St Michael and All Angels, Verwood
Since the first church on this site was erected in 1829 as a Chapel of Ease in the Parish of Cranborne, the building has seen numerous changes. In 1980-81, the nave was widened and the Meeting Room added to reflect the growing population of Verwood.
Standing inside the west door, the area between the pillars as far as the chancel screen corresponds to the floor plan of the original church. The roof was lower, and the walls were reputed to have been made of “cob” – the vernacular local mud wall construction used in many cottages. There was a gallery along the north and west sides, reached by a staircase just behind the door.
In 1870, a brick chancel was erected at the eastern end, but the major change took place in 1886 when the church was in a state of disrepair and the galleries unsafe. These were taken down, and the whole of the nave gutted and rebuilt.
Cranborne had become the largest parish in Dorset, so Verwood and Alderholt were taken out to form two new parishes. Verwood for a short time incorporated West Moors, which had been taken from the parish of West Parley.
In preparation for its new status, the church was rebuilt out of local brick, brought to the site in carts supplied by the Standfields who farmed in Margards Lane, and decorated with string courses of white Ebblake brick, as are several houses still standing in the town today.
The walls were double thickness, and it had been thought that they cased the original cob. But when they were removed during the enlargement work, the cavity was found to contain mainly rubble and certainly no central core of cob.
All Saints, Three Legged Cross
The original building was erected at Three Legged Cross in 1893 by the first Vicar of the new Parish of Verwood and Three Legged Cross, the Reverend Claude Brown, to save his parishioners the long walk to the parish church in Verwood. Constructed of corrugated iron, it was known as “the tin church”.
By 1957, the metal walls had badly corroded and were cased outside by stone and inside by wood which made it safer and more visually attractive.
By 1965, there was much decay in the structural timbers and on 31 January 1966 the PCC passed a motion proposed by Miss Stella Maton “to carry out urgent repairs and to form a church with a dwelling alongside for a clergyman to live in”, action being deferred until finances were available. (The idea then was to convert Three Legged Cross Infant School and school house.)
Thirty years later, in 1993, All Saints had become so unstable as to be uninsurable, was closed and demolished. As funds were still not available, a plan was carried to build three semi-detached houses on the site of the old church, sold in stage payments during the construction process, to pay for a new church.
During 1993/1994 work on the construction of the three semi-detached properties was undertaken, two were then sold to a Housing Association and the third to the Diocese to house a member of the clergy team, the other half of which is the new church centre.
The foundation stone of the church was laid on Tuesday, 30th August 1994 by the Venerable Geoffrey Walton, Archdeacon of Dorset, and on 14th January 1995 the building dedicated by the Right Reverend David Stancliffe, Lord Bishop of Salisbury.
The first Service, Holy Eucharist, was celebrated by the Revd. Alan Gill, Vicar of the Parish.
The attached clergy house proved unsuitable for later potential curates and was let to East Dorset Housing Association by the Diocese after the first curate, the Revd. Christopher Ardargh-Walter, resigned for health reasons.
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