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Church of St John the Evangelist, Shaftesbury

Description: Church of St John the Evangelist

Grade: II
Date Listed: 20 June 1952
English Heritage Building ID: 102002

OS Grid Reference: ST8547023142
OS Grid Coordinates: 385470, 123142
Latitude/Longitude: 51.0075, -2.2085

Location: 6 Church Hill, Shaftesbury, Dorset SP7 8LL

Locality: Shaftesbury
Local Authority: North Dorset District Council
County: Dorset
Country: England
Postcode: SP7 8LL

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Explore more of the area around Shaftesbury, Dorset at Explore Britain.

Listing Text

688/4/114 CHURCH HILL
(North side)


1842-3, by George Alexander of London.

Materials: Ashlar sandstone (probably local Greensand stone), blue slate.

Plan: Cruciform plan with apsidal chancel, and crossing tower. Three-bay nave. There are galleries at the west end and in both transepts, the latter originally reached by stair turrets in the angles between the chancel and transepts. These were accessed originally only from the exterior at ground level.

Exterior: The church is built in the Neo-Norman style, with a squat crossing tower which rises in one short stage above the roofline. The tower has raised strips like clasping buttresses at the angles, two bell-openings in each face, each of two narrow lights under an outer round arch. There is a corbel table and an embattled parapet. Generally the windows have a single order of colonnettes with simple scallop-type capitals, under a round arch. The lower walls of the four arms are plain, with all the windows high up, above a continuous stringcourse at sill level. The apse is semicircular in plan. It has three small single lancets, widely spaced. The transepts have triple windows facing north and south, under a continuous outer moulding, and a single light above in the gable. The west gable has a big oculus with star-pattern tracery, and a small central door with one order of colonnettes. The staircases in both eastern gallery turrets have gone; the southern turret now connects with the interior to form a secondary exit.

Interior: The interior is quite plain, with white painted walls, and the expected crossing with big round arches on all sides. The nave bays are defined by heavy columnar wall shafts with Norman capitals which act as corbels for the roof trusses. The roof is of dark-stained deal, with simple nave trusses and radial rafters over the apse. Stone flagged floors, with boards beneath the seating. Three galleries of 1843 survive in both transepts, and west end of the nave. Staircase access altered, especially to the north transept. Beneath the south gallery, a vestry has been formed. The west end has a tongue-and-groove boarded partition forming a small inner lobby, and enclosing the west gallery stairs (south) and toilet and kitchen (north). The latter was created in 2004. The north-west corner of the nave was originally the site of a small robing room, removed perhaps when the south transept vestry was created.

Principal Fixtures: The most interesting fitting is the lead-lined font, perhaps 15th century, with a square bowl and chamfered angles on a square foot. Each face of the bowl has two crudely incised 'poppyhead' motifs. It must have been ejected from a local church (but seemingly not Motcombe, which retains a medieval font). The font cover is of oak, and has a flat panel with raised border within which is a cyma reversa moulding, i.e. probably 17th or early 18th century. It has a central finial which is clearly of different origin, perhaps 15th century. It is crudely cut from a single piece of oak, with pierced ogee arches on each face. Each arch has a mullion and transom forming a cross through its centre; the 'transoms' are actually the edges of a solid shelf. Its top is roughly pyramidal. The commemorative pulpit is of dark oak, c. 1950. Of good quality, with linenfold panels and painted military insignia in shields at the top of each panel. In the nave the benches are of stained pine, perhaps original; they are thinly detailed, spartan, and in poor condition. A faculty for their removal has been applied for (2009). There are pews of the same type in the galleries. The ex-situ vestry screen is of pine, c. 1850-70 with Gothic arched openings. Three apse windows have stained glass c. 1843, with some heraldic devices and typical orange-yellow patterning.

Subsidiary Features: The west entrance is approached by stone steps with a ramp for disabled access, added in 2004.

History: The church was begun in 1842 as a chapel of ease to St Mary, Motcombe, and opened in August 1843. Enmore Green lies below a steep escarpment c ½ mile north west of Shaftesbury. The graveyard rises so steeply behind the church to the south and east that the visitor looks down upon its tower, an oddity noted by Thomas Hardy: "It was a place where the churchyard lay nearer heaven than the church steeple" (Jude the Obscure, Part Fourth, chapter 1). George Alexander (died c. 1884) practised in London and Highworth, Wiltshire. He designed several small Neo-Norman churches around this time, including the very similar Christ Church, East Stour, a few miles west of Enmore Green. A craze for Norman Revival churches swept the country for a few years from c. 1840, before falling from fashion equally quickly. Enmore Green became part of the borough of Shaftesbury in 1933.

Lambeth Palace Library, Incorporated Church Building Society (ICBS) archive ( file no. 03045
Newman and Pevsner, The Buildings of England, Dorset (1972), 202.

Reasons for Designation: The church of St John the Evangelist, Enmore Green, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* A simple but robust village church in the Neo-Norman style fashionable c. 1840, and an unusually assured example of the idiom.
* Picturesquely set on a steep hillside overlooking the Blackmore Vale.
* Unusually intact in its architectural form: it apparently had no later Victorian restoration, only piecemeal changes made locally.
* Crudely carved 15th century font of unknown origin, and font cover with a curious oak finial of similar date.

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.