St Mary, Netherbury, Dorset

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Feature Sets (2)


Netherbury is a small village by the River Brit about two miles S of Beaminster. The church lies to the N of the village, but nothing of the 12thc building survives except the font. The present building consists of a rubble-stone and ashlar structure featuring a nave with mid 14thc N and S arcades, early 15thc N and S aisles, a 15thc W tower of three stages, a 15thc chancel with a N vestry, an organ chamber added to the N in 1894 and a S porch rebuilt in 1848. The only Romanesque sculpture surviving is the font.


The Domesday Survey records that the very large manor of ‘Niderberie’ valued £24.5 and belonged to the bishop of Salisbury. In 1086 Godfrey, Serlo of Burcy, Tezelin and William also held it. There is no mention of a church. 





The font is located towards the W end of the S aisle, just W of the S door. It comprises a square grey Purbeck marble bowl dating to the late 12thc.

The bowl features a slightly inwardly downward tapering sides, with a curved to the base leading into a pair of roll-mouldings effectively forming the top of a central drum and shaft at each corner. Both the E and W faces have a row of inverted scallop decoration, those to the N and S large chevrons, regrettably very eroded. The top has a roll and hollow moulding around the rim of the basin and a foliage decoration not unlike a fleur-de-lys at each corner. The remains of the fixings to the cover are well preserved: a pair of iron pieces set in lead to the NE and SW corners of the font, those to the former being slightly more widely spaced and perhaps representing a hoop of metal that formed the original hinge.

The bowl sits on four shafts and a central drum, all of grey Purbeck marble and all are reset. The base reflects the underside of the bowl, with a pair of roll-mouldings effectively forming the bases to the central drum and shaft, which are linked together with a raised plain flat band. There is a foliate spur at each corner of the shallow square-edged base. This is now raised on a sub-base of the same area, and the whole is set on a much larger square plinth. Both these are of grey Purbeck marble and although they do not appear to be original, they would seem to be earlier than the 1894 restoration. Perhaps they date from the 1848 rebuilding of the adjacent porch.

The basin is circular, with slightly sloping sides and a dished base. The lead lining is certainly old, and may well be the original.

Depth of basin 0.215 m
Diameter of basin 0.605 m
Diameter of bowl 0.760 m
Height of base 0.460 m
Height of bowl 0.275 m
Height of plinth 0.125 m
Height (overall) 0.860 m



  • Sir Stephen Glynne, Notes on some Dorset Churches¬†Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Antiquarian Field Club, ed. by J. M. J.¬†Fletcher, 45 (1923-4), 41-42.¬†

  • Royal Commission on Historical Monuments: Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset, Vol. I: West, London 1952, 170-172.

  • The Buildings of England: Dorset, London 2002, 303-304.

View from S


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SY 4703 9946 
now: Dorset
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Dorset
medieval: Salisbury
now: Salisbury
now: St Mary
medieval: St Mary
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Howard Austin Jones 
Visit Date
01 August 2013