Dorset OPC


Dorset OPC

Church Farm & St Edwold's Chapel, Stockwood
© Dorset OPC 2011

Stockwood is a hamlet nestling in a wooded valley below the north-western slopes of Bubb Down between the villages of Chetnole and Melbury Osmond, eight miles south-west of Sherborne. The name is Old English, meaning ‘wood belonging to a secondary settlement’, from the words ‘stoc’ and ‘wudu’. In medieval times it was known as Stoke St. Edwold, in reference to the Saxon saint who is thought to have had a cell here. Indeed, Stockwood’s church is unique in that it is the only one in Dorset dedicated to him.

St. Edwold was the younger brother of St. Edmund the Martyr, the Anglian king murdered by the Danes on the orders of Ivarr the Boneless in 870 AD. Edwold declined to take up his dead brother’s crown, adopting the hermit life instead and eventually settling in Dorset. He died a year later and was buried at Cerne. Such was his prestige that when Cerne monastery was rebuilt in 987 AD, his remains were re-interred in the choir of the new building.

For hundreds of years Stockwood was a parish in its own right, with a separate living and its own parish priest, until in 1888 it was united with the rectories of Melbury Sampford and Melbury Osmond. The little church of St. Edwold has the honour of being the smallest in Dorset, measuring roughly 9m x 4m, and the second smallest in England. It sits at the end of a country track next to aptly named Church Farm’s red-brick Georgian farmhouse. Services are rarely held here these days but the church remains consecrated, and St. Edwold’s is now in the care of The Churches Conservation Trust.

The church is a single cell construction, in which the chancel and nave are structurally undivided. Most of the building dates from the fifteenth century, with the porch added in 1636 and a circular, domed bell turret topped off with ball terminal and pinnacles added in Georgian times, now housing a Victorian bell. Inside most of the furniture, including the altar rail, pews and font is late nineteenth century, the exception being the seventeenth-century altar table which was brought from Whitcombe Church. Outside there are just four tombstones in the churchyard, marking the graves of ten individuals from the Bird, Christopher, Jeans and Wilton families.

St Edwold's Chapel, Stockwood
© Dorset OPC 2011

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Census 1841 Census [John Ridout]
1851 - 1901 [Jennifer Dando]
Parish Registers Baptisms
Trade & Postal Directories  
Other Records  
Monumental Inscriptions Index of Monumental Inscriptions
Records held at the Dorset History Centre
Christenings 1813-1937. Marriages 1815-1901. Burials 1815-1895





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