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St George's Church And Surrounding Area

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68572014LRThis area contains St George's Church - it's on the bottom edge of the red square.

Also we find Tradecroft Industrial Estate built on the old municipal rubbish tip and the Portland Cricket Ground - note the playing pitch forming a bright green line near the bottom centre of the photograph.

The right-hand half of the photograph is Inmosthay Quarry.

The George Inn, possibly the oldest inhabited building on Portland, is on the bottom edge of the red square overlooking the cricket pitch.

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St GEORGE’S CHURCH

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St GEORGE’S CHURCH GRAVEYARD

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GEORGE INN

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FANCY’S BEACH

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INMOSTHAY QUARRY

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TRADECROFT INDUSTRIAL ESTATE

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RESTORATION OF STEAM LOCOMOTIVES

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St GEORGES CHURCH

St George's Church was built between 1754 and 1766 to replace the dilapidated St Andrew's Church near Rufus castle. The latter had suffered damage by landslips and raiding French pirates and was no longer suitable as a place of worship.

The location for St George's Church was in part because it was one of the few places where graves could be dug the required 'six feet deep'.

Although completed in 1766, by 1794 the roof timbers were so decayed that the roof had to be replaced. The church was uncomfortable and draughty but served the Island until a new church - All Saints - was consecrated in Easton in 1917. St George's fell into disuse despite the fact that the population of Portland had increased ten-fold between 1801 and 1901.

Its poor state of repair and inconvenient location resulted in it becoming abandoned and bomb damage in 1940 helped its decline. In the 1960s it came under the protection of the 'Friends of St George's Church' who have now restored it to its original glory.

There are some excellent pictures of the church and the graveyard here and the Dorset Historic Churches website here has a description and pictures.

There is a full and fascinating description of St George’s church and its history here.

The next three pictures show St George's Church in contrasting moods.

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Above the Portland stone glows in the sunset - quite different from the rather harsh glare of fresh grey stone on a bright summer's day.

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St George's Church - usually photographed in brilliant sunshine - is here seen in more sombre conditions. A damp sea mist drifts in on the south-westerly wind and makes the monumental figures stand out - even appear to be alive - in the gloom.

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The majestic outline of the church against a setting sun giving a sense of isolation which is characteristic of the Royal Manor of Portland itself.

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The sun does not always shine on Portland.

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The wooden pews were originally sold to help pay for the construction of the church. This must have seemed a good idea at the time but it was to prove a big mistake.

This is because on Portland there was a system of shared inheritance - called Gavelkind -  with the island's properties being passed on by equal division among the beneficiaries - male and female. This was practically unknown on the mainland where male children had priority over their sisters. Rights of ownership to each pew became split between hundreds of members of Portland families so modernising the church was impossible as getting agreement from all part-owners involved was out of the question.

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The church has two central pulpits, one was used for the sermon, which could last up to two hours, and the other for reading the word. The box pews were originally built to hold 600 locals. These are overlooked by the twin pulpits and the galleries.

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St George's closed in 1914, largely due to its poor state of repair and inconvenient location.

It fell into disrepair since that time and in 1940, during the Second World War, the church suffered some bomb damage.

In 1968 the church came under the protection of a newly formed group, the 'Friends of St George's Church', who were able to restore the church. The church is now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. It was declared redundant on 16 April 1970, and was vested in the Trust on 27 October 1971.

St George's Church is opened during the summer to visitors and is well worth a visit when a guide will show you around.

St GEORGE’S CHURCH GRAVEYARD

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Walking around St George's churchyard, one will be struck by the large number of 'Portland' family names - Comben, Pearce, Stone, Attwooll, Lano, etc. So dominant were a few families that they frequently intermarried as shown below.

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Of the those listed in the Dorset telephone directory with the ‘Stone’ family name 21% live on Portland compared with only 4% of a more widespread name ‘Smith’ in Dorset living on Portland.

Portlanders have been loathe to move away from their Isle. In fact, as late as the 1970s there were still people who had never left Portland in their life!

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Do try to get hold of a copy of a little booklet "Interesting Headstones of St George's Church" published by Jeffery Printers Ltd, Weymouth.

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The inscriptions of 31 headstones are reproduced with a map showing where to find them. A sample of the most interesting follow:

William Hansford Aged 61 Years who was killed on the 23 November 1824 by the Sea overflowing the Village of Chissel his Leg was broken in attempting to make his escape afterwards the House fell on him.

