All Hallows is for me a sad place. This one time thriving village stands just a mile or so from Wimborne St Giles and has gone by various names, including Wimborne All Hallows, Wymborn Karentham, Wimborne All Saints, and simply All Hallows. It has always been linked to St Giles, the nearby village which ultimately became Wimborne St Giles, and its church, dating back to Norman times, was at one time the main church of the area with just a small chapel of ease in the larger neighbouring village. That was until the 17th/18th century when it all changed.
In 1672, the First Earl of Shaftesbury whose seat, St Giles House, stood, and in fact still stands, in Wimborne St Giles requested that the two parishes be combined by closing the living at All Hallows, offering King Charles II a living of his choice in exchange for his agreement. Permission was subsequently granted and some 70 years later All Hallows Church was demolished, the stone being used to build a new church just a short distance from the then Fourth Earl’s home.
By this act, the heart was torn out of the village of All Hallows, and especially out of its graveyard, and it went into decline. Today, the now churchless churchyard stands overgrown and unkempt, with broken down graves and leaning headstones covered in ivy. Although the neglect provides some great photographic opportunities, as neglect often does, it is sad that the people who lie here are no longer remembered generations later.
It was visiting this graveyard some years ago that inspired me to write a poem which I entitled ‘Who Cares?’, with that title posing a genuine question rather than an oft used throw away comment of disdain.
Faceless names upon the stone,
No one knows, they are gone,
Ashes to ashes, no-one there,
Does anyone care?
Loved ones once, when alive,
But all too soon, their time to die,
Leaving this earth, with mourners there,
People around to care!
Generations passed, all forgot,
No-one now tends their final plot,
Overgrown and in disrepair,
Does anyone care?
I find myself wondering who these people were and what they were like. They once had family and friends who loved them and missed them greatly when they died but generations later, does anyone even think about them. Certainly no-one tends their graves.
Take the headstone above for instance – a John Rideout who died in 1862 in a work accident when a cart ran over him. The inscription reads:
‘To the memory of John Rideout who died Feb 22 1862 from the injuries he received by a waggon running over him.
Aged 58 years
This stone is erected by M Pardy in whose father’s service as well as his own he was for 36 years a true and faithful carter’
A quick bit of research reveals that John Rideout lived in a cottage in All Hallows and was employed at All Hallows Farm, which is right next door to the graveyard, as a carter for 36 years. This was a substantial farm that employed many, and the rather grand farmhouse is still there. John Rideout was married to Jane who was 10 years his junior, and they had 5 children, most of whom probably also worked at the farm – certainly two of them are described as a milk boy and a plough boy in the 1851 census at the ages of 12 and 10 respectively. Clearly, John Rideout’s employers must have thought highly of him for them to erect this memorial.
There are many such graves in this redundant and overgrown churchyard, but there is only one which remains relatively unscathed from the ravages of time and that is the grave of Henry Lowry-Corry, younger son of the Earl of Belmont, and his wife, Lady Harriet Ashley-Cooper, daughter of the 6th Earl of Shaftesbury. Since the Earl of Belmont is an Irish peerage, it seems that Henry must have moved into his wife’s family seat.
Just as an aside, it is interesting to note that of the 12 Earls of Shaftesbury, all but two have borne the name Anthony Ashley-Cooper. The current, 12th, Earl is one of the two exceptions, inheriting the title when his older brother, also named Anthony, died in 2005 without an heir.
If you were to walk this area, as I did last week when I took these pictures, you could be forgiven for not even noticing that there was a village there. With no church, even the graveyard could easily be missed. This is a place with a history though, albeit a history that has been swallowed up into that of Wimborne St Giles, and people like John Rideout played their part in that.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings.
Until next time,
The Dorset Rambler
If you would like to contact me, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org – comments and feedback are always welcomed.
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This is one I’d never heard of before! Us there anything remaining at all of the church itself or any houses?
Well I’ve never found evidence of the church but then, when I’m there, I’m usually on a walk somewhere so don’t have time to explore fully Becky. It doesn’t appear on any of my old maps. I’m going to go back and have a proper look round but I understand the watercress beds nearby have had an effect so maybe they were put in where the church was.
We now know where the church was roughly as was demolished to make way for the new church, I have found plenty of broken tiles which have been discarded and covered with soil plus a few other finds which all date within the time period so fingers crossed all will be revealed soon.
I think you will find the watercress beds were around during the time the church was still in use, at St Giles church you will find two stained glass windows which came from the original plus a piece of sculptured mason art. All of the material was recycled for churches around the area , you will not find a map showing the true location hence why I have arranged a geophysical survey
Thanks for sharing this lost history – I enjoyed reading about the little village.
Thanks Lynette 🙂
Hi, If you visit now you will find the cemetery accessible as I have removed all of the overgrowth. I am also finding tombs which have been unseen for decades which are now clear and visable, all the work I am doing there is on a totally voluntary basis with no funding, the Oldest tomb I found so far has the year of death as being 1694, But I believe there’s older ones are yet to be revealed. We have organised a geophysical survey of the site which will reveal the location of the church which is mentioned in the doomsday book plus will aid in finding hidden tombs/burials. My inspiration for doing this was from this actual page so many thanks Dorset Rambler and the poem you posted “ who Cares “ , I do have a lot of photos to view on my Facebook page which shows the work done so far, if you wish to view then you can send a friend request to Pete Shand has a photo of me stood behind my grandson on the York castle wall or failing that email Pshand67@gmail.com