Tag Archives: chapel

Curious Dorset Churches – Part 4

4 May

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

Today, we are going to look at a tiny chapel that is totally different to anything I have featured here before and yet one which has connections with the church at Moreton, about which I posted yesterday. But what is the connection?

St Catherine by the Sea, Holworth

St Catherine by the Sea, Holworth

St Catherine by the Sea, Holworth

This is St Catherine by the Sea and it stands in a tiny coastal hamlet known as Holworth which is half way up the western flank of the White Nothe headland – or half way down of course, depending on how you look at it 🙂 ! This is not an old church in the normal sense since it was built less than a hundred years ago in 1926, but since then it has been extended and refurbished.

Holworth Church

The Beautiful Interior

It may resemble a garden shed from the outside, but inside it is a delight! With the light pouring in, the timber just comes alive, and there is a wonderfully peaceful atmosphere about this place. There is something else that sets this lovely chapel apart from other churches though, and that is its position right on the Dorset Coast Path overlooking the sea. Surely this church has as good a view as any in the country.

Holworth Church

The View from the Graveyard with the Cross that Once Stood on the Cliff Edge

Outside of the tiny church is an equally tiny grave yard. Only a few rest here and they are either local residents or those who died at sea nearby. In fact, in terms of residents, there are few remaining in what has always been the smallest of hamlets since some of the cottages are now holiday homes. Some of the homes that remain, sit perilously close to the crumbling cliff edge and one wonders how long they will last.

St Catherine by the Sea, Holworth

Tiny Church, Tiny Graveyard

So what is it that connects this minuscule, hidden away gem with yesterday’s world renowned church at Moreton? Well the answer lies in that east window. These three panes were etched by Simon Whistler, an engraver and musician, son of Sir Lawrence Whistler who engraved the windows at the more famous church. The style is similar and of course there are only three panes but they are certainly equally beautiful. The window is in fact a memorial to a local farmer and to the victim of a notorious murder on Wimbledon Common.

The East Window

The East Window

The Church

The Church Etched in its Own Window

I walk this part of the Dorset coast all the time, and I regularly stop off at this delightful chapel to sit and pray or meditate, perhaps to eat lunch, or maybe to just sit and soak up that amazing view across White Nothe and out to sea. Surely there can be nothing better.

This church may not have the ancient history of some of those in my other posts, but for its position, the fact that it is still an active place of worship, its wonderful ambience, and its sheer quirkiness, it surely deserves a place in my list of curious Dorset churches.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

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Theme for the Week – Ruined Churches in Dorset Part 1

16 Apr

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

Its that time again; time to start a new theme for the coming week, and our theme this week is Ruined Churches in Dorset. These are all remote and damaged in some way, some more so than others. But all have a magnificent heritage and have contributed to peoples’ lives down through the years. Its this impact on people’s lives that I like to celebrate even if the buildings are no longer used, because life is about people. Our first church stands on a high hill top like a beacon for all around – this is St Catherine’s Chapel.

St Catherine’s Chapel

The sun sets on St Catherine's Chapel

St Catherine’s at Sunset

St Catherine’s stands on a hilltop above Abbotsbury village. There are no records of its construction but it has been dated by experts to be from the 14th century, and it was built as a place of retreat and pilgrimage for monks from the Benedictine Abbotsbury Abbey that sat in the valley below. The hill on which it stands is some 260 feet high and there are fantastic views across Chesil Beach and Portland. Because of its prominent position, it was used as a navigation aid by seamen and it may be that this is why it still exists today because it was saved whilst the abbey itself was destroyed at the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century.

St Catherine's Chapel

St Catherine’s Chapel

The chapel is not unique but is one of very few that were built by monks outside of the main abbey grounds. It is constructed of this lovely golden coloured ashlar limestone and although it was renovated in both the 18th and 20th century, it is largely unchanged apart from the missing stained glass and interior furniture. This is a truly magnificent building with heavily buttressed walls that are 4 feet thick. Even the roof is constructed of stone. Both of these things have enabled it to stand up to the elements down through the centuries. It really does have a solid feel to it!

Peace

The East Window Minus Stained Glass

The chapel is dedicated to St Catherine which is a rare dedication. She was, though, a very popular figure in medieval times and she was the patron saint of spinsters, especially those seeking a husband (the Catherine Wheel firework was named after her because of the nature of her execution). Traditionally, young women would come to this chapel to pray to her for a husband and there are niches carved in the east jamb of the south doorway for the knees and hands especially for this purpose. These are known as ‘wishing holes’. One of the specific prayers goes:

“A husband St Catherine, a handsome one St Catherine, a rich one St Catherine, a nice one St Catherine, and soon St Catherine.” 

Often the prayer would end with, “Arn-a-one’s better than narn-a-one” which in Dorset dialect meant, ‘any one is better than never a one’.

On Chapel Hill

St Catherine’s on its Hilltop

St Catherine’s has a long heritage but it has still not been completely retired as some informal services are still held there on occasion. It also provides a good home for doves as you can see in the picture above and it is an amazing place to spend a few hours just drinking in the fabulous views.

It was built on its hilltop site to be impressive and some 700 years later, although semi derelict, it is still as impressive as ever!

Thanks for stopping by.

Until tomorrow,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.