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Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity

A Grade II Listed Building in Dorchester, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.7155 / 50°42'55"N

Longitude: -2.4379 / 2°26'16"W

OS Eastings: 369180

OS Northings: 90746

OS Grid: SY691907

Mapcode National: GBR PY.RFQC

Mapcode Global: FRA 57S6.218

Entry Name: Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity

Listing Date: 8 May 1975

Last Amended: 18 October 2013

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1119072

English Heritage Legacy ID: 104386

Location: Dorchester, West Dorset, Dorset, DT1

County: Dorset

District: West Dorset

Civil Parish: Dorchester

Built-Up Area: Dorchester

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Dorchester and West Stafford

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury

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Roman Catholic Church, formerly Anglican, of 1875-6 in the Gothic Revival style by Benjamin Ferrey.


Roman Catholic Church, formerly Anglican, of 1875-6 in the Gothic Revival style by Benjamin Ferrey.

MATERIALS: constructed of Portland ashlar with dressings of either Bath stone or Hamstone under a pitched slate roof. There is a tall lateral stack on the north side, at the junction between the nave and the chancel, and a bell gablet to the west gable end. The nave and chancel are of the same height, separated only by a stone gable coping, and the roof to the north side of the nave and the north aisle is a catslide.

PLAN: it is orientated west to east and comprises a broad nave flanked by aisles, a Lady Chapel at the east end of the north aisle, a chancel and a transeptal vestry to the north. The south aisle is narrow and does not extend along the entire length of the nave.

EXTERIOR: the west end of the church has a pointed arch entrance with a single roll moulding and a hollow chamfer; the hoodmould breaks upwards into large four-light window with Early English tracery. The roadside (south) elevation has five two-light pointed arch windows with hoodmoulds and tracery; one window to the western end of the nave and four to the south aisle. Beneath the nave window is a plaque of Portland stone that bears a carved winged angel in relief and commemorates members of the church and the parish who died in the First World War. The west end of the south aisle has a door in a chamfered, pointed arch surround with a hoodmould. Above is an oculus with a three tangental tracery circles with a hoodmould over. The east end of the south aisle has a two-light pointed arch window with hoodmould and an oculus matching that to the aisle's west end. The north side of the church has four windows with segmental heads, hollow chamfers, and Early English tracery, one of three-lights and three of two-lights, all to the north aisle. The west end of the north aisle has a pointed-arch window with hoodmould, and the vestry has two similar windows, one to the west elevation and one to the north; there is also a rounded-headed doorway to the west side of the vestry. The north wall of the chancel is lit by single lancet with Early English tracery, and the east end has a three-light window with similar tracery. The east end almost abuts the adjacent house.

INTERIOR: the interior is painted white with exposed stone detailing. The four-bay nave has a north arcade of four pointed-arches, and two to the south, carried on alternating octagonal and round piers and capitals. To the west end is a pair of doors set in a carved, decorative door case and linenfold panelling to the lower part of the wall; there is further panelling to the south aisle and the Lady Chapel. There is simple bench seating. The nave roof has close-coupled rafters and arch-braced principals carried on stone corbels. The chancel arch has short detached shafts of Purbeck that rise from elaborate corbels with foliate carving. The onyx marble altar is free standing and mounted on a single step; it was brought from the original Roman Catholic parish church of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, as were the Stations of the Cross. There is painted panelling around the sanctuary and the roof is barrel vaulted with gilded bosses. The organ and sacristy are located to the north of the chancel. The church also contains a number of late-C18 to mid-C19 monuments from the previous Holy Trinity Church.

FITTINGS: there are some notable fixtures and fittings including a good range of stained glass; those in the south aisle by Charles Eamer Kempe; a late-C19 alabaster pulpit which has a carved figure in relief to the front panel and rests on a stone base, an octagonal font with an oval marble bowl carried on clustered marble columns, and a brass eagle lectern. The sanctuary has a carved and gilded timber reredos attributed to Kempe or one of his contemporaries, and installed in 1897.


Dorchester's three ancient parishes of Holy Trinity, St Peter and All Saints are all of pre-medieval origin and there has been a succession of buildings on the site of Holy Trinity Church in High West Street. Reference is made to Holy Trinty Church in the C11 Domesday Book. The church was rebuilt, though possibly incorporating some fabric from the earlier church, in 1876 by Benjamin Ferrey for the Church of England. London architect Henry Hall may have been responsible for the initial plans, but Ferrey produced the final plans. Benjamin Ferrey (1810-1880) was a Gothic Revival architect who studied under Augustus Charles Pugin alongside his son, the great Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin and established his own practice in 1834. He was decribed by Eastlake in his History of the Gothic Revival (see Sources) as 'one of the earliest, ablest, and most zealous pioneers of the modern Gothic school'…. and …'an authority on church planning and general proportions'.

The church is sited on one of the principal routes in Dorchester; its south side flanks the street, and it is hemmed in by buildings to the east and the narrow Grey School Passage to the west. The tight site is no doubt the reason for the slightly unusual form of the church with aisles of unequal length and breadth. Holy Trinity Church was made redundant in 1974 and two years later it was acquired by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Plymouth. The architect responsible for the building's restoration for Catholic use was Anthony Jaggard of John Stark & Partners, Dorchester. The historic dedication of the Holy Trinity was retained and the title of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs was added as secondary patron in memory of the previous Roman Catholic parish church which was also situated on High West Street. Some fittings from the original Roman Catholic church were installed.

The reredos was restored in c1950 and again in 2009, and a small extension was added to the north-east side of the church in the late C20.

Reasons for Listing

The Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity of 1876 by Benjamin Ferrey is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: a well-detailed and well-executed example of Gothic Revival architecture in the Early English style with good detailing and use of materials;
* Architect: its association with the renowned Victorian architect Benjamin Ferrey, a recognised exponent of the Gothic style adds interest to the building;
* Decorative embellishment: good craftsmanship is displayed in features such as the stained glass by Kempe, the ornate reredos also attributed to Kempe, the alabaster pulpit and the marble font;
* Group value: it is one of a significant number of listed buildings on either side of High West Street.

Selected Sources

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