ALL SAINTS' CHURCH,
A brief guide
Welcome to All Saints'
The present church was built in the fifteenth century and has been described
as impressive and important.
The list of priests goes back to 1263, so it is likely that
there was at least one earlier building on or near the present site. Indeed the
first reference to a church 'of Wyke' is in 1172.
Wyke itself has an even longer history with evidence from the
Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages. Extensive Roman remains have been found on the hill
to the east of the church.
We hope you will enjoy your virtual tour.
All Saints Church from the air
Looking Round the Church
If you stand between the two doors, facing the altar at the
east end, you get a good sense of the proportions of All Saints' church. You can
appreciate the perpendicular style, with its slender columns, pointed arches and
plenty of light - note the large east window.
In general the church as you see it is the church which was
consecrated on 19 October 1455. However, it would have seemed very different
then. For one thing, there would have been no pews, just some benches against
the walls for the elderly. During the week, the nave - the area where the
congregation now sits in the pews - may well have been a busy meeting area for
In common with most parish churches, All Saints' had three
altars: two where the present, modern ones stand, the third where the organ is.
The two heads, facing each other across the nave from their
respective pillars, are Henry VI, king when the church was built, and his queen,
Margaret of Anjou.
King Henry VI
Margaret of Anjou
The nave would have been divided from the chancel, where
the choir stalls are, by a screen. The stone angel corbels which jut from
the walls at this point are each missing a wing where a beam would have
been, perhaps topped by a crucifix and statues.
Royal Coats of Arms
There are two. That over the main door on the south side
is Tudor and comes from Sandsfoot Castle, the ruins of which overlook
Portland Harbour. The painted one, on the west wall of the north aisle, is
of King George I. Canny church officials made it serve two more Georges,
first painting in the 'II', and then adding a third 'I', and ignoring the
fact that the arms themselves changed!
This is perpendicular in style, of the same date as the
church. So many thousands of babies, and a good numbers of adults, too, have
been baptized into the Christian faith in it. The font originally stood in
the nave between the two doors.
The Lady Chapel
At the opposite end of the south aisle is the altar
dedicated to Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus. The altar,
and the screen behind it, the reredos, were put in place about 1950. A white
light burns here, indicating the presence of the Reserved Sacrament, the
bread from holy communion, kept for taking to the sick and dying.
Pulpit and Lectern
At either side of the chancel steps are the lectern and
pulpit. The lectern is in the form of a brass eagle, its outstretched wings
to support the bible, and carrying the good news over the world beneath its
feet. The teaching ministry of the church is exercised from the stone pulpit
These form a memorial to those killed in the Second World
War, some of whose names are carved here.
The main door appears to be the original one, consisting
of planks, vertical on the outside, horizontal on the inside, roughly nailed
Just inside is a badly damaged holy water stoup, which
would have contained the water the faithful used to bless themselves with as
they entered the church.
There are niches in the porch, above the door, and above
the entrance to the porch. These would have contained statues, destroyed in
The corbel heads in the aisles are nearly all of Early
English period and came from the building that the present church replaced
and are mainly of secular subjects. An interesting one in the south aisle,
to the east of the main door is of a workman carrying a hod, and gives a
good idea of the dress of those times. Another one on the nave side of the
south arcade almost over the font, is of a mason carrying a mason's tool
(Maul) under his arm. By the tower arch on its north side , is a very
interesting corbel indeed. It represents a dog with a bone in its mouth.
This corbel is probably Norman and is probably the only evidence that a
Norman church once stood on the site.
Workman with Hod
Mason with Maul
Dog with Bone
The splendid west tower, for centuries a landmark for
sailors in Lyme Bay, contains a ring of eight bells. The heaviest weighs in
at over 16 hundredweight (0.8 tonne), the lightest 42 hundredweight. When
the church was consecrated there were just four bells, these being
confiscated by the Crown a hundred years later. The present ring was recast
by Taylors of Loughborough in 1891.
The churchyard contains a number of mass burials of those
lost at sea. Among them are eighty of those who drowned when the East
Indiaman, the Earl of Abergavenny, sank in Weymouth Bay in 1805. Her
captain, John Wordsworth, brother of the poet William, was buried away from
the others to the south of the church, although there is no surviving stone
on his grave.
A memorial was erected inside the church adjacent to the
North Door, by the Wordsworth Trust in February 2005, in memory of John
Wordsworth and to mark the 200th Anniversary of the sinking of the Earl of
A stone on the grave of a young smuggler, William Lewis,
is reputed to have inspired the novel Moonfleet, set on this coast.
In the east churchyard is buried William Thompson, who is
credited with taking the first underwater photograph in 1856.
William Thompson's grave
All Saints' Today
The church serves a parish of about 8,000 people, who
still come here to be baptized, married and buried.
The church is not just a beautiful building, it is also a
living and worshipping community. Services are held most days subject to the
Rectors availability. On Fridays there is a communion service at 10.30 am.
On Sundays the
main services are at 8.00 am and 9.30am. Full details can be found on the
weekly notice sheets available in church.
Visitors are very welcome to join us.
Thank you for your visit. We hope you have enjoyed All Saints' church. The
maintenance of the building is a costly business. We welcome donations for its
upkeep which may be placed in the wall boxes near where you bought this leaflet
or beside the main entrance.
Text: Keith Hugo, photographs and additional
text Gary Hepburn 1999-2007 © The Parish of Wyke Regis, All Saints with St