Dorset

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Churches which still retain west gallery features or connections

*Abbotsbury, St Nicholas North gallery removed 1885. 1808 west gallery survives. Huge C18 reredos of wood. The chancel has a moulded plaster ceiling. Jacobean canopied pulpit, complete with Civil War (?) bullet holes.
*Allington, dedication not known
Blandford Forum, St Peter & St Paul The church and town were destroyed in 1731 by a devastating fire, and the whole place was rebuilt by a local family of builders and architects, by the name of Bastard.   John Bastard was responsible for the rebuilding of the church during the period 1731-1739, and the interior has remained largely as it was in his time without the interference of Victorian reformers. It retains its galleries, font, pulpit, box-pews and mayoral seat.

In 1794 a gallery was built for new organ - which is the date on Royal Arms in centre. Extended 1819 and 1837. Extensions removed 1971. #

The whole church was cleverly extended in 1893 when the apsidal sanctuary was moved on rollers and set down on new foundations, the resultant gap being infilled to make a new chancel. (CEPC)
Castleton (Sherborne), dedication not known Church built 1715. It has a West gallery and a reused Jacobean stair.
Chalbury, dedication unknown Originally 13th C. with a 14th C, east window and timber bell-cote. The interior was refitted in the 19th C. and has escaped Victorianisation. The division between chancel and nave takes the form of a triple arch supported on slender wooden columns.

Box-pews, triple-decker, west gallery, and clear glass in the windows. (CEPC)
Charlton Marshall, St Mary Rebuilt in 1715, probably by the same family as at Blandford, the interior retains much of its Georgian atmosphere, with clear glass, 18th C. altar rails and a canopied pulpit.
Chickerell, Dedication not known N aisle with piers made from cast iron and an incised slab with a priest on it (rather rare in Dorset). W gallery, Norman font and
Jacobean pulpit.
Easton, St George A pulpit and a reading desk take up the centre of the
church. Galleries to the S, N and W. A nice pedestal font.
East Stour, Dedication not known Inside the church is a purbeck font with the usual blank arches and a lecturn with an C18 wooden pelican. The church is cross-shaped and has galleries to the N & S.
Folke (nr. Leweston), Dedication not known Some 3 miles south of Sherborne, this 1628 church contains benches, communion table railings, hour glass stand, hatchments, screen, lectern with panelling, stalls, 2 decker  pulpit,  font & cover, and  windows similar to Leweston, all of 1628.  (Info: P Shepherd)   
Hazelbury Bryan, St Mary & St James Canopied pulpit.
Horton, St Wolfrida Said to contain Georgian fittings, but are they of the west gallery period?
Leweston, Dedication not known A 'purpose built' 2cell chapel of 1616 for Sir John Fitzjames, the then Lord of the Manor. Benches with rounded ends,  patterned and wall panelling, reredos, two-decker pulpit with tester; all of 1616.  Also a 13th Cent. undecorated font.  (Info: P Shepherd)   
*Lyme Regis, St Michael West gallery dated 1611.

Inscription on the gallery - " IOHN HASSARD BUILT THIS TO THE GLORIE OF ALMIGHTIE GOD IN THE EIGHTIETH YEARE OF HIS AGE ANO DOMINI 1611 " Additional words "seven times Mayor" have been lost.

N and S galleries removed 1885, but the canopied pulpit and lectern, which remain, also date from the 17th C.
Over Compton, dedication not known This contains several monuments, one with early C19 figure. Two decker pulpit. Several hatchments.
Poole, St James SZ 008904. Church built 1820. Galleries.
Portland, St George Church built 1777 to the designs of Mr. Gilbert. The interior remains as it was built, with box-pews, west gallery and transept galleries, and twin pulpits.
Puddletown, St Mary West gallery, with turned balusters, dated 1635 .

Archbishop Laud's visitation led to the conclusion that a pillar needed strengthening, the seats were not decent and were much decayed, and more seating was needed. A meeting of parishioners on August 10th 1634 decided to reseat the church throughout, strengthen the pillar and arch, make a pulpit and prayer desk, provide a communion table and rails, build a west gallery with seats, and provide a new font cover. All of these furnishings still survive in situ. The estimated cost of £130 was to be raised by subscriptions, by a levy of 5/- on seat holders, and by "five ordinary single rates."

