St Osmund's Church

History of St Osmund’s

Melbury Osmond church was dedicated to St. Osmund who was probably a nephew of William the Conqueror. Osmund was Bishop of Salisbury from 1078 - 1099 and had much to do with building the first Cathedral at old Sarum.His tomb is in the present Salisbury Cathedral.

This church is probably the third on this site and dates from 1745. The memorial to Mrs Susanna Strangeways Horner on the south wall of the chancel states that in that year “the parish church being ruinous, was wholly taken down and rebuilt on the same foundation”. In 1888 a major restoration took place. The old two storey pulpit was cut down to its present size and the choir stalls were added. During the restoration the font thought be some to be Norman was rediscovered and built into the pillar of the tower arch. Also discovered at this time were the carved stone depicting Abraham's ram caught in the thicket (probably Saxon) and the cherub's head now built into the north wall of the Sanctuary.

The church has associations with Thomas Hardy's mother and grandmother. The latter, Elizabeth (Betty) Swetman of Melbury Osmond was married to George Hand Affpuddle, "a young man of whom her father strongly disapproved", in Melbury Osmond church. They had seven children of whom the fifth, Jemima was to become the mother of Thomas Hardy. Jemima, after spending some time in London, went in 1835 or thereabouts to live in the neighbourhood of Stinsford and there met her future husband. The wedding took place in Melbury Osmond Church on 22nd December 1839 and Thomas was born the following year. A copy of the marriage certificate is displayed on the west wall of the nave.



In 1954 the church bells were rehung and retuned and two of them recast and in 1955 a new ringing chamber was constructed. In 1967 the number of bells was increased from five to six with the presentation of a treble bell.

In 1955 a churchyard extension was prepared by parishioners with the help from the West Dorset District Council Target Area Scheme on land given by the Ilchester Estates. It was consecrated by the Bishop of Sherborne in December 1999.

Following a Quinquennial Inspection refurbishment work on the bell chamber and tower was carried out in 2007 as well as some exterior redecoration and other general maintenance.


Friends of St Osmund’s

As with any listed building upkeep is an ongoing and costly project. In view of this The Friends of St. Osmund's, a registered charity was formed in 1996 (Registered Charity Number 051333)



Parochial Church Council

The Parochial Church Council 2021 AGM will be held in the Church on Monday July 12th at 6 pm

All of the Parish invited so come along and find out the answers to:-

  • How does our church survive?
  • Who helps to clean and maintain the fabric?
  • What happens to the collections?
  • What is the Electoral Roll?
  • Would you miss the church if as a village we cannot maintain our beautiful building?
  • Any other questions.


A parochial church council is the executive committee of a Church of England parish and consists of clergy and church wardens of the parish, together with representatives of the laity.
Legally the council is responsible for the financial affairs of the church parish and the maintenance of its assets.
The PCC is responsible for the financial affairs of the church, the insurance, the care and maintenance of the church fabric and its contents and the care and maintenance of the churchyard.
The council has a voice in the forms of service used by the church, rights regarding women priests and rights in relation to church appointments.
The PCC is required to appoint a church electoral roll officer who maintains the roll of lay members entitled to take part in the Annual Parochial Church Meeting.

A PCC is always a charity.

Officers elected at the 2015 Melbury Osmond PCC meeting after the APCM of 2015

Chairman: The Rector.
Vice chairman: Richard Davidge
Treasurer: John Senior
Secretary: Annette Caesley
Electoral roll officer: Suzanne Roriston.

The Friend's Of St Osmund's 

Is a charity constituted to raise funds for use in maintaining and enhancing St Osmunds Church for the benefit of not only the congregation but also the general public and visitors to the church. The charity is run by a small but dedicated committee who plan, organise and run various events throughout the year with the prime aim of raising much needed funds.

Please click here to see the latest Newsletter

Please click here for Accounts 

Please click here to join or renew your membership or make a donation to The Friends of St Osmund's