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Seeking Hidden Gems

by Michael Ford last modified 07 Jul, 2014 05:28 PM

Over 30 Friends of the Dorset Historic Churches Trust recently went behind the scenes at four parish churches in central Dorset, to learn more about their hidden features and rich history.

The ‘Church Crawl’ began at St Peter and St Paul in Cattistock, where guests listened to a talk by Dorset Historic Churches Trust (DHCT) Trustee, Tim Connor, on the influence of Victorian architects, George Gilbert Scott and his son, on the building’s design. Fellow Trustee Sue Smith then explained the history of the stained glass windows that the Church is famous for, including one by William Morris in the south aisle that dates back to 1882, depicting six winged angels in blazing colour.

After a pub lunch, during which Friends old and new got to know one another better, the group visited St Mary the Virgin in Frampton. Here, the focus was on the influence of three important historical families on the church’s interior, with impressive monuments to the Browne, Grant and Sheridan families.

At Sydling St Nicholas - which dates back to the fifteenth century – some of the group climbed the church’s spiral staircase to visit a faceless clock, built in 1593, which still chimes the hour today. Nigel Shaw, who has maintained the clock for the last 30 years, told the group about the clock’s mechanism, adding that the only alteration he has made to the 16th century Dorset clock is to install an electric winder.

The final church of the day was St Mary Cerne Abbas, where the group admired the fragments of medieval wall paintings still visible today, the oak pulpit which dates back to 1640, and the church’s vulgar gargoyles, directing rainwater to the gutters.

Chairman of the Dorset Historic Churches Trust, Simon Pomeroy said: “The Dorset Historic Churches Trust would like to say a big thank you to everyone who joined our Trustees for the Church Crawl. We’re hoping to make these ‘Crawls’ a regular event, offering interested members of the Dorset community the chance to explore some of the fine churches we have around us. We hope to see as many people as possible at our next one!”

The next Church Crawl will start at 11am on Tuesday 15 July at the New Holy Trinity Church, Bothenhampton and will include four churches in West Dorset. For more details, visit New Friends are always welcome; collect a Trust leaflet from your local church.

About DHCT
Established by Sir Owen Morshead in 1960, the Dorset Historic Churches Trust is a voluntary run charity that raises funds and provides around £100,000 each year to Dorset’s churches and chapels of all Christian Denominations to assist the increasing costs of maintenance, restoration and improving facilities. Its main source of income is the annual ‘Ride + Stride’ that every September involves some 200 parish and church communities across the County.

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