© 2024 Buckland Newton Community Website Committee Last updated 19th April 2024 17:10 Website design and update by Jeremy Collins

Holy Rood Church

People have worshipped at a church on

this site since at least the 13th Century,

when the earliest part of the current

church was built. Countless

generations have used this place for

baptisms, weddings, funerals and in

their daily service, worship and prayer.

The Benefice

The parish of Buckland Newton is part of the benefice of Buckland Newton, Cerne Abbas, Godmanstone and Minterne Magna. The vicar, Rev. Canon Jonathan Still lives in the vicarage in Cerne Abbas ( Tel: 01300 341 251, cernevicar@gmail.com )

Safeguarding Policy

Holy Rood Church Buckland Newton takes its responsibilities surrounding the safeguarding of children, young people, and adults who may be at risk very seriously, and works in partnership with the Diocese of Salisbury to ensure that we work in accordance with best practice at all times. Buckland Newton PCC has Safeguarding Policies for Children and Young People and Vulnerable Adults. If you require a copy of the full policy statements or if you have any Safeguarding questions or concerns, please contact the Vicar on 01300 341251 email cernevicar@gmail.com or our Benefice Safeguarding Officer, Valerie Champion on 07792 182709. Alternatively you can contact the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser, on 07500 664800 or email heather.bland@salisbury.anglican.org

Holy Rood Church at risk?

from the Vicar, Jonathan Still: Dear Friends, We have some news on the condition of Holy Rood Buckland Newton Chancel roof! It has been a long wait to get the specialists and scaffolding and safety checks. The good news is that the initial tests have shown that there is no asbestos present. Removal of the ceiling panels has revealed is that they have been acting as traps for condensation moisture. Water vapour has been able to enter into the space behind where the oak boarding supports the lead roof covering directly above. The vapour has then condensed into liquid water on the underside of the relatively cooler northern face of the roof. This moisture has allowed the development of localised areas of bacterial and fungal rot in the timbers over a long period. Our architect and contractors are now devising a plan for remedial work. Because of the weight of the timber and lead covering, this will not be able to be done from inside. It appears therefore that an external scaffold roofing over the chancel will be required to enable the replacement of the areas of rotten timber, and then the replacement of the lead roof incorporating some vents to enclosed spaces. The chancel is the oldest part of Holy Rood. It has been here since being built by Glastonbury Abbey in the C13th. We will soon have a plan to remedy the problem. Then we will have to work out how the remedy can be funded, so expect to hear more from me! The problems with the chancel roof were found when our architect carried out his Quinquennial Survey last year and this also identified various repairs needed to the roofs, stonework and rendering, etc. these need to be addressed over the next 1 to 4 years. The PCC members together with our architect will be addressing these items shortly and some may be incorporated with the chancel roof works. I remain very grateful to the small team of Buckland people keeping Holy Rood alive and flourishing. Our services continue at 10am 1st, 2nd and fourth Sundays and 4pm on 3rd. We have several weddings booked for 2024 and 2025. It is always lovely to see you there.


For the service pattern, please see the Church Services page. You will be made very welcome at any of our services. Please feel free to visit the church at any time - it is usually open to visitors or for private prayer from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm. A booklet entitled 'A Book of Revelations!' has been produced so that we can all be aware of what's happening with our Church, and also get to know some of the villagers who work to keep it going. It's not a bad read! Please feel free to pop in and get yourself a copy for £1 donation or not, as you prefer. It's more important that you read it than donate.

Looking for your ancestors?

A list of the gravestones in the Churchyard (now closed for all burials except the interment of ashes) and in the separate lower Burial Ground (near the school) has been compiled by the Online Parish Clerk (OPC) website at http://www.opcdorset.org/BucklandNewtonFiles/BucklandNewton.htm and may also be viewed by clicking on the links to the left. There are also plans of both the Churchyard (originally prepared by West Dorset DC) and the lower Burial Ground, and tables cross-referencing the plot numbers on the Churchyard and lower Burial Ground to the names on the graves. These again can be accessed through the Graves links to the left and may contain more recent information. Please note that the cross-referencing of graves plan in the churchyard and the names on the gravestones is an ongoing process, as deciphering some of the gravestones is proving time- consuming. A particularly poignant memorial is the small stone pillar with four panels, to the north of the church and close to the boundary hedge. This commemorates 13 local children (the youngest aged 10 months) and one adult who died in an epidemic of either cholera or typhoid in 1858. This year was known nationally as ‘the year of the Great Stink’. Presumably unusually hot weather produced a nationwide epidemic.

The Chancel

"The most notable 13th century building (in central Dorset) is the Chancel of Buckland Newton, which although restored is sophisticated work for a village church." (Royal Commission on Historical Monuments). The north wall and its windows (not the glass) are original, but it is possible that the south wall may have been rebuilt as it is seven inches thinner. The door is certainly later, and the walls were probably heightened when the nave was built. In the 19th century the east window was replaced twice, in 1841 and 1869, and the Chancel re-roofed using the carved corbels which speculators have confidently identified as Henry III, his Queen, the Bishop the Lord And Lady of the Manor and the mason! On the north wall of the Sanctuary is a baptismal robe of about 1650. The altar and reredos were designed by a Mr Tolhurst of Mowbrays and dedicated in 1927. The Church is dedicated to the Holy Rood, or Cross, but the Rood Screen which once divided the Chancel and Nave has now gone - possibly at the time of the Commonwealth when James Sparing, Thomas Hall, and John Weeks were in turn appointed to the parish by Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector. The stone stair which led to the Rood loft can be seen on the north side of the arch and it is suggested the priest used to climb up there to sing the Gospel, or maybe to preach, before the days of pulpits.


