Parish History

West Moors was a sparsely populated heathland hamlet at the northern end of the ancient parish of West Parley, Dorset (Perlai in 1066 Domesday Book) until the end of the 1900's and fell within the Hundred of Cranborne.  Its ecclesiastical history is short, beginning in 1922 when it became an ecclesiastical parish in its own right, before then it had been part of Verwood for some 25 years.  It was however part of West Parley civil parish until 1956 when it became an independent civil parish.  The development of Ferndown in-between which until fairly recently was also just a few cottages has acted to disassociate West Moors from Parley.

In 1364 the settlement was named La More, becoming 'Mours' in 1407 (Norman influence?) in 1500's Le Moure and by the 1600's 'Moores' and always associated with Parley.  The word Moor is derived from 'mar' and 'moure' meaning marsh.  For centuries it was rough heathland, marshy in places, draining into the Moors River, with just a few paths and sparsely populated. 

A large part of West Moors was land variously known as Priory Common, St. Leonard's Common or Cranborne Common and until the time of the dissolution (under Henry VIII) was owned by Cranborne Priory.

The area around Uddens Water to the North-West was less acidic and permitted some farming of the more fertile soil. The map of 1633 shows several farms with small fields either side of the Uddens.  These were Dolman's Farm, Manor Farm (later known as Gulliver's Farm), Sturt's Farm, West Moors Farm and Woolslope Farm and the habitation was concentrated in this area. The low population continued until relatively recent times; it was the coming of the Southampton and Dorchester railway in 1847 that stimulated development and in fact gave birth to what today is West Moors. (It has also been known as Westmoors).  The main part of the village is in fact built over the poor moorland soils referred to as 'waste' on old maps!

The 1841 census of West Parley including West Moors records that the total population was 254, with just 16 households in West Moors - a local population of just 86 persons.

West Moors

Lands comprising about 850a. 3 and 4 Philip and Mary, Sir John Delalinde died seised of lands here, &c called La More; yearly value 36s. Hence it came to the Mortons of Milborne St Andrew; 33 Eliz. Thomas Morton; 37 Eliz. George Morton; and, 1610, Sir George Morton died siesed of one messuage and 750a. Of land called Parley and Moores, in west Moores and West Parley; yearly value 7£ 8s 4d. In 1869 the lands here belong to Sir E. Greathed KCB of Uddens, Frederick William Fryer esq. of Clarence House, East Cowes Park, Isle of Wight, to the Marquis of Salisbury, and Sir William Hanham, &c.

There is a school room, built in 1843, of which the site, building, and garden were conveyed to the National Society. Also a school-chapel with turret and one bell, licensed for Divine service and for the celebration of the Holy Sacrament and Baptism. The site and building with yard attached is vested in trustees, but the chapel is unconsecrated. The first curate was the Rev.W.Dowding; the next and present curate the Rev.G.Everett.

Here is a station on the Salisbury and Dorset Railway.

The school-chapel mentioned by Hutchinson's History (above) was the original 1843 National School and according to the 1896 deeds probably located somewhere a little north of the present church site with the School Mistresses House across Station Road from it. Both these buildings seem to have been demolished, presumably when new buildings were built. In 1854 an "Iron Room" hut (measuring approximately 40ft by 18ft made of corrugated iron) was built on the site of the present-day church. Later maps have this marked as Parish or Church Room. This Church Room (re-sited in 1896) was a centre for worship, parish activities and village meetings and later even for school lunches until it was finally demolished in the 1970's.  It became notorious in early November 1964, when newspapers such as the Poole & Dorset Herald & Bournemouth Daily Echo reported, "Vermin in school canteen" and "Canteen rat risks anger parents".  The then headmaster Mr David Lewis had to face parents concerns about poor facilities and the danger posed by the road - nothing changes!

On 17th August 1859 a Charity Trust was founded by Deed Poll and partly endowed with a piece of land running along Station Road, probably on the present location of the church, for the erection of a church or school.  This was finally substantially achieved some 35 years later.

