The Parish of St. Andrews, Todber

St. Andrew’s is a charming, compact church standing on the edge of an anciently quarried hill overlooking the lowlands of Marnhull, Manston and Margaret Marsh.  Although having all the characteristics of antiquity, the Todber Church you see today was extensively rebuilt in the late 1870’s by the Marchioness of Westminster who at the time owned most of the land in the Parish of Todber.  The restoration retained most of the original tower and much of the original oak chancel screen was reused.   However all the remaining building is Victorian from foundation to roof.

Not much is known of earlier church buildings which will have stood here since late Saxon times.  The original building standing at the time of restoration was not in use and in a pretty ruinous condition but seems to have given evidence of three dates or periods of its existence.  The Nave was Early English, simple and primitive in its form and decoration, the small windows being cut out of the green stone from Shaftesbury.  The Chancel of later date was in the Perpendicular style, with more spacious windows in Todber or Marnhull stone.

There were also traces of a far earlier period in two most curious fragments of what was apparently an old Saxon Cross, the larger stone having formed a quoin at the South West corner of the old Nave, being therefore slightly weather worn on two of its faces but the mortar had preserved the old Saxon vine carvings on the other sides in a perfect state.  The carvings may represent the Tree of Life, or a vine branch, a bunch of grapes being clearly discernible on the small fragment.  The remains of an old small round headed Saxon window were also found at the time of restoration seeming to indicate that a small Saxon church building was here in earlier times.

There is more about the history of the church and surrounds in A Church Guide for St. Andrew’s, Todber