Church Crawling in North Dorset

by Gerry Lynch last modified 19 Oct, 2015 04:16 PM

Friends of the Dorset Historic Churches' Trust enjoy a day exploring gorgeous churches - and a good pub lunch

A group of 30 Friends of the Dorset Historic Churches Trust (DHCT) gathered recently for their fifth Church Crawl of the year, enjoying a behind-the-scenes tour of four of north Dorset’s most interesting and special churches. 

The Crawl began at St Nicholas’ Church in Nether Compton, where the group was welcomed by DHCT Chair, Simon Pomeroy. Trustee Tim Connor then gave a talk on the history and architecture of the 15th Century building. He explained how, although heavily restored in the 19th Century, original wooden roof bosses and an interesting 14th Century stone screen remain today. 

The next church was St Michael’s Church in Over Compton, which nestles alongside the fine manor house in the centre of the village, and is considered to be one of Dorset’s real hidden gems. Trustee Sue Smith highlighted and explained the finer details of the early 20th Century stained glass windows by Charles Kemp, pointing out his wheatsheaf signature. 

After a pub lunch at the Rose & Crown in Trent, during which old and new Friends of DHCT had the chance to socialise together, the group headed over to St Andrew’s Church for a change of scale. This medieval church features a splendid spire, unusual for Dorset, and is set among a number of 16th Century buildings. Sue Smith unlocked the mysteries of the stunning East window – a collection of densely packed panels from northern Europe collected by the Rector during his long incumbency from 1840 to 1880. 

The Crawl ended at St Mary the Virgin Church in Bradford Abbas, one of the county’s most important village churches. The west elevation of the church’s tower is among the finest in Dorset and the pulpit dates back to 1623, offering a beautiful example of Jacobean craftsmanship. The Church also features an octagonal font, dating back to the 16th Century, and a 15th Century chancel screen. To close the afternoon, the group enjoyed a cup of tea and biscuits before dispersing with the news that next year’s Crawls will be announced in the Spring on the Trust’s website, www.dhct.co.uk,

Simon Pomeroy, Chair of DHCT, said, “We would like to thank all the Friends that have attended our five Church Crawls of 2015. We must also express our gratitude to Tim and Sue for sharing their wealth of knowledge and expertise with us, to truly bring the history of these churches to life. These Crawls are one of the real benefits of becoming a Friend of DHCT, offering behind-the-scenes access to some of the county’s most fascinating churches.”

BBC Radio Solent joined the DHCT gang on this church crawl. Have a listen to the audio report they produced here.

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