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St Mary the Virgin
Powerstock, Dorset DT6 3TD
Powerstock Parish Church is at the heart of the village on rising ground. There has been a building on this plot since the twelfth century. Powerstock (or Poorstock) is situated in a steep valley on the edge of the Dorset Downs 5 miles north east from Bridport. Within the parish is Eggerdon Hill which has the remains of two Roman camps.
The church dates from Norman times and the chancel arch is of Early Norman architecture. Outside is a very rare thirteenth century Dole Table, from pre-Reformation times when charitable doles of bread were distributed to the poor. Inside the south entrance is a fifteenth century carving of a king and crowned woman giving bread to children. The north and south aisle date from the fourteenth century, and there are two hagioscopes (squints) on the southern side of the chancel arch, which would have given a view of the high alter. Above the squints there is a fifteenth century doorway, which when reached by a wooden stair, would have led to the roof loft. The south doorway within the porch is also fifteenth century and features elaborate carving.
No sooner was Thomas Sanctuary installed as vicar of Powerstock than he determined to have better education for children of the poor and better church accommodation. Work on the church started in 1854, under his supervision, and took five years to complete. Sanctuary was vicar here from 1848 to 1889 and his wife is thought to have designed and painted the holly and ivy decoration on the walls in the nave.
The church registers date from 1568 and the church continues to be a popular venue for weddings.
Among other services, there is a monthly Benefice Eucharist service here every third Sunday of the month.
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