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Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Any pretty Catholic Churches near Blandford, Dorset? My aunt wants to know.

My aunt sent me a Christmas card with a letter inside - see below. Not sure if she is a lapsed catholic but she was a confirmed catholic definitely. I don't know Dorset well but please read her sad letter as she would like a traditional Catholic Church near Blandford and she doesn't want minimalist!

Now I do sympathise with her. My own church is moving to a new location and having visited the new chapel I don't like it at all. It is stark and brutal with blooming windows floor to ceiling. The hard white walls are devoid of any beauty and I feel so sad about it. Talk about harsh lighting - I cannot understand architects who design modern churches and don't think about soft lighting. No - my mind and heart are not lifted one bit. No - when I look up I see 1000watt bulbs glaring down - in giant downlighters. The floor is whitish marble - hard and cold. I have no idea who designed it or anything like that. Maybe the nuns like it - who knows.

I don't know when the 'big move' to the new chapel is taking place and I wonder if it will move at all. There is some legal hitch holding things up. 

Maybe God has other plans and just maybe it isn't His will for the current church to leave Heathfield high street. The parishioners who voted not to move cited the fact that the Catholic Church would lose its high-street presence. Valid argument but sadly it is locked all day anyway, so not much good if one wants to simply go and pray.
I know minimalist is all in and that is fine in museums and private houses. But for places of worship?minimalist won't do at all (in my opinion!). Nothing but the best for God. 


  1. A little drive but Our Lady Queen of English Martyrs at Chideock is an absolute gem. Not many masses though and no EF Masses.

  2. The church at Chideock is an absolute gem but, sadly, it is no longer in weekly use. The Catholic church in Shaftesbury is still fairly traditionalist and the choir sing well. It is a delightful church. Wardour Castle might suit your aunt. I think there are probably ancient tombs there and even the occasional Latin Masses. It has a pre-Vatican II feel, even Rocococo. The Catholic Directory would give you the Mass times. The church in Marnhull is I think the oldest Catholic church in Dorset. The Sunday evening Mass has no singing but the pews and congregation are fairly ancient. It is a lovely, quiet Mass, giving the opportunity for reflection and quiet prayer. The Catholic church in Dorchester was, I think, a Church of England church. I haven't been in there for a while. The priest there does wear a biretta. The Blandford Catholic church does have rather bright lighting but it is a very welcoming church and has an active congregation, who share church duties remarkably widely. The statues, and architecture of our churches can help or detract from the atmosphere in which we pray. However, it is the Mass and our prayers which are important and the support which the people lend each other and the the subject matter upon which we go home and ponder. We can cut out the sound of wailing children and other irritants if we put our minds to it, listen to the readings and concentrate on the sacrifice of the Mass and its meaning. Your aunt might enjoy going to the Saturday evening Mass at Lulworth Castle. It has stars, I think, a great Irish priest, uncomfortable pews, beautiful chalices; I'm not sure about the lace. I don't think many old ladies wear mantillas any more. Does this help?


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