History Files


Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Dorset

by Peter Kessler, 7 November 2020

Dorset Council (West) Part 3: Churches of Beer Hackett to Sherbourne

Church of St Michael & All Angels, Beer Hackett, Dorset

The Church of St Michael & All Angels, Beer Hackett, is on the southern side of the main road, around two hundred metres east of the railway bridge. This small parish with its population of around eighty or ninety was formerly under the abbot of Sherborne. Following the Reformation, it became a peculiar of the dean of Sarum, and was variously described as 'a chapel, dependent on the church of Sherborne'. The nave and west tower were built in the first half of the 1400s.

Church of St Michael & All Angels, Beer Hackett, Dorset

As for the rest of the church, the north porch (the main entrance) was added early in the 1500s. Except for the tower, the church was largely rebuilt in 1882 by George Crickmay, an architect who had a hand in the restoration of many Dorset churches during the century. In 1897 Ponting restored the tower. In both sets of work, old parts of masonry were re-used, so that the building's fabric may still be original, even if its date of (re)construction is Victorian.

Church of St Nicholas, Sandford Orcas, Dorset

The Church of St Nicholas, Sandford Orcas, stands in a north-east corner on the eastern side of the main lane which passes both this church and the sixteenth century manor house behind it. A church stood here by 1216 (and perhaps earlier, judging by parts of the chancel which predate its 1300s construction). The present building consists of a fifteenth century south porch, a nave of uncertain vintage, and a fifteenth century square west tower and north aisle.

Sherbourne Abbey, Sherbourne, Dorset

Sherbourne Abbey, Sherbourne, is at the north-east corner of the junction between Abbey Close and Half Moon Street. Formally known as the Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin at Sherborne, the building has been altered and renovated many times. It was founded by St Aldhelm in AD 705 at the division of the diocese of Winchester, when he became the first bishop of the West Saxons. Sherbourne was selected as his seat, and the early abbey gradually grew.

Sherbourne Abbey, Sherbourne, Dorset

Some early features still survive, such as the fine Saxon doorway in the north-west. In 998, St Wulfsin ejected the secular canons who served the cathedral, and invited monks of the Order of St Benedict to replace them. After the arrival of the Normans the bishop's seat was moved to Old Sarum, and then Salisbury. The Church of All Hallows was built for the townsfolk, actually joined to the abbey itself, but it was demolished in 1539 when they regained the main building.

Photos on this page kindly contributed by Douglas Law, Sam Weller, and Keith Bowden, all via the 'History Files: Churches of the British Isles' Flickr group.



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