PULHAM

 

 

ST THOMAS A BECKETT

 

For more information please visit:

www.whitehartvalechurchesdorset.co.uk

 

 

Pulham church outside

 

Pulham church inside

The church is situated in open countryside outside the village of Pulham along with the former rectory, the core of which is late 18th-century. Of the nine listed structures in Pulham, the church and rectory are both highly graded II*. Like countless other English country churches it has a long history and is the product of evolution over time. A small-scale archaeological investigation in 1997 suggests there may perhaps have been a pre-Conquest church on the site, the earliest phase of wall foundations exposed may be of Saxon date but the evidence is not clear.

Augustinian canons settled in Pulham from Cirencester around 1122 and established a community there, though there is archaeological evidence that suggests this was an even earlier site of Christian worship. The present building is the product of two main phases – late medieval (15th and 16th century) and a mid-Victorian rebuilding/restoration. As such it is a good representative of church-building in this area where the considerable amount of late medieval activity was fuelled by local prosperity, while the Victorian changes were driven by a keen desire, both by the clergy and laity, to restore dignity to the appearance of churches and the worship that took place within them. The church is an attractive building which occupies a key place in the history of the village and is important to its present-day appearance.

 

As is usual with medieval buildings, the original architects are unknown. The architect of the rebuilding work in 1870, which included both aisles, has also not been established although the south aisle windows were designed by the antiquarian clergyman, the Rev. F.C. Hingeston-Randolph from Devon. The chancel, western tower and arcades date from the 15th or early 16th centuries.

 

The windows of the north aisle have typical Perpendicular tracery. There are some fine 16th century gargoyles projecting from the walls.

 

The font is a tub-shaped Norman one of Purbeck marble and decorated with shallow, blank, round arches, often used to decorate fonts in the 12th and 13th centuries. There is a 15th-century sedilia (a reset niche). The nave and chancel have wagon roofs while the aisle roofs are boarded. The interior is mostly Victorian and largely complete apart from the pews at the south-west corner which have been removed to facilitate social gatherings.

 

Pulham sits on a slight hill in the south east corner of the Benefice, straddling the B3143 road. The original village surrounded the church on the brow of the hill, but when the area recovered from the Black Death in 1349 it moved a quarter of a mile away to its present site.