St. Mary the Virgin

     Click here for Chancel detail

The Church sits firmly in the centre of this charming village on rising ground.  There has been a building here since the middle of 12c, but as with most country churches, it has evolved and been altered by successive generations.  The most outstanding features remaining from the original are the magnificent chancel arch, complete with typical dog-tooth moulding, and the lowest stage of the tower.  The Church guide suggests that some of the gargoyles may have come from the Norman building.

The north and south aisles are 14c.  There are squints (hagioscopes) on both sides of the chancel arch and these would have given a view of the high altar, so that the raising of the host could be synchronised in the aisle chapels.  Above the squint, originally reached by a wooden stair, there is a 15c doorway, which would once have led to the rood loft.  The south doorway, within the porch, is also 15c and features some elaborate and important carving.

By 1848, when the Rev. Thomas Sanctuary arrived (pictured above), the church was in a dilapidated state and anyway too small to accommodate the growing congregation.  The architect, John Hicks of Dorchester was employed (1854 -59) to rebuild the north arcade of pillars, open the west arch leading into the tower to provide more seating (after the galleries were removed) and rebuild the chancel.

The floriated design painted on the walls of the nave is the work of Mrs. Sanctuary, the vicar's wife.  Further exquisite wall painting can be found in the chancel and this was done by a Miss Gunning, whose father was an Archdeacon.

There is a 13c font, which was at one time relegated to the churchyard, but reinstated in 1972; a Victorian black marble one being removed. (note the floor tiling is almost identical to North Poorton)  The brilliant Caen stone pulpit is by R.L.Boulton of Worcester and very similar to the North Poorton pulpit.  The superb reading desk is by Wellspring.

The Rev. Thomas Sanctuary, vicar 1848 - 89 is worthy of comment because he became Archdeacon of Dorset and was responsible for not only rebuilding Powerstock, but North Poorton and West Milton as well.  When he arrived in the village it had a reputation for being very wild and he was offered the living because he had been a boxing Blue!

For those who are interested in wall painting, there is an intriguing connection with the East Holme church in the Purbecks.  (See towards the end of the description).