A 1637 seating plan survives, when the sexes were segregated. Another of 1679 shows them no longer separated. The gallery was intended for extra seating, but for a long time served as a musicians' gallery.

Puddletown = Weatherbury in Hardy's novels. Hardy says that his grandfather when a young man, before 1800, lived in Puddletown and played violoncello in church. He later became a member of the Stinsford choir, by which time Puddletown had eight instrumentalists and Stinsford only four, all Hardys. Hardy's father told him that at Puddletown "in the time of the violin, oboe and clarionet players, Tom Sherren used to copy tunes during the sermon."

In 1845 a barrel organ was introduced and the band (two clarinets, a piccolo, a bassoon, and two bass viols) dispensed with. See note
under Bere Regis, below.

In 1852 a small manual organ replaced the barrel organ, which was sold to Bere Regis. The present organ was built 1906 and stands in the gallery, which is still used by the choir. (Dorset churches leaflet)

There are also box-pews. #

This church is where Sergeant Troy buries Fanny Robin, after which he falls asleep: "He groped along the wall and over the graves in the dark till he found himself round at the north side. Here he entered the porch, and reclining upon the bench within, fell asleep."

Radipole, dedication not known C17 bellcote with three openings - unusual. Near a busy road and not far from Weymouth and open when visited. The pews inside have pretty paintings on the ends. West gallery and a few minor tablets.
Stinsford, St Michael SY712910  "The organ stood on one side of the chancel, close to and under the immediate eye of the vicar when he was in the pulpit and also in full view of the congregation. Here [Fancy Day] sat down, for the first time in such a conspicuous position...." (Under The Greenwood Tree Part IV, Chapter V)

In December, 1996, the newly-restored West Gallery of St. Michael's was rededicated, and a new organ, replacing this one, was set there. Incidentally, Hardy himself once recommended the restoration of the West Gallery -- with the organ placed there.

Tarrant Rawston, dedication not known West gallery (Dorset churches leaflet)
*West Stafford, St Andrew The fabric of this mediaeval church was refitted circa 1640, and the fittings include a west gallery. (Some sources, however, say the gallery is 18th C.} #
West Stour, Dedication not known A small church with a S tower-cum-porch. Open. Jacobean
pulpit. Much mediaeval woodwork now incorporated into the west gallery and a cupboard.
*Weymouth, St Mary, Melcombe Regis "Harmonises admirably with its Georgian setting" (CEPC)

Does this include galleries and pulpit?
*Winterbourne Abbas, St Mary The north gallery is dated 1701, and now houses the organ.)

"It will surprise many to learn how recently Dorset church bands were to be heard. That at Winterborne Abbas did not disappear till 1881; the last band disappeared in 1895."    ([S & G]  -  Screens and Galleries : Francis Bond , 1908)
*Winterborne Steepleton, St Michael The west gallery with turned balusters is dated 1708. #
*Winterborne Tomson, St Andrew Adjacent the old Manor House, this church was fashioned in early in the 18th C., and restored after a long spell of disuse, in memory of Thomas Hardy. Early 18th C. furnishings, including a west gallery and box-pews. The gallery is formed from the mediaeval rood loft and is reached by ladder. (CEPC) #
   
   

Churches which are known to have had west gallery features or connections

*Abbotsbury, St Nicholas North gallery removed in 1885.
Bere Regis, St John the Baptist West gallery (with barrel organ - now in Dorset County Museum) removed in 1875 during renovations by Sir George Street. (Tim Colquhoun, Organist at Bere Regis & Puddletown).
The barrel organ originally came from Puddletown (Dorset) when in 1852 the mechanism was sold to the Church Wardens at Bere Regis. (The Choir, July 1934, p. 150, article by Canon Galpin). 2 of the original 5 barrels survive. (C&C B-O)
Bradford Abbas, St Mary Gallery removed in 1865
Bridport, St Mary Reference to the galleries being removed 1859-60 during major restoration work. 
Burton Bradstock, Dedication not known West gallery extended in 19th C. and north gallery added. Removed 1897.
Charminster, St Mary 18th C. gallery removed in 1897

Chapels which are known to have, or have had west gallery features or connections

Longham, Congregational Chapel Chapel built 1841, and contains a west gallery.
   
   
Asterisks denote churches in preparation

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This site has been constructed by, and remains the copyright of, its authors,
Edwin and Sheila Macadam,

Shelwin, 30, Eynsham Road, Botley,
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July 2001 -