CHURCH OF ST MARK (INCLUDING TOWER)
1868-70 by George Evans & W.J. Fletcher of Wimborne. New nave by Guy Pound, 1986-7.
MATERIALS: Swanage and Stalbridge stone with dressings probably of Doulting stone. Blue slate roofs.
PLAN: Aisleless four-bay nave with transepts, two-bay chancel, north-east vestry, west tower. Porch on the south side of the tower (enlarged 1970). Big new nave to the north (i.e. forming a T-shape). Church halls to the south-west, with a glazed link.
EXTERIOR: Of the 19th church, the style is E.E., although the proportions and plan of the west tower borrow from Perp. The tower is of four stages, with angle buttresses finishing at the base of the bell stage, and a semicircular north-east stair turret. Clock faces in moulded stone frames. The bell-openings have two lights with a trefoil in plate tracery, and are flanked by two plain blind lancets. The parapet is flat. The rest of the church has Geometric bar tracery, the east window is of three lights with carved dripstones.
INTERIOR: The interior walls are of brick, now plastered and painted. The moulded chancel arch is on polished marble shafts with carved corbels. Arch-braced collar-beam roof with diagonal boarding, and carved spandrels in the braces. The chancel roof is similar, with more elaborate carved wallplates. Exceptionally good carved corbels to the chancel; the floor here is laid with encaustic tiles. The nave is much simpler: plain tiled floors, moulded corbels to the principal roof timbers; tower arch on shafts with moulded capitals. Three Gothic arches of traditional form open north into the new nave,
PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The old nave has bench pews of light oak (c. 1986) facing north as the rear seats to the new nave. The former chancel is arranged as a chapel, with facing stalls of similar design to the new nave. The octagonal pulpit (c. 1870) is of Caen stone with lancet openings in each face on shafts of red Italian marble. Beneath the west tower is a white marble font, a Roman piece found in fragments in the Tiber and given by Sir George Talbot. The broad shallow bowl sits in a short column-like stem, on a square plinth. Stained glass: the east window is by Lawrence Lee, 1979, depicting St Mark, with the church bottom right. The full-height window at the north of the nave has a yellow cross emerging from greeny-blues.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: Altered by Guy Pound, 1985-6; a big new nave was pushed out northwards from the old nave. The new nave is of cast concrete blocks faced with hammer-dressed rubble; it has steep roofs with overhanging eaves, and a full-height end window. The north vestry was added after 1955; the south porch enlarged in 1970. From the porch, a glazed corridor runs westward to a big hall by Jackson Greenen Down & Partners, 1992, of similar design to the new nave. St Mark stands like the estate church of a country house in a very big churchyard planted with mature pines, and surrounded by woodland, through which the cottages of Talbot village are scattered.
HISTORY: St Mark was built as the 'serious conclusion' (Pevsner) of Talbot Village (1850 - c. 1870s), a philanthropic venture by Georgina and Mary Anne Talbot, daughters of Sir George Talbot of London. They hoped to alleviate the poverty of local people whose rights on the commons had been removed by the Enclosure Act of 1822. The sisters began their model community in countryside north-west of the town in 1850, building six farms, seven almshouses, a school and nineteen cottages, each with a well, a pigsty and an acre of land. The cottage designs came mostly from J.C. Loudon's Encyclopaedia of Cottage, Farm, and Villa Architecture (1834). The Talbot Village Trust continues as a charitable foundation. The contractor for the church was Mr McWilliam of Bournemouth, with carving by Richard Lockwood Boulton. The cost was c. £5,000, relatively inexpensive for a church at that date. The architect George Evans of Wimborne (c. 1800-73), was the son of William Evans, County Surveyor of Dorset. George succeeded his father to this post in 1842, and was joined before 1868 by Walter John Fletcher (c. 1842-1913). Extensive late C20 alterations and extensions.
N. Pevsner and D. Lloyd, Buildings of England, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, 1967, 124 and 130.
Mildred Gillett, Talbot Village, A Unique Village in Dorset, 1850, 1993, (1993).
C.L. Medlicott and W.A. Camp, St Mark's Church, Talbot Village, 1996.
H. Colvin, Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, (1995), 356-7.
RIBA Directory of British Architects 1834-1914, 619.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
The Church of St Mark is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Good Gothic work by the local firm of Evans and Fletcher, with a severe and impressive tower.
* A vital element in the completion of Talbot Village, an ambitious philanthropic venture begun in 1850.
* Good carved work by R.L. Boulton of Cheltenham, probably including the pulpit of Caen stone and marble.
* The font is an Antique Roman bowl of white marble, an unusual instance of classical items in an Anglican context.
* The Victorian work now forms the centre of a complex of structures of the 1980s and later.