History

A Saxon church minster was on or near where the church is today first in the 8th century giving 1,200 years of Christian church in this place. It has been suggested that the Saxon church was nearer North Street because there is some evidence that the river bed was where the church is today. Possibly originally a wooden building, but possibly in stone similar to the church at Studland. It was a minster church serving the Saxon settlements up the Cerne Valley and also toward Stratton and Grimstone.

In the 11th century a little new church was built where the church now stands. There was a nave and two small transepts in the Norman style. There could have been a small tower and a chancel but all that remains is the arch and wall at the east end.

This was replaced by a larger church and chancel with two narrow side aisles similar to the present aisle near the vicar’s vestry.

In the 14th century the Trenchards of Wolfeton House built the chapel on the south side of the church possibly as a chantry. Until and shortly after World War 2 this was always known as the Wolfeton Chapel but is usually now known as the South Aisle. At that time the porch was built.

Then about the year 1500 Sir Thomas Trenchard caused the erection of the tower and the two vestries, but shortly after the time of the Reformation the chancel was demolished and a window placed in the archway with a low stone wall. No altar just a communion table in the nave and a new chancel was built slightly smaller than the original chancel.

But there was not a lot of change in the next couple of hundred years until about 1837 when the North Aisle was enlarged by moving the north wall out some twelve feet providing much more room for the congregation.

By the 1890s the roof was in very poor condition and leaking badly. Funds were raised and a new roof replaced the old one. The new roof was a different shape as can be seen of the line by the old roof. At that time the old box pews were removed and the present ones were installed.

No major building works in the 20th century but in 1953(?) a new organ was installed as the old one was worn out.

At the beginning of the present century the pews in the North Aisle were removed and replace by chairs. This made the space more flexible in the use of the aisle. A loo and servery were also installed which allow us to be hospitable!

In 2016, in a major restoration project the woodblock flooring under the pews was replaced by stone flagging and under floor heating. The heat is supplied by an Air Source Heat Pump.

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