THE CHURCH OF ST. PETER AND ST. PAUL
village of Cattistock is an ancient place with a history reputedly pre-dating
King Athelstan (924-39), the
first recorded king of England, who gave the settlement to Milton Abbey. Now it is an attractive English
village, with a shop and Post Office, a pub, a famous pack of foxhounds and some delightfully rural
architecture clustered around its triangular centre. Dominating this centre, and visible for miles around
stands Cattistock’s supremely elegant church tower, designed by George Gilbert Scott jnr in 1872. In his
famous series of county guides, Nikolaus Pevsner wrote “Original, bold, brilliant ... thrilling ... the finest
Perpendicular tower in Dorset”.
monks of Milton Abbey built a church here in C12, although nothing is now left
of that structure. The
present building is essentially Victorian, although the north transept was rebuilt in 1630 by the Rev. John
Mayo, with the exception of the Arts & Crafts glazing in the east window, depicting St Dorothy, which is
from 1923. The nave, south aisle and chancel were entirely rebuilt in 1857 by the eminent London
architect George Gilbert Scott snr (1811-78). When he arrived there was a gallery that extended for a third
of the length of the nave and is said by the church guide to have given the area a "forlorn appearance";
so he removed it and installed a new west window, known as the Jesse window. The south aisle
is also by Scott snr. and contains some very important stained glass windows. One window, erected in
1882 in memory of Mrs Digby, is by William Morris and Sir Edward Burne Jones and another is by
Hardiman. The south transept Lady chapel is lined with C17 wood paneling and was endowed by the
Strodes of Chantmarle.
baptistry is perhaps the most memorable area inside this marvelous church.
It is dominated by the
truly magnificent 20 ft high font cover, designed by Scott junior's assistant and successor, Temple Moore,
and installed in 1901-6. The walls are lavishly decorated with a 1901 mural of St George and the Dragon
by W O & C Powell.