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Church of St Mary

A Grade I Listed Building in Weymouth, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.6082 / 50°36'29"N

Longitude: -2.4541 / 2°27'14"W

OS Eastings: 367965

OS Northings: 78823

OS Grid: SY679788

Mapcode National: GBR PY.DHCZ

Mapcode Global: FRA 57RG.FRC

Entry Name: Church of St Mary

Listing Date: 12 December 1953

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1147947

English Heritage Legacy ID: 467915

Location: Weymouth and Portland, Dorset, DT4

County: Dorset

District: Weymouth and Portland

Town: Weymouth and Portland

Electoral Ward/Division: Melcombe Regis

Built-Up Area: Weymouth

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Radipole and Melcombe Regis

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury

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Melcombe Regis

Listing Text


873-1/23/303 (East side)
12/12/53 Church of St Mary


Anglican parish church. Begun 1815, consecrated 23 March 1817.
By James Hamilton; major restoration 1922. Portland stone
ashlar, probably on brickwork core (RCHME), slate roof. PLAN:
a plain pedimented hall, with bell turret and cupola, covering
nave, shallow sanctuary, and galleries to 3 sides. At the W
end is a square vestibule, flanked by gallery stairs; this
area has been modified by extending a large ante-room under
the gallery in the C20. At the E end are small vestries, and
flanking gallery stairs, plus a small further vestry attached
to the S side, later extended. The aisles have been enclosed
by screen walls under the galleries both sides.
EXTERIOR: an austere design in Palladian mode, in 2 storeys,
under a wide, low-pitched roof. The entrance front has a broad
central coped gable carrying a square bell turret with
entablature, and an elliptical leaded cupola on 8 slender
Doric columns. Beneath this is the main pedimented front with
plain frieze and ovolo-mould cornice, and with 2 oculi, on
giant Doric pilasters in 1:2:2:1 rhythm. At first floor are 3
arched windows, the central light multi-pane with radial bars,
flanked by 2-light windows with Bramantesque tracery, to a
deep sill band, broken at the pilasters. Ground floor has 3
paired fielded panelled doors under decorative fanlights, on 3
stone steps. A plain plinth all round.
The N and S sides are nearly identical, with arched windows at
first floor in 2:3:2 rhythm, the centre group stepped slightly
forward. These contain a cruciform iron armature and leaded
panes, and are set to the deep sill band; on the N side the
westernmost window is a blind opening. The ground-floor lights
are square, under tripartite stone lintels and to stooled
sills, with armature and leading. The main entablature and
blocking crown these flanks. There are 2 early round lead
downpipes each side.
On the S side there are ventilation openings with cast-iron
grilles below and between the windows, and to the plinth. At
the E end of the S side is a small contemporary flat-roofed
vestry, with a later extension. The E end has a large plain
pediment with a blind lunette over 3 blind arched lights set
to the sill band, and at ground floor a central blind light
flanked by small 6-panel doors under fanlights.
INTERIOR: the snall square vestibule has a stone floor,

matchboard dado, and moulded cornice. A pair of part-glazed
doors under decorative fanlight gives to an inner lobby, under
the gallery, with 4 quadrilobed columns. The floor is partly
of stone ledger-slabs and partly wood. To each side are fine
6-panel doors in moulded cases, and a central wide pair of
doors. Flanking the vestibule, approached from the external
doors and from the inner lobby, are stone dogleg staircases
with simple iron balustrades.
The nave has a plastered segmental vault carried on very flat
arches on 6 quadrilobe-plan cast-iron columns each side, with
the flat gallery ceilings beyond; centred to the vault is a
large plaster rosette. The windows are set to deep plain
embrasures. There are 4 further identical columns to the rear
balcony projection, but these are taken only to the underside
of the balcony. At half-height, partly concealing the columns,
is the panelled balcony front on a 3-part entablature; the
front is carried across the W end through quadrant curves.
Each balcony panel bears a low relief painted coat of arms at
its centre, including that of Sir Christopher Wren at the W
end: Wren was MP for Melcombe Regis in 1685-7 and 1701-2.
The aisles, formerly open to the nave, are enclosed by
concrete block walls beneath the gallery, with continuous
curtaining to each bay. At the E end, before the sanctuary,
are recessed quadrants with panelled doors, to the vestries
and aisles.
The E wall carries a large painting of the Last Supper, by Sir
James Thornhill, on canvas, with a segmental head, carefully
reflected in the main vault; a long inscription includes the
date, 1721. This is above a flat reredos in 3 panels, with 4
fluted Corinthian pilasters, framing the Pater Noster, Creed,
and Commandments, under an entablature with dentilled cornice.
A lofty pulpit to the right; the C20 altar table has been
brought forward of the original position, at the E end of the
In the W gallery is the organ, with early C19 case including
palmette decoration, and a grille behind the organist's seat.
At the E end of the S gallery are some sections of painted
Gothic panelling, forming an enclosed room, brought from the
demolished Christ Church; this also carries Creed and
Commandment painted boards.
FITTINGS: the nave, with stone floor to the central aisle, has
bench pews on a wooden floor, but in the raked galleries
original box pews are retained, curved from aisles to W
gallery. The many monuments and floor-slabs are detailed in
RCHME (p 33). The porch has benefactors' boards each side. The
Royal Arms of George III are at the E end of the N aisle, and
in the S aisle is a baroque cartouche with amorini, supporting
the Arms of Weymouth. There are also a freestanding lion and

unicorn, on pedestals.
STAINED GLASS: most windows have plain glass, but in the S
aisle one light is a war memorial with coloured glass.
HISTORICAL NOTE: the mother church for the area was St Ann, at
Radipole (qv); a Chantry chapel was located here in 1699, but
a Chapel-of-ease was first built on the site of St Mary's in
1605. This remained until the rebuilding of 1815; the old
church was demolished through Act of Parliament. The present
church remains very much as left by Hamilton, except for the
enclosure of the under-gallery spaces, and loss of the nave
pews. Sir James Thornhill was born in Melcombe Regis in 1675,
and died in Weymouth in 1734. The reredos painting is said to
have cost ยป300.
(RCHME: Dorset, South-East: London: 1970-: 332; Ricketts E:
The Buildings of Old Weymouth: Melcombe Regis and Westham:
Weymouth: 1976-: 83; Guide to St Mary's Church: Weymouth:
1958-; The Buildings of England: Newman J & Pevsner N: Dorset:
London: 1972-: 450).

Listing NGR: SY6796478823

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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