FAREWELL MY WIFE AND CHILDREN DEAR

MY DEATH WAS SUDDEN AND SEVERE,

THE WONDROUS WORKS OF GOD BESPOKE

MAN’S DWELLINGS LEVELL’D WITH THE GROUND

WHEN SOME WERE KILL’D AND SOME WERE DROWN’D

THEREFOR O GOD THEIR SOULS PRAY TAKE

IN JOYS ABOVE FOR JESUS SAKE.

William Hansford was a victim of the greatest storm to ravage the Dorset coast in recorded history.

George John Leggett

Late Chief Petty Officer R.N.

Who served on HMS Discovery

in the Arctic Expedition 1875 - 1876.

Died Dec - 17 - 1909

Age 57.

 

Affectionate Remembrance of

BENJAMIN SCRIVEN

Who was accidentally shot by the Steward in the East India Dock London

October 11th 1875 Aged 24 Years

ALSO

JOSEPH READ SCRIVEN

Chief Officer of the

Cliiper Ship CALIPH of London

in the China Sea Sept 1871

Aged 31 years

 

In Memory of MARY

wife of THOMAS WHITE who

departed this Life the 7th March 1783

aged 37 Years

Farewell vain World enough I’ve had of thee

And now I am careless what thou say of me

Thy smiles I count not nor thy frowns I fear

My Heads at rest, my Bones lye quiet here

What faults were seen in me take heed to shun

And look at home enough theres to be done.

 

Sacred

To the memory of

Joseph Trevitt

Late Assistant Warder

of Portland Prison

Who was murdered by a convict while in the execution of his duties in the Batteries

On 23rd March 1869

Aged 38

Leaving a Widow and 3 Children to Mourn

The loss of an affectionate husband and a kind parent

 

IN THIS GRAVE

Are interred the bodies of

CARPENTER JAMIESON

of the Ship AVALANCHE

and five other names unknown who were drownde in attempting to land in Chesil Cove

on the morning September 12th 1877

and who had formed parts of the crew of the FOREST and AVALANCHE

which ships were lost by collision in the channel off Portland on the previous night September 11th 1877

 

IN MEMORY OF

JOHANN CARL FREDERIC MAGDELINSKY

Died November 25th 1872 Aged 49

Drowned near Chesil Beach Portland whilst helping to save his fellow passengers

From Royal Adelaide where he bravely sacrificed his own life

 

SACRED

To the Memory of

WILLIAM PEARCE

Who was killed by Lightning

While on duty in Her Majestie’s service

On Portland Beach November 29th 1858

Leaving a widow and five children

To lament his loss

Aged 33 Years

 

In Memory of

GRACE

Wife of EDWARD COMBEN Junr

who dies in Childbed with two daughters who also died on the 29th of November 1775 Aged 26 Years.

Farewell my Father Mother Oh farewell

I and my Babes must here no longer dwell

And I do bid farewell to this day light

Of which mine Eyes

shall never more have fight

for Fate has sealed mine and my infants doom

Farewell my Husband Death I come I come.

 

 SACRED

to the Memory of

MARY Daughter of JOHN and MARY WAY who was Shot by some of a Press gang on the 2nd of April 1803 And died of the wound the 21st of May the same Year.

Aged 21 Years

Here Immortality with beauty lies

Confin’d from Earth to kindred skies

Her Life was short her Death severe

Stop Reader, think and shed a tear.

Wife of EDWARD COMBEN Junr

 

SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF

WILLIAM LANO

Who was wantonly shot by some of a Press gang and died of the wound on the 2nd of April 1803 Aged 26 Years

As o’er my Grave some sorrowing Comrade stands

And mourns my Fate, cut off by cruel Hands

As fancy views, I fall upon the Ground

And lifes warm Current, rushing from the Wound

Let him exclaim with poignant Grief Opprest

Here unoffending: Murder’d VICTIM rests

Oh, may my fate in warning Accents show

What Mischief from ungovern’d Passions flow

Also to the Memory

of REBECCA. Wife of

WILLIAM LANO

She departed this Life the

12th of February 1806

Aged 29 Years

Mary Way and William Lano were shot and killed in 1803 by a press gang supported by the Mayor of Weymouth - leading to a long-term hatred of Weymouth people by older Portlanders.