In 1867 the railway halt (opened 1847) developed to become a junction station with the opening of the Salisbury & Dorset Junction Railway (linking Wimborne and Salisbury through West Moors) and West Moors was really put on the map.  There was a goods yard which established the village as a centre for distribution. The population increased again with more pupils for the school.

The 1871 census records the population as 158 persons.  In 1872 a West Moors Curate Trust Fund was established through the Parish of West Parley (which originally included all of West Moors Common/Plantation), "to provide for the spiritual necessities of an outlying district known as West Moors". 

The arrival of Reverend Claud Brown at Verwood in 1887 led to an ecclesiastical re-organisation with Verwood being formed from part of Cranborne Parish and Claud Brown being given ministerial authority over the sparsely populated 'Westmoors Plantation'.  Under Claud Brown's patronage in the late 1890's a building programme began of church, school, school house and fine curates house (known as St Mary's House) and he may well also have personally funded the various 'Assistant Curates' to help him with Verwood, Three Legged Cross and West Moors - see the list of clergy below.  This was a visionary act of great faith in the future of the village, West Moors still having a small and relatively impoverished population.  Claud Brown was educated at Wadham College, Oxford as was the then Lord of the Manor of Verwood, William Rolles Fryer - although 35 years earlier!

On January 6th 1896 a parcel of land along Station Road was sold by the trustees of the marriage settlement of Sir Frederic William Richards Fryer (see foot of page) and his wife, Dame Frances Elizabeth to the Salisbury Diocesan Board of Finance "containing by estimation one and a half acres" for the sum of £37-10s (so that a Parsonage School and School house could be erected on it). This land was probably part of the lands they had inherited through from the Fryer ancestor, the famous reformed 'Gentle Smuggler', Isaac Gulliver (1745-1822) of Kinson/Wimborne.  Gulliver had acquired Manor Farm with land around and to the north of the present church in 1789 and lived there with his wife Elizabeth (Beale) and raised his daughter also Elizabeth, who married William Fryer.  The Fryer family, already wealthy in their own right through their merchanting, Newfoundland fisheries (Gosse Fryer & Pack of Carbonear owned 40 ships from Poole) and banking interests (Fryers, Andrew & Co of Wimborne=Wimborne, Poole & Blandford Bank), and now descendants of Gulliver, owned large tracts of land from Parley up through West Moors to Verwood.  They are recorded as being generous with grants of land permitting local development. (See foot of page for a partial Fryer family tree and photographs of the graves of the West Moors branch of the family which sadly is now extinct with the 2008 burial of Frances Evelyn Fryer).  See and for more about Isaac Gulliver, 'The Gentle Smuggler' who was so important to Dorset history.

Monday February 17th 1896 at 3.15pm The Venerable Archdeacon of Dorset opened St Mary's School which remained under church control and management for just over seventy-five years until 20th October 1971. It then became a Voluntary Controlled state school under the control of Dorset County Council and a board of Governors, including Vicar and two Church Foundation Governors.

In 1896 prior to the building of the new church the Iron Room was re-sited across to the other side of Station Road to vacate the site for the building of St Mary the Virgin Chapel.

By 1896 the present church building was under construction and was blessed and dedicated as Saint Mary the Virgin on 9th December 1897 (but not consecrated) by the then Bishop of Salisbury.  In Easter 1898 there were just 31 Communicants. Ministry from 1897 to 1900 in the West Moors district was mainly under Reverend WF Cecil Gurney. 

On Easter Day in 1899 there were 34 Communicants.  The total recorded living in the Parish was 135.

At the beginning of the twentieth century it was the brothers Job and Harry Brewer of Verwood, (where Job was lessee of Manor Brickworks and Harry the manager) who saw the potential for development at West Moors. They began to acquire lands from 1902 onwards. During this era some of the lands of the estates of Lords' Shaftesbury, Salisbury & Normanton were sold off. Lands were also sold off by the Fryers Estate, Lord Wimborne, the Uddens Estate and Canford Estate.  In 1924 Job and Harry purchased land from the Marquess of Salisbury and had moved to and established the Brewer and Brewer property agency in 1920 on the corner of Station and Farm Road (still trading today).  They and their descendants planned, developed and built much of the early village with its villas and houses along the Station Road, The Avenue, Ashurst, Denewood, Woodside, Moorlands, Glenwood and Pinehurst Roads.


