The Church of St Peter & St Paul is a large building consisting of a Chancel with North & South Aisles, a Nave with a South Aisle, a Western Tower, and a South Porch. Without the Tower, the Church is nearly 200ft long, and it measures nearly 80ft across the Aisles. With the exception of Oxford Cathedral, it is the only surviving Monastic Church in the County. No trace now remains above ground of the pre-Conquest Church founded by St Birinus in the 7thC, but its Foundations presumably exist beneath the Floor.
The existing Church was built by the Augustinian Canons established by Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln, in the middle of the 12thC. Owing to the loss of all the Abbey’s Archives its Architectural History before the Dissolution depends almost entirely on structural evidence, which in some respects is not easy to interpret. The earliest portions of the present Building date from the late 12thC, and appear to have formed part of a Cruciform Building without Aisles. The North wall of the Nave, the Western sides of both Transepts, the lower part of the South wall of the South Transept, the Western Arch of the Crossing, and the Eastern Angles of the original Presbytery all belonged to this late Romanesque Church. The Western Arch of the Crossing was probably matched by a similar Arch to the East but appears insufficient to have supported a Central Tower of any magnitude. The plain unmoulded Lateral Arches are of uncertain date. As they cut through the String-course which marks the 12thC work internally they cannot be earlier than the surviving West Arch, and in their present form, they may even be of post-Reformation date. On the other hand, their Western Responds rest on Chamfered Bases continuous with those of the Western Arch, thus demonstrating their 12thC origin. The East end of the 12thC Church is marked on the Northside by a Pilaster now partly cut away, but still visible in the Angle between the North Transept and the Chancel, and on the Southside by the remains of an ornamental Angle-Turret, now concealed behind a modern rainwater head, but illustrated by Freeman. The North wall of the Nave was originally lighted by a Range of tall single-light windows of which one remains complete, and traces of a similar window can be seen at the West end of the South wall. The Cloister stood on the Northside of the Nave, access to it being by a Romanesque Doorway (now blocked) in the West wall of the North Transept. This entrance appears to have been superseded in the 14thC by another Doorway in the North wall of the Nave. Adjoining this there are traces of a larger Arch or recess of unknown date and purpose. Of the Cloister itself, nothing now remains, but the ends of its Roof-timbers can be seen embedded in the North wall of the Nave, and its Foundations, seen and sketched by Anthony Wood in the 17thC, were located by excavation in 1882. Some moulded Spandrels & Capitals preserved with other fragments in the Church may well have formed part of the Cloisters.
The original Plan of the East end of the Church is a matter for conjecture. There are likely to have been one or more Transeptal Chapels North & South of the Choir, and the Foundations of one such Chapel, perhaps of 13thC date, are known to exist on the Northside. The present North Aisle appears to represent the Eastward extension of the Inner Chapel on the Northside. In its present form, it dates from the 2nd half of the 13thC, but externally a fragment of String-course, and internally a series of Vaulting Shafts with Early English mouldings are evidence that the Aisle was begun on a smaller scale early in the 13thC, and later remodelled with its present Buttresses & Windows. It is not unlikely that a similar Aisle formerly existed on the Southside, but all trace of the 13thC arrangements here were destroyed in the following Century. The earlier work in the North Aisle may perhaps have formed part of a building programme connected with the translation of the Relics of St Birinus, for which Papal approval was obtained in 1225, while its later remodelling must have taken place within a few years of the granting in 1293 of an Indulgence in aid of the Abbey’s Fabric.
