St Peter’s, Chetnole is a pretty and very typical rural Dorset church with a long history. It is at the heart of the village, and the popular village pub is close by. The openness of the churchyard is one of its attractions, and helps the church to be seen to its best advantage.
St Peter’s dates from c13, including the nave, the south door and a lancet window. Later features date mostly from c15 including the barrel vault and the tower, which was rebuilt at least in part in the c16. The four gargoyles on the tower are of particular note. The south porch is later. In the mid-c19, the church was enlarged (controversially, apparently) with the addition of the north aisle, and the chancel was refurbished. The clock was installed in soon after (and remains reliable). I couldn’t find the trace of a medieval scratch dial, though (see Sundials) other local churches have one.
The bells are of particular interest, with the first and second of the three being among the oldest in Dorset. They were cast by a London founder, William Chamberlain, in about 1500 and inscribed respectively: wox augustinae sonet in aure dei (‘the voice of Augustine speaks in the ear of God’), and sante laurenti ora pro nobis (‘St Lawrence pray for us’). The third (tenor) bell was cast in 1865 by John Warner and Sons of London, and weighs about 8cwt. The fittings are not suitable for ringing, so the bells are chimed.
St Peter’s is worth making a detour for if you are in the area, not least because of its attractive setting, and after visiting the church the proximity of the pub with its ales, food and garden for those with a thirst after righteousness to quench.
Photos: Keith Salvesen; Info adapted from Three Parishes Benefice’s informative website