Site of St Mary's Church and associated cemetery, 300m north west of Manor Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016723

Date first listed: 03-Aug-1961

Date of most recent amendment: 25-Nov-1999


Ordnance survey map of Site of St Mary's Church and associated cemetery, 300m north west of Manor Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Dorset

District: Purbeck (District Authority)

Parish: East Stoke

National Grid Reference: SY 86779 86753


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

A parish church is a building, usually of roughly rectangular outline and containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate to its use for Christian worship by a secular community, whose members gather in it on Sundays and on the occasion of religious festivals. Children are initiated into the Christian religion at the church's font and the dead are buried in its churchyard. Parish churches were designed for congregational worship and are generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provides accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which is the main domain of the priest and contains the principal altar. Either or both parts are sometimes provided with aisles, giving additional accommodation or spaces for additional altars. Most parish churches also possess towers, generally at the west end, but central towers at the crossing of nave and chancel are not uncommon and some churches have a free-standing or irregularly sited tower. Many parish churches also possess transepts at the crossing of chancel and nave, and south or north porches are also common. The main periods of parish church foundation were in the 10th to 11th and 19th centuries. Most medieval churches were rebuilt and modified on a number of occasions and hence the visible fabric of the church will be of several different dates, with in some cases little fabric of the first church being still easily visible. Parish churches are found throughout England. Their distribution reflects the density of population at the time they were founded. In regions of dispersed settlement parishes were often large and churches less numerous. The densest clusters of parish churches were found in thriving medieval towns. A survey of 1625 reported the existence of nearly 9000 parish churches in England. New churches built in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries increased numbers to around 18,000 of which 17,000 remain in ecclesiastical use. Parish churches have always been major features of the landscape and a major focus of life for their parishioners. They provide important insights into medieval and later population levels or economic cycles, religious activity, artistic endeavour and technical achievement. A significant number of surviving examples are identified to be nationally important.

The site of St Mary's Church survives as a partial ruin containing medieval fabric, along with foundation levels and associated buried features. The church does not appear to have been closely associated with a settlement, but lies 1.4km to the east of the Cistercian foundation at Bindon Abbey. It is therefore likely that the church served the non-lay community of the Abbey estate and/or its adjacent area. St Mary's Church represents an unusual survival, as it was abandoned in favour of a new foundation but displays no evidence for reuse or incorporation of its fabric into the new church, the new building having been completed before its predecessor was demolished. The associated cemetery has been closed since the abandonment of St Mary's Church in 1848 and will contain a range of burials and provide information concerning the health and lifestyle of the associated rural population throughout the 13th to early 19th centuries.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the site of St Mary's Church and an associated enclosed cemetery set upon a raised platform, situated on low lying ground to the south of the River Frome. The church and gravestones are Listed Grade II. The church building, which is now a ruin, was first recorded by the Sarum registers of 1306. It was described by Hutchins, a 19th century local historian, as `a small building which included a nave, chancel and tower'. The church was demolished in 1848, following the establishment of a new building in 1842, situated 600m to the north east. The surviving structural elements of the church indicate a building aligned north west by south east and suggest a floor-plan with dimensions of 7m by at least 10m. The flint wall foundations of the nave are visible along the northern and southern sides, where each extend for about 5m and survive to height of between 0.5m to 0.8m. The western end of the southern wall stands to a height of about 1.3m and includes a 15th century window jamb. Also at the south western end of the building, an ashlar dressed stone porch flanked the main entrance. The southern and eastern walls of the porch survive to a height of about 1.2m and these contain remnants of an arched doorway and a small window. On the outer side of the southern wall of the porch is an engraved sundial. The church is surrounded by a cemetery containing numerous gravestones of 17th and 18th century date, along with the remains of a table tomb on the south side of the church. Other unmarked graves from preceding periods will also be present throughout the area. The graveyard is defined by a raised rectangular platform, aligned north west by south east with maximum dimensions of 30m from north to south and 45m from east to west. The surrounding area lies on the river floodplain and is associated with other earthworks forming an area of water meadow. This includes a series of terraces, platforms, drainage channels and gullies, all of uncertain date and which are not included in the scheduling. All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 29087

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 275
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 275

End of official listing