The corresponding Aisle on the Southside extends to the full width of the Transept, and dates from the early years of the 14thC. Its 2 Eastern bays are Vaulted, and were probably intended to form the setting for the handsome new Shrine in which the Relics of St Birinus were shortly to be placed. At the same time uniform Arcades were built on both sides of the Choir. The Northern Arcade at least presumably replaced one of 13thC date, but it is possible that hitherto the North Aisle was separated from the Choir by an unpierced wall, for the Capitals of the Vaulting-shafts in its North wall are placed so low as almost to preclude a normal Arcade on the Southside. A doorway was also inserted in the former |West wall of the South Transept, now the West wall of the Aisle. This doorway has an external drip-mould, thus indicating that at the time it was built there was no Aisle on the Southside of the Nave. It was, however, not long before a broad Aisle was added in this position for the use of (and presumably at the expense of) the Parishioners, to whom this part of the Church was allocated. Externally this Aisle forms a continuation of the South Choir Aisle, and its windows correspond closely in design to those immediately to the East. Its later date is, however, demonstrated both by the existence of the doorway already referred to and by the difference in the mouldings of the Buttresses. The Buttress at the South-west Angle requires special notice, for it incorporates an early 13thC Niche, with characteristic Mouldings & Capitals, which must originally have adorned some other part of the Church. St John Hope’s suggestion that it stood originally at the South-West corner of the South Choir Aisle cannot be accepted, as it must antedate that Aisle by something like a Century, and it is perhaps more likely that it formed part of a 13thC West Front, displaced by the erection of a West Tower at about the same time as the building of the Aisle. As the construction of the Aisle involved a considerable encroachment on the Churchyard, a Vaulted Charnelhouse was built beneath the Altar in order to receive such bones as were disturbed in the course of the work. Above the Altar, there is an Arched Recess in the wall which may represent the blocking of a former window. After the construction of the Nave Aisle, the Parish Church was separated from the Monastic Church by a Screen, part of which can still be seen in the Eastern Bay of the Nave Aisle. In 1530 the Bishop directed that the Gates between the 2 parts of the Church were to be kept locked at Night.
Somewhat later – probably about 1340 – the Presbytery was extended Eastwards by the addition of a Rectangular Bay lighted by 3 large windows of unconventional design. The East window is remarkable both for the unusual character of its Tracery and for its division into 2 by a Central Buttress. The North window is so designed as to exhibit the Tree of Jesse, the central mullion representing the Trunk of a Tree, its branches crossing over the intermediate Mullions as far as the Jambs. At the Base is carved the Figure of Jesse, and at each intersection occurs the Sculptured Figure of one of his descendants, others being represented in stained glass in the intervening lights. The whole composition culminated in a figure of Christ, now mutilated, placed at the point where the Central Mullion divided. Sculpture and stained glass were similarly combined in the South window to tell what appears to have been the Story of St Birinus. After the South window was in place its Cill was cut away to allow the insertion of elaborate Sedilia and Piscina with crocketed Canopies. Behind the Seats, the wall is pierced by 3 glazed openings in the shape of Spherical Triangles. Externally one of the 14thC Buttresses presents a curious Architectural anomaly in the form of a Niche decorated with ‘dog-tooth‘ Moulding in the style of the late 12thC. Unlike the one at the South-West corner of the South Aisle, this Niche appears to be an integral part of the structure in which it is set, and not an earlier feature re-used. Its presence would seem therefore to be another symptom of the somewhat eccentric taste which is characteristic of the whole East End.
Only 2 other additions to the fabric are known to have occurred before the Dissolution of the Abbey. One was the building of a West Tower, the other the addition of a South Porch. The latter appears to date from the late 15th or early 16thC. Of the Medieval West Tower only the Stair-Turret survives. The mouldings of its doorway indicate that it was built in the 14thC.
When the Abbey was suppressed in 1536 the Chancel was bought for £140 by Richard Beauforest, a ‘Great rich man‘ of Dorchester, and the whole building was made available for Parochial use. In his Will, Beauforest left the Chancel or Abbey Church to the Parish on condition that the Parishioners did not sell or change the ‘Church Implements‘ without the consent of his Executors.