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There is a new extension to the old graveyard to the south.

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 THE GEORGE INN

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The George Inn is reputed to be the oldest inhabited building on Portland and was, for many years, the meeting place of the Court Leet as seen below.  There is a detailed and excellent article describing this pub to be seen here.

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Note the Reeve Staff being held aloft. There used to be examples of reeve staffs on display in the The George but these are now in Portland Museum together with others. The use of these staffs is described in the Portland Museum entry - see here.

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The sign above the name board welcomes cyclists and urges them to stop awhile for refreshments.

On entering the pub there is a room on the left which has wooden tables which were built in situ in the room by local quarrymen in the early 1940s. These are much worn and with the names of old Portlanders carved into the gnarled surface.

The pub’s website is here.

FANCY'S BEACH

The descriptive word 'beach' on Portland means a flat area of undisturbed or in-filled quarry land. 'Fancy's Beach' was north of the cricket ground.

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When photographed in 1989 an interesting painted showman's wagon was parked nearby. This is in the centre of the picture.

In the steep ditch in the foreground is a small cave system. The entrance was only accessible in 1989 by sliding head first into a small hole - which I have never attempted!

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A wonderful collection of rusty sheds and buildings existed almost opposite St George's Church in this 1990 photograph. This whole area has now been quarried out and is a vast hole in the ground.

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In this area is a scrap yard which also supplies excellent eggs from its free-range chickens which used to run precariously and amusingly on the verge of the main road. Sadly, most of these chickens - comprising several rare breeds -  were stolen late in 2002.

The yard still sells chickens and eggs however.

INMOSTHAY QUARRY

Inmosthay Quarry is a large working quarry north of Reforne. It had an impressive cave system which was ripped out during the extension of the quarry and this no longer exists.

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Portland has an extensive system of caves. The entrance to this network was the hole to the left of the picture centre. This entrance was on a near-sheer rock face across a ditch from the main track and is difficult to reach.

It was reported that it had a fine collection of stalactites and stalagmites but that the cave entrance had to be stopped up with iron bars to prevent vandalism. The pictures above and below were taken in 1989.

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This whole area has now been quarried away so that this cave system no longer exists.

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The above picture was taken in 2008 and shows the cave system entrance overgrown. Soon after this picture was taken the entire area was ripped out by quarrying.

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Approximately where the cave system was.

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Where there was once a wide footpath running through the quarry there is now a narrow muddy track hemmed in by a wall of boulders.

TRADECROFT INDUSTRIAL ESTATE

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Once a major centre for the stone industry, this huge factory which stood to the north of St George’s Church ,was bought by Tod's of Weymouth for the manufacture of glass fibre mouldings.

The land stretching from the factory to the camera was the Portland household rubbish dump until it was compacted, covered with stone waste and used as the foundation for a small industrial estate called Tradecroft.

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Tradecroft consists of a large number of very boring utilitarian business units as show above.

STEAM LOCOMOTIVES

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This steam locomotive arrived at the industrial estate at Tradecroft in May 2003. This is a Bulleid Merchant Navy Class No 35018 "British India Line" in its British Railways livery.

It looked very much the worse for wear but, when renovated, it was a gleaming hissing monster ready to work on the Watercress Line in Mid-Hampshire.

This locomotive was built at Eastleigh Engine Works in May 1945 and was numbered 21C18 in the system then used by the Southern Railway. This locomotive spent most of its life working from the huge Nine Elms Depot in London and was used to pull Pullman trains and once even hauled a Royal Train back in July 1955.

The locomotive was withdrawn in 1964 and was sent to the massive graveyard for steam locomotives at Barry Island in South Wales. It was bought by the Watercress Line in 1980 but no renovation was done until it was moved to Portland in 2003. It was moved off Portland in 2014.

I have fond memories of travelling between Weymouth and London on trains pulled by these types of locomotive until steam haulage was withdrawn in the mid 1960s.

The next set of pictures show locomotives in the repair yard in February 2006. Currently (2015) there are no locomotives or rolling stock in the yard.

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The locomotive “ALBERT” was sent back to the Plym Valley Railway in 2007 where is can be seen running - see details here.

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Keywords St George’s Church Inmosthay Quarry George Inn Steam locomotive 35018 30053 47160 Plym Valley Railway Albert Portland Dorset