Dorset OPC


Dorset OPC

St Andrews Church, Trent
© Dorset OPC / Kim Parker 2014

Trent is a verdant parish in the Yeo valley at the mid-point between Sherborne and Yeovil, 4 miles distant from each, formerly in the county of Somerset, but part of Dorset since 1896. The name ‘Trent’ is thought to mean “trespasser”, possibly in reference to a tributary of the River Yeo whose course runs near the village and frequently floods. There is evidence of pre-Saxon settlement and some believe Bottomless Pit at Trent Barrow to be the lake into which the mythical sword of Arthurian legend - Excalibur - was thrown. In more recent times a coach and horses with all its passengers fell into its murky depths, and it is now said to be haunted.

Anciently there were two manors here, Trent in the south and Adber and Hummer in the north. Trent Manor House, home of the Wyndham family, was a hiding place of Charles II after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester. Legend goes that while the King was hiding in the old priest hole, a Parliamentarian arrived with a false report of his death and the parishioners rang the bells in celebration. Later, at the Restoration in 1660, Colonel Wyndham refused to allow the parishioners to ring the bells and brought in bell-ringers from nearby Compton, a tradition that continues each Oak Apple Day (May 29th). The newly restored King rewarded Wyndham with a knighthood, a gift of £1000 and a pension of £600 a year. Most of the estate is now owned by the Ernest Cook Trust, an educational charity set up by the grandson of Thomas Cook, the famous travel agent, to promote good practice in the conservation and management of the countryside.

St Andrew’s Church was restored and enlarged in 1840, but many of its medieval features remain, including the 15th century rood screen, a 16th century Flemish pulpit, carved pew-ends of the same period and 17th century stained glass in the east window. In the churchyard are the remains of a preaching cross, destroyed by Parliamentarian soldiers sent in 1643 by the Puritan Committee with orders to demolish “all monuments of superstition and idolatry”. Compared to St Mary’s Chapel at Adber, which together with its preaching cross was raised to the ground, St Andrews got off lightly. Perhaps what is most remarkable about the building is the graceful medieval stone spire, one of only three in Dorset. A public house was built for the men who worked on its construction and it is on the site of that first village inn that the Rose & Crown stands today.

To the East of the church is a well-preserved 15th-century chantry, now a private residence. Indeed, the village has many beautiful old buildings of golden Hamstone with mullioned windows, exposed beams and inglenook fireplaces. Flamberts – a double-winged house with a 1658 date-stone and a dainty box-hedged garden – served as a Red Cross hospital during WW1. More modern buildings include four attractive almshouses built and endowed in 1846 by Mary Turner, wife of the then rector, using her own funds. Given both the natural and architectural charms of the parish, it is not surprising that Geoffrey Fisher, who as Archbishop of Canterbury officiated at both the marriage and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, chose to retire to Trent.

Rose & Crown, Trent
© Dorset OPC / Kim Parker 2014

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Contributions of additional resource materials for the site are always welcome

Census 1851 Census [Eric O'Neil]
1861 Census [John Ridout]
Parish Registers Baptisms
Marriages 1558-1837 [Kim Parker]
Burials 1813-1907 [Kim Parker]
Trade & Postal Directories  
Other Records List of Rectors of Trent [Kim Parker]
Monumental Inscriptions  
Records held at the Dorset History Centre
Christenings 1560-1976.
Marriages 1558-1644 & 1654-1837.
Burials 1640-55, 1661-79 & 1749-1957

Trent Chantry
© Dorset OPC / Kim Parker 2014

Preaching Cross, Trent
© Dorset OPC / Kim Parker 2014

Mary Turner Almshouses, Trent
© Dorset OPC / Kim Parker 2014


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