This is late 15th century. Note the way in which the arch of the north door (the 'Plush' door) which the people from Plush used to use before they had a Chapel of their own) has been 'tailored' into the base of the window above. There used to be a window over the Chancel arch, but the old roof was higher, and badly designed. There were no tie bars, and it pushed the walls apart. The south arcade still has a visible lean. The 19th century roof is lower, and did away with the window. In the 1878 restoration they renewed the floor, built a boiler house, and repositioned the font and the entrance door to the room over the porch. They made new pews incorporating the 15th century oak bench ends, belonging to seats of "most uncomfortable construction", and they removed all traces of "a hideous gallery extending the whole width of the Nave and Aisles at the west and of the Church, and said to contain 120 sittings". The stonework and plaster were renovated, the lime wash removed, and the walls distempered. The pulpit panelling is 18th century, as is the old oak chest. A brass plate on the west wall commemorates a 17th century ancestor of the Dorset poet William Barnes (who attended the reopening in 1878). The curious Poor Box is 16th century and the Font is a Century older still, the same age as the Nave itself. When restoring the Nave a century ago, traces were found in the northwest corner of an earlier Nave, and it has been suggested that the arch leading into the Tower, off-centre and Decorated rather than Perpendicular in style, may have been part of it too. Over the door is set what is perhaps the oldest piece of stone carving in these parts - 7th or 8th century. It was found in the Vicarage garden in 1926, and is secular rather than religious.


This is also 15th century, with a chamber above said to have been use by visiting clergy when the parish was served from Glastonbury. Over the door into the Church is a 12th century representation of Christ in Majesty previously set in a niche high on the tower.


There are six bells in the Tower, two of them from the time when John Phillips was Vicar. They are dated 1581 and 1609 and replaced an earlier peal of five. The sixth bell was added when all were re-hung in 1913. All the bells and mechanisms were overhauled in 2012. The clock is a Jubilee Clock bought for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. It cost £120. Further information can be found here about the Clock and Bells.

Other Features

The window glass is all modern, but in the Nave good quality quarry glass set in lead was put in a century ago to replace the cheap domestic panes that were then there. The East Window depicting the Epiphany Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord, is in memory of James Venables (Vicar 1805-1850) (he must have put in the 'hideous gallery' in 1821; NB not the present organ loft). The north Chancel windows which show raisings of the dead in Old and New Testaments are in memory of Arthur Elton, curate, who died of a fever after losing his way one November evening in 1863 when walking back over the hill from Plush Chapel. The windows on the south side of the Chancel show St. Andrew, patron saint of Wells Cathedral and St. Peter and St. Paul patron saints of Bath Abbey, and are in memory of Archdeacon Gunning (Vicar 1850-1860). The west window (by Kempe) under the tower completes the century of clergy glass, showing St. Gabriel, St. Michael & St.Raphael in memory of Canon Ravenhill (Vicar 1860-1907) who directed the last restoration and was Rural Dean for twenty-five years as the brass lectern shows. Outside, notice the sundial set askew over the Porch and in the Churchyard several table tombs with inscriptions barely legible some from the 17th century. Registers When it became law that Registers must be kept, John Phillips himself a public notary was Vicar of Buckland Newton. The Register which he made, starting with entries for 1568, is a work of art and in fine condition. This, together with all Registers and Documents relating to the Parish may be seen in the Dorset County Archives, just below the Public Library car park at County Hall. There is an interesting volume kept by the clergy in the 19th century; churchwardens accounts; plans and builders' specifications; newspaper accounts; Constable's Warrants; tithe papers and the accounts of the Overseers of the Poor - and many other items.

War Memorial

The War Memorial in Buckland Newton Churchyard commemorates those villagers who lost their lives in the two World Wars. Recent research has filled in some of the details of those named and this information can be viewed here. Restoration "The outside of the Church is covered with Roman cement which gives a very unsatisfactory and unchurchlike tone of colour to the exterior but judging from the materials with which the interior of the Tower walls are built I cannot doubt that this was found a necessary precaution against the driving weather to which this Church is exposed and I should be afraid to advise its removal." So wrote the Diocesan Architect to Canon Ravenhill in 1864.The removal of rendering from the outside helped to dry out the walls where moisture had been trapped behind faulty rendering; The Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches in January 1977 strongly advised replacement of the rendering. In their view the soft rubble with which the walls were built has always had, and will need to have, a good protective finish. The process of hacking off and replacing all the defective rendering has now been completed, finishing with an even, slightly warm tone which will weather attractively. The interior has also been replastered and the distemper replaced with a limewash which is the ancient finish greatly to be preferred on all counts. The village of some two hundred dwellings would find it difficult to meet the cost of all this without outside help however economically the work is done. This is a problem in common with most village churches in the County. Fortunately, through a most generous bequest by Tom Dibben, all of this work is now complete. The people of the village continue do their best in a variety of ways and many social and fund raising events are held to support the church. Sources of Information Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, Dorset Vo1.3 Pt 1. Hutchins 'History of Dorset'; Mayo 'Buckland Newton Parish Register'; Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Field Club Vol. X page xxiii, Vol. XXVIII, page lvi, Vol. X, page 97; Victoria County History, Vol. 2, pages 35,38,142,250; Somerset and Dorset Notes & Queries Vol. XII page 80 and HOME NEWS Vol.1, page 87. Documents in the Salisbury Diocesan Record Office.
Buckland Newton Community Website
in the heart of rural Dorset