St Andrew's Church, Winterborne Tomson, Dorset
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A Dorset gem saved by the ghost of Thomas Hardy
This tiny chapel, built of flint and stone, with a tiny weatherboarded bell turret, has barely been altered since it was built in Norman times. The inside is simple, bright and beautiful - with uneven limewashed walls and a flagged floor.
The early eighteenth-century oak fittings were provided by William Wake, then Archbishop of Canterbury, whose family lived nearby. The silvery-grey box pews, the pulpit, the screen, the communion rails and matching table, the font cover and the west door all date from this refurbishment. The wagon roof is unique in that it curves round the apse, with finely carved bosses where the oak ribs intersect.
The church escaped total ruin in 1931 only when The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings sold a collection of Thomas Hardy manuscripts to pay for repairs. Hardy was once an architect's assistant in this part of Dorset, but this church does not seem to have featured in any of his novels. The restoration work was supervised by the architect A R Powys, Secretary to the Society. It is thanks to him that this lovely church has survived in such a wonderfully unspoilt condition. A plaque in the church commemorates Powys' work.
Small, one floor, single ‘cell’ flint and limestone exterior with east end apse; interior limewashed. The roof has wooden beams supporting a tiled roof with a plaster interior. Single large door (120 cms wide) in west wall approached over well maintained, gently undulating grass churchyard maintained by Miss Hooper. Level access to the west door then one step down, slightly uneven flagstone floor on nave aisle (150cms wide). Box pews with seating capacity about 65. Two uneven steps to altar in apse. No tower but steep ancient ladder to west end gallery. Although this gallery is supported by a new support, the original beam is badly eaten away, the balcony rail is low (about 50 cms) and access must be banned. Electricity meter and sockets at top of the ladder on west wall. Total interior area is 61 sq metres.
Facilities & Hire
Due to the historic nature of our buildings, only a very small number of them have heating or running water meaning that they can be cold, and very rarely have toilet facilities. The lighting is usually operated via a 'push button' timer or a motion sensor. We do apologise for any inconvenience the lack of facilities may cause.
8 miles west of Wimborne Minster, off A31 at the end of a private road
Nearest railway station: Holton Heath (5.9 miles)
History & Further Information
Why not make your visit more enjoyable and informed by finding out more about this church and the CCT before you visit? You can download a range of publications below including the relevant county guide, and any walk round guides we have for this church.Cornwall, Devon and Dorset county guide
This free of charge short guide contains details of all the churches CCT cares for in Cornwall, Devon & Dorset. Printed copies of the county guide are also available at the church.
- Community information