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Gallery: Churches of Dorset
by Peter Kessler, 7 November 2020
Dorset Council (West) Part 1:
Churches of Tolpuddle to Abbotsbury
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
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, 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, 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.
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.
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