Church of England Diocese of Salisbury Godmanstone

About Us

Holy Trinity is peacefully located in Church Lane off the main road through the village. Services are usually held on the first, second and fourth Sunday of the month. The majority of records of births, marriages and deaths are held at The Records Office, Bridport Road, Dorchester.

The church is open to visitors every day, but closed at night. 

The Building

The Grade I listed church as it now stands was built and rebuilt over a long period, beginning in the 11th century. Before that there was probably a timber church or series of timber churches going back, perhaps, for centuries. The main doorway is Norman, unfortunately plastered over at the Victorian restoration in the 1860s.

The chancel arch is also Norman and its builders incorporated into the South pillar a Roman stone altar dedicated to Jove! In doing so they destroyed half the inscription it bears but what remains enables nearly the whole of it to be inferred. It was dedicated to Jupiter by a Centurion called Titinius Pines probably in the 3rd century A.D. Where the 12th century builders found this altar stone one would like to know. The likely places are Durnovaria, Roman Dorchester, only 5 miles away or a small Roman-British villa at Forston, excavated in 1960, little more that a mile from Godmanstone.

The tower of the church, with its fine perpendicular West window is dated to about 1400, though the top stage was rebuilt in the 17th century when the windows of the belfry were inserted.

The South Chapel is late 15th or early 16th century, as is the North, or Manor Chapel, although this was much altered in the 17th or 18th centuries. The arch between the nave and the North Chapel is 15th century, as is the large East window of the Chancel. The font is late 15th century, but with Victorian panelling.

One feature on the outside of the church is worthy of notice. This is mediaeval carving of the two heads at the base of the hood mouldings on each side of the East window of the South Chapel.

Restoration

The Victorian restoration was extensive, especially in the the chancel, where the present polished wood roof was built by the then incumbent, the Rev’d. J.A. Baker. The very beautiful stained glass of the Eastern window, by A.K. Nicholson, was inserted in 1930. The contrasting red and yellow in the design harmonise with the theme of The Last Supper, and form a subtle contrast to the pattern.

The chancel was re-floored in the 1960s, (when the Jupiter altar was discovered) and the new pulpit, parson’s desk and credence table and the Vestry screen at the west end of the church introduced. These were designed by the late E. Warnsely-Lewis, F.R.I.B.A. and executed by Mr. Harold Warren, both of Weymouth.

Memorials

In the porch is a stone memorial slab with an unusual carved double-headed cross. This was discovered over a pit containing a large number of human bones when a soakaway in the churchyard was being dug, and dates, probably, from the 12th century. It may well have been put in the place where it was found when the South Chapel was built, a number of burials then being transferred to a fresh grave just clear of the building.

The carved headstone now resting in the porch commemorates Joseph Damers, an early member of the family of the first Lord Dorchester of Milton Abbas.

Bells

The church has four bells: the first, of the early 16th century is from Salisbury foundry, weighs 17cwt, and is inscribed “Sit nomen Domini Benedictum”; the second of 1607 was cast by William Warre and weighs 8.25cwt; the third, also by William Warre, of 1610, weighs 12cwt; and the fourth of 1617 by Geo. Purdue, weighing 7cwt. The last three all date to the reign of James I, and the oldest to pre-reformation times.

Work commenced to remove the bells for urgent repair for the first time in 400 years in February 2007. The work was carried out by Nicholson’s Engineers of Bridport. The bells of the Church are believed to be the most important set in Dorset. After the refurbishment which took several months, the bells were re-instated in the bell tower. The Right Rev’d. Tim Thornton Bishop of Sherborne re-dedicated the bells on October 14th 2007. This was the first time they had been rung in over 100 years.

Burials

Records show burials dating back to 1716, numbering about 660 in total, although there must have been many interred before that date, and monuments currently total about 90. The churchyard is maintained in accordance with the Dorset Wildlife Trust guidelines.