History of The Church
The Church at Bishop's Caundle has been at the centre of the community for almost a 1000 years and has shared with the village joyous occasions such as weddings and baptisms and sad times such as funerals and services of remembrance.
It is the only Grade 1 Listed building in the village and stands proudly in the Conservation area as a beacon to all who pass through our village. It is an undisputed part of our heritage.
This has been a site of Christian worship for at least 800 years although the present church building mostly dates from the 14th and 15th centuries: the latter, especially, was a time of extensive church rebuilding and restoration in this area. Whilst not a scheduled ancient monument, Architecturally it is the most important building in the locality and is listed as Grade I: and is the only highly graded building of the 24 listed in this parish of 400 people. The first Rector is recorded in 1249 but there was probably a church here before that.
The church consists of a chancel, nave, south aisle, north porch and three-stage west tower which is Perpendicular in style with elements of what is known as Somerset tracery. It has a peal of five bells which are regularly rung. The earliest parts of the present building date from the 14th century and are the east wall of the nave and south aisle and the eastern part of its south wall. The nave, west tower and the remainder of the south aisle date from the second half of the 15th century. The north wall of the nave, the south wall of the south aisle, the north porch and most of the chancel were all rebuilt in 1864 when the church was extensively restored by William Slater. The roofs of the chancel, nave and tower were also renewed, a gallery was removed, and a new ringing floor fitted to the tower, while the church interior was repaved, re floored and the pews fitted by cutting down earlier box-pews.
The main Architectural features are steps to a long-removed rood-loft; blind panelling on the tower arch which is identical to work in Sherborne Abbey; and an 18th-century burial vault topped by an external table-tomb on the north of the chancel.
There is a conventional Victorian choir, with one stall on each side, and an altar rail. The chancel has been elevated and the sanctuary elevated again, most probably during the 1864 work. The result is that the piscina and sanctuary windows are set very low down. The roofs have timber barrel-vaults. The fine 19th-century reredos was probably carved by the well-known artist James Forsyth (1827-1910).
It has over the centuries played a significant role in the community and bears the memorial to those from the village who died in the 1914-18 war. There is no other monument in the village; the church is the lasting monument to these young men and their Head Teacher.
Unlike most churches Bishops Caundle Church does not have any dedication and is known simply as "Bishops Caundle Church".