In 1602 a new West Tower was built in place of its predecessor, but incorporating the 14th-century Stair-Turret. nIt is of traditional design, with octagonal Buttresses & Flint Chequer-work in the style of several late Medieval Towers in the Thames Valley. The date 1602 and the initials J W are carved on a Stone near the top of the South-West Buttress, and an entry in the Parish Register records ‘The Tower of Dorchester rebuilt by J W 1602.‘
This was the only post-Reformation addition to the Church, and for the last 300 years, the maintenance of so large a Fabric has proved a serious problem to successive Churchwardens. Evidence of this is to be found both in Visitation complaints about the need for repair and in the demolition of the greater part of the North Transept and Transeptal Chapel, which seems to have taken place in the 17thC. The truncated Transept was incorporated in the North Aisle by means of a roughly built wall containing an ill-made ‘Churchwardens’ Gothic’ window. In 1633 a double ridged Roof was made over the South Nave Aisle. This involved blocking up the West window of the Aisle, and it may have been at the same period that the Roof of the Porch was raised in such a way as to obscure part of the window behind it. The possibility that the Arches North & South of the Crossing owe their present unmoulded appearance to post-Reformation alterations has already been mentioned. By the early 18thC the whole Church was in serious need of attention, and in 1737 estimates for repairs amounting to over £2,500 were submitted to the Justices with the object of obtaining a Brief. This was Granted and resulted in the collection of £714. In 1739 Robert Speakman of Oxford and Benjamin Leasonby of London, Carpenters, contracted to repair the Roof of the Southeast Aisle, and Charles Wheeler of Dorchester, Plumber, was engaged to cover it with Lead. It was probably at this time that the Vaulting was taken down and a flat plastered Roof inserted in its stead. In 1747 Richard Phillips of Nettlebed, Carpenter, engaged to take down and rebuild the Roof of the ‘middle Aisle from Chancel to the Arch‘. In 1746 the Chancel was repaired at the expense of the Fettiplace Family, who owned the Great Tithes, and a classical Altar-piece was set up. The West end of the Nave was repaved in 1747, and the North Aisle in 1765. No other major repairs appear to have been carried out until the 19thC, and by then the Church was ‘in some parts in a very unsound and dilapidated state‘. The whole of the Medieval Roofing had been destroyed and replaced by Plastered Ceilings or ‘rough open timberwork‘, the upper part of the east window had been removed in order to accommodate a flat Plaster Ceiling, and the Nave was divided into 2 by a Plastered Partition. The South window of the Chancel was held together only by Iron Bands, the Sedilia were ‘sadly broken and dilapidated‘, and the whole Church was ‘far from being in the state of cleanliness and decency in which it ought to be kept.‘
In 1844 the Oxford Architectural Society took the initiative in raising money for a general restoration. The fabric was 1st examined by James Cranstoun, an Oxford Architect, who estimated that a complete restoration would cost £3,970. By 1846 £500 had been raised, and the North & South windows of the Chancel and the Sedilia were repaired under Cranstoun’s direction. The restoration of the East window and the re-roofing of the Chancel were, however, entrusted to William Butterfield. These Works, together with the clearing & reseating of the Nave, were accomplished between 1846 & 1852. Between 1858 & 1874 the repair of the Church was resumed under the direction of Sir Gilbert Scott, who restored all the Roofs to their original Pitch and rebuilt the Vaulting at the East end of the South Aisle.
Until the Reformation the most important Tomb in the Church was that of its Founder & Patron St Birinus. Papal Authority to translate his body to a more fitting place was obtained in 1225, and a 14thC chronicler records that a new and magnificently carved Marble Shrine (feretrum marmoreum stupende Sculpture) was made in 1320. Large portions of an early 14thC canopied Shrine were found in the 19thC built up into the filling of the blocked doorway in the West wall of the North Transept, and are now displayed in the South Aisle near the spot where in all probability they originally stood. The lower part of the Shrine appears to have been of Purbeck Marble, the Canopy of Freestone, elaborately carved & painted.
