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St John the Baptist's Church, Bere Regis

Location

Dorset Map

OS Ref: SY 847 947

Last Visited: 2015

The Roof

The Roof

From the outside St John the Baptist, Bere Regis is a handsome if unremarkable church.

Even inside, apart from the fine Norman font, there is not much that is outstanding until you look up. Then you see the most extraordinary roof.

Sometimes referred to as a hammer-beam, it is in fact technically an arch-braced tie-beam with king and queen posts and mock hammer-beams.

Each of the twelve mock hammer-beams is carved to represent one of the apostles, although only five can be identified with any certainty; I particularly liked St John the Evangelist wearing what looks like a WWI Tommyʼs helmet.

Cardinal Morton

Cardinal Morton

The roof was given to the church by Cardinal Morton in about 1485. He was was born in nearby Milborne St Andrew in 1420, and rose to become Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor by 1487.

He is best known, however, as a tax collector and inventor of Mortonʼs Fork. Under this he levied high taxes on the ostentatiously rich, but taxed more modest spenders equally severely on the grounds that they were concealing their wealth. How times have changed.