St Faith’s, Dorstone
- Road reference: Off B4348
- OS Grid Ref: SO 314 417
- Open during daylight hours
- Toilets at Dorstone Front Room 9am – 1pm weekdays or outside Village Hall
- Parking Available
- Wheelchair Access
- Nearest Light Refreshments – Tea and Biscuits available in Church or at Dorstone Front Room. Also at Pandy Inn.
- Visit the website
Countless people have served this house of God over the centuries, each helping to ensure that Dorstone would always have a place for worship, a place to celebrate happy occasions and to come to for comfort in times of trouble and sadness.
No documentary evidence has yet been found of a church in Dorstone before 1256. Yet it is certain that Christian worship began here much earlier than that. A 6th century charter relating to church lands in Dorstone is included in “The Book of Llandaff” (1133).
In other records, it says: “To the ancient Church, built before the Conquest, there was added in the 12th Century, on the North side, a Chapel built by Richard de Brito and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, to which was added a Chauntry”.
De Brito was one of the four knights who murdered St. Thomas a Becket on Dec 29th 1170, and is said to have founded the Chapelin Dorstone in expiation of his crime.
The present building, in the Early English style and built by the year 1889, was designed as nearly as possible on the lines of the old church erected in the 11th or 12th century.
It is the third church to stand on the site in the past two hundred years.
The ancient Church was taken down in 1827. A poor structure in the old churchwarden style was built in its place and dedicated to Saint Faith, A proclamation issued in 1825 gives an interesting account of how the money was raised (£524. 18s. 10d – “exclusive of old materials”. The inhabitants of Dorstone were “unable to raise (this sum) amongst themselves either by rate or otherwise”. So donations were to be sought “from house to house throughout England, our town of Berwick-upon-Tweed and our counties of Flint, Denbigh and Radnor, in Wales, to enable them to repair and in part rebuild the said church”.
This building was removed about 60 years later, and in the second restoration these inscribed stones were found:
JOHS . BR ………………………….. LAM : IN : HON
ORE : BEA MARI SR ‘E : M : CC : LV1
Hanc capellam ex voto ad Mariam Virginam, Richardus de Brito dedicavit.
(This Chapel is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, as promised by Richard de Brito 1256).
A rare sepulchural Chalice and Paten were found in a tomb thought to be that of Johannes de Brito who died in 1275, which was accidentally broken into during the rebuilding.
Sadly, they were stolen in 2005 and have never been recovered.
The East window, and the extravagantly carved Reredos, are memorials to the Rev. Thomas Prosser Powell whose family were rectors of Dorstone for nearly 300 years – from 1663-1953.
Clarke of Hereford carved the solid oak lectern from roof timbers of the old church.
The Pulpit, erected in 1865, is a memorial to the wife of Francis R. Trumper and sculpted on its sides are the four apostles, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The tower retains its low 13th century tower arch, which contains a considerable quantity of Travertine, sometimes referred to as Tufa, in unhewn blocks, from the old Church.
There are four bells – three of the seventeenth century and one of the sixteenth century whose inscription proudly boasts, in Latin, that it will ring for ever! Arthur Mee states in his book on Herefordshire, “The prize for long service in this Church must go to the bells, three that have rung for 300 years and one for 500 years.”
An audit of the memorials and tombstones was carried out in 1991.
Baptisms and Burials Registers date from the year 1733.
Marriage Registers from 1755.
Closed 18.00hrs summer, 16.00hrs winter