There are 4 Medieval Effigies, 3 of Stone and one of Alabaster. The oldest, one of the Stone Effigies, is a large recumbent Figure of a cross-legged Knight dating from the Reign of Edward I. Although he cannot be identified with certainty, it seems most likely that this Knight is William de Valance The Younger (d.1282), and not Sir John de Holcombe (died 1270) as was formerly believed. His Effigy is one of the best pieces of 13thC Funerary Sculpture in England. Unusually life-like, in the act of drawing his Sword, with every detail of his Clothing & Armour there for you to see and touch, this Knight probably went on one of the Crusades to the Holy Land. When 1st made the Sculpture would have been brilliantly coloured in Blue, Red & Green, and Traces of these colours can still be seen in the Folds of the Cloak. Formerly claimed to represent ‘one Holcum, a Knight‘, who was buried in the Church according to a statement by a 16thC Abbot of Dorchester. A Robert of Little Holcombe held ⅓ hide in Holcombe of the Abbot in 1241.
The Abbot told Leland that he thought ‘Holcum‘ was buried in the Alabaster Tomb, but this supports the Effigy of a late 14thC Knight (possibly Hugh Segrave d.1387) with the Lion Rampant of Segrave on his breast, and the Arms of Segrave & Botetourt were formerly painted on the sides of the Tomb. The person commemorated cannot be identified with certainty, but it seems that he must have been a member of the Segrave Family descended from a marriage between Segrave & Botetourt.
A 3rd Effigy, representing a man in Legal Robes, with the Arms of Stonor on the side of the Tomb, is probably that of the Judge John de Stonor (d.1354). Stonor frequently occurs as an Advocate in the year-books, and in 1313, as one of the Serjeants, was summoned to Parliament. In 1316 he had £20 per annum for his Expenses in the King’s Service and was about this time frequently employed on Judicial Commissions. On 16 October 1320 Stonor was appointed one of the Justices of the Common Pleas.
The 4th Effigy is that of a Bishop in the style of the early 14thC. It was discovered under the floor in the 18thC and may be the ‘image of freestone‘ with an inscription to Bishop Æschwine (d.1002) seen by John Leland (Antiquary), which had disappeared when Wood visited the Church in 1657.
The Church once had a large number of Brasses & Memorial Slabs: Anthony Wood noted in 1657 that there had been 18 Inscriptions in the South Aisle alone and that all but one were defaced. The majority of the Memorials have now gone. Of the Brasses, those that remain are mutilated or have only Matrices left. Of the Brass of Abbot John de Sutton (d.1349) the Matrices of a man holding a Crozier and of the Inscription remain. Roger Smith, who resigned as Abbot in 1523 and who was also Bishop of Lydda, is commemorated by a much-worn incised Alabaster Slab with his figure on it. Abbot Richard ‘Bewfforeste’ (temporary Henry VIII) has a Brass with his Figure, a Latin Scroll, and an English Inscription. His Name & Crozier are also carved on one of the ends of the Choirstall-desks. Abbots are probably also commemorated by 2 Matrices, one of a Kneeling Figure with a Scroll, the other of a Floriated Cross. Another Abbot’s Brass, seen in the 17thC, has now gone, and so has the Inscription to the last Abbot, John March (d.1553). The Matrices of Brasses to 2 Canons remain: to Brother Ralph, under the North wall of the Nave, and to an unknown Canon kneeling opposite an Angel.Of the remaining non-Clerical Brasses or Matrices of Brasses, the oldest is perhaps the indent under a Triple Canopy in the Chancel. The Canopy resembles those on the Drayton Tombs and the Figure may have represented, as Wood thought, a contemporary of the Draytons, Sir Gilbert Wace of Ewelme, who in his Will of 1407 provided that the Abbot should have Services said for him, and may well have been honoured by being buried in the Chancel. Leland had earlier identified him as a ‘Gentleman’ named ‘Ways‘.
