Wimborne St. Giles


St Giles’ Church has Grade 1 Listed status and is situated in the middle of the village of Wimborne St Giles, facing the village green and school  and adjoining a row of early 17C Almshouses. The church has a fine organ and a resident organist.  It is open every day to visitors.  The present building was constructed in 1732 on the site of the earlier mediaeval church and was designed by the Bastard Brothers, architects of Blandford. Records indicate a church here in 1291. The Bastard Brothers church was in Early Georgian style, well constructed in greensand and flint. 





The Earls of Shaftesbury

The country seat of the Earls of Shaftesbury is in Wimborne St Giles and the Ashley-Cooper family are patrons of the church.  There are many fine monuments and memorials to previous Earls and their relatives and many are laid to rest here in the family crypt. 



This fine monument is to Sir Anthony Ashley Bt who died in 1627 and his wife.  Their marriage united the Ashley and Cooper families.  The 1st Earl of Shaftesbury was their grandson.  


Gothic Revival

The church was somewhat remodelled by the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury in 1852 and further changed in the fashion of the Gothic Revival by Harriet, wife of the 8thEarl, who in 1887 used GF Bodley as her architect.  This work included adding false Early English arches and closing off the East window.  All this was lost in a catastrophic fire in 1908.  In the next two years the building was enlarged, remodelled and completely refitted by the great Gothic Revival Architect Sir John Ninian Comper


Sir Ninian Comper

The Church is now regarded as one of Comper’s seminal projects and the test bed for his “Harmony by Inclusion” concept.   Given a free hand by the 9th Earl of Shaftesbury Comper attended to every aspect of detail, including the incorporation of the four fine windows in the North wall, using mullions and tracery recycled from Oriel College Oxford where he was working on new windows. 


Comper and the High Church Movement

Comper was brought up in the High Church movement and this greatly influenced his creative direction and his designs for churches, chapels, their decoratioin and fittings.  Comper's restoration of St Giles' has the High Church Ritual in mind in his layout and decoration.




As well as the structure, ceiling, fine windows, font, Rood Screen and panelling, the church retains nearly all of Comper’s other original details.     



High Mass at St Giles

The rector at the time of Comper's work was the Rev J Bouquet and he must have approved of the thrust towards St Giles' becoming a High Church.  However after the church's reconsecration the full espousal of High Church ritual was not generally accepted by the parishioners and serious issues concerning churchmanship required the intervention of the Earl of Shaftesbury and then John Wordsworth, Bishop of Salisbury.  Before he died in 1911 he was able to achieve a compromise which saw St Giles' firmly Middle Church but with one High Mass a month for those who wish to attend.  And so it has remained up to the present day with the High Mass still being offered within the Quintet's range of services


Music at St Giles

The music tradition is strong at St Giles (Handel is reputed to have visited St Giles House) and the church has a fine, two manual, pipe organ by Harrison & Harrison Ltd.  The west gallery accomodates the choir and the Quintet Group is fortunate to have a resident organist, Mr John Radford. 



Bells at St Giles

The tower was endowed with six bells before the fire of 1908 but these were lost when the bell frame gave way.  Six new bells were cast as part of the restoration and two more were added in 1926 to give a peal of eight, now in a steel frame .  There is an active team between St Giles and Cranborne towers and both are frequently visted by touring teams 


Friends of St Giles' church

We do not have a Friends organisation but feel that having one could benefit the church, the community and the parishioners.  If you have any thoughts on this idea please talk to the Rector, the Wardens or any of the PCC members

Works and Projects

We run a continuous programme of maintenance and repair to this Grade 1 Listed building and its contents.  Recently completed:

  • Decoration and lighting in South Porch ("The Farmers Door")
  • A Sound System and Hearing Loop

Projects in hand:

  • A Toilet and Store - Planning permission is given and a preferred bidder selected for the work.  Fundraising underway
  • Repair and renewal of main roof  - laths, felt and slates

If you would like to know more about this work (or contribute towards its cost) please contact the Churchwarden