|Background information concerning the establishment of Christ Church and St Mary’s and the redistribution of boundaries between St Peters, All Saints and Holy Trinity in 1910.
The Rev. Henry MOULE the Vicar of St Georges Church in Fordington was also appointed by the War Office as Chaplin to the troops in Dorchester Barracks, which is where the current Dorset History Centre is now situated. In 1845 he wrote a book called “Barrack Sermons”. This sold so well he was able to use the royalties to build a church for the troops in West Fordington, which he named Christ Church.
Christ Church was built in 1846 next to the old Royal Horse Artillery Barracks which were to the North of Poundbury Road with a large frontage stretching from just past where the car park is today up to the Railway Line. On the South side of Poundbury Road was the Infantry Barracks which still exist today and now house the Dorset History Centre. The church with its adjoining vicarage was to the east side of the RHA Barracks fronting onto “The Grove” (now the B3147). A picture of the church can be found in Archive Photographs of Dorchester published by Jo Draper in 1997 (page 45). Across the road was Colliton Park. Its location can be viewed on line by reference to the Ordnance Survey Maps at old-maps site by input of the coordinates 369100/90800. (Make sure you click on the 1890 version of the map as you can click on the '+' sign at the top to zoom in). Christ Church was assigned its parish by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners on 29th May 1847.
The following Ministers served at Christ Church
Rev. Augustus Bernard HANDLEY BA - served at Christ Church from 1847 to 1859
He was a great friend of The Rev Henry Moule and a Captain in the 1st Kings Dragoon Guards. He was born in Bombay on 12th August 1803 the 2nd son of Augustus William Handley and his wife Anatolia, but baptised back in England in Rochester Cathedral on the 19th October 1810. He was educated at Queens College Oxford where he matriculated on 9th May 1821 and obtained his BA in 1825. He became a student of the Inner temple that year and married Jane Matilda HAY the youngest daughter of Lieutenant General HAY KCB who was Lieutenant Governor of Edinburgh Castle at Bredisholm Lanarkshire on 29th May 1828. Augustus was in Fordington as early as 1835 as Henry buried his 5 year old eldest son Charles Augustus Handley in St Georges churchyard in that year. He was ordained a deacon in 1839 by the Bishop of Bath & Wells and made a priest later that year under Henry's Ministry, carrying out a number of baptisms, burials and marriages at St Georges Church as an officiating minister in the 1840's. Henry named one of his own sons Handley after him in 1841. He was made the first incumbent of Christ Church in West Fordington, serving there from 1847 to 1859 when he was reassigned to the Vicarage at Alton Pancras. He undertook his last official engagement at Christ Church on 27th Feb 1859.
Jane his 1st wife died at West Fordington and was buried at St Georges Church on 23rd January 1849 having provided him with the following 8 children. (1) Charles Augustus Handley born 2 Mar 1829 died 5 Jan 1835, buried Fordington 10 January; (2) Louisa Grace Handley born Feb 1831 died a spinster 12 Apr 1918 Clifton Gloucestershire; (3) Henry Douglas Handley born Sep 1833 , died 18 Oct 1844 & buried by Henry Moule in Fordington 24 Oct 1844; (4) James William Handley born 4 Sep 1836 in Ayr. he had a distinguished career as a barrister in India and retired as a Puisne Judge of the High Court of Madras; (5) Augustus Mourant Hay Handley, baptised in Fordington 30 Dec 1838, died 27 February 1906; (6) Jane Frances Handley, born c1840; married Alfred Marwood Elton in 1865; (7) Arthur Henry Handley, born April 22, 1842; died 7 July 1895 in San Antonio, Texas; married Margaret Maria Mayer 31 December 1865 in Bangalore, India. (8) Edward Handley, baptised Fordington 28 July 1844; died 18th and buried Fordington 21st May 1845.
Augustus was married for a second time on 19th December 1850 in St Georges church Fordington by his friend of 25 years standing the Rev Henry Moule to Elizabeth Georgina Campbell(1810-1860) the daughter of the Rev Daniel Campbell. He served at Alton Pancras from 1859 to 1864. His 2nd wife died there but was returned to Fordington for burial in St Georges graveyard on 25th July 1860. Augustus moved again in 1864 to become the Rector of Fisherton Anger in Wiltshire and on 29th June that year he married for a third time at Broadwater in Sussex to Jane the widow of Thomas Webb Gilbert. His final move was as Rector of Blaisdon Rectory in Gloucestershire where he died on 13th April 1877.