The oldest remaining Brass is a large one to Sir John Drayton (d.1417) of Nuneham Courtenay, who asked in his Will to be buried in Dorchester Church. The Figure of his wife Isabella and the Arms of Drayton Quartering Segrave have gone. Leland & Wood both noted 2 other Drayton Slabs, but were unable to identify them precisely. One must have been to Richard Drayton (d.1464), who in his Will asked to be buried in the Abbey between the Tomb of William Drayton and the south wall, and the other to William Drayton. Two Shields of Drayton and the Indent of a man in Armour remain and presumably represent one of these Draytons. Of the Brass to Margaret Beauforest (d.1523/4) and her 2 husbands (one of them named Richard Beauforest, the other William Tanner) and their children, the Figures of the woman & a man remain. The Shield of Ideley and part of one of Drayton Quartering Segrave are all that remain of the brass to Pers[e] Ideley and his 2 wives, one a Drayton. The indent of the Figures was there until the 19thC.
The only other remaining parts of Brasses are an early 16thC Merchant’s Mark over the Matrices of a man, his wife, and 2 children; and the small figure of a woman, perhaps Jenit Shirrey. The Figures of 5 girls, detached from some Brass, though recorded in the 19thC, could not be traced in 1959. There were once Memorials to Gilbert Segrave; William Yonge (d.1430) and his wife Alice with Shield of Arms; Robert Bedford (d.1491) and his wife Alice; William Bedford (d.1516) and Agnes Bedford (d.1518/19).
There are a number of 17thC and later Memorials, some of them apparently removed from the Churchyard. They include those to William Whinchester (d.1655), Pastor for 40 years; Agnes Clerke (d.1661), wife of Edward Clerke, Esq; the ‘Matchlesse’ Mrs Anne Carleton (d.1669); Francis Dandridge, ‘Pharmacop of London‘ (d.1714); Jonathan Granger (d.1774), Merchant, Citizen & Draper of London; Philadelphia Cherrill (d.1796), daughter of Francis Cherrill; Vincent Cherrill (d.1807) and his wife Margaret (d.1791); Mrs Sarah Fletcher, who ‘died a Martyr to excessive Sensibility‘ in 1799 in her 29th year; Thomas Latham (d.1843); & Richard Sheen, Mayor of Oxford (d.1840).
The Church is still rich in Medieval Painted Glass. Four Medallions in the openings over the Piscina & the Sedilia, representing scenes from the life of St Birinus, date perhaps from the early 13thC. They have been in their present position since 1808 at least, but in 1657 they were in the large South Window above. The East window contains a number of Panes of 14thC glass portraying Biblical Scenes & Scenes from the lives of Saints, as well as one Pane of Armorial Glass and the Figure of a Canon, Ralph de Tew. This glass was assembled about 1814 by Colonel or Captain Kennett from other windows and also from a Glazier’s Shop. The Glass in the Circle at the Top was inserted when the window was restored about 1847, and there is later 19thC glass by Clayton & Bell, placed there in 1874.
Kennett also had placed in the South Window of the Chancel most of the present collection of Armorial Glass, part of which had been in the East window. These 21 Armorial Shields and 5 in other windows, almost all of which can be identified as those of Noble Families holding land in the neighbourhood, date from about 1300. They include the Arms of Edward I and of Edmund, Earl of Cornwall, who died in that year. In 1574 and certainly as late as 1657 most of the Armorial Glass (more than double the present quantity) was in the East window of the Choir and one of the East windows of the South Aisle of the Choir.
The Glass in the North window of the Chancel, showing the descent of Christ from Jesse, has probably always been in its present position. Wood noted about 27 Figures, some of which had been defaced by the Soldiers during the Civil War, and there are now 16. They were repaired under the direction of the Architect F E Howard in 1926.
The modern glass at the East end of the South Aisle to members of the Cripps Family is said to be by Hardman.
The Chancel Walls according to Wood were painted ‘very gloriously‘ with all kinds of Beasts, of which a Lion, a Griffin, & a Leopard remained. A Medieval wall-painting depicting the Crucifixion was restored by Clayton & Bell in 1862–3. It is on the West wall of the Nave.
The Lead Bowl of the Font is of 12thC date. It is decorated with a continuous arcade of 11 semicircular arches, in each of which is a seated figure of an Apostle excluding Judas. The Stall-desks in the Choir date from the early 16thC. In 1552 the Church was well furnished with Plate & Vestments, but by the next year only one Chalice remained. In 1929 the Silver was all 19thC.
