Friday, April 15, 2011

St Mary, Holnest, Dorset

Standing in a very large churchyard alongside the main road with one house for company, this delightful church was locked. No obvious keyholder notice but there was an A4 sheet of paper full of small print and I spotted the two church wardens listed with phone numbers. A quick call to the first mentioned and he was there five minutes later.
West tower, nave, south porch and aisle, and chancel. The CW did not know how long it would be possible to keep the church going, and it was obvious that there needs to be some restoration in the near future. Damp is a major problem, and the walls of the tower inside were quite black with mould and the walls damp - even wet in isolated places - to the touch. Opinions differ as to whether it is rising or penetrating from above, but another explanation which we all favoured was actually condensation as a cupboard had been removed recently and the wall behind was totally without any discolouration or damage. In the aisle chunks of plaster were ready to fall and the roof timbers have been well attacked by woodworm which had been treated but possibly had returned.
The interior was actually charming and the air of neglect added to this. Box pews have been painted cream and there is a Jacobean pulpit, However the tester was stolen when the church lay derelict ( church restored and brought back into use in 1948).

In the aisle hang pictures of an absurd mausoleum, for Sawbridge Drax, a local and rather wicked squire. This 1858 structure would have dwarfed the church and was demolished in the 1930s. More on the squire here

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting to read this - written five years ago, as it was. Sadly the church is still in a bad state of repair and many of the problems you mention here have got gradually worse. However, you may be pleased to know that a group of Friends interested in the church and its history got together in June 2016 to form the Friends of Holnest Church, which has the aim of supporting the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the building. The group has had a promising start, having already gained much support from people local to the area and those further afield.

    We have a website ( which includes a bit more about the infamous Drax mausoleum and the church's troubled past. Glad you managed to get into the church - do come and visit again.