a chapel and the only remaining monastic building, the Abbot's Hall, as the dining room.


Church imageMorden

St Mary 

The church stands very upright at the top of rising ground, which invests it with a slightly surreal feeling as you approach up the path from the road.  The tower is tall and so is the nave, tending to accentuate the air of loftiness.

It was rebuilt in 1873 by Joseph Seller, who was then eighty years old.  With its height and clerestory, the building is well lit and gives the impression of spaciousness.  Interestingly, there is a curtain that can be used to screen off the chancel; no doubt to conserve heat for evensong in the winter.  Of great interest is the figure of a knight, kneeling on one knee, attached to the north wall of the tower arch.  This is Thomas Earle (1597), who once owned Charborough Park, according to Nikolaus Pevsner, in the act, not of prayer, but in homage.  

There is an ancient font and outside in place of regular gargoyles, there are some rather nice bear-like creatures.




The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©


Church imageStourpaine

Holy Trinity

The village has its origins in the Saxon period and the name derives from an amalgam of 'Stour', from the river that flows past and the lords of the manor, whose name was Payne.  Yet from the lower Blandford to Shaftesbury road, Stourpaine, despite its antiquity, does not appear to be much of a settlement.  However, this is a poor conclusion.  Unseen from the road, there is another running more or less parallel, which serves the bulk of this attractive assortment of houses and the church lies at the southern end.

There appears to be some doubt as to whether there was a Saxon building, but by 1085 the village was sufficiently important to rate an entry in the Domesday Book.  This suggests that there may well have been a church although no record survives.  Records do exist to confirm a building begun in 1190 that survived until 1300.  During the 15c the original tower was pulled down and the present one erected in its place.

By the 1855, the church, along with so many in the County, was reported to be in such a poor state of repair that the architect, T H Wyatt, was forced to report that, apart from the tower, the whole building would have to be rebuilt.  It is, therefore, a 15c tower attached to a Victorian church.  Wyatt preserved two perpendicular windows from the old structure and installed them in the the north wall of the new nave.

During the restoration (1858), the ancient font disappeared and had to be replaced with a 'new' one.  There is something of a history of old fonts going missing during the 19c, probably because they were considered coarse.  Other examples can be found at  Beaminster, Chaldon Herring and Kimmeridge. The present organ, by Forster and Andrews of Hull, was installed in 1882 at the expense of the incumbent, Rev R R Watts, at a cost of £95.

A decision was taken in 1911 to replace the rather dismal pine pulpit.  However, the cost of a replacement was prohibitive, so five men, including the vicar, set about creating a new one.  The 'labour of love' lasted for three years of spare time and the new, beautifully carved, oak pulpit was dedicated by the Dean of Sarum on 27th September 1914.

An important 1670 memorial in the tower, to John Straight, a Puritan Vicar is worthy of close inspection.

There is a really excellent church guide.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Sutton Waldron

St Bartholomew

The present church, which replaced a derelict Saxon one on a nearby site, was completed in 1847.  Designed by George Alexander (d. 1883), it was his fourth and last in Dorset.*  Sir John Betjeman has described it as "one of the best and most lovely examples of Victorian architecture."  Although certainly an example of that period, the building beautifully catches the medieval Gothic style, with flying buttresses supporting the elegant steeple and is a perfect manifestation of Victorian Ecclesiological thinking. The brilliant interior is the creation of Owen Jones (1809-74), who is generally better remembered for his work on parts of the Great Exhibition of 1851.  The vivid colours and lavish decoration have an Arabian resonance, particularly in the chancel, and amply demonstrate his ardent discipleship of the great Augustus Pugin of the Houses of Parliament fame.

Of the many interesting fittings in the church the pews are particularly worthy of note because of their exceptionally simple and open design.  The church was built at a time when a certain degree of display was regarded as desirable and these pews assisted in being seen.

The whole cost of building was met by the incumbent, Anthony Huxtable. In 1840, he had the good fortune to marry a Dorset lady called Maria Langstone, who became a devoted wife and brought with her wealth, which by today's standards would have made them millionaires  He was also a tenant on two farms, became an agricultural pioneer, tireless social worker and sufficiently well thought of by the church authorities to be made Archdeacon of Dorset, albeit for only a few months before ill-health forced him to retire.  He died in 1883.

