St Mary The Virgin
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History



There are no known records giving the date of the foundation of the church at Lytchett Matravers. At Domesday the Manor of Lytchett Matravers was held by Sir Hugh Maltravers. A Sir Walter Maltravers went on a Crusade to the Holy Land, and it is possible that he ordered the church to be built beside the manor house in his absence, about the year 1200. The west tower, the nave and the chancel were built at this time, followed by the North Aisle in the 14th century.

It is possible that the Black Death which ravaged Dorset in the second half of the 14th century left few people. The villagers forsook their cottages near the church and moved to the higher ground leaving the church to fall into decay. Sir John Maltravers' heir, his granddaughter Alianor carried the manor and title to her husband's family the Fitzalans, Earls of Arundel, who later became the Dukes of Norfolk, and are still Baron Maltravers.

A great deal of restoration was carried out at the beginning of the sixteenth century by Dame Margarita Clements .. There is a brass in the church to her memory beneath the carpet on the floor opposite the porch and near the font. She died in 1505.

The Arundel family gave the plate and may have rebuilt portions of the church, rather than Dame Clements. The manor was sold by the Arundels in 1587 to the Trenchard family from Wolveton near Dorchester.

Tower          The tower is the oldest part of the building. The arch dates from about 1200; the pinnacles, which are carved with the Maltravers' fret are circa 1500.

Bells             There are six bell, some very old, their dates being displayed in the tower

Hagioscope  This is unusually large, thus providing a view of the chancel; but its origin is unknown.

 Nave            The arches on the North side date from about 1350, probably when the North Aisle was added.

 Organ         There used to be a barrel-organ.  In 1891 the barrel-organ was replaced by a pipe organ with two manuals and pedals. Over the next hundred years it was rebuilt several times, and improved. However, it filled what is now the Porticorum; then the vestry. The arch to the North Aisle was blocked by a row of dummy pipes, and the sound was bottled up in the restricted space. By 1992, the pipe organ was in need of another rebuild. By then digital computer-synthesised electronic organs were available with very realistic voice. Thus the pipe organ was removed and replaced by an electronic organ built by Wyvern of Bideford. The space it vacated gave the Porticorum; the open area linked by the arched ports to both Chancel and North Aisle. In it is the new organ and from it a door leads out to the North Transept.

Churchyard  The yew tree outside the North door to the church has been assessed as dating from AD 590, thus older than the church. The churchyard wall is thought to be as old as the church. The original churchyard close to the church was officially closed towards the end of the 19th Century. Then there was the one to the south of the church. That is now full too and has been closed, hence leaving Row Park as the "Burial Ground" under local government control.


Pulpit and Lectern

The pulpit has been moved from the North side of the nave to the South, where it also acts as lectern and gives a better view.

North Transept Extension

The North transept was built in 1993 to provide a better vestry, lavatory etc. and choir robing area. Upstairs is a room which is multi-functional but specifically houses the Sunday School. The addition of the transept released space allowed additional pews to be added between the south door and the tower. This new building was financed by supporters of St Mary's.