The best of Dorset in words and pictures

Dorset’s lesser-known parish churches

David Bailey on some of the county’s churches which have caught his interest and his photographer’s eye

St Saviour's at Dottery

St Saviour’s at Dottery is a ‘tin tabernacle’ of corrugated iron lined with wood – a real rarity in Dorset. It was built in 1900.

Stockwood's church

Stockwood’s church has the unusual dedication to St Edwold, brother of King Edmund of Anglia, who was a hermit at Cerne Abbas and was buried there. At only 30 feet by 12 feet, it is one of the smallest churches in England. The unusual bell-turret was added in 1636, the rest of the building being early 15th-century.

St Lawrence's at Wynford Eagle

St Lawrence’s at Wynford Eagle was re-built in 1842, but evidence of its predecessor is the re-used 15th-century chancel arch and a Norman doorway decoration. The church stands opposite the manor house, which was the home of the Sydenham family.

Portesham's St Peter's

Portesham’s St Peter’s is a mixture of medieval styles. Most of the church, notable for its graceful arches, is 15th-century, but the chancel and the font are 200 years older. Its rather squat appearance is part of the charm of St Paul’s at Hammoon. Although it dates from the 13th century, there is some interesting 20th-century stained glass and the reredos of about 1500 was bought and installed only in 1945.

parish church of St Peter

Purse Caundle’s best-known building is its manor house, but the North Chapel in the parish church of St Peter may have been the work of William Long, who also built the manor house. He died in 1524 and is buried in St Peter’s in a splendid tomb. The church was much altered in the 19th century, but the earliest parts are 15th-century.

church of St Martin

It’s rather squat appearance is part of the charm of St Paul’s at Hammoon. Although it dates from the 13th century, there is some interesting 20th century stained glass and the reredos of about 1500 was bought and installed only in 1945.

Bryanston village is rather dominated by the Portman mansion that is
now a school, but the church of St Martin is a worthy example of late
19th-century church architecture. It was built by E P Warren, who also
worked at Chantmarle and Melplash Court. It replaced a Georgian
building nearby.

St Rumbold's at Pentridge

It is ironic that a village named Steeple should have a church with a
four-square tower. In the porch of St Michael’s are the stars and
stripes which make up the Lawrence family’s coat of arms and which are
said to have inspired a distant connection of the Lawrences, George
Washington, when the American flag was being designed. The 16th-century
church was built to serve a village much larger than it is now.

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