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REST0RATION & REORDERING
ST PETER & ST PAUL'S CHURCH BLANDFORD FORUM
THE HERITAGE TRAIL - CONSTRUCTION


The History of Blandford Parish Church

Introduction Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Chancel Vault

Blandford Church 20 years ago The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul was erected during the years 1732-39 on much the same plan as its predecessor at an initial cost of £3,200. The work was carried out to the design and under the supervision of John and William Bastard who were established builder/architects at Blandford at the time, the family having had considerable experience in ecclesiastical work. One of the examples nearest to Blandford is St. Mary's church at Charlton Marshall, completed in 1713.

Much of the specialist work was done by subcontracting masons and workers in various other trades. It is evident that funds were not sufficient to complete the work to their original plan of a church with spire - the design of which may be seen in one of their notebooks, held in the Bodleian Library. The new church was opened and re-dedicated on April 8th 1739.

The tower was completed in 1749, when the Apprentices Bell was re-hung in the cupola that replaced the originally planned spire. (The Apprentices Bell - cast in 1727 - was the only bell to have survived the 1731 fire, and had been hanging in a temporary church known as the "Tabernacle".)

This cupola was much to the Bastards' disgust as evidenced by a sketch and comment in their notebook:

This Church was Designed and buylt by John and William Bastard Architects and buylders natives of the said Towne & was Carreyd on and finished by them inside & out Except the tower & Turrett, the money being expended the Buylding was stopped for some years - after which it fell into other Hands who Rejeckted the spiere in steed there of Ereckted the short lived wooden top or turrett marked A which will not keep the wett nor wether out.

Prior to 2015, there was a good deal of evidence to support the belief that the completion of the West tower and erection of the cupola was the work of Nathaniel Ireson of Wincanton. However, research of primary sources undertaken to support the HLF bid in 2013 has led to the belief that it was the work of a rival Blandford builder, Ambrose Byles. Nonetheless, it was constructed well and in spite of being struck by lightning in the 1960s and having had numerous repairs it is still there. Ben Cox thought it more in keeping with a Georgian structure than a traditional stone spire would have been. The Western tower is 80 feet high surmounted by the cupola which is 25 feet in height.

A view from the early 1960s
Interior before galleries were removed
Nave & Apse pre-1895 extension

Despite their rejection of the cupola, the Bastard brothers produced what is universally recognised as the most pleasing Georgian church in the baroque style to be seen outside London and now, in the centre of Blandford's Conservation Area, it gives much pleasure to those who live in the town, and to many students of church architecture and visitors who come to Blandford. Blandford Church 20 years ago

The main construction work was carried out in a soft Wiltshire green sandstone which, in recent years, has shown considerable evidence of flaking. This has involved enormous outlay on repair works yet, in spite of numerous appeals for funds, much still needs to be done to preserve the fabric. It is very fortunate that the quoins, window frames, pilasters and other dressings were of Ham Hill and Portland stone. The walls are capped by a cornice and parapet, the round heads of the windows tending to emphasise the scale of the building.

Over the South external doorway there is a sundial. The cornice to the West front over the door was cut into to enable the church clock to be inserted.

The building's layout was of a central nave, North and South aisles, and apse at the East end, with entrances on the North and South.

Circa 1900

Introduction Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Chancel Vault



Updated Dec 11th 2015

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