Church of St Nicholas
Studland, Dorset, England
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Most of the fabric of the church which stands at Studland today is Norman in origin but a
Saxon church has stood here since the end of the 7th century and may be that which the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that St Aldhelm ' ...built a church near Wareham by Corfe Castle, where the hills jut out to the sea '. That this is the church of the Chronicle, we cannot be certain for there were certainly churches in Wareham itself, at Corfe Castle, Worth Matravers and a chapel at St Aldhelm's Head. The fact does remain that the parish church of St Nicholas stands on an ancient site indeed.

The Danes had entrenched themselves strongly in Wareham itself until routed by King Alfred the Great both on land and, in 877, at the battle of Swanage Bay ( which is considered by some to be the first English naval victory, although Alfred was the king of Wessex). The Danes killed many clergy throughout the lands they touched and sacked churches and monasteries for what booty they could plunder. Such a fate befell this church with the comming of the Danes in the ninth century - they left only the bare walls standing.

Some of the masonry in one of the walls is thought to be Saxon and a church may have stood here over 1300 years ago through the influence of St Aldhelm. The remainder of the building is Norman.
The tower was never completed because of the danger of settlement. Among its interesting features are the vaulted roofs of the tower and the sanctuary, the moulded arches of the tower with carved capitals, traces of wall-painting, the corbels around the
nave and the trace of a consecration cross at the north-east on the exterior. 18th-century builders enlarged some of the original Norman windows.

Over the vaulted ceiling of the sanctuary is a priest's room to which access is gained by means of a door set high in the extrior wall of the church. The font may be of early Norman or even Saxon workmanship.


The identity of the person buried in the table tomb within the church some 500 years ago is unknown. There is also a tablet to John Morton Colson, rector here for 51 years.

In the churchyard near to the door of the church stands a memorial stone to William Lawrence, a veteran of the Battle of Waterloo, and his French wife Clotilde Clairet - Sergeant Lawrence and his wife ran a small in here and their story is recorded on their gravestone.

Sergeant Lawrence of the 40th Regiment of Foot fought for ten years, mostly against the French before settling in Studland with his French wife. 1805 found the sergeant in South America fighting the Spanish as allies of Napoleon and throughout the Peninsula War he faught in nearly all of Wellington's battles.

The sergeant lived here for 16 years to die 54 years after Waterloo and Clotilde survived him by 22 years. His wish of a military funeral was respected and volunteers fired a last volley over his grave to bid him farewell.

See also:

Studland Village
The Studland Cross
Parish Churches of Dorset
The English Parish
Saxon Remains in Dorset


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