STINSFORD

St. Michael

There is no Dorset church more closely connected with the architect and writer, Thomas Hardy, than Stinsford.  He was born at Higher Bockhampton in the parish in 1840 and his last home at Max Gate is only about a mile away.   He had wanted to be buried in the churchyard, but a grateful nation thought otherwise and his ashes lie in Westminster Abbey and only his heart is interred here.

The church is essentially 13c, although the tower is 14c, the north arcade 1630 and the building was altered several times by the Victorians, who removed the musicians' gallery and box pews.  A barrel organ was then installed and the church band abolished, much to the disgust of the Hardy family, who had provided many of the musicians. 

The nave had a 16c barrel roof, which did not survive the Victorians, but the timbers remain.  Note the excellent chancel arch, with rich deep mouldings and on the southern side a hagioscope and recess, which used to house a stairway to the rood screen.

The most informative church guide quotes Thomas Hardy, "If an organ be really required I should say, speaking for myself alone, that the old west gallery should be re-erected for it..."  These words proved to be remarkable because in 1996 a new gallery and organ were installed as a result of the generosity of Richard Purdy of Yale University, who endowed the church and churchyard in commemoration of Florence Hardy.