The Dorchester Bells, which are famous for their Tone, are unusual in that, with one possible exception, all the Original Castings have been preserved. The 2 largest are of the late 14thC: one, the Gift of Ralph Restwold (d.1383), is dedicated to St Birinus, the other to St Peter & St Paul. Except for a Sanctus Bell and a Lych Bell these were the only 2 Bells in 1552. Of the other Bells, 4 are dated 1591, 1603, 1606, & 1651. They were described by Hearne in 1711. In 1867 2 more were added to make a Ring of 8.
The Church had a Chiming Clock in the 1620s. Repairs to it are frequently recorded in the 18thcentury Churchwardens’ Accounts and in the Parish Register. In 1868–9 a new Clock, by Moore of Clerkenwell, was put up and Quarter Chimes were added in 1901.
The evidence for Protestant Nonconformity dates from 1672 when the house of Lawrence Overy was registered as a Congregational Meeting House. In 1675 & 1678 the Churchwardens Presented Stephen Coven as ‘a common seducer and leader of a conventicle‘; he was the ejected Rector of Samford Peverell (Devon), who was licensed to ‘Teach’ as a Presbyterian in London and as a Congregationalist in Watlington. He was described earlier as ‘a wandering seditious seminary … who goes about from place to place‘. In 1680 another Preacher at this Conventicle, John Coomb, was Presented. Most of the 13 nonconformists returned for the Compton Census of 1676 probably belonged to this Conventicle, but in 1668 there had also been a Quaker, Henry Towerton.
In the absence of 18thC visitations information about the progress of nonconformity is meagre. In 1699 the house of William Thompson, a Baker, was registered as a dissenting Meeting-Place, and in 1796 a Labourer’s house in West Back Lane. The denomination is not recorded, but it is likely in the case of the last-named registration to have been Baptist, for the next registration in 1820 was of Robert Cox’s house, and when a Baptist Chapel was finally built it was on land belonging to Sarah Cox. This Chapel, next to the Port House, was built about 1837; the 1851 Census recorded its congregation as 75 in the afternoon and 120 in the evening, but the Vicar claimed that this was an exaggerated figure due to the special activity of the Baptists at the time of the Census. A Primitive Methodist Chapel at Bridge End was built in 1839 and its Congregation numbered 18 in 1851 when it was served by a Minister from Wallingford. Both Chapels were in use in 1866, but by then dissent was said to be declining and they appear to have been closed by 1882. Both buildings were in use as private houses in 1958.
There had been an endowed Grammar School in Dorchester since 1652, but by the middle of the 18thC, it had ceased to provide effective education. In 1801 a Mr Paget advertised that he would re-establish ‘Dorchester School‘ which had long been vacant, and offered to board 8 young gentlemen at 20 guineas a year, with Dancing & French included in the Curriculum. By 1833 the school had 50 Pupils. No record of any elementary education has survived from before the 19thC. In 1815 there were 3-day schools providing elementary instruction, but these were Fee-paying Schools and 3 years later the Poor were said to be still ‘completely destitute‘ of the means of education. The 1st Sunday school was started in 1819. In 1826 a newly established Day School, where 7 children were being taught, was recorded, and by 1833 there was yet another School with an attendance of 28 Pupils. The Sunday School had an attendance of 64 boys & 48 girls by 1854.
The National Girls & Infants School was established in 1836 on land given by the Earl of Abingdon; it was to be a Free School and the Perpetual Curate was to be the Trustee. It had an attendance of 50 in 1854. In 1872 the present buildings were erected to the designs of Sir George Gilbert Scott; they were enlarged in 1900 to hold 150 children. There was an average attendance of 85 in 1904.
