12th Century Baptismal Font at the Church of Saint Mary,
Puddletown, Dorset, England
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Patron SaintSaint Mary
LocationPuddletown, Dorset, England
Font location in churchto the rear of the nave
Date/Century/Period12th Century
DrainageCentre hole in bowl
Date of On-site Visit24th April 2004

An important 12th century baptismal font of tapering tub shaped bowl with diaper of interlaced stems and acanthus leaves. The cover, octagonal pyramid, with panelled sides and ball finial, 1635.

Damage to the lip may have been caused when seals were forcibly removed following an Interdict by Pope Innocent III in 1207(ref: E.T.Long). The font at nearby Milborne Saint Andrew has sufferd similar damage to its rim that has been repaired but it is not known whether it suffered the same fate as this font or was harmed when it was discarded during 19th century church restoration work.

The font originally at Holy Trinity, Turner's Puddle and at Chilcombe may have also suffered in this way. The font at Powerstock has also suffered extreme damage that seems likely to have been casued following the 1207 interdict. Press Here for further details

Beatty, C.J.P. Thomas Hardy conservation architect: his work for the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. Dorchester: Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society, 1995, pp. 42-49.
Betjeman, J., Sir John Betjeman's guide to English parish churches, revised and updated by Nigel Kerr. London: HarperCollins, 1993, p. 184.
Dorset Historic Churches Trust, Dorset Churches. [Dorchester]: DHCT, 1988, p. 41.
Hutchins, J. The history and antiquities of the County of Dorset, 3rd ed., edited by W. Shipp and J.W. Hodson, Westminster: J.B. Nichols, 1861-1873.
Jenkins, S. England's thousand best churches. London: Allen Lane, the Penguin Press, 1999, pp. 159-160.
E.T.Long, Dorset Church Fonts, Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society, Vol 44 (1922), pp.62-76
Mee, A., ed., Dorset: Thomas Hardy's country. The King's England. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1939, pp. 194-196.
Newman, J. and Pevsner, N., The buildings of England: Dorset. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972, p. 349-350.
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England), An inventory of historical monuments in the County of Dorset, Vol. 3, Central Dorset. London: HMSO, 1970, pt. 2, pp. 222-225.
Sackett, T. and Sackett, E., Francis Frith's Dorset Churches. Salisbury: Frith Book Co., 2000, pp. 64-65.
Font ShapeTapering tub shaped bowl Total Height (without plinth or cover)
93 cm
Basin Shape (outside)Circular Diameter of basin (including rim)
60 cm
Basin Shape (inside)Circular Diameter of basin (not including rim)
46 cm
Basin lininglead Width of rim
7 cm
Base ShapeCircular Outside Height of Basin
71 cm
Number of peices2 Inside depth of Basin
26 cm

View of the North side of St Mary's Church

View of the font looking South West

View of the font looking towards the altar

View of the font from the chancel

View from 1 metre above the font

The Oak octagonal pyramid cover, 1635.

View of the front of the font

View of rim showing damage caused
by removal of Papal seals and locks

View of interior of the font
1209 Interdict of Innocent 111

In England, Pope Innocent 3rd set aside two rival claimants and had Stephen Langton elected archbishop of Canterbury. King John, seeing a pattern of interference with his authority by pope and clergy, persecuted the church. Innocent placed England under interdict, excommunicated John in 1209, and threatened to depose him. The people and barons supported the pope, and John submitted, receiving England and Ireland in fief from the pope and promising annual tribute to the Vatican. The pope stood with John against the barons when they forced him to grant the Magna Carta; Innocent declared it null as exacted by force, and as a vassal's promise made without his overlord's approval.

This period is chronicled in greater depth in the Register of Saint Osmund (the first Bishop of Salisbury) Press here or Return to Font Notes

Dorset Historic Churches Trust
Pope Innocent 111
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Copyright Gerald Duke 2004- 2005