evolved sensibly and with restraint over the centuries to leave a church that has architectural integrity, rustic functionality and simple beauty. In short, a little gem.
The turn of the C15/16 saw the first phase of rebuilding. The church acquired a “wagon roof” such as are common in nearby Devon and Cornwall. Timber ribs were added and these even curve around the apse. Decorative bosses - now rather the worse for wear - were placed at the rib intersections and small shield were placed along the timber course topping the nave walls. The roof was also raised by a couple of feet, thereby explaining why the surviving Norman window seems so low in proportion to the height of the church. A window - now blocked - was also inserted into the north wall. The plain rectangular Tudor style windows were added probably during the c17.
The superb and wonderfully sympathetic oak fittings were added during the early c18 at the expense of William Wake, then Archbishop of Canterbury. In true English fashion, the box pews increase in size from the back to the front of the church, ensuring that the appropriate social rankings could be observed! the pulpit is also of this period and has a somewhat superfluous sounding board above it. Really, you could whisper a sermon in this church and still be heard at the back! The rood loft which would have become redundant at the Reformation was recycled to make the west gallery.
Tomson is a tiny hamlet and its character owes much to the lack of wealth available to “improve” it down the centuries - and of course our old friends and arch-improvers the Victorians passed it by. That meant, however, that by the 1920s it was in a parlous state and had not, by all accounts, been used for worship since 1896. It had, however, been used for housing others of God’s creatures from the neighbouring farm! The Society for the preservation of Old Buildings decided in 1929 to do something about it. This being the county of Thomas Hardy and Hardy himself having been a member for 47 years, the Society raised £1000 by the sale of a collection of his manuscripts that were in its possession. Over half of the proceeds were used at Winterborne Tomson. The renovation was carried out by Albert Reginald Powys. He was buried here in 1930 and his wife followed a good 47 years later! There are commemoration stones to both on the south wall. The Churches Conservation Trust took over the church in 1974 and other repairs have been carried out since.