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St. Mary, Wareham, Dorset


The parish church of St. Mary is an ancient edifice of stone, consisting of chancel, clerestoried nave of four bays, aisles, with south chapel, western porch, and an embattled western tower containing 8 bells: the chapel in the south aisle is said to be the burial place of the Anglo-Saxon kings, and here reposed for three years the remains of Edward the Martyr, who was murdered at Corfe Castle by Elfrida ; his bones were then removed with much pomp and ceremony by St. Dunstan and a numerous train of monks to Shaftesbury: the font, of the 11th century, is of lead, hexagonal in form, mounted on a solid base of Purbeck marble, and on the sides are carved figures, representing the Twelve Apostles, in high relief: in 1841 a fine sarcophagus, of Purbeck marble, was discovered in the chapel, and is supposed to have been the receptacle for the body of Edward the Martyr ; many tombstones with singular inscriptions were found at the same time, but were mostly destroyed or built into the walls of the nave: a small portion of the old structure has been converted into a vestry : there is a monument to the Rev. John Hutchins, author of the "History of Dorset," who was formerly rector here, and is buried in the south chapel: the nave was rebuilt in 1841-2 and the church restored in 1882, under the direction of Messrs. Coulson and Son, architects, of Winchester, at a total expenditure of about £2,000: in 1893-4 the chancel was rebuilt at the cost of the late Mrs. Rodgett, of Sandford House: the organ, the gift of the late Mrs. Rodgett, stands in an organ chamber, built at the cost of James B. Dugdale esq. J.P. at whose expense also the nave was newroofed: seven of the windows are stained: the church seats 750 persons.

Church Records

The parish register dates from the year 1762. The original register books are now deposited with the Dorset Archives Service, but have been digitised by and made available on their site (subscription required).

St. Mary

Denomination:Church of England