Piped mains water supply came to the village in 1907 and gas in 1911.

In 1907 with the Reverend Claud Brown, of Verwood as patron and principal trustee, the 'unconsecrated building intended for use as a church' built on this land was transferred (conveyed) to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.  The church and churchyard wasn't fully consecrated until Monday 18th May 1908 - again by the Bishop of Salisbury.  There were just 19 communicants on the occasion.

In 1910 the new Ecclesiastical Parish of Verwood, Three Legged Cross and West Moors was formed with Revd. Claud Brown as Vicar. The West Parley Curate Fund was transferred to the new parish to help pay a curate's stipend.  Under Claud Brown a succession of Verwood curates looked after West Moors until in 1912 Revd. C A Frankland was appointed as the first Priest in charge.  At Christmas there were 98 communicants. 

1912 Click on this Magazine link to view a .PDF file of the Verwood and West Moors Parish Magazine for October 1912.

Revd. Claud Brown retired in 1917 to Salisbury.  The church at West Moors (and Verwood) still is much influenced by his legacy.


Reverend Claud Brown
Reverend Claud Brown (1850-1929)

In 1918 the first moves were made to separate West Moors into a parish in its own right and the fine vicarage on Station Road (No.128 next to the school) was conveyed to the living for the Curate serving West Moors Chapel.  There were problems in establishing a sufficient benefaction to endow a curacy and it was proposed that a District Chapelry should be assigned to St Mary's so that marriages, baptisms, churchings and burials could be performed there.  In 1921 a part of Gussage All Saints was added to the assignment and St Mary's became a Consolidated Chapelry. 

The Sanctuary post 1920 Reredos (pre 1922 Stained Glass Windows)

Early Church Interior with original pulpit on left hand side

In April 1920 the present carved stone reredos was given by Sir CR Harrison and erected in the Sanctuary. It depicts Christ the King of Heaven with Angels attending him on each side with rather fine thuribles.  The use of incense was a prominent part of worship until the time of Rev Chisholm in the late 1980's when the incumbent and PCC agreed to discontinue its regular use.  The original six fine candlesticks were stolen in the 1990's and replaced, albeit with less valuable candlesticks.  (The reredos was refurbished in 1985 in memory of Claude Whitmore, former church warden and his wife Vera & Joan Stewart).  Note the curtains to each side of the altar.  These were later removed.  The 'eagle-eyed' will spot that the wooden eagle lectern is on its own stand but is now perched on the wall to make more room for the organ and keyboard.

The Reredos depicting Christ enthroned in heaven, angels in attendance

The ornate painting of the Altar exposed from Trinity until Advent

Also in 1920 the present Organ, a Gray and Davidson instrument was purchased for £130 from Mont Dene Hotel in Bournemouth at an auction sale and was erected on the 14th March and was used for the service on that day.  There are seven speaking stops, with the usual basic couplers, two manuals and parallel pedals.  The Great Organ: Principal 4'  Dulciana 8' & Open Diapason 8'.  The Swell Organ: Suabe Flute 4'  Lieblick Gedackt 8'  Kerulophon 8'.  The Pedal Organ: Bourdon 16'.  The organ has tracker action and is provided with two combination pedals on the great Organ and a ratchet pedal for the Swell Organ.  Although the organ is electrically blown (mechanised in 1947) the hand bellows are still in working order.  The organ was installed in an additional room to the side of the choir vestry - the original window was removed and a higher purpose-built arch formed into which the organ was installed.  Revd Norman Taylor, vicar from 1980 until 1988 was an accomplished organist and musician.  He asked that the organ be moved forward to its present position to improve its sound, consequently in the early 1980's the Organ Amblers did sponsored walks and raised £4,000 for the work.  Brian Prendergast, the church warden at that time constructed a large baffle to suspend above and to the rear of the pipes to throw the sound out into the church - and so the 'muffled organ' was moved forwards by some four feet and restored.  Brian also modified the wooden eagle lectern to enable it to be moved onto the choir wall in its present position.  Brian also made an ornate metal stand for the Paschal Candle.