A memorial plaque to him and his family is on the wall inside St Georges Church in Fordington:-
Rev Henry THOMAS MA - Served at Christ Church between April and June 1859
He appears to have taken over from the Rev. Handley in April 1859 and managed to carry out five baptisms in Christchurch, the last being on 24th June that year. He died aged 46 on 6th and was buried in St Georges on 9th July 1859, so the Rev Henry Moule stepped into the breach until his replacement, The Rev Edward Hall, arrived in November that year.
Rev. Edward Moorhouse HALL BA, MA - served at Christ Church from 1859 to 1860.
Born about 1793 he was the son of David Hall Gentleman of Shipton in Craven in Yorkshire. He was educated at Oxfords Lincoln College where he matriculated on 9th April 1813 at the age of 20. He obtained his BA in 1816 and an MA in 1819. He then married Mary Anne Swainson in Halifax on 8th February 1820. She died and he remarried to a Mary Anne Smith in Sutton Coldfield Warwickshire on 15th February 1832. He was the incumbent of Corringham and Idle from 1830 to 1857 and although he never lived there additionally Rector of the Church of St Mary at Rufford from 1835 to 1843. He served at West Fordington from 1859 to 1861 when he moved to live at his house and 2 acres of land at Oaklands Villa in Littleover in Derbyshire which was sold in 1865. He died at the age of 87 in Shardlow Derbyshire about May 1880.
Rev Charles James BIRD BA, MA - served at Christ Church from 1861 to 1872.
He was born on 25th Feb 1830 in Burghfield Berkshire the son of Charles Smith BIRD and his wife Margaret. He was educated at Trinity College Cambridge where he matriculated in 1849. He was awarded his BA in 1853 and ordained Deacon in 1854 serving as a priest at Chichester the following year. He obtained his MA in 1856 serving as Curate at Ramsgate and then Margate in 1859. During his stay in Ramsgate he met Caroline Vidler the youngest daughter of R.B. CAY Esq. and they married in Ramsgate on 12th February 1860.
In 1861, when he was 31 and his wife 23, he was appointed perpetual Curate to West Fordington by which time they already had two children. They had five more born during his tenor in West Fordington and by 1871 he is described as Vicar and was teaching three teenage boys in preparation for university and had 4 servants at the parsonage next to Christ Church. He resigned his “living” as vicar on a matter of principal over the “Bennett judgement” on 3rd November 1872. After leaving West Fordington he became an assistant master at the Bristol Grammar School until about 1882. He retired to Knypersley Hall near Congleton Cheshire where he died at the age of 77 on 12th Jan 1908.
Rev William Cook OSBORN - served Christ Church from 1873 to 1880
Born about 1815 he was educated at St Johns Cambridge which he entered in 1835 obtaining his BA in 1839 and his MA in 1846. He was ordained Deacon 22 Sep 1839 and served as a priest (Bath and Wells) in 1840. He married Mary Anne the daughter of George Bland YOUNG of Broadchalke Wiltshire before becoming a curate at Melksham in 1842. He was appointed Chaplain to the new goal at Bath 1843-1872 and had a school in Bath in 1861 at South Hill House on Wells Road. He was Curate at Christ Church Trent Park Middlesex 1872-3 before becoming Vicar of West Fordington where he was appointed on 16th April 1873 and served until his death in the vicarage there on the 4th June 1880.
Rev Charles Lloyd SANCTUARY -served Christ Church from 1880 to 1889
The second son of the Rev. Thomas Sanctuary of Powerstock near Bridport in Dorset. Educated at Keble College Oxford where he matriculated on 14 Oct 1872 at the age of 18. Exhibitioner 1872-1876 he obtained his BA in 1876 and his MA in 1880 when he was appointed vicar of West Fordington in July of that year. He left in June 1889 to become the Vicar of Powerstock a much more lucrative appointment compared to the £300 p.a. he received at West Fordington in succession to his father the late Archdeacon of Dorset.
