Winterborne Came, St Peter's Church
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Grave of the Dorset poet William Barnes
William BarnesWinterborne Came is known as the church where Dorset poet William Barnes was rector (see also Whitcombe Church). Barnes, the first poet to write in the Dorset dialect, served as rector for 24 years until his death in 1896 and is buried in the churchyard.
Barnes was born at Bagber, near Sturminster Newton, in 1801, the son of a poor labourer. At the age of 13 he became a copy clerk at a solicitor's office. He continued to educate himself and eventually learned to speak and write over 60 languages. He opened his own schools in Wiltshire and Dorset and studied music, mathematics, and economics. Despite his wide-ranging interests, Barnes is best-known for his poetry, written in the Dorset dialect of his youth. He was little-known outside Dorset, but within his native county his poetry has always enjoyed a wide readership and exhibits on his writing career share space in the Dorset County Museum with novelist Thomas Hardy, his neighbour and friend.
Barnes' memorial stands on the south side of the church, and his grave is marked by a large Celtic cross.
Within the church are some very fine monuments, including a tomb-chest memorial to John Meller (d. 1595) and his wife (d. 1610). The detail of the couple's costume is simply superb; John Mellor is shown in a ruff, with his head on a helmet, while his wife is shown in an elaborate headdress, her head resting on an ornate cushion. Around the base of the tomb-chest are beautifully carved 'weepers'. To the south of the altar is a tomb chest to Dorothy Mellor (d. 1591). Within an arched recess are two panels, one with a heraldic plate and another depicting a mother and child.
On the north nave wall is a good Arts and Crafts style memorial to Mary Mills (d. 1895).
The carved wooden rood screen is particularly fine, with linenfold panels along the base and intricate tracery on the upper section. It has been restored in Arts and Crafts style. The late medieval font has a plain octagonal bowl set atop a base of Portland stone. The oak pulpit has the initials IM for John Meller, with the date 1624. The windows hold 19th century glass given by various members of the Damer family. On the walls are three 19th century hatchments to the Dawson-Damer family.
VisitingThe church is now redundant and is cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust. It is open daily - if you can find it! I did not see any signs on the roads near Winterbourne Came. There is a small lane leading off the A532 towards Came House. As you approach the house, just glimpsed through trees, there is a small sign, half hidden in the undergrowth, with an arrow pointing down an overgrown trail beside the kitchen garden wall. You go along the length of the wall, turn right into an open space, and find the church before you.
Don't miss the chance to visit the nearby church at Whitcombe, a short distance along the A352.
About Winterborne Came, St Peter's Church
Address: Winterborne Came, Dorset, England, DT2 8NT
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: 2 miles south east of Dorchester off the A532
Website: Winterborne Came, St Peter's Church
Churches Conservation Trust
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Whitcombe Church - 0.7 miles (Historic Church)
Dorset Teddy Bear Museum - 1.5 miles (Museum)
The Dinosaur Museum - 1.5 miles (Museum)
Stinsford, St Michael's Church - 1.6 miles (Historic Church)
Dorchester, St Peter's Church - 1.6 miles (Historic Church)
Tutankhamun Exhibition - 1.7 miles (Museum)
Dorset County Museum - 1.7 miles (Museum)
Kingston Maurward Gardens - 1.7 miles (Garden)
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