Regional working party: Manor Farm Chapel, Dorset

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A group of volunteers and master craftspeople will gather to repair a medieval chapel at Stourton Caundle, near Sherbourne. Every year the SPAB (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) holds working parties across the country to rescue historic buildings in need and teach practical craft skills.

On 20-22 June, local volunteers will complete repairs to the tiny chapel at Manor Farm to ensure this humble Dorset gem survives. The building, once part of a medieval chapel, has recently been rescued from ruin and collapse, saving its important ancient graffiti.

Manor Farm’s claim to fame is that was once owned by the childrens’ author Enid Blyton.

John Heaton, the surveyor who worked on the project at Manor Farm Chapel says: “Complex conservation work was undertaken last year to rebuild and stabilise the north wall. Unfortunately, there were insufficient funds to complete repointing work to the south wall but thankfully this will now be done by SPAB volunteers.”

Building craft skills are in real danger of disappearing, and through events and educational work the SPAB aims to share its knowledge and nurture the specialists we need to care for our old buildings. SPAB working parties offer volunteers a unique learning experience with experts and involve local communities with a historic building’s future.


Notes to editors

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) is Britain’s oldest conservation body. Founded by William Morris in 1877 to care for the UK’s architectural heritage, today its remit is to advise, educate and campaign for old buildings.

Stourton Caundle Manor Farm was once owned by Enid Blyton, and it was an inspiration for her book Five Go to Finniston Farm. The chapel, now amongst farm buildings, is listed Grade II* and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Of particular importance are the building’s numerous protection marks and historic graffiti, including a cross scribed in a circle and dated initials of 1694. The north wall of the chapel had a longstanding outward lean and a large part of it collapsed in 2013 following a storm. This part of the building was recently conserved with the help of a grant from the SPAB and its volunteers will complete the repair project at the working party.

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