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Dorset & Hampshire

September 13, 2012

A wonderful, but all too short time at the Friary, Hilfield. I redeemed the journey home by visiting some churches on the way back, some I had planned to see, and some that I just happened along…

St. Michael & All Angels, Gussage

St. Michael & All Angels, Gussage

I travelled past this lovely little church so stopped and went in. The sign outside just gave some details of the next Sunday’s service.

Inside there was a simple guide which emphasises the simplicity and serenity of this church. The visitors book reveals 4 visitors in the last month. There is an Interesting folder containing details and photos of the colourful kneelers here. There is a children’s area also.

A simple country church which I rate as Okay but is worth seeing.

All Saints, Gussage

All Saints, Gussage

I hadn’t intended visiting this one either but as I was going past…

A very different story to it’s neighbour. Firmly locked with absolutely no indication of when it might be open nor any contact details. The sign board outside just gave details of next Sunday’s service and one or two notices.

Very poor.

Wimborne St. Giles Church

Wimborne St Giles

I had definitely intended visiting here. They make much of the fact that Ninian Comper restored the church after a disasterous fire in 1908. He is quoted as saying ‘the whole church has become a lantern and the altar is the flame within it.’ It is a very interesting church to visit and a surprising find in a small Dorset village. It is also beautifully kept. The sign outside is simple with the usual details. Inside there is a guide booka book of poems, a nice line drawing in the interior and a leaflet on Lord Shaftesbury’s memorial in Piccadilly Circus. There are some boards with a history on them to wander around with. But, there is one other thing that really sets this church apart. The children of the local school have produced some simple and colourful ‘bats’ which highlight various features of interest, such as a robin on a memorial. These are very well done and the first I have come across – very good and an idea worth copying.

Children’s mini guides

Pilgrim’s will find a votive stand in front of a Madonna and a prayer book to enter prayers into. There are a lot of memorials here which also add interest.

This is quite a church and well worth visiting. I rate it as very good. 37 visitors in the book in the last month.

Wimborne St. Giles

St. Mary & St. Bartholomew, Cranborne


Another church I had intended visiting. John Betjeman rates this one highly. It is in a lovely setting just off the village centre with a well cared for churchyard and a friendly black cat!

This church was once part of the Abbey of Cranborne.

The sign outside is simple with the usual details but there is a nice welcome notice on the main door.

There is a guide book some postcards and a few New Testaments. 29 visitors in the book over the last month. Quite a bit of thought has gone into making the church available for prayer. There is a side altar for prayer, along with various resources, including the Diocese of Oxford, ‘Prayer, a simple guide’, which is the first time I have seen this used outside of that Diocese. Local children had written some very good prayers which are in a folder. There is also a prayer book to enter requests into. All very well done. Elsewhere a Bible is left open. Also there is an explanation of the modern East window.

Prayers at St. Mary & St. Bartholomew, Cranborne

I rate this church as good for the visitor.

St. James, Alderholt

St. James, Alderholt

I hadn’t heard of this church but there was a simple sign outside which said ‘Open for prayer’. Quickly stopping and turning around I decided to investigate. I’m glad I did. This is a delightful little church. There is an open gate and an open door. Inside I found postcards for sale, a guide ‘Information for Visitors’ and a leaflet on ‘Children and Church’ . There are also copies of some sermons. For children there are a couple of boxes of toys and books around.

18 visitors had signed the book in the last month. This church also features a ‘living churchyard project’ and there is information about this on display.


This is am impressive little church. Spotless and welcoming. The guide says, ‘Its design is simple and unpretentious. Many visitors comment on its peaceful and holy atmosphere. It is, indeed, a prayed-in place.’ I would very much agree with that. There is a nice little prayer area where candles can be lit. The church website is on

This is a good example of what can be done for visitors in a little country church. I rate it as very good, and was pleased to come across it.

St. Mary’s, Fordingbridge

St. Mary’s, Fordingbridge

This church is open every day. The sign outside doesn’t say as much but there is a good welcome one in the porch. It is an interesting church to visit. Inside the pews have been replaced by good quality chairs and the whole church has a light and airy feel to it. There didn’t appear to be a guide book but there were some cards and postcards on sale. I counted 17 visitors in the book in the last month.

For children there are some boxes of toys etc. around.

One nice little touch was a display of the weeks saints, Just a brief biography of each, and a longer one on St. Mary. There was an open prayer book in the Lady Chapel and some prayer slips and a tray in which to light candles (a kind of fire pit). The last Sunday’s intercessions are displayed as well which reveals that visitors prayers are prayed by the congregation.

St. Mary’s, Fordingbridge

There is also some information displayed about the tower and bells.

All in all I rate St. Mary’s as good. A guide of some sort would be a good idea.

St. Mary’s, Andover

St. Mary’s, Andover

This is a most impressive building which stands above the small town of Andover. The signs outside give details of the regular services and also of an Alpha course. But it isn’t open which is a shame as it is the sort of building that people would go into. The churchyard was busy with people.

A look at the website when I got home ( shows a link saying ‘Visitors welcome’ but this just refers to Sunday worship.

I feel that this really is a wasted opportunity to show the love of God to the people of Andover. I have to rate it as very poor.

All Hallows, Whitchurch

All Hallows, Whitchurch

This is much better! The church is open every day. There is a simple sign outside which doesn’t give visitor information. 18 visitors had signed the book in the last month. There is a guide to purchase. This is a good one which gives more details than many do as well as pointing out that the church is the people who worship God through Jesus Christ. There is a display of parish life and a short history on a pillar.

One item that caught my eye is a book below the war memorial for the Second World War. This has pictures of those commemorated on the memorial. This really helps to bring home the reality of war. These were real people like you and I and not just names. Very moving.

A prayer book features here too.

There is an uncompleted jigsaw on a table with an explanation that this represents the broken world and that, by placing pieces in it, this can be a symbol of the healing that he brings to the world. A nice, thought provoking idea.


I rate All Hallows as good.

St. Mary’s, Old Basing

St. Mary’s, Old Basing

The final visit today. This church is open every day and the signs outside make this very clear.

The church was busy today as there was a pram service on in the adjacent Church Centre.

There appeared to be no guide but there are postcards to buy. For children there is a laminated card about some kneelers featuring animals, along with an accompanying book mark. A good idea for younger children.

There is a votive stand as well as a prayer board. Also some holding crosses to use for prayer.

Bolton Chapel at St. Mary’s, Old Basing

The Bolton Chapel is used for smaller services and has a good prayerful atmosphere. There is a rosary on the wall which has come from France. The various tombs in this large church are labelled up. There is also a small display about baptism near the font and photos of those being married here this year.

The church website is a This makes it very clear that the church is open for prayer and for visitors.

I rate St. Mary’s as good.


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  1. Pip Martin permalink

    Thank you for stopping by at St James’, Alderholt. Glad you enjoyed the visit. Your survey is a labour of love that gives us all some good ideas and things to think about. Wishing you safe journeys!

  2. Thank you for visiting All Hallows Whitchurch. I’ve passed on your encouraging comments to the team. It isn’t always possible to keep churches open during the day. That we can here in Whitchurch is much valued by our visitors. The church makes a fine backdrop to the photo of your m/bike!

  3. Awesome post!! I liked the superb idea of posting such mesmerising church pictures, they look so nice.

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