Rev. Charles Royland Haycock HILL - served as Vicar of Christ Church from 1889 to 1894
The eldest son of Charles Hill he was educated at New College Oxford taking a second class moderations in 1871 and graduating with a 2nd class in Modern History in 1873. He was ordained Deacon in 1875 and priest the following year in the diocese of Winchester. He was curate successively of St Peter; St Michael and St Stephen in Bournemouth. In 1883 he was appointed by Lord Ilchester to the rectory at Evershot with Frome St Quenton before becoming Vicar of Christ Church in West Fordington in October 1889 and serving until 1894. He and his wife Ellen only had one son Walter Edward HILL born in 1892 who was killed in 1914 in the first world war. Charles then moved to Lyme Regis where he remained until 1898 when he became Rector of Holy Trinity in Dorchester. The Bishop collated him to a canonry in Salisbury Cathedral in 1901 and he had the rural deanery of Dorchester from 1908. Charles Hill was keenly interested in educational matters and married in 1884 to Ellen the second daughter of the Rt Hon. Edward B WROTTESLEY and left 1 son when he died and was buried in Dorchester Holy Trinity in July 1911.
Rev John Marshall COLLARD BA, MA - served as Vicar of Christ Church from 1894 to 1917
Born 16th July 1844 son of Rev John Marshall Collard he was educated at St John's College Cambridge. He matriculated in 1864 obtaining his BA in 1868 and an MA in 1871. He was a rowing blue in 1867 and ordained deacon in 1870. He was curate of Newbold-on-Avon 1870-1871 Vicar of Highmore Oxon 1871-1877, Curate of St Stephens Bournemouth 1890-1894. In November 1894 he then became vicar of Christ Church at West Fordington where he remained until 1917. He was also Chaplain to the Forces from 1894 and to Dorchester Prison 1910 to 1917. He was also Rural Dean of Dorchester 1912-1917 and prebendary of Salisbury 1913-1917. He died at Dorchester on 25th May 1917.
Christenings and marriages continued to be performed at Christ Church until 1924.
In 1895 a site at the Top O’Town was purchased for St Mary's, a chapel of ease and an iron church was erected there in 1897.
In 1907 parishioners raised a subscription to build a permanent church and an amazing row developed with the Bishop over its location. This was of sufficient magnitude to be reported in the Times Newspaper so I have copied the relevant articles below:-
Times 5th March 1907: Bishop refuses to sanction rebuilding on existing site
"The problem of the church extension at Dorchester, which has for years exercised the minds of the ecclesiastical authorities of the borough and diocese has just entered a new and most interesting phase. The vicar, churchwardens and parishioners of West Fordington an extra mural parish that has extended considerably of late years and now has a population of 2,800 are unanimous in their desire to build a new permanent church on a central and commanding site now occupied by the temporary church of timber and corrugated iron built 10 years ago".
"But the Bishop of the diocese and the Archdeacon of Dorset (The Ven. D.L. DUNDAS) advocate a readjustment of the ecclesiastical parishes of Dorchester and the erection of the proposed new church in some portion of the new district of on the South side of the town. The people of West Fordington do not at all approve of these proposals of their ecclesiastical superiors. The vicar of West Fordington ( Rev J. M. COLLARD) is now away from home on a visit to the Holy Land. In his absence the vicar of the parental parish of Fordington St George (Rev R. GROSVENOR BARTELOT) who is the patron of the benefice of West Fordington, presided over a crowded parochial meeting on Thursday night. at which strong resentment was expressed at what is considered to be the unjustified interference of the Bishop and Archdeacon in the affairs of the parish, and stout opposition to the proposed partition of the parish against the will of the parishioners. It was unanimously resolved with enthusiasm to build the new church on the old approved site, and a buildings committee was appointed and their duties defined. The action of the parish amounts to a direct defiance of the expressed wishes of the Bishop of Salisbury and the archdeacon of Dorset; but there is no doubt that the whole parish, and many beyond it cordially concur with the action of the public meeting".
Times 31st October 1907: Appeal rejected
"The conflict of opinion between the Bishop of Salisbury and the vicar and parishioners of West Fordington, Dorchester, as to the site for the proposed new church has reached an acute stage. For years past the parishioners of West Fordington, now one of the largest suburbs of Dorchester, have been preparing for the erection of a new church on the site of the present temporary structure. The land has been purchased and a considerable sum subscribed towards the building of a permanent church. The Bishop however , has refused to sanction building on the site proposed, on the grounds that it would increase the rivalry between the present parishes, there being already three churches in the main street where the proposed site is situated; also that it does not provide for the new districts that are growing up to the westward of the town".
