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St Mary's History

The original church for the Parish of Marshwood was a Norman chapel enclosed within the moat at Marshwood castle the castle being held by the Barony of Mandeville of Marshwood. The site is now part of Lodge House farm, only part of the moat and banks being visible. By 1640 the manor had passed to Lord Poulet who unfortunately was loyal to his king. Both manor and church were allowed to fall into ruin. A reference was found in Hutchins for 1650 "when Marshwood was destitute of a Minister for want of sufficient maintenance." For approximately 200 years Marshwood was an outlying parish attached to Whitchurch Canonicorum.
In 1840 Charles Benjamin Tucker gave land for a new church. This was dedicated by the Bishop of Norwich, acting for the Bishop of Salisbury, on 26th September 1841. By 1884, Saint Mary's was in need of extensive restoration. The nave and chancel were restored by G. Vialls only the tower is earlier.
The church is well proportioned with good acoustics. By local tradition the chancel pews and red wall lights are ascribed to Thomas Hardy, then an assistant architect. The stained glass was supplied by H. Foxwell of Lyme Regis, who has signed his name on two of the windows.
Until 1950 the top of the tower was finished with stone crenellations. Then the Reverend Earl (curate) decided that the top of the tower was over decorated "like icing on a cake" and had them replaced by the present plain blocks.
Saint Mary the Virgin Marshwood
Church and school working together

In May 2000 Miss Giles, head teacher, Ian Gillespie churchwarden and the PCC compiled a school and church plan. The school to have much needed extra space during the week and the congregation to gain comfort and warmth for their Sunday worship. The old rotting wooden floor and the unstable pews were removed and new floor installed and carpeted. Radiators and an oil fired boiler are now in place. The church is warm and dry.
There are 36 soft upholstered chairs for regular use and 60 stacking chairs when needed. The chancel remained unchanged.
On Thursday third of October 2002 the church was rededicated by the Bishop of Salisbury the Right Reverend Dr David Stancliffe.
The children of Marshwood school now use the church for lessons, PE activities, music, drama, end of term concerts and leaving services; to which the villagers are always welcome.
In addition to Sunday worship, the church members have used the new layout to show arts and crafts and hobbies. We also enjoy fundraising at coffee mornings. This venture has been of great benefit to both school and church.
Changes to the Chancel
The school soon realised that they needed more space for their equipment. In 2003 it was suggested that the vestry in the south west corner of the nave could be handed over to the school, and a new vestry built in the south aisle next to the chancel. The PCC agreed the change on 13 July 2004. After much consideration, a design by Blackmore was accepted. In 2006 the organ was moved to its new position in the south aisle of the nave. Under the keen eye of Mr Ian Gillespie, churchwarden, the south aisle was then blocked with a new wall, the floor raised and a new wooden screen installed. The work being done during school holidays to keep disruption to the school children to a minimum. Finished in 2007 our new vestry is very convenient for both clergy and sacristan.
On the north wall of the chancel is a 16" x 23" plaque generously donated by Mr and Mrs Seago as a parting gift when they left the parish. A reconstituted marble plaque of Christ flanked by serried ranks of heralding and praying angels, the Messiah portrayed in raised relief, standing haloed with arms spread in benediction. Inscribed to lower left K Harrison. It is a modern cast taken from the 19th century marble in the manner of John Flaxman R.A. (1755 to 1826.)

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