Church of St.Mary, Bradford Peverell. NGR: SY 65803 93031. Lat: 50.735908, Long: -2.4859661.
Lead authors: KJH, PJB.
St Mary's Church was built in 1849-1850 in Early English style by the then Lord of the Manor, Hastings Nathaniel Middleton, to a design by Decimus Burton. It stands in the centre of the village, close to the Manor House (qv). Hastings Middleton was the Lord of the Manor of Bradford Peverell, who despite unsuccessfully attempting to raise the cost by public subscription, paid almost the entire £1,850 cost himself. The present church replaced a much earlier building dating from around 1391, on the same site. This structure featured a rather squat tower and a porch of 1552. Although rediscovered in 1849, sadly there is now no trace of the medieval mural of St George, which, at some earlier stage, had been hidden under plaster. John Hutchins, the celebrated historian of Dorset buildings, was born here in 1698. He became vicar of Swyre and later, Lady Mary in Wareham.
The walls are all of Lower Purbeck Cypris Freestone, some of which is considerably weathered, so it is highly probable that old stone was re-used. The dressings are of Ham Hill Stone. Perhaps the most appealing element is the recently restored spire with two tiers of lucarnes. This is one of the few Dorset churches to possess a spire. The spire is of Portland Stone.
The somewhat plain interior has interior archways are of Ham Hill Stone, the chancel arch having been whitewashed, which made it difficult to identify. The pulpit is made of Caen Stone, and the font of Portland stone. We examined some of the internal features of the bell-tower and spire, which are also covered below.
The bell tower and spire
The spire of presumed Portland Limestone was rebuilt after a lightning strike in 2000 and it was obvious that the rebuilt section (the top) used larger freestone which looked like Portland Limestone ashlar blocks.
Other observations on building stone in Bradford Peverell
As well as the Chalk present in the Church tower there is evidence for the use of it in domestic buildings. The nearest source for the Chalk is probably the large pit at Muckleford, near Quatre Bras. It may of course have come from smaller pits dug elsewhere and now obscured or even from the large quarry above Cerne Abbas.
The Manor House opposite the Church was an original stone building, later extended using brick. Prominent in the front facade are pieces of sculpted Ham Hill Stone, probably sourced from the Church opposite during the rebuild in 1850. One assumes that Hastings Middleton would have had the pick of these, especially since he was financing the rebuild from his own pocket! We also saw a quoin stone that had marine fossil- shapes that had been replaced by dog tooth spar calcite crystals.
Text and photos by KJH JT and PJB, May 2018