The Gray & Davidson organ photographed in summer 2009

Finally on 3rd March 1922 St Mary's assumed its new role as the Parish Church of the new Ecclesiastical Parish of West Moors with Revd. C Carew Cox as the first Vicar (he had been priest in charge since 1917).  This is the church photographed (see below) before the 1927 extension works started, actual date unknown.  Note the School House and School just down the road.  This undated photograph (see below) shows these fine buildings from across Station Road before the plot was developed.  The school has been extended and is still in use today, but the old school house was sold into private ownership on 16th November 1984.

Pre 1927 Extension Works

School and School house

St Mary's Chapel before the 1927 Extension Works

School House and School opened 1896

In 1922 the present stained glass windows depicting The Annunciation (with the inscription, "Hail thou art highly favoured by thee") and the Anointing of Jesus (with the inscription, "Her sins which were many are forgiven for she loved much") were installed to the east (Sanctuary) windows which previously had been of plain glass.  The Dove of the Holy Spirit is depicted in the central window which is almost nearly covered by the reredos.  The windows were, "A thank offering A.M.D.G 1922" (Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam - for the greater glory of God).  They were unveiled and dedicated by the then Bishop of Salisbury on 11th February 1923.

On 31st December 1925 land on Pinehurst Road was acquired with some financial help from Lord Shaftesbury from Mrs Helene Stainer (née Frampton) for the sum of £25.  An unused 1897 wooden chapel building was disassembled and moved from Rowe Hill, in the neighbouring parish of Holt and erected on the Pinehurst Road site as a Chapel of Ease.  It cost £50 for the building and £25 for the furnishings.  A team of some 15 men volunteered to do the work, which took four months to complete, including the Rev Carew Cox, with a professional foreman from Ringwood.  It was known as St John's, was re-dedicated by the Bishop of Sherborne on 5th November 1925 and was in use until 1999. (See photograph under 2000 below). 

Between 1925 and 1939 (actual date unclear) benefaction was transferred as the benefices of Orcheston St Mary and Orcheston St George were united (located 7 & 6 miles NW of Amesbury).  A charge was placed on the new united benefice in favour of the benefice of West Moors. This was necessary to help fund the parish of West Moors.  This arrangement would have ceased under the general reorganisation of clergy stipends in the 1970's - but thanks to Orcheston!


West Window Presentation Window 1936 North East Annunciation Window 1922 South East Anointing of the Lord Window 1922

By 1926 there were 219 communicants at four services held on Easter Day, so the need arose to either build a larger church or extend.

To increase seating capacity an extension to the west end of the original church was preferred to rebuilding (due to lack of funds) and was started on 1st March 1927, and was finally dedicated on 13th March 1931.  It added 25 feet in length to the nave, with another two arched windows to the south wall and an arched window and a heavy oak back door to the north-west corner.  The Font was moved from its original position in the north-west corner to its present position at the centre of the west (back) wall.  At the same time an organ chamber was added on the north side of the nave and the organ moved to its present position.  Chairs to fill the space behind the pews in the extension were donated by generous parishioners. These were replaced a few years ago.  Parishioners could purchase the old wooden chairs for £5, but some have been seen fairly recently on eBay making much, much more!

The Memorial Hall was opened June 27th 1929 across the road from the church and school on land given by Sir Frederic Fryer in 1914. (There was an ex-army hut on the present hall car park site from 1920).

Electricity came to West Moors in 1931 and a system of electric lighting was installed in 1936.  (Gas came in 1911, although not to the church) and the first private telephone lines in 1933.

Long time resident Mr John Marston of Oakhurst Lane recalls that in the 1930's there were two 'church cottages' in poor condition opposite the church and near to the 'Iron Room'  The whole area was covered in brambles and dense growth.  These are shown on early maps, perhaps one was the original school masters house mentioned in Hutchinson's above.

