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Church of St. Mary, Dinton

Church of St. Mary, Dinton Date Photo Taken 2011
Uploaded 03/01/2012 13:41:41
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Map Latitude 51.084326501004085 : Longitude -1.9879433512687683
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

St Mary's Church in Dinton dates back to the 13th century having started life as an attachment to Shaftesbury Abbey. The present church building consists of 14th and 15th century architecture. The nave has a 4-bay wagon roof with the walls rendered with a 19th century pink and blue tiled dado. The chancel screen is in the Perpendicular style, by architect William Butterfield. There is a medieval coffin lid and relief carved crosses set in the floor on either side of the altar. A restored 13th century font is in the tower. The north transept has early 19th century box pews and in the north window is stained glass which is signed by Gibbs and Howard of London. Stained glass is also in the east window by Gibbs, while the west window is signed by G.E.R Smith. Lou Winter who wrote 'Carters Daughter' described St Mary's with great enthusiasm and fondness saying "So much has already been written of this our beautiful church. My contribution is, perhaps, personal. It's like a brilliant star amongst a lovely setting. I was baptised here in 1920, married in 1942. My parents are both resting here and the memorial bears the name of my only brother."

Burials for people from Teffont Magna before 1925 had to be performed in Dinton because the churchyard in Teffont wasn't consecrated; therefore, St Mary's had great importance to the surrounding areas.

A proclamation for faculty was made in March 27th 1874 to confirm plans for refurbishment and restoration of the church, which in its state beforehand the vicar had described as "unsightly". When the plans came in to restore the church, in 1873, William Butterfield was approached to examine the state of the church and estimate the cost to repair and refurbish. Butterfield's report claimed that costs would come to £1,500. It was decided that a vestry and sexton's room would be constructed while the earth surrounding the church would be lowered. The graves and vaults had to be altered to fit the change in earth level. The floors, pavement, steps, seats and fittings were all taken up and replaced. Improvements within the building included new choir stools and children's seating areas.

Mrs Starky, who had suggested the refurbishment, made a generous contribution of £500 and another £100 though friends. The villagers and the vicar himself made contributions to the development and the funds were successfully raised. The Church had other issues to contend with such as the crowded churchyard as, due to the extra burials from surrounding areas, there was a lack of space. Financial difficulties again appeared when struggles began for the upkeep of the church such as paying the organist, the yearly deficit, and insurance.

A new organ was purchased in 1907 and was placed in the north-west corner of the church. The northern end of the churchyard, which was supplied by Mr Bertram Phillips was used to create a war memorial to commemorate those who fell in the First World War; the memorial in question, which was carved into the shape of a cross, was unveiled on December 12th 1920.
The Rev. H.G.O. Kendall arrived in December 1924 to become the vicar of Dinton and Rector of Baverstock. Just 4 years later Rev. Kendall passed away and was succeeded by Rev. R.H. Burliegh Campbell who kept this position until 1952. November 1936 saw the Parochial Church Council approve the installation of electric lighting in replacement of the oil lamps. Electricity was then extended to the bell and clock towers in 1939.

In 1934 the church bells needed repair. Mr William Wyndham generously provided a cheque for £300 and added a further donation off £44 which funded both the repair of the bells and a replacement of the belfry floor.

The church also had a Sunday school that gained much popularity in the 1920s and 1930s owing to its many outings to places such as Swanage, Bournemouth and Weymouth. The number of classes increased to 4 and the number of children grew further when evacuees began attending the church during the years of the Second World War

During wartime St Mary's and the village accommodated soldiers who in turn helped with the upkeep such as cutting the hay in the churchyard in 1941.

In 1965, a chalice was purchased with the kind donation of £500 from Mrs Marjorie Stokes. The same year also saw the removal of some old and damaged tombstones in an attempt to level the churchyard. More alterations followed in 1967-8 when the south transept roof was stripped and re-tiled and the porch doors were replaced. The organ was renovated in 1985 by a Mr Stansfield who was a retired organ builder. Following the breakage of the heating system in 1991, generous donations were given and a new system was installed.

The 1907 Kelly's directory of Wiltshire describes the building as 'a cruciform building of stone, in the Transition Norman, Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular styles, consisting of chancel, nave, transepts, porch and an embattled central tower'. The stone was dressed limestone with tiled roof

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