"The Vicar (the Rev. J.M.COLLARD) and the parishioners have expressed themselves strongly against interference with a long cherished scheme, and the vicar has appealed to the Bishop to meet a deputation from the parish. The Bishop has replied restating his objections and in his letter to the vicar says:- “It is impossible for me to let other considerations outweigh the considerations of my duty towards the town and the necessary economy of the church funds and powers which that duty suggests. I cannot in fact treat your parish or encourage you to treat it, as separate from the rest. Your duty seems to me to frame a scheme for redistribution of areas of church building where population requires it in concert with your brother clergy and under the presidency of the archdeacon".
Times 12th June 1908: Report of the Commission - resignation and loss of chaplainry
"A Commission appointed by the Bishop of Salisbury has sat at Dorchester to consider the proposed rearrangement of the parochial boundaries. The Commission was rendered necessary owing to a scheme which has for some time been in progress for erecting a new church for West Fordington. The parishioners of that part of town have been working with extraordinary enthusiasm in the direction, and have not only purchased the site on which the present temporary church stands, but have a large sum in hand for the erection of a permanent building. The Bishop however, has held strongly to the opinion that, attractive as the site was, the new church should be placed more to the South, in order to provide for the new suburban district which has sprung up there. A good deal of feeling has been aroused, and the parishioners as a body have expressed the determination not to give up their favourite site. An unexpected development has now taken place, the commission which has met having decided to recommend a general scheme of parochial redistribution".
"The effect of this will be that, while St Peter’s and All Saints parishes will remain unaltered, Holy Trinity will absorb a large portion of West Fordington and the latter will take a part of East Fordington. The proposals involve the erection of a new church in the heart of the rearranged West Fordington Parish. Much indignation has been caused among the parishioners of West Fordington and Dr COSSENS one of the churchwardens has resigned his seat on the church council as a protest against what he calls in his letter to the vicar (Rev. J.M.COLLARD) “The disastrous policy pursued by an ecclesiastical coterie” The vicar, who has up to now strongly stood by the parochial scheme, has signified his acquiescence in the scheme of the Commission, which will involve among other consequences, the loss to him of £80 a year as chaplain to the barracks".
Times 4th February 1910: Settlement
The difficulty between the vicar and parishioners of West Fordington Dorchester and the Bishop of the diocese in regard to the site of their proposed new church is now considered settled. The vicar (the Rev. J.M.COLLARD) has fallen in completely with the desire of the Bishop that the church should not be erected on the site of the present Church of St Mary, but should be placed in the large suburban district which has sprung up on the south western outskirts of the town. A suitable site has been given by Mr J FOOT of Dorchester in memory of his father and a sum of £4,500 has already been raised. at a parish meeting the vicar announced that the plans of the church had been passed by the Bishop and the Chancellor of the diocese and he appealed for the loyal support of the parishioners who were urged to forget their own wishes and to sacrifice their own interests if the advantage of the many demanded it.
Times 16th April 1910 - Foundation Stone Laid
Lord Shaftsbury lays the foundation stone of the new church of St Mary West Fordington Dorchester
Times 12th July 1912 - Dedication
The Bishop of Salisbury yesterday dedicated the church of St Mary West Fordington Dorchester which has been erected at a cost of £11,500. The controversy respecting the site of this church has been referred to more than once in the Times. The church is built of hard Swanage stone, mainly in the Transition Gothic style. The architect Mr PONTING of Marlborough has not however followed the style servilely and the result is a church of dignified dimensions and beauty of proportions as well as of detail.
St Mary’s West Fordington
“Mass Cantata” was celebrated by the vicar (Rev. J. M. COLLARD) in full Eucharist vestments and the Bishop wore his cape and mitre. There was a procession with candles, incense and banners. At the luncheon that followed the Bishop referring to the movement for subdividing Sarum diocese and creating a diocese of Dorset, said he doubted if it would come in his lifetime.
In Kelly's 1915 Directory the organist & choirmaster at St Mary's is given as Mr Henry Gilmore DODDERIDGE
Additional Information:- Not researched but available at Dorset History Center Archive Ref PE/HAP/CW 6/25 --- Sketch and plan of Christ Church, West Fordington with a letter from Herbert Kendall, architect concerning the purchase, removal and rebuilding of the church at Ferndown Architect: Herbert Kendall, Poole Size: 570 mm 400 mm Scale: 1 in to 8 ft Tracing paper, pencil and colourwash
date December 1931. Also under PE/HAP/CW 6/26 ---Plan of proposed re-erection of Christchurch, West Fordington at Ferndown Architect: Herbert Kendall, Poole Size: 420 mm 365 mm Scale: 1 in to 8 ft Tracing paper, pencil and colourwash