Studland is an isolated spot on the coastal approaches to Poole and Bournemouth To get to it you need to take the A351 out of Wareham towards Swanage turning towards Studland near Corfe Castle, itself Norman. Simon Jenkins suggests that Studland was there to protect the approaches to Wareham an important port town in Anglo-Saxon times and whose Anglo-Saxon church I have written about on this website.
This whole area would have been within King Alfred’s Kingdom of Wessex. “England” was just a political concept in those days when the country was divided into sub-kingdoms, many of them ruled by Danes. The first church at Studland, probably of wood and thatch, was built in around AD690 after the area was visited by the renowned St Aldhelm, Abbot of Malmesbury. More about him anon.
In AD793 the Vikings raided Lindisfarne Priory in Northumbria and were to variously sack, occupy, harass and rule parts of England until the Norman Conquest. Wareham is known to have been sacked at least three times and Studland’s own church was destroyed in c9.
The present church is unmistakably Norman and probably was built before the end of the c11. It was built on the site of the Saxon building. Its squat tower gives it an austere and rather fortress-like look. Here you will find none of the exotic and extravagant trappings of the later Norman period such as can be seen at the likes of Kilpeck and Iffley nor even the ubiquitous zig-zag