St. Michael the Archangel
The wonderful rather squat building seems to cling to the hill as if the elements and the sea, which is only twenty yards away from the west wall, might seek to tear it away.
There has been a church here certainly since AD 774 when the land was granted to the monks of Sherborne, who needed a source of salt from the sea to preserve food. However, the present building dates from Norman times and the remains can be found in the porch and the base of the 58 ft tower where there is an excellent Norman arch. The upper parts of the tower are C16 and the nave was completed around 1506.
There is a superb barrel roof and bosses with an impressive mural of 1850 depicting 'The raising of the Cross' at the junction wall with the chancel. Below is a screen of 1889. In 1885, steps in the nave were removed and the whole sloped up towards the east, which always creates a most pleasing theatrical effect.
In a pew near the front there are arms, which were for the use of civic dignitaries. The splendid Victorian font in the baptistry under the tower, was erected in memory of Rev Hodges, vicar 1833-80. There is an exceptional Jacobean pulpit with canopy of 1613 and the west gallery is 1611. Note, the small window in the northern wall of the porch, which is a memorial to Thomas Coram, a wealthy sea captain and merchant. He was so appalled by the destitution of children in London that he set up a Foundling Hospital, into which he poured all his money, eventually dying a pauper.
In September 2009 a new purpose-built traditional pipe organ arrived from the Anton Skrabl works in Slovenia. This superb three manual instrument with mechanical key action and electric stop selection occupies most of the central section of the west gallery.
The Trust gratefully acknowledges images and text by Robin Adeney ©