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Bincombe – Holy Trinity Church

On the morning of the 30th of June 1801, the bodies of two young German soldiers were brought to Holy Trinity Church, Bincombe for burial; a private and a corporal in His Majesty’s York Hussars, the two twenty-two-year-olds had been shot for desertion. At the time King George III, his family and Court stayed at Weymouth for much of the summer and with the threat of invasion from across the English Channel by Napoleon, there were soldiers camped on many of the surrounding hills to ensure the King’s protection, including Bincombe Down. In 1890, Thomas Hardy wrote a short story ‘The Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion.’ Perhaps he had heard the story of these young men.

There is one road into Bincombe and from there the church does not look especially attractive. Pevsner refers to its “Blunt west tower”, which from a distance looks in need of a spire. The centre of the village is all farmyards, appropriate for this rural area, and you have to pass through one to reach the church.

We visited on the Saturday before the rogation service and we came round the side of the building and found people busily preparing the church, arranging flowers and tidying up the churchyard.

Consisting of a west tower, nave, chancel and south porch the church is mostly in the Early English style of the 13th and 14th centuries but there are traces of Norman work in the building. In 1862 the floor of the chancel was raised and other changes made and the church furniture was renewed. The organ came to Bincombe in 1901 from Broadwey Church, were it had been since 1873.

The church is entered through the south porch and beside the doorway (dated 1779) is a mediaeval Holy water stoop. The font is at the west end of the nave, beneath the tower. The round bowl with chamfered under edge dates from the 13th century and is of Purbeck marble. The stem is modern. In days past Fonts were kept filled and, in 1236, the Archbishop ordered that the covers should be secured to prevent the water being stolen for superstitious purposes; on the rim are traces of the old cover.

 The chancel east window is in memory of Elizabeth, the widow of John Howship, a surgeon of Saville Row, London. Elizabeth died on the 20th of November 1860 aged 73 years; she is buried in a single stone covered tomb with her father Robert Tillidge who died in 1806 aged 88 years. John and Elizabeth Howship had a son John who only lived for two months; he died on the 4th of March 1808 and is buried here. The windows on the south side are in the Perpendicular style of the mid 1400’s.

Holy Trinity has two bells: the larger dated 1658, is by Thomas Purdue and the smaller one, dated 1594, is by John Wills of Salisbury and is inscribed ‘Feare God.’

Recent changes include the installation of the clock in the tower as a thanksgiving for delivery and victory in WWII. At a cost of over £80,000 the roof was renewed and other repairs carried out in 1995. The modern sound and Loop system was installed in 2001.

When 2001 census statistics are compared with figures from the 1841 and subsequent censuses, we see an increased population something unusual in rural communities. On the gate of one of the farms on your right as you proceed into the village is the name Pashen – the family name appears in the 1841 census.

The name Bincombe probably means a place where beans were grown, a staple food in prehistoric and Saxon times.

We noticed these family names in the churchyard: Hawker, Fookes, Cooper, Christopher, Pashen. Grant, King, Loveless, Foot, Haines, Gollop, Cake, Hatton and Bayley.

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