Gussage All Saints

The village lies in a vale on Cranborne Chase, 8 miles North-East of Blandford Forum and 10 miles North of Wimborne Minster. The parish church originates from the Decorated Period (1290-1350) and mercifully benefited from one of the more tasteful Victorian makeovers.

The parish church of All Saints looks deceptively new. In fact, it originates from the Decorated Period (1290-1350) and mercifully benefited from one of the more tasteful Victorian makeovers. In 1864 Ewan Christian removed the chancel arch to the North wall where it now frames an 18th-century organ, a gift of Rev. Charles Waldy said to have come from Westminster Abbey. Later, eminent Dorset architect John Hicks built the new chancel arch, cleverly incorporating cusps typical of the Decorated Period into his design. The abundance of piscinas, pierced stone basins for the cleansing of sacramental vessels, indicates the presence of additional altars in former times. Recessed into the North wall is a canopied tomb with crocked ogee cusping and ball-flower decoration typical of the 14th century, thought for many years to be a rare example of an Easter Sepulchre. This theory was disproved during Rev. Waldy's renovations when the tomb was found to contain a skeleton. The tower, which was built in three stages and finished in the 15th century, houses five bells, three of which are pre-Reformation. A fine window by Bell & Beckham was installed in the chancel in 1909 to commemorate Rev. Waldy who had done so much to preserve and enhance the church.

Built on the site of an Iron Age chariot factory abandoned around 80 A.D. and lying in the Hundred of Knowlton whose eponymous village vanished centuries ago, a fate shared by the neighbouring medieval villages of Bowerswain and Brockington, Gussage All Saints is a survivor. Perhaps the splendid parish church played a decisive role in that survival. Fortunately for the locals and for those who enjoy hiking along the Roman Road linking Badbury Rings with Sarum, the inn has also survived, rescued from closure by a local brewery and now thriving under community ownership.

The word Gussage has been formed from two Saxon words, gyse for 'water breaking forth' and sic for 'watercourse', and refers to the gushing stream that rises at Gussage St Andrew and eventually flows into the River Allen. It is the dedication of the church that gives the parish the second part of its name, although it was anciently known as Gussage Regis, alluding to its ownership by the crown prior to the Norman Conquest, and often appears in old documents as Lower Gussage in reference to it being the southernmost of the three villages with Gussage in their name.

Owners of Gussage All Saints have included the Crown, the Abbess of Tarent, the Earls of Shaftesbury and Queen's College Oxford, but not necessarily sequentially. When the third edition of Rev. John Hutchins' History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset was published in 1870, it was recorded that the Earl of Shaftesbury and Queen's College Oxford were both laying claim to the manor of Gussage All Saints and both holding a Court Baron. Ownership of the various hamlets and farms in the parish appears to have been more clear cut, with Boreson and Loverleigh owned by the priory of Montacute in Somerset and later the Sturt family, Mannington owned by the Abbess of Tarent until the Dissolution when it passed to the Trenchards and the tithing of Wike passing from the Willoughby baronetcy to the Ashley-Cooper family who were the progenitors of the Earls of Shaftesbury

Church Wardens

Chris Payne

Peter Bending

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