Description: Abbey Church of St Peter and St Paul
Date Listed: 18 July 1963
English Heritage Building ID: 248073
OS Grid Reference: SU5792794196
OS Grid Coordinates: 457927, 194196
Latitude/Longitude: 51.6436, -1.1642
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DORCHESTER HIGH STREET
SU5794 (East side)
5/44 Abbey Church of St. Peter and
18/07/63 St. Paul
Abbey church. C12, C13, C14, tower 1602; restored c.1845 by James Cranston,
1846-53 by William Butterfield and 1859-74 by George Gilbert Scott. Coursed
squared limestone rubble with ashlar dressings; stone-slate, old plain-tile and
lead roofs. Aisled chancel, nave with south aisle, west tower and south porch.
Chancel, which was extended one bay beyond its aisles, c.1340, has deep
buttresses, a carved string, to north, and 3 large windows with unique all-over
tracery: north, a Jesse Tree; east, 6 lights of Reticulation with a central
buttress below a wheel restored by Butterfield; south, 4 lights of elongated
Reticulation, with a transom, above 4 small sedilia windows in deep arched
recesses. Early C14 south chancel aisle, with gabled buttresses and a south-east
angle turret with stone spirelet, has, to east, a pair of 3-light windows with
spherical triangles and, to south, four 3-light windows with cusped Intersecting
tracery. South wall of late C14 nave aisle has 4 similar windows with plainer
buttresses. The C13 south-west angle buttress has 2 tiers of niches, below tall
gables, and a stone spirelet. Early Perpendicular south door is in a C15/C16
open porch with Tudor-arched entrance. Similar Perpendicular west door is below
a 4-light window with cusped Intersecting tracery, restored by Scott. 3-stage
crenellated west tower was largely rebuilt 1602 (date near top), with 3
chequered stone and flint octagonal corner turrets and a deep moulded plinth,
but incorporates C12 work in the south-east stair turret and several
round-arched windows; belfry openings have plain Y-tracery. C12 north wall of
nave has one restored tall Romanesque window, 2 inserted square-headed 3-light
C14 windows with Reticulated tracery, and a small blocked Decorated doorway.
Return to remains of former north transept has a C12 doorway (probably altered),
with detached shafts, interlacing capitals and geometrical tympanum. C17 north
wall has an arched window with plain mullions and transoms. Narrow 4-bay north
chancel aisle is early C13, raised late C13, and has 2- and 3-light windows with
some shafted jambs and mullions plus Geometrical tracery. Interior: The rear
arches of the 3 sanctuary windows have rows of ball-flower ornament, and the
tracery is encrusted with figure carvings, most notably the Jesse Tree to north.
The triple sedilia and piscina have elaborate stone canopies, beneath which are
cusped triangular windows. Earlier double piscina to the west. 3-bay late
Cl3/early C14 chancel arcades have composite piers and richly-moulded arches.
North chancel aisle has large piscina and row of 3 aumbries, plus unused early
C13 vaulting shafts with dogtooth ornament. Arch to north transept has foliage
capitals. Wide south chancel aisle has C19 stone vault in 2 eastern bays with
central row of columns. Elaborate canopied piscina and doorway in south-east
corner. Plain semi-circular north and south crossing arches may be Cll/C12;
western arch is lighter with a pointed Transitional arch springing from shafted
responds with palmette-leaf capitals. 3-bay late C14 nave arcade has much
plainer piers and arches; one pier bearing a large carved image bracket. East
wall of south aisle has blocked window of transept and a small C14 doorway.
Roofs are all C19 with some crown-post trusses. Sanctuary windows have much
contemporary glass (panels, figures and armorial); mid C13 roundel in east
window of north chapel; C14 fragments in a north window of nave. 2 windows by
Hardman (1830 and 1842) in south choir aisle, plus 2 by Mayer of Munich (1899);
east window wheel by O'Connor to Butterfields designs (1847). C14 wall painting
in south aisle. Pulpit and pews by Butterfield; early C16 choir stalls with
carved poppy-head ends; base of C15 parclose screen; C17 communion table; two
C17 chests; bier dated 1685. Romanesque lead font with figures beneath arcading.
Monuments include 2 medieval coffins, 4 fragmentary C15/C16 brasses and 4 stone
effigies, the earliest, of c.1280, a fine cross-legged figure; also many C17 and
C18 stone and marble ledgers.
(Buildings of England: Oxfordshire, pp.576-583).
Listing NGR: SU5793294196
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.