In 1936 the present fine stained glass window depicting the Presentation of the Lord (Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary) was installed at the west end.  It is, "A thank offering for the reign of King George V 1910-1936".  It is inscribed, "Nunc dimmittis servum tuum Domine secundum verbum tuum in pace; Quia viderant oculi mei salutare tuum".  (Lord, now you let your servant depart in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared before the face of all people...Luke 2.29-32).  Curiously this fine window wasn't dedicated until 13th March 1950!  It was damaged in 2009 by a golf ball, repaired and protective guards installed in memory of Ida Day, 2010.

Internal picture of Church

An internal photograph taken after 1936 (actual date unknown) after the present oak pulpit was donated in memory of the Fryer family and erected in 1930.  Previously a smaller pulpit had been placed on the other (northern) side, where the lectern is now installed.  The inscription around the top of the pulpit in Latin says, Non enim nosmetipsos predicamus sed Ieusum Xpm".   "(It is) not in fact we ourselves who preach, but Jesus Christ".  The wooden panel sides have small escutcheons which display the heraldic devices of the Sees of Canterbury, Salisbury and Bristol.  Note the metal gates to the choir which were removed in the 1990's, otherwise not much has changed except the lighting. The altar hangings, that are still in use, were dedicated on the 13th January 1921.

Easter 1939 recorded 246 communicants - but at least there was more seating capacity after the extension works!

In the 1940's during a service the large tree which stood across the path adjacent to the entrance porch blew down.  It can just be seen on the photo below of the original porch, before it outgrew itself.

There are no significant war time events recorded for the church, but there are several servicemen buried in the church graveyard.  In the Minutes of the Mothers Union for September 1939 it noted, "Our Autumn session this year also opened under a shadow, in this time of War.  We had no September meeting by special request from Salisbury".  Henceforth the Vicar was asked to address the monthly meetings, "owing to transport difficulties preventing speakers travelling any distance". One member, Mrs Robinson, couldn't attend meetings any longer due to the petrol was hoped, "that after the war was over she would once more give us her help and support".  Little did they realise what lay ahead.  Minutes also state, "As we had not yet become accustomed to going out to entertainments in the evening during the Blackout it was decided that an evening social was impossible".  Sept 11th 1940 records, "a very pleasant afternoon (garden meeting) in spite of an Air Raid warning".  The annual outings were also suspended.  In the report for 1941 it states, "In spite of the difficulties of rationing it has been possible to provide tea and cakes or biscuits at all the meetings".  Late in the war the MU were knitting for victims. 

St Mary's School records opening a week later than planned after the summer holiday on 11th September 1939, due to the outbreak of war with Germany. 

An air-raid warning disrupted school on 11th July 1940.  Evacuated children added about 50 to the school roll.  In April 1943 hot school meals were introduced by the use of the church iron room across the road. 

A substantial Military Fuel Depot was established on Shaftesbury Estate land to the north of the parish. It opened in 1938 and was used by the US Army as a depot for the 1944 Normandy Invasion. By 1946 it housed some German POW's and by 1971 became a UK Joint Services Petroleum Depot. This resulted in growing numbers of service families with their children attending St Mary's School, until the military presence was scaled down in the 1990's. Today the 168 Hectare site houses The Defence Fuels Group who purchase, test and deliver all fuels and lubricants to UK forces worldwide, a military fuels handling school and the Dorset Fire Service Training School (from 1976). 25 hectares of the land is protected as a Site of Scientific Interest (SSI) due to the quality of flora and fauna found there. For further history see

On V.E. Day 1945 the whole village celebrated with a street party.

Remembrance Parade early 1970's Remembrance Day 2007 War Memorial at the Petwyn

On 18th May 1958 the 50th Anniversary of the Consecration of the church was marked by visits from Canon JS Maples, Diocesan Director of Religious Education in the morning and in the evening the Vicar of Wimborne.

In 1960 the present electric heating system was installed.  Until then heating had been by a coal-fired boiler located under the Priest's vestry.  Unfortunately the chamber is below ground level and the development of the road and surrounding land led to a change in the drainage and water course, and caused the boiler chamber to flood.  Mains drainage came to West Moors in the early 1960's - the village population was just over 2000.

