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The Church Of The Holy Rood      --      Wool, Dorset, U.K.

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The Church of the Holy Rood originated as a parochial chapel, belonging to Coombe Keynes until 1844, when Wool became a separate parish.

In 1384 it was decreed that Wool Chapel should be dedicated for the third time, and since then, with its Mother Church at Coombe Keynes (made redundant 14th January 1974), it has been dedicated to Holy Rood.

Holy Rood Floor Plan
According to Hutchins in his History of Dorset, the church on this site consisted originally of only a nave. The chancel and tower were added later, about 1450.

From then until 1865, the church consisted of the original nave, a small chancel, tower and a north arcade. 

In 1865 a faculty was issued to pull down the body of the church and chancel  with the exception of the tower and north and east walls of the nave and to build a south aisle.  The church was lengthened by 12 feet. 

Building Soc Plaque

The result was the church as we see it now.  The extension included the ancient burial place of the Turbervilles of Wool Bridge.  The architect was John Hicks of Dorchester.

See the tour section for more details of the history and points of interest.

Text based on the Holy Rood Guide written by Alan Brown (2003) and used by permission.

Alan is also the author of several excellent books on local history, including "A Backward Glimpse of Wool" and "The Changing Face of Wool".
All his books are available direct from him - tel. 01929 462761 or write to "Willowmead", Bindon Lane, Wool, Wareham, Dorset BH20 6HG.

Tour and features


Holy Rood Interior looking east


Bindon Chapel
Holy Rood Interior - Bindon ChapelThe small chapel in the north east corner is the Bindon Chapel which was once larger than at present, as part of it was taken in when the vestry was enlarged.

Murillo-style painting

For some time the above painting of Mary belonging to Holy Rood Church was in storage as its condition was deteriorating. It was given to the Church by the Revd Eric Tarrant who was Vicar of Wool from 1929-40. The painting probably dates from the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century, but draws its inspiration from the work of the seventeenth century Spanish artist Murillo. Towards the end of 2007, the Parochial Church Council decided to have it restored by a professional conservator. The work included strip-lining and re-stretching the canvas, cleaning the surface and repairing some minor damage. It has also been re-framed in line with the conservator’s recommendations and re-hung in the Bindon Chapel.


    The painting in 2008




North Porch
Holy Rood wool - North Porch

The North Porch, although rebuilt in 1866, retains much of its 15th century appearance.

Holy Rood wool - North Porch 2

Triple Arch
Holy Rood Wool - Triple Arch

The special feature of the church is the triple chancel arch, which is possibly unique.  The tympanum is plain and the whole screen dates from the middle of the 14th century.

Holy Rood Wool - North Windows 1

The windows are mainly 15th century and were re-used in the 1866 rebuilding.


Coombe windows
Holy Rood Wool - North Windows 2

The stained glass windows on the north side were removed from Coombe Keynes church at the time of its redundancy.


Holy Rood Wool - FontThe font and the two stone arches on the north side are 15th century.


Coombe Stoup
Holy Rood Wool - StoupThe water stoup exhibited on the window sill in the north aisle was once fitted into the wall of Coombe Keynes Church and removed in 1974.


Holy Rood Wool - CressetThe cresset stone (also on the north window sill) containing four receptacles in which wicks floating in oil were burnt before a shrine, is a fine example of mediaeval work, and was discovered during the rebuilding in 1866.


Holy Rood Wool - Flute

The flute was one of the instruments belonging to the church band, before the organ was introduced. The band would probably have played in the gallery, which in the 3rd edition of Hutchins was referred to as follows: "In 1852 the interior arrangement of the church was improved by the removal of the singing gallery to its present position behind the tower arch. It formerly extended much further into the church and was a great source of disfigurement"

Shepherd's Crook
Holy Rood Wool - Crook

The shepherd's crook displayed in the north window sill was used by Walter 'Shep' Trevett, a local shepherd, who for many years before the days of electricity pumped the organ for services until the 1930s.


Holy Rood Wool - lectern
The brass eagle lectern was given as a memorial to Mr Plumer the organist in the early part of the century.


Holy Rood Wool - Crucifix

The crucifix above the chancel arch was given by the late Mr S. J. Tong. It was carved by Mr Edward Tong in memory of two sons, Herbert, who died of wounds in 1917, and Arthur who died some years later from wounds received in 1918.

Holy Rood Wool - Pulpit

The pulpit was removed from St. Mary the Virgin, East Stoke, on its redundancy and replaced the stone pulpit which stood on the opposite side of the aisle.



Holy Rood Wool - ReredosThe reredos at the rear of the altar was made in 1925.


Mediaeval Altar Frontal
The church possesses an ancient altar frontal, which is in the custody of the Dorchester Museum.  It was made up from portions of  15th and 16th century vestments in eight vertical strips.  The vestments are thought to have come from Bindon Abbey after the Reformation.
It is of great interest and is described on its separate page.


