East Holme


St John the Evangelist Church, East Holme
Photographs on this page courtesy of Kim Parker, ©2010

East Holme is a tiny parish consisting of just seventeen households, situated close to a ford in the meadows by the River Frome, West-South-West of Wareham. “Holme” is from Middle English holm, a variant of holin meaning holly, and there are indeed still wild holly bushes in the parish today. Before the Norman conquest of 1066 Holme was held by Alured de Lincoln. Robert de Lincoln, a descendent of Alured, gave East Holme to the Cluniac Priory of Montacute in Somerset towards the middle of the twelfth century, on condition that four monks reside there to sing for the soul of his father, his progenitors and his successors.

Montacute Priory was considered to be a foreign establishment, meaning that it was subject to seizure by the Crown whenever England was at war with its “home” country. Since this was France, the Priory was often in the hands of the crown. In 1407, the Prior decided to put a stop to this, paying 300 marks for a charter of denization, so that East Holme Priory became indigenous to England. When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, Holme was first granted to Richard Hamper, then held briefly by the Duke of Somerset until his downfall in 1552, when it passed to the Hannam family of Wimborne Minster with whom it remained until sold to Denis Bond of Grange in the Parish of Steeple in 1722. He bequeathed it to his nephew, Nathaniel Bond, who built Priory House on the site of the monastery. On his death, it passed to the Rt. Hon. Nathaniel Bond KC, a successful barrister and Treasurer of the Inner Temple, who defended author Jane Austen's aunt on a charge of shop-lifting.

Holme Priory continued in the Bond family for several generations, but is perhaps most closely associated with Lady Selina Jane Scott, a daughter of the 2nd Earl of Eldon and great granddaughter of John Scott, first Earl of Eldon who served as Lord Chancellor for a record 25 years. She married a later Nathaniel Bond in 1864 and they set up home at Holme Priory where they enjoyed a brief but happy family life together blessed with eleven surviving children. In 1865 her husband paid John Hicks to build a new parish church dedicated to St. John the Evangelist, as the ancient priory church had fallen into ruin in the mid-1700s and since then the local residents had had to go the neighbouring parish of East Stoke for their religious ceremonies and services. Lady Selina decorated the whitewashed interior of the Church herself with delicate hand-painted leafy scrolls and texts.

Today the church is reached by a footpath that passes in front of Priory House, but when first built, the East drive to the house ran close to it, which meant it was the first building most visitors would have seen. Situated on raised ground to avoid the risk of water logging the graveyard, the church walls are constructed from dark brown sandstone quarried from Holme Mount about a mile to the south and the roof is of Purbeck limestone, with a single bell mounted in a bell-cote at the west end. The lich gate was erected in 1891 in memory of Lady Selina by her brother, Lord Eldon, and her surviving sisters, Lady Cottesloe, Vicountess Boyne and Lady Eustace Cecil. Beyond the gate, the path is paved and bordered by clipped yews, close to which are many monuments and tombstones of the Bond family. Louisa Bond, daughter of Nathaniel and Selina Bond, and the second child ever to be christened in the new church, served as Church Organist for 70 years and as a Church Warden for 46 years. Since1980, the parish has been served by the team ministry based at Wareham, though still retaining its status as a parish church.

There is currently no Online Parish Clerk (OPC) for East Holme

If you are interested in becoming OPC for the Parish, please contact the Co-ordinator

Census 1841 Census [Kim Parker]
1851 Census [Jