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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Dorset

by Peter Kessler, 7 November 2020

Dorset Council (West) Part 1: Churches of Tolpuddle to Abbotsbury

Church of St John, Tolpuddle, Dorset

The Church of St John, Tolpuddle, is on the southern side of the Dorchester Road, around ninety west of the Central Farm Lane junction and the Tolpuddle Martyrs Tree. This Dorset village is perhaps best known for the nineteenth century union activists known as the Tolpuddle Martyrs. The tree where the martyrs met stands just outside the churchyard. St John the Baptist itself is a twelfth century replacement for an earlier, Anglo-Saxon building.

Church of St John, Tolpuddle, Dorset

The building was enlarged in the 1200s and 1300s. When the incumbent vicar, William Turner, died in 1581 the parishioners seized the vicarage and locked the church doors during his burial because they wanted the right to name their own vicar. The church was restored in 1855 by T H Wyatt, consultant architect to the Church Building Society. The building's walls are a mixture of flint and rubble stone, with ashlar dressings. The nave, aisle and transept have copper roofs.

Whitcombe Church, Whitcombe, Dorset

Whitcombe Church, Whitcombe, is on the eastern side of the A352, around fifty metres north of the bus stop and the start of the few buildings of Whitcombe itself. A church has existed here since at least 966. The sixteenth century tower dominates the building's replacement nave of the 1100s and chancel of the 1400s. Although medieval wall paintings inside the church include an image of St Christopher, the building's dedication has been lost to time.

Holy Trinity Church, Fleet, Dorset

Holy Trinity Church, Fleet, is on the eastern side of Fleet Road. Fleet's medieval 'Little Church', along with much of the village, suffered extensive damage during the Great Storm of 1824. Only the chancel survived, so the present replacement was built half a kilometre away from the old church, in 1827-1829. The cost was met entirely by Reverend George Gould, to a design by William Strickland. It was consecrated on 25 August 1829, although its use now is only monthly.

Church of St Peter, Eype, Langton Herring, Dorset

The Church of St Peter, Eype, near Langton Herring, stands inside the crook of Church Hill, flanked to the west by Rose's Lane. It was erected as a chapel-of-ease to St John the Baptist, Symondsbury, between 1863 and 1865, and was consecrated at a special service on 25 August 1865. Very little has been changed since that date, revealing a chapel in its original form. It was built using a legacy left by Reverend Gregory Raymond, rector at Symondsbury for fifty-seven years.

Church of St Nicholas, Abbotsbury, Dorset

The Church of St Nicholas, Abbotsbury, is on the eastern side of Church Street, roughly forty metres south of the Rodden Row junction. The building is largely fourteenth century, but with various restorations and additions over subsequent centuries. The tower contains three bells dating from 1773, made by Thomas Castleman Bilbie of the Bilbie family in Cullompton. The chancel was classicised in the eighteenth century and still has its plastered barrel roof and fine altarpiece.

Photos on this page kindly contributed by Adam Swaine and Douglas Law, all via the 'History Files: Churches of the British Isles' Flickr group, plus one by Dr Helen Wilson via Twitter. Additional information by Dr Helen Wilson and Douglas Law.



Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original feature for the History Files.