Olympic Sails and Seafarer's Tales

20 Jul 2012

St George's Church, Portland will be open to visitors with guided tours taking place once or twice a day through to September. Tour times will be noted on signposts outside the church.

The churchyard at Portland holds some heart breaking stories of lives lost and the affect of the sea on local life. 


  • William Hansford, aged 61 years, who was killed on the 23rd November 1824 by the sea overflowing the village of Chissel. His leg was broken in attempting to make his escape, afterwards the house fell on him.
  • Mary Way, daughter of John and Mary Way, who was shot by some of a press gang on the 2nd April 1803 and died of the wound the 21st of May the same year, aged 21 years.  
  • Joseph Trevitt late assistant warder of Portland Prison who was murdered by a convict while in the execution of his duties in the Batteries, on the 23rd March 1869.
  • In affectionate remembrance of Richard Otter, son of William H Otter and his beloved wife Mary, who was lost on the Titanic, April 15 1912, aged 39 years.
  • To the memory of three brothers lost at sea; Capt Thomas Elliott Read and John Read, lost at sea by the foundering of the SS Theban about January 6th 1870 and Joseph Read lost in the wreck of the SS Gambria, October 19th 1870.
The church tours will take you through the churchyard and the church bringing these stories alive.

A range of postcards with images of the memorials are available for sale at the church.

St George's is also currently playing host to an art group called Pop Up Dorset who will be showcasing some of the best art from across Dorset. It will take the form of a POP UP exhibition and art sale for six weeks over the Summer of 2012.

The 1766 church, designed by local architect and stone mason Thomas Gilbert, will host the exhibition which will take place between 21 July and 31 August 2012.  St George’s Church is just ten minutes’ drive from the Olympic sailing events and en route to the popular tourist destination of Portland Bill.

The exhibition will be open seven days a week between the hours of 10am and 7pm and volunteer guides will also be on site to show visitors around the church.

Throughout April and May artists from around the county submitted work, of which 48 artists have been selected to show. Additionally to the artwork, there will also be a selection of high quality locally produced craft items for sale, such as furniture and small gifts.

Artists range from professional to serious amateurs and there are a number of pieces from students, the up and coming artists from Dorset. There's a previously un-shown work Fernando Velasquez as well as Lyme Regis based artist Annie Ward, whose work has also been selected as the image on our posters and flyers. 

So why not visit St George's and have an alternative day out during the Olympics, you might even catch sight of the sailing in the distance!

Find out more about St George's Church, Portland

Find out more about PopUp Dorset 

Find other churches to visit in Dorset