*East Stour 1842: Enmore Green: Shaftesbury 1843: Motcombe 1846

Tarrant Crawford

Tarrant Crawford

The Church is now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust and is unlocked and open daily.  The Chase Benefice, in which it is situated, and neighbouring parish of Tarrant Keyneston arrange services on four Sundays in the summer the church having no electric light.

It was once part of the richest nunneries in England being founded about 1230 by Bishop Poore of Salisbury for Cistercian nuns.


it is well worth a visit for its remnants of wall paintings which, like some stained glass windows, were to instruct the parishioners.  There is also the long, elegant interior with oak furnishings and a beautiful sixteenth-century wagon roof as  well as several thirteenth and fourteenth-century coffin lids set in the floor, probably of abbesses and nuns.


The Trust gratefully acknowledges photographs and text by Tim Smith ©

Tarrant Gunville

St. Mary

There was once a Norman church here, but all that is left is large arcading high up on the the south wall of the north aisle.  However, the present building dates mainly from the 16c, although there is a 15c tower.  It was rebuilt and enlarged by T. H. Wyatt 1844-5.  The extensive stencilled lettering in the chancel shows the influence of the Oxford Movement and was carried out about fifty years later.  The little 16c windows above the chancel arch bear the coats of arms of King Henry VIII and those of two of his wives, Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr.

A memorial inside commemorates Thomas Wedgewood, the son of Josiah (of pottery fame), who is credited with the invention of photography, although he was unable to find a means of 'fixing' his pictures.

Note, the family pew.

Tarrant Hinton

Tarrant Hinton

St. Mary

This church is well worth a visit.  A church has stood on this site since at least the 13th century; a few fragments of the original Norman foundations still exist and are incorporated in the interior wall above the porch door. The exterior is constructed principally of alternating bands of flint and green sandstone, as is typical of this part of Dorset. Originally, the church belonged to Shaftesbury Abbey and this, coupled with the prosperity of the sheep farming during the 14th and 15th centuries, led to the relatively superior stone and workmanship that still exist. Interior has much interest including a magnificent Easter Sepulchre which is is almost certainly unique in Dorset. The recent conservation of which was aided by DHCT.  To mark the Millennium two windows by Thomas Denny were commissioned. Also interesting is the Art Nouveau lectern made from brass and iron.



Thomas Denny Millennium Window
Art Nouveau lectern
Easter Sepulchre
Restoration of Easter Sepulchure
Interior at Christmas

©DHCT 2018  

Tarrant Keynston

All Saints

With the exception of the 15c tower, this church was entirely rebuilt by T. H. Wyatt (the diocesan architect) in 1852-3 in mock perpendicular style because it had fallen into a very dilapidated state.  However, there is a record of an incumbent in 1286 and the list of rectors begins at 1317.  The churchyard contains a memorial to the Bastard family who, as architects, were responsible for much of the rebuilding of Blandford after the disastrous fire of 1731 when 480 families were made homeless.

Tarrant Monkton

All Saints

The church occupies a place adjacent to the well-known pub in this most attractive village.  It is constructed of flint and stone.  The chancel and arch are 14c and the tower 15c.  The nave ceiling has been dated at 1624.

Points of interest are the Norman font, 18c pulpit and an east window depicting Our Lord flanked by St. George and Bishop Poore, who was born in Tarrant Crawford and built Salisbury Cathedral.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Tarrant Rawston


St. Mary

Resting adjacent to a splendid farmhouse, the church was declared redundant in 1973 and is now in private ownership.  It is of chequered flint and greensand.  Mainly 18c with a gallery, approached from the outside, at the western end and a little southern porch. There are north and south transepts, a partly Jacobean pulpit and a font of 1868.  It was carefully restored in 1975/6 and the result is very pleasing.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Tarrant Rushton

St. Mary

This incredibly interesting church is rather hidden away at the side of the village.  It stands at the end of a lane in a large and peaceful churchyard and is a church beautifully maintained and worthy of a special visit.

The building, which is essentially 12c, has a Norman chancel arch and tower and is built in the form of a cross.  It was fully restored by the Victorians in the 1880s and again in 1963, largely through the generosity of Sir Alan Cobham, the aviation pioneer whose imposing tomb is situated in the corner of the church yard.

