Tag Archives: curious

St Edwold’s Church – Dorset’s Smallest

8 Jun

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

So we are on the trail of a bit more ‘Quirky Dorset’ and today we visit another church. Tiny, insignificant, remote, and with an unusual dedication. This is St Edwold’s Church in the tiny hamlet of Stockwood.

St Edwold’s Church, Stockwood

The smallest church

St Edwold’s Church, Stockwood

There are two curious things about St Edwold’s, and the first is its dedication. St Edwold was the brother of Edmund, King of East Anglia who was brutally murdered in 870 AD by a Dane with the somewhat unusual name of Ivarr the Boneless. Edwold declined to take his brother’s crown, preferring to adopt a hermit lifestyle which eventually led him to Cerne Abbas in Dorset where he settled until his death. It is thought that Edwold, in addition to Cerne, had a cell at Stockwood, hence the church’s dedication. It is unusual in that it is the only church in Dorset, or indeed in the country, to be dedicated to him.

The second curious thing is the size of the church which is just 30 feet by 12 feet making it the smallest in Dorset and the second smallest in England.

The smallest church

The Simple Interior

St Edwold’s is a simple, single cell church which dates mainly from the 15th century with some later additions. Because of its dedication however, experts believe that it was built on much older foundations going back to Saxon times. The porch was added in the 17th century as was the delightful pillared bell turret. Internally, the font, altar rails, and pews all date from the 19th century. The church is now in the hands of the Churches Conservation Trust.

The Bell

The Beautiful Pillared Bell Turret

Stockwood itself is a tiny hamlet in North Dorset comprising just a few cottages and a farm. In fact, the church is situated right beside the farmhouse and when you visit it, you almost feel like you are trespassing on private land. Despite its centuries long heritage, the graveyard beside the church has just 10 graves and only four headstones.

The Church Door

The View from the 17th Century Porch

St Edwold’s Church was a delightful find which I came across whilst on a walk in the area. Its remote location makes it a peaceful place to visit, and because there are so few houses in the area, you cannot help but wonder at its past and about the people who worshipped here. It is another of those wonderful, mysterious Dorset places which I love.

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.

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Quirky Dorset – Part 13

11 May

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

Today, we are looking at another Dorset curiosity, and one over which several theories have been put forward. It is something which is totally incongruous with its surroundings and which seemingly cannot be totally explained, which just adds to its air of mystery. This is the Agglestone.

The Agglestone

Agglestone - a Dorset curiosity

The Agglestone

The Agglestone is a massive lump of ferruginous sandstone, weighing some 500 tons and it stands on a flat topped conical hill in the middle of Black Heath near Studland. The mystery is caused by the fact that, apart from a much smaller neighbour known as the Puckstone, this rock is totally out of keeping with the boggy heathland which surrounds it.

Tradition has it that the rock was hurled by the devil one night when he stood at the Needles on the Isle of Wight and was intending to destroy Corfe Castle. He missed his target by some way, the stone landing harmlessly on the heath.

On the heathlands

Black Heath with The Agglestone

In truth, no one has been able to properly explain why the stone is there but there are several theories. One says that it was a remnant of the last ice age and that it was a ‘one-off’, deposited by a glacier on the heath and that it stands on a hilltop because the surrounding heathland has been eroded around it, much in the way that tors stand on their hilltops on moorlands. Another theory suggests that there was much more of this stone in this area but the rest has all been quarried away, theorising that this heath was once one massive quarry. This theory suggests it was the quarrymen who left the Agglestone deliberately as a relic as they sometimes did.

Either way, this stone is clearly natural and has not been put in place by man. However, there are suggestions that its shape has been modified by human intervention. This becomes more clear if you look at older pictures because at one time the rock stood higher and had a flat top, making it very much like an anvil. In addition, there were at one time quite a few smaller and neatly square blocks of similar stone surrounding it. These appeared to have been cut, but why were they left?

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 12.07.02

The Agglestone Long Before its Collapse (Published by Climenson in 1906)

Some years ago, probably in the 1950’s, its base eroded and the rock tipped over on its side, leaving it sloping as we see it today.

It would seem that whether it was a large quarry or just a single massive stone,  some quarrying activity was carried out, modifying the shape of the Agglestone. Suggestions that the undercutting might have been natural and caused by sandblasting by the wind seem doubtful since there are no large areas of sand in the vicinity. It is possible though that the lower rock is perhaps softer and has just been eroded to its anvil shape by rain and frost damage. We will probably never know the truth!

Agglestone View

The View from the Base of the Agglestone

There are so many unanswered questions surrounding the Agglestone – why was it there in the first place, why was its anvil shape so neat, why was it surrounded by neatly squared blocks of stone, why does it sit on a flattened hilltop, and so on. There is a real air of intrigue about it!

I well remember my first visit here in my younger days, walking the heath in the last light of the day. Suddenly, this massive structure loomed out of the gloom. It was extremely imposing and it made a real impression on me. Now, I visit regularly just to revisit that mystery and to drink in the amazing views from its lofty perch.

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.