Church and school in 1950/60's? School clergy in 1961
Church without Hall Blessing of the School Extension 1961 Original gated porch

An external photograph from the North in the 1950/60's? showing the extension, before the Meeting Room Hall was added in 1972/3.  The second photograph shows a procession of Verger, Thurifer & Boat Buy, Acolytes, Crucifer, Priest (Reverend Alban Elliot?) and Bishop of Salisbury during the formal opening and blessing of St Mary's School extension in June 1961 on the day of the church/school Fete.  The Third photograph is an old Post Card photo showing the original iron gates, before the door was installed and the porch renovated in 1972.

In 1970 the iron altar rails were replaced with the present wooden rail.  The old iron rails had proved inconvenient as they had a gap in the centre and many elderly people found it difficult to regain their feet after kneeling for Communion without any support from the rail.

In 1971 the original old 'Iron Room' and its site were sold to developers and the funds realised used to construct the present Hall ('Meeting Room') along the North side of the church which was completed in mid-1973.

On 20th October 1971 St Mary's School transferred from full church control as it gained Voluntary Controlled status.  The managers noted their disappointment at this outcome, the church having been so actively involved in the education of the children of the parish for so long, but it stated that, "It had become necessary owing to the impossibility for the church to continue this heavy financial burden annually".

In the 1970's the interior of the church entrance porch was re-ordered, the wrought iron gates removed and glazed wooden doors added.  A commemorative plaque states, "In memory of Alban Ernest Elliot L.Th A.T.C. Priest" (Vicar 1952-1973).

In 1980 The original Claud Brown 'Vicarage' (St Mary's House) at 128 Station Road, was sold and a house purchased on Glenwood Road, the incumbent Norman Taylor, not wishing to live in such a large house.  He was a keen organist and had a room built on the side of the present vicarage to house a substantial organ.

St Mary's House was actually built as the dwelling for the West Moors curate and did not officially become a Vicarage until the parish was formed in 1922, long after Revd. Claud Brown had retired to Salisbury.


 The original Vicarage sold in 1980  

The Aumbry & Light

Mary, infant Jesus & Light


St John's Church, as it was named, was deemed unsafe by the insurers on 30th November 1999.  Sadly with no practical prospect of economic repair or alternative use was demolished in May 2000 and the site sold (a bungalow now stands on the site).  There was a loyal congregation until the end and regular Sunday services.  Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion was celebrated on Thursday Mornings in later years.   It was known locally as the Gypsy Church and all were sad at its demise.  The monies realised part financed the new church hall ten years later.

St. John's Chapel just before its demolition in May 2000   The interior of St John's Chapel May 2000

Sometimes in our Eucharistic Prayer St John is mentioned after the Blessed Virgin Mary as the second patron, as we fondly remember our former chapel of ease.

On the 6th and 7th December 1997 the church celebrated its centenary with an exhibition in the Memorial Hall and special services, and of course a Centenary Eucharist with re-dedication of the church, presided over by Bishop David Stancliffe, the Bishop of Salisbury.  The then incumbent, Revd. Ian Chisholm and the Parochial Church Council had ambitious plans for the building of  a new church, possibly across the road adjacent to the site of the present Memorial Hall, or on a new site, as the need for modern facilities, kitchen, offices and larger hall were realised. The church launched a Vision 2000 scheme.  However rising building costs and soaring land values frustrated all efforts, despite gallant fund raising - the church simply couldn't find a suitable new site in a now thriving and developed centre and was unable to realise its immediate vision and this was discouraging.  Plans were re-drawn under the Church Warden-ship of Mr Kenneth Dowsett RIP for a two-storey hall to the side of the existing church, but again there were insufficient funds available.

History repeated itself with the appointment of Revd. Andrew Rowland, a former Assistant Curate of Verwood Parish, as Vicar in January 2006.  He was collated by Rt Revd Tim Thornton, then Bishop of Sherborne, now Bishop of Truro.  The average Sunday attendances and roll numbers started to increase - the challenge being to build upon good past foundations and to finally update the facilities and attract more Parishioners of West Moors to worship God at St Mary's, their Parish church.  Our aim is to build the church up both physically and numerically.  In April 2007 the church agreed a substantial budget and started planning building redevelopment and enlargement of the 1970's Meeting Room and provision of more modern facilities. The majority of the fundraising was completed by Summer 2008, full planning permission was gained in December for the demolishing of the 1970's Meeting Room and the building of a Church Hall.  As of November 2009 the final design and tendering process is complete with a projected build in early 2010.