Within the church building particularly worthy of note are the two earthenware pots built into the eastern face of the chancel arch in order to improve the acoustics, a leper squint with associated scratch marks on the outside window surround and the excellent quality 1960s church furniture.  Above the main doorway is an early 12c carving of the Lamb of God.  Also piscina and niche in the chancel.

Winterborne Clenston

St. Nicholas

This is an exceptionally attractive Victorian estate church that sits by itself away from the hamlet that it serves. It is approached across a stream and car parking is in a field.  It was rebuilt in 1840 by Lewis Vulliamy, who also designed the Union Workhouse at Sturminster Newton (1838), in banded flint and stone.  Inside is relatively simple although the diminutive chancel has a painted ceiling and altar rails on three sides.  Note, the exceptionally slim font and the memorials to the five sons from one family who were killed in the First World War.



Winterborne Houghton

St. Andrew

This is a tiny village held in one of Dorset's folds in the chalk.  The church replaced an earlier building although not on the same site.  This one is by T.H.Wyatt 1861-2.  The 15c font and 18c cover came from the earlier church.  The south aisle has been shut off from the rest of the church to form a vestry and parish hall.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©

Winterborne Kingston

St. Nicholas

There is a tradition that a king was buried somewhere near the village in a golden coffin, but so far nothing has been found!  The church is ancient.  However the experts are coy about its age, although it is generally thought to be 14c and some of the windows are definitely Henry VIII (1491-1547).  Otherwise the bulk of the building is by C.E.Street in 1872.

There is a 17c pulpit and a very fine font of 1736.  Note also the mighty door and generous door-stop.  After raising £90,000 in 1999, the tower was restored, a new bell frame installed and three new bells, which had been cast at the world-famous Whitechapel Foundry in London, were hung alongside retuned older bells from 1600

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©


Winterborne Stickland

St. Mary

A  very interesting church to serve this large attractive village.  The building is 13c in origin, but the nave was probably rebuilt in 1716, although the ceiling with its ribbed decoration would not appear to be of that period. However, the round-topped windows are typical and rise towards the back to accommodate the long-gone gallery.  There is a substantial tower.  The font is an excellent example of 18c craftsmanship and the rather plain pulpit belongs to the same period.

Of great interest is the 1756 tomb chamber attached to the northern side of the chancel, containing a large sarcophagus with a polished black marble lid.  There is a small 14c tympanun carving of the crucifixion in the porch - Nikolaus Pevsner wondered if it had once been a solid Norman Tympanun.  Arthur Mee in his 'Dorset' tells us that this parish has twice had rectors who each served for over fifty years, which must be something of a record.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney © 

Winterborne Zelston

St Mary's Church


This parish church has an unbutressed tower of rubble stone dating back to the 15th Century with the rest of the church being rebuilt in1866 by architect T H Wyatt in flint and stone banding, with chamfered plinth; and a slate roofs with coped gables. Internally the 16 century chancel has canted wagon roof, with plaster panels, moulded ribs and battlemented cornice. The nave roof has arch-braced collar beams, with stone corbels. The aisle roof has trussed rafters, with curved braces. There is a stained window by Lavers and Barraud from 1866.

Winterbourne Abbas

St. Mary

This is charming little roadside church, in the centre of a busy village, offers great tranquillity to a visitor  The earliest mention it has is 872 AD when Ethelmer gave it to Cerne Abbey and the Domesday Book of 1086-88 confirms that it still belonged to them.

Almost nothing of the original Saxon Church remains and only the font (in the tower) and holy water stoup of the later Norman chapel can be found.  The present chancel was built in 1250.  Work commenced on the tower in the 14c but was not completed until the 15 or 16c.  The interesting balcony is dated 1701 and the altar rail may be of the same period.  There are the remains of hagioscopes (or squints) between the nave and chancel and an excellent example of a rood loft staircase built into a buttress projection. Note, the hatchment of 1661.

There is an engaging memorial to William Durnford who was a shepherd and clerk for 56 years, choir member for 63 years and last surviving member of the church band.  He died in 1943 aged 79 years.

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