Sturminster Marshall is a sprawling village and, like so many others near Bournemouth and Poole, it is growing quickly. The church of St Mary lies on the northern edge of the settlement opposite thatched cottages and a popular pub, with the river Stour and the famous medieval bridge in the distance.
The building looks ancient, and the tower wants you to think that it belongs to the 15c, like so many others in the county. It is not quite right and the fact is that the tower belongs to 1801 and the rest to a rather over energetic restoration by Henry Woodyer of 1858. Nevertheless, it is an impressive church standing on the ancient foundations of a much earlier building.
Inside, the work of the Victorians is more obvious. As soon as you enter, one is struck by the ornate brilliantly white and gold chancel screen liberally decked out with pinnacles. The barrel roof is impressive and there is some good quality woodwork in the choir. The building is blessed with very high quality glass, typical of the period, that has stood the test time well. Among some interesting memorials is one recording the millennium of Alfred the Great in memory of Queen Victoria with the words "I desire to live worthily all my days, that after death I might leave to my successors a memory of good work done". Another is a 17c funeral helm, displayed high up on a wall.