On Trinity Sunday, 18th May 2008, David Stancliffe, Lord Bishop of Salisbury presided at a Parish Eucharist of celebration on the exact centenary of the original consecration and re-consecrated St Mary the Virgin Church and blessed its peoples. 

The West Window suffered damage due to vandalism in 2008 and this was repaired and protective external guards fitted and the window rededicated during November 2009 by a donation in loving memory of Mrs Ida Day who had served as a Lay Pastoral Assistant.  The donor also funded the cost of repairs to the walls and gates around the church yard, but there are no longer any straying cattle or sheep to keep out!

N.B. The local population has now grown to some 8,500 from the 135 recorded in 1899!

In March 2010 work began on the new church hall with the demolishing of the 1970's structure with its very leaky flat roof.  The new hall was opened and dedicated 'To the Glory of God' by The Archdeacon of Sherborne, The Venerable Paul Taylor on Saturday 16th October 2010.  This visionary project provides the parish with much needed modern facilities of kitchen, toilets, storage and a considerably larger hall.  The church electrical switchgear was also renewed.  The cost of the improvements was around £2500,000 all fully funded. 

In December 2011 we commissioned a Photo-Voltaic Array on the Hall Roof and generated 2,500kw hours in our first year.  This in effect provides over half of our power requirement.  We acknowledge support from the Erskine Muton Charity who provided half the cost (as well as a grant of £20k towards the new hall funding).

During 2012 the rain gutters were replaced and in March 2013 the church was re-decorated, the parquet floor repaired and carpets replaced.  In July & August 2014 the church heating from 1960 was retired and replaced with a modern efficient system, together with the installation of LED lighting.  Now the church is truly 'Greened'.

Notable Civic Services (and receptions) have been held for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and the Centenary Commemoration of the Outbreak of The Great War 1914.

'We head into God's future confidently, with a growing church roll which now exceeds 170 electors and numerous friends.  To God be the Glory!

Revd. Andrew Rowland
Revd. Andrew Rowland

Previous incumbent and compiler of this history

New Hall Opened 16.10.2010 Church and Hall faces the future! Inside Hall with young families
List of Curates, Priests and Incumbents

1843 - ?

W Dowding

Curate from West Parley

In 1869 - ?


Curate from West Parley

1887 - 1917

Claud Brown M.A.

Vicar of Verwood, Three Legged Cross and West Moors (1897)

1897 - 1900

WF Cecil Gurney

Assistant Curate from Verwood

1900 - 1911

JS Barrett

Assistant Curate from Verwood

1911 - 1912

TV Morley

Assistant Curate (Verwood, Three Legged Cross & West Moors)

1912 - 1915

CA Frankland


1915 - 1916

HE Ridsdale


1916 - 1917

J Richard



AS Bryant



GS Gallar


End of the Claud Brown Era

1917 - 1922

Charles Carew Cox


3rd March 1922 Inauguration of Ecclesiastical Parish

1922 - 1927

Charles Carew Cox 

First Vicar of West Moors

1928 - 1937

WH Courteen

Vicar    (Wife Mrs EM Courteen)

1937 - 1943

DAG Muir

Vicar    (Wife Evelyn A Muir)

1943 - 1951

Charles Frank Hall OBE (Military)

Vicar    (Died in service July 1951)

1952 - 1973

Alban Ernest Elliot

Vicar    (Wife K Elliot)

1973 - 1979

H Brien Dawe


1980 - 1988

Norman Taylor


1988 - 2001

Ian Chisholm

Vicar    (1994-8 Revd. Bobby Magill - Assistant Curate)

2002 - 2005

Stuart Miller



Andrew John William  Rowland 

Priest in Charge (formerly Assistant Curate, Verwood)

2006 - 2018

Andrew John William Rowland 

Vicar    (2008 - 2010 Revd. Anne Charlton - Assistant Curate, 2014 - present Revd. Lynne Morris - Associate Priest



           & 2017 - present Revd. Ruth M Wells - Assistant Curate)


Memorial Plaques

Memorial to the Great War 1914-18

Memorial above the pulpit to the Fryer Family

Memorial to the 2nd World War 1939-46
Clergy, choir and wardens late 1950's

Clergy, Choir & Church Wardens Late 1950's with Vicar, Alban Elliot on left of centre

In those days clergy and choir was exclusively a male domain!



