The Church, Whitcombe, Dorset

Whitcombe, Dorchester, Dorset, DT2 8NY
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A saint, a mermaid and a lost dedication

This lovely medieval church looks like a vision from a Thomas Hardy novel. One of Hardy's friends - the poet and scholar William Barnes - preached his first and last sermons here, and the church's setting evokes the rustic atmosphere of old Dorset life. Yet in Barnes' time the parishioners knew nothing of Whitcombe's great treasure - the magical medieval wallpaintings that include an image of St Christopher and a mermaid combing her hair. But the church still holds on to its final secret - its name: the church dedication is lost in time.