Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of CHURCH OF ST MARY
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Weymouth and Portland (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SY 67964 78823



SY6778NE ST MARY STREET 873-1/23/303 (East side) 12/12/53 Church of St Mary


Anglican parish church. Begun 1815, consecrated 23 March 1817. By James Hamilton; major restoration 1922. Portland stone ashlar, probably on brickwork core (RCHME), slate roof. PLAN: a plain pedimented hall, with bell turret and cupola, covering nave, shallow sanctuary, and galleries to 3 sides. At the W end is a square vestibule, flanked by gallery stairs; this area has been modified by extending a large ante-room under the gallery in the C20. At the E end are small vestries, and flanking gallery stairs, plus a small further vestry attached to the S side, later extended. The aisles have been enclosed by screen walls under the galleries both sides. EXTERIOR: an austere design in Palladian mode, in 2 storeys, under a wide, low-pitched roof. The entrance front has a broad central coped gable carrying a square bell turret with entablature, and an elliptical leaded cupola on 8 slender Doric columns. Beneath this is the main pedimented front with plain frieze and ovolo-mould cornice, and with 2 oculi, on giant Doric pilasters in 1:2:2:1 rhythm. At first floor are 3 arched windows, the central light multi-pane with radial bars, flanked by 2-light windows with Bramantesque tracery, to a deep sill band, broken at the pilasters. Ground floor has 3 paired fielded panelled doors under decorative fanlights, on 3 stone steps. A plain plinth all round. The N and S sides are nearly identical, with arched windows at first floor in 2:3:2 rhythm, the centre group stepped slightly forward. These contain a cruciform iron armature and leaded panes, and are set to the deep sill band; on the N side the westernmost window is a blind opening. The ground-floor lights are square, under tripartite stone lintels and to stooled sills, with armature and leading. The main entablature and blocking crown these flanks. There are 2 early round lead downpipes each side. On the S side there are ventilation openings with cast-iron grilles below and between the windows, and to the plinth. At the E end of the S side is a small contemporary flat-roofed vestry, with a later extension. The E end has a large plain pediment with a blind lunette over 3 blind arched lights set to the sill band, and at ground floor a central blind light flanked by small 6-panel doors under fanlights. INTERIOR: the snall square vestibule has a stone floor,

matchboard dado, and moulded cornice. A pair of part-glazed doors under decorative fanlight gives to an inner lobby, under the gallery, with 4 quadrilobed columns. The floor is partly of stone ledger-slabs and partly wood. To each side are fine 6-panel doors in moulded cases, and a central wide pair of doors. Flanking the vestibule, approached from the external doors and from the inner lobby, are stone dogleg staircases with simple iron balustrades. The nave has a plastered segmental vault carried on very flat arches on 6 quadrilobe-plan cast-iron columns each side, with the flat gallery ceilings beyond; centred to the vault is a large plaster rosette. The windows are set to deep plain embrasures. There are 4 further identical columns to the rear balcony projection, but these are taken only to the underside of the balcony. At half-height, partly concealing the columns, is the panelled balcony front on a 3-part entablature; the front is carried across the W end through quadrant curves. Each balcony panel bears a low relief painted coat of arms at its centre, including that of Sir Christopher Wren at the W end: Wren was MP for Melcombe Regis in 1685-7 and 1701-2. The aisles, formerly open to the nave, are enclosed by concrete block walls beneath the gallery, with continuous curtaining to each bay. At the E end, before the sanctuary, are recessed quadrants with panelled doors, to the vestries and aisles. The E wall carries a large painting of the Last Supper, by Sir James Thornhill, on canvas, with a segmental head, carefully reflected in the main vault; a long inscription includes the date, 1721. This is above a flat reredos in 3 panels, with 4 fluted Corinthian pilasters, framing the Pater Noster, Creed, and Commandments, under an entablature with dentilled cornice. A lofty pulpit to the right; the C20 altar table has been brought forward of the original position, at the E end of the nave. In the W gallery is the organ, with early C19 case including palmette decoration, and a grille behind the organist's seat. At the E end of the S gallery are some sections of painted Gothic panelling, forming an enclosed room, brought from the demolished Christ Church; this also carries Creed and Commandment painted boards. FITTINGS: the nave, with stone floor to the central aisle, has bench pews on a wooden floor, but in the raked galleries original box pews are retained, curved from aisles to W gallery. The many monuments and floor-slabs are detailed in RCHME (p 33). The porch has benefactors' boards each side. The Royal Arms of George III are at the E end of the N aisle, and in the S aisle is a baroque cartouche with amorini, supporting the Arms of Weymouth. There are also a freestanding lion and

unicorn, on pedestals. STAINED GLASS: most windows have plain glass, but in the S aisle one light is a war memorial with coloured glass. HISTORICAL NOTE: the mother church for the area was St Ann, at Radipole (qv); a Chantry chapel was located here in 1699, but a Chapel-of-ease was first built on the site of St Mary's in 1605. This remained until the rebuilding of 1815; the old church was demolished through Act of Parliament. The present church remains very much as left by Hamilton, except for the enclosure of the under-gallery spaces, and loss of the nave pews. Sir James Thornhill was born in Melcombe Regis in 1675, and died in Weymouth in 1734. The reredos painting is said to have cost »300. (RCHME: Dorset, South-East: London: 1970-: 332; Ricketts E: The Buildings of Old Weymouth: Melcombe Regis and Westham: Weymouth: 1976-: 83; Guide to St Mary's Church: Weymouth: 1958-; The Buildings of England: Newman J & Pevsner N: Dorset: London: 1972-: 450).

Listing NGR: SY6796478823


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

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Books and journals
Inventory of Dorset II South East, (1970), 332
Guide to St Marys Church Weymouth, (1958)
Pevsner, N, Newman, J, The Buildings of England: Dorset, (1972), 450
Ricketts, E , The Buildings of Old Weymouth Melcombe Regis and Westham, (1975), 83


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

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