Vicar with Archbishiop of Canterbury in 2005

Present Incumbent with the then Archbishop of Canterbury in 2005 on the Aldhelm Pilgrimage walking from Sherborne Abbey to St Aldhelm's Head on the coast.  (Former) Archbishop Rowan Williams joined us on the last day (Saturday 4th June) and preached from a flat-bed lorry on a wind-swept hill just inland, joined by our own Diocesan Bishop of Salisbury, David Stancliffe (retired 2010) and the then Bishop of Sherborne (now Truro) Tim Thornton

Church Yard - Notable burials - The Fryer Family

Sir Frederic William Richards Fryer (1845-1922)  Indian Civil Service 1864-1903; Commissioner 1895-7, then Lt-Governor of the British Crown Colony of Burma 1897-1903

Sir Frederic entered the Bengal Civil Service in 1864, spending the first twenty-two years of his career in the Punjab. His later posts included:  Financial Commissioner in Burma, 1888, Officiating Financial Commissioner, Punjab, Additional Member of the Governor-General’s Legislative Council, 1894-1895 and finally Lieutenant-Governor of Burma, 1897-1903. His extensive diaries from 1865-1880 describe his early life in the Punjab.  He was invested as a Knight Commander, Order of the Star of India (K.C.S.I.).  He is buried, together with his wife Frances, their son Frederic Arthur Bashford (Brigadier General of the 6th Iniskilling Dragoons (Cavalry), Captain during the Boer War, one time Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant of Dorset) and wife (also) Frances of Shreton House, Blandford, Dorset - and four of their five children, Kathleen, Frederic, Esme and Frances in the church grave yard behind the church on the North-Eastern corner. Frances neé Balfe was from Irish Roman Catholic descent (on her mother' side and her sister Kathleen was National President, Catholic Womens League. Frances father was Lt. Col Walter Balfe, 11th Hussars) so the three daughters were raised as Catholics and the two sons as Anglicans.  The son not buried with the family was lost at sea.

Here is a photograph of the Fryer family memorial at Holy Trinity Parish Church, South Kensington, London and the church sign outside.  The graves of Sir Frederic and his wife Frances, their son and his wife and four of their five children are at West Moors.  There are no descendants from this branch of the Fryer family.  FW Fryer Esq. originated from Clarence House, East Cowes Park, Isle of Wight and owned lands in West Moors (per Hutchinson's History of Dorset)

A photograph Sir Frederic William Richards Fryer

Buried in West Moors Church Yard 1922

photo obtained from: -


A photograph of the District Courts and Public Offices, Strand Road Rangoon, Burma 1868, from where Sir Frederic William Richards Fryer governed Burma from 1895-1903.  Photographer J. Jackson
A photograph of the Officers of the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons taken during the Boer War in which Frederic Arthur Bashford Fryer fought. (he was the son of Sir Frederic who, together with his wife and children are interred in our church (see photos of graves below).

In 1889-90 he was a Major, on the Staff, gaining the Queen's medal with four clasps.  He later rose to Brigadier General.

Photograph and Boer War records thanks to


A memorial in Wimborne Minster Church to John Rolles (1779) & Mary (1780) Their daughter Mary (1748 age 20).

Also John Fryer (1810) & Ann (1812), daughter of the above. Their children: John & Thomas (died in infancy), Henry (1819) & Jane (1827).


Three generations of the Fryer Family buried together

Sir Frederic William Richards and Frances Elizabeth

Brig Gen. Frederic Arthur Bashford & Frances Esme

Kathleen, Frederic, Esme & Frances