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Our parishes


There are three parishes within The Bridge parishes, Sturminster Marshall, Kingston Lacy and Shapwick.


Sturminster Marshall, the largest of the three villages, is an ancient parish, united with Shapwick and Kingston Lacy to form the current united benefice in the 1980s.

The village is barely recognizable from that shown here in 1891, at the time of the incumbency of the Reverend James Cross. In particular the past decade has seen enormous expansion, with the building of vast new private estates, after great expansion in the provision of public housing in the 1950s.

Despite this expansion, Stur remains a village; there is less social cohesion than there was before, but it remains a lively place in which to live with an extraordinarily rich cultural, sporting and social life, as well as immense social diversity. A number of links to village life may be found on the links page.


The Church

Despite heavy restoration in the nineteenth century, this ancient minster church on the Stour would be recognized by our mediaeval ancestors. Even before being the place of a church, even before the coming of Christianity to these islands, this was a place of burial.

It is still the meeting place for worship for a lively Christian community, offering the Eucharist to provide a spiritual heart to the activity and life of the village. In keeping with our inclusivist vision a wide variety of worship, seeking to represent the breadth of the Anglican tradition, is offered. Most importantly the worshippers are engaged daily in the life of the village witnessing through their lives to the prevenient love of God.



Shapwick is the smallest of the parishes in the benefice, and is still recognizable from this map of 1891. Socially, however, there have been the inevitable changes; no longer is every inhabitant concerned with agriculture, though farming still dominates the economy. Although there is no longer a shop or a post-office, The Anchor remains open, despite frequent changes of hands and of style. There are signs of revival in the social life of the village, largely through the Shapwick Community Trust, which has managed to provide a playing field and village green.


The Church

St Bartholomew's Church is a very ancient building, founded on the priory chapel which predates the Reformation. Although regular congregations are small, the church is packed on special occasions in the life of the village, and is widely supported. As a parish church we work in partnership with the Community Trust and others, bearing witness to faith in the God who became flesh, and continues to bear our concerns to the heart of God.




Kingston Lacy:

Our parish church is now in its centenary year. We are enjoying a rich programme of diverse events and are hoping to raise sufficient funds to equip the church with a new organ. The former instrument was installed second-hand(!) a century ago and was never adequate. Time has done it no favours and it is now on its last legs.


The original St Stephen’s church was built around 1236 by Henry de Lacy of Kingston Lacy and therefore became the church for all who lived and worked on the estate. Repairs were carried out in 1439-40 but in 1573 it was reported as being beyond repair, and, in the sixteenth century, to have burnt down. It was not replaced, and there is now no certainty as to its exact site.


Some services were held in what is now the school, or on the green, but the villagers of Cowgrove and Pamphill came under the parish of Wimborne and had no nearer place of worship than the Minster.


The erection of a new church was frequently suggested in the nineteenth century, and became possible on the death of Walter Ralph Bankes in 1905, as a result of a substantial bequest in his will for that purpose. The new church was designed by C.E. Ponting and built in the English decorative style during 1906 and 1907, as far as possible using local materials and labour, and dedicated on 29th July 1907. The building was given to the people of the village by Mrs Henrietta Bankes in the 1920s and became a parish church in its own right.

Although the estate passed to the National Trust in 1982, the church remained the property of the parish, rather than of the estate or the Diocese and therefore continues to rely on local support.

Beyond the building of a church the parish has not changed much outwardly since 1890, the date of the map here (which does not show the whole parish.)


However, the transfer of the house from the Bankes family to the National Trust and the immense changes which have overcome agriculture in the period have brought about great demographic change. Nonetheless, although Wimborne to the east has grown vastly, Kingston Lacy remains a traditional rural parish.

As in all the Bridge Parishes there is a wide range of worship at the church. The Book of Common Prayer is still employed for the Holy Communion and for mattins, whereas the third Sunday of the month sees a sung Eucharist and the second Sunday generally brings something unpredictable, including favourites such as the Christingle, the annual St Francistide blessing of animals and regular healing services. A Sunday school called KLYC (Kingston Lacy Young Church) meets on the third Sunday during the Sung Eucharist, and there are close links to the school.


For information on the worship, life and witness of our churches in the parishes, see the weekly notice sheet, the monthly calendar and the magazine, on these web-pages.


There are many links to pictures of our churches and parishes on the links pages.