The old Grammar School was converted into a Boys’ National School in 1858 and had an average attendance of 46 in 1887. A new building was erected in 1896–7 and the average attendance was 61 boys in 1906. Later in 1928 it was amalgamated with the Girls’ National School and was classified as an Amalgamated Grade III School. It was attended by 219 boys, girls, & infants in 1938. In 1947 the Senior Department was reorganised as a separate Voluntary School, known after 1953 as the Abbey School. In 1954, as a controlled modern School, it had 233 Pupils on the Roll. It was closed in 1959 when the new School at Berinsfield was opened. The Junior Department became a Primary School in 1947 – the St Birinus Church of England controlled School – with 97 Pupils. Another Primary School, the Field Farm Estate County School, was opened in 1952 with 76 children. A County Secondary Modern School for boys & girls was opened at Berinsfield, a new Council Estate, in September 1959. It replaced the Abbey School in Dorchester. There was a Headmaster, a full-time Staff of 12, and 2 part-time Staff, and 293 children on the Roll.
SS Peter & Paul’s Theological College for Missionary Students was established in 1878, largely through the exertions of W C Macfarlane. It trained sons of Clergymen & Professional men for work in the Colonies & Mission Field and offered a 4-year Course. By 1881 there were 15 Students. Extra accommodation was provided in 1905 by taking over Church House and by 1908 there were 28 Students in Residence. In 1929 new buildings were provided in Burcot but some Students were still in Dorchester in 1939. The number of Students fell at the outbreak of War and in 1940 the Burcot premises were let to Bishop’s College, Cheshunt (Herts), and the remaining Dorchester College students went to Launton. In 1942, there being only 4 Students, the College was closed. After the War, the premises were sold and the proceeds of the sale and existing endowments were formed into a Trust, entitled SS Peter & Paul’s Theological Endowment for Missionary Students‘ under a scheme made by the Minister of Education.
Hungerford Dunch, by Will dated 1680, left £200 to the poor of the Parish. In 1698 the money was invested in 2 Closes in St Clement’s, Oxford, and about 1823 the £20 Rent from these was given to the Poor annually on St Stephen’s Day in sums varying from 1s 6d to 6s according to need. In 1856 the lands were exchanged for 11 acres at Oseney, in St. Thomas’s parish, Oxford. In 1898 the income was being distributed in doles to nearly every wage-earner in the Parish. A Scheme made in 1906 provided that the income should thenceforth be applied to the maintenance of a Nurse to attend Poor residents. It stipulated, however, that those who had long been accustomed to receive gifts in money or kind should be entitled to continue to do so. This Scheme was much opposed locally. Accordingly, after a local Inquiry by an Assistant Charity Commissioner, a new Scheme was made in 1910 which provided that the Income might be applied
(i) to subscriptions to Hospitals and the like in which the disabled were taught Trades;
(ii) as Grants towards the provision of Nurses, Midwives, & Medicines, in subscriptions to provident Societies on behalf of subscribers who through sickness had been forced to allow their payments to lapse, and in providing outfits for those taking up new occupations;
(iii) as Grants to the Sick or Distressed;
(iv) in making weekly allowances of from 1s 6d to 3s to persons over 60 wholly or partly unable to support themselves. By a new Scheme of 1912 the distribution of necessaries in kind, in lieu of money payments for the purposes specified at (ii) & (iii), was authorised. In 1934 the Lands were sold and the proceeds invested in £1,306 Stock. In 1932 £33 of the Income was spent in coal, food, & clothing for 30 Beneficiaries, and in 1955 a somewhat larger sum, about half the Income, in vouchers for goods.
Sir George Fettiplace, by Will proved 1743, left a sum of money in Trust for Charitable purposes in various places. Of the annual Income of £200, £10 was appropriated to the Poor of Dorchester to be distributed by the Vicar & Churchwardens in 6d loaves between Michaelmas & Lady Day. Because of financial difficulties involving the Fettiplace Estate, the Charity was not distributed for several years in the 1770s, but by 1787 distributions were again being made. In 1908 it was being distributed at the same time and to the same persons as Dunch’s Charity. In 1931 the income amounting to £10 was being spent in bread.