The History of St Laurence Church

There is evidence of a church existing on the site as early as 1201, with the list of recorded priests beginning with John Wydeston in 1267. 80 years later the Upwey priest was one of the first to be struck down when the black death entered the country.

The porch was built in the early 16th Century, and is large enough to have accommodated the first part of marriage and baptism services historically. On its roof is an amusing water spouting Gargoyle.

The door is 500 years old. It is iron studded with oak planks on one side and elm on the other, complete with its fine strap hinges.

Surviving touches of paint in St. Laurence's tell us that most of the surface of the oldest walls once showed patterns or pictures, while the columns of the arcade are believed to have been blue and gold. In the spaces between two of the arches painted Tudor Roses against a background of leaves can still be seen. 

On the wall to the East of the porch, suspected to date the the building of the wall itself, gives a text drawn from three verses of the Book of Proverbs (chapter 24, v 20 22), in the Authorised Version of the Bible of 1611 AD. They are thought to refer to the turmoil of the Civil War. 

The tower arch has trefoil headed panels, each of which would have held a painting of a saint. Such arches are a notable feature in Dorset. 
The tower houses the belfry which carries 6 bells.

In the early Middle Ages, Baptismal Rights were given to a Church. When the font was replaced, it was often kept in the Church. Here it was reused as a pedestal for the rear pillar of the North Aisle.The present font is medieval. 

The first organ was installed in the 1685 gallery. In 1895 it was replaced by the present organ, which was moved to its present position in the new organ chamber in 1906.

The finely carved Royal Coat of Arms is Queen Victoria's.

A gallery was built a
gainst the inner wall of the tower in the 17th century. Galleries were later built against both the North and South arcades.

St. Laurence's came almost unscathed through its Victorian "restoration". The three galleries were removed. The deal box pews, which had given cramped privacy to families, were taken out and replaced by the fine oak pews we have now.

Of the 5th February 1891 a Vestry Meeting decided that there was "at times a sickly unhealthy smell from the floor". Five burial vaults were filled in and the whole floor was concreted over to provide a solid base for the wood blocks under the new seating. 

The hole in the wall from the North Aisle to the Chancel is a squint. This enabled the medieval congregation to see the Holy table.

The 17th century pulpit used to be on a higher base; but it was moved across the church and given its stone base in 1891, while retaining the old carving with a strapwork frieze and enriched cornice.

Beyond the pulpit the whole of the Chancel as well as the vestry and organ chamber were built in 1906 to replace a slightly smaller chancel.

The glass in the East Window above the Holy Table is noteworthy. The three panels of it were given by the Rev. George Gould of Fleet in 1840. 

Work to restore or repair all the Church Windows began in 2008 and was completed in June 2011.

This is an abridged version of the information available on www.theweytojesus.org.uk. To read the full information please visit www.theweytojesus.org.uk.
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