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St. John the Baptist, Bere Regis

August 26, 2014

St. John the Baptist, Bere Regis

DSCF9249This is a noted church which appears in all the church guidebooks, and with good reason. It is a church which looks good from the outside, but the interior is even better. It features a delightful hammer bean roof which dates from around 1475. It reminds me of some of the churches in East Anglia.

DSCF9250The signs outside are very good and there is a clear welcome to this much visited church.  The churches of Dorset are big on the Living Churchyard project and there is a whiteboard in the porch for people to enter their own sightings – a very good idea indeed.

Inside, and in a prominent place opposite the door is a display board with visitor information, this also makes very plain (in a good way) that there is a need for funds to maintain this magnificent place. Other displays explain about the Living Churchyard and there is a good history display here as well as one about World War 1. A lot of thought has gone into things at St. John’s. A churchyard trail also features, which is another unusual and very welcome feature. The Junior Church here has their own work displayed for all to see – it is good to remind people that the church is, first and foremost a community of faith of different ages. To remind the visitor further of this there is an open Bible was here also and a prayer board and a visitors guide to the organ here – that is a very rare thing to find but will interest many. If a church has a good organ (as this does) then why not tell people about it? Much is made of the church’s link with the novels of Thomas Hardy – there is a Turberville tomb here which seems to have been the inspiration for the tragic tale of ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’. Again, it is good to use the stories that surround a church. There is a leaflet to take away about this. As has become common (ish) there is a folder detailing the World War 1 dead – sobering reading.

All in all I rate St. John the Baptist as very good for the visitor. The church website is at http://www.bereregiswithaffpuddle.org.uk – there is visitor information on this – guided tours are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays through the summer.

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