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.
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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
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)