St Mary’s church

Faculty to re-seat the Chancel & Chancel Aisles and to fix gas fittings & a heating apparatus

27 June 1864
Sturminster Newton, Dorset (N.B. No longer Stur Newtn Castle)

Issued in the name of Dr. Walter Kerr Hamilton, by divine permission Bishop of Sarum, at the instance of the Vicar (Richard Lowndes), the churchwardens and ‘some of the principal inhabitants’, after a Vestry Meeting lately holden. In order to effect a more convenient arrangement, permission was sought to remove the whole of the seats in the Chancel, with both its aisles; and to stop up the South Chancel door. The Chancel & aisles would be entirely reseated.

It was also sought to “fix Gas fittings in the church & chancel: and also to provide & fix (at some future time) an apparatus for heating the church with hot air, the same to be placed at the north-east end of the church. And also to remove the pulpit and reading desk and to refix them in new positions: the pulpit to stand just westerly of the chancel arch and on the north side, and the reading desk just within the chancel arch on the south side.” The whole, saving for the heating apparatus, being estimated to cost £230, the whole of which the Rev. Richard Lowndes will provide. By this course 180 sittings will be provided and all of them will be free. It has the consent of the Impropriate Rector (the Rt. Hon. George Pitt Rivers, Lord Rivers).

The proposal, with plans, has been exposed to view and objections invited. No objections having been voiced, the Faculty was granted on the above date.

The above was probably transcribed by Sir Owen Frederick Morshead, founder and chairman of the Dorset Historic Churches Trust, who wrote:

In submitting the Petition the parish had appended Plans & Specifications; and they had sought authorisation to re-use the old materials. The original Petition, the duplicate of this, is in the Diocesan Record Office, in the Close at Windsor, together with the Plans & Specification. From the drawings it is clear that they made use of the seating provided by Mr. Lane Fox in 1825: the plain seating in fact which we still use in the nave & transepts.

In order to secure their 180 sittings they turned the seats inwards, running East & West, and covering the whole floor area of the chancel and both aisles, excepting only the portion enclosed by the altar rails: for there was no altar in the South Choir Aisle in those days, and they closed up the entrance door to it because the new seating would block ingress by it. As to the North Choir Aisle, it was similarly quite bare; for the new organ was still at the West end of the nave (replacing the string & wind instruments); and the vestry was at the West end of the South Nave Aisle.

The whole of the Choir area was open in those days; the present wooden screens which rail off the side-aisles did not exist then.

In the Lane Fox scheme of 1825 the pulpit stood where our lectern does to-day: on the Nave side of the Chancel steps, and on the South flank. They had no lectery; but the priest’s reading desk was on the North flank and just inside the chancel arch. This Faculty reversed this placing.

Owen Morshead
29 August 1966

St Mary’s Church photos

Last updated: 18 Feb 2020 @ 16:54