St Nicholas, Moreton is an unusual church in many ways. For a start it is a rare example of GeorgianGothic.
Although there has been a church on this site since around 1190, the present building dates from 1776, when it was completely rebuilt by the local landowner, James Frampton.
At that time, neo-classicism was still at its height, and the Gothic style was rarely used.
The church is also completely square (apart from the large semi-circular apse) with the font in the centre of the church, rather than by one of the doors. The prominence given to the altar and font is rare at this time when the 'Ministry of the Word' was all the rage.
But the most unusual aspect of the church is its windows. On the evening of October 8th 1940 at about 9 pm a bomb fell in the churchyard close to the north wall, destroying all the old stained glass windows, as well as causing extensive damage to the rest of the church.
When the church was restored in the 1950s, the Parish Council decided to commission Laurence Whistler (currently off line) to design a series of engraved glass windows. These were produced between 1955 and 1987, the last being the controversial Forgiveness Window, which was not installed until 2013.
St Nicholas Church, Moreton - Guide Book
Guide book available from the church.
St Nicholas, Moreton - The Engraved Glass Windows
Additional guide to the windows available from the church.
Lawrence of Arabia's Grave
A short walk away from the church, in an extension to the churchyard, is the grave of T E Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia.
In 1929, as a place of escape, Lawrence rented and later bought a cottage at nearby Clouds Hill from what are often described as his cousins, the Framptons who owned the Moreton Estate.
This is another of the many mysteries surrounding T E Lawrence.
Given that Lawrence's father, Sir Thomas Chapman, was an Anglo-Irish Baronet who ran off with the children's governess, and that the couple, who never married, lived in Oxford under the assumed name of Lawrence, it seems odd that they would admit to being related to the Dorset Framptons, even if such a relationship existed.
The grave stone, which makes no reference to his exploits in Arabia, was designed by Eric Kennington, who also designed the effigy of Lawrence that can now found in St Martin on the Wall in Wareham.
If you leave Moreton on the road towards Wool and look to your right you may spot Moreton Obelisk hiding in the trees on Fir Hill.
The plaques that used to be attached to the monument have now been built into the Moreton Cemetery Gate. The first reads:
This Obelisk was erected in the year 1784 by Captain John Houlton as a publick testimony of his gratitude and respect for the memory of his much esteemed and lamented friend the late James Frampton Esqr of this place.
The second is in Latin, and is not so easy to read. The architect was James Hamilton, who was also responsible for the statue of George III on the Esplanade in Weymouth.
Another James Frampton (1769-1855), the son of the above, was responsible for the prosecution of the Tolpuddle Martyrs.
The Cemetery Porch is an unusual lych-gate with a sky-blue pediment supported by four white Ionic columns.
It originally stood about 100 meters north of this spot at the entrance to the kitchen gardens of Moreton House.
During the Second World War it was damaged by a military vehicle, and in about 1950 it was moved to its current position.
As mentioned above, built into the inner walls of the porch are two tablets that used to be at the base of the obelisk on Fir Hill.