Charminster takes its name from a combination of Celtic words. 'Cerne' and 'Char' have the same meaning, so Charminster simply means a church by the River Cerne. For a village church this must surely rate amongst the superlatives. It is magnificent and has origins in the 12th century, but all that remains today is the impressive nave with early pointed arches to the arcades and the round-headed chancel arch with nail-head decoration on the west side. The original chancel was demolished in C17 when the arch was partially blocked with an east window set in it. The present smaller structure was probably built in 1838 and is very restrained, being serenely simple and peaceful. By the late C19 the church was in a poor state and C.E. Ponting of Marlborough, who was the diocesan architect, was briefed to carry out a major restoration. This proved to be an inspired choice because he approached the work with great sensitivity. He would have liked a new, larger chancel to follow the footings of the original, but in the end it was left as it now is.
The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©
Above, are beautifully executed roof timbers and there are the remains of some C15 wall paintings. These were discovered in 1890s and restored in 1969. The pulpit is dated 1635. There is a sumptuous memorial to Grace Pole, a Trenchard daughter, who died in 1638, which was restored in 1970. The organ, housed in the north aisle, was originally built in 1906 by Norman and Beard of Norwich for a convent in Kilburn. It was bought by the PCC in 1957 and completely rebuilt by W.G Voles of Bristol with a remote console controlling an electro-pneumatic action.
The western tower was erected early in the 16th century by Thomas Trenchard, a local landowner who lived at nearby Wolfeton House and entertained the Spanish royal family when they landed at Melcombe Regis in 1506. It is perpendicular in style and very striking. The font under the tower is probably C12, but re-cut and shaped C15.
This is one of the most important and beautiful churches in Dorset, which is well worth a visit. There is an excellent and informative church guide.