The church possesses an Elizabethan chalice with a cover originally used as a paten, bearing the date 1571.

There is also an earlier silver chalice of national and possibly international importance, belonging to the church and in the custody of Dorchester Museum.  Originally from Coombe Keynes it is known as the Coombe Keynes Chalice. (It is said to be one of the finest examples of an English pre-reformation silver chalice in existence.) See this link.


A large photograph of the six bells (reproduced below) hangs in the ringing chamber. It is inscribed:

Holy Rood Wool - Bells (old photo)

“In commemoration of the re-hanging of Wool Bells, with the addition of two new ones in 1907, and in memory of the Rev. A.C.B. Dobie, M.A. who whilst Vicar of Wool from 1896 to 1912 was mainly responsible for this work.  He loved his church and served it faithfully. Given by his son.”

There are six bells still used regularly.  There were only four originally, with another two added in 1907.

The bells' details are:

Treble Note E  2cwt 2qtrs 8lbs


Second   Note D    3cwt 2qtrs


Third   Note C  4cwt


Fourth   Note B  6cwt 2qtrs


Fifth   Note A   8cwt 2qtrs


Tenor Note G  11cwt 0qtrs 24lbs



Holy Rood Wool - bell

3rd bell
4 cwt

Inscriptions and makers:
1. "In loving memory of my dear mother and my dear grandmother Caroline Esther Hedgecock. 1906. Florence Dobie. John Dobie 1907."
Gillett & Johnson, Croydon
2. "Love God" 1606
John Wallis, Salisbury
3. "John Hayte CW. Anno 1738. WKBF"
William Knight, Closworth [?] (pictured above)
4. "Serve God. W. 1606"
John Wallis, Salisbury
5. "C. W. T. B. Anno Domini 1659".
Thomas Purdue, Closworth [?]
6. "These bells rehung, tenor and treble added, 1907. Arthur C.B. Dobie, Vicar. Jas. Spicer and Walter Wright, churchwardens."
Gillett & Johnson, Croydon

An ancient rhyme regarding the twelve bells from Bindon Abbey at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries reads: “Wool streams and Coombe wells, Fordington cuckolds stole Wool bells.” The bells were believed to have been hidden in a lane near the church and removed by men from Fordington St George. The lane was later called Bell Drong.  (Drong is  a West Country word for a narrow lane.)  Eventually, Fordington, Wool, and Coombe Keynes shared the bells.

The registers of Wool and Coombe Keynes dated from 1583 are now in the County Archives at Dorchester.

Former vicars
The previous vicars of Wool and East Stoke are listed at the back of the church.




War Memorial
Holy Rood Wool - War Mem

The War Memorial in the churchyard is a plain Latin cross and was erected in 1921.


Although the church now stands on the edge of the village, it was not always so. Church Lane was once a busy road. A hundred yards past the church the road reached a junction: one road to East Stoke, another through Wood Street and into Purbeck, and yet another to Coombe Keynes, running parallel some quarter of a mile east of the present road.

Holy Rood Wool - Church Lane view


Hutchins 3rd edition also referred to the position of the church: " - it is conveniently situated on gently rising ground in the Southern part of the village. There is a tradition among the people, that some time ago it formed the central point of the village; and within the memory of the present generation, changes have taken place which have made it less so than formerly, some houses near the church having been pulled down, and others built at a greater distance, in common, Bindon Lane etc."



Text based on the current Holy Rood Guide written by Alan Brown (2003) and used by permission.

Alan is also the author of two excellent books on local history "A Backward Glimpse of Wool" and "The Changing Face of Wool".
All three books are available direct from him - tel. 01929 462761 or write to "Willowmead", Bindon Lane, Wool, Wareham, Dorset BH20 6HG.

(Website photos are by Chris Irwin.)


Inaugural Service for the new Benefice of West Purbeck - Wed 13th March

Holy Rood was full, for the service to inaugurate and celebrate our new benefice which came into being on March 1st. Many people attended from the three West Purbeck Benefice churches - Holy Rood, Bere Regis, and Affpuddle - as well as visitors from the adjacent Benefice of The Lulworths, Winfrith Newburgh and Chaldon. Our Archdeacon, Ven. Antony MacRow-Wood, Archdeacon of Dorset, was also present.

At this service, our vicar, Revd Carol Langford, was given her new Licence, as the first Rector and Incumbent of the new Benefice of West Purbeck, by the Bishop of Sherborne, the Right Revd Karen Gorham.

At the same time, Revd Jenny Alidina was Licensed to the new benefice as an Associate Priest.




The Bishop of Sherborne, the Right Revd Karen Gorham, officiated and preached from the Gospel of St John chapter 15 on our need to be part of the True Vine.



A huge thank you to everyone who helped to organise the Inauguration Service and refreshments afterwards last Wednesday.

It was a great start to this next phase of our common life together.

Blessings, Rev Carol
















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Copyright © 2004 Holy Rood Church, Wool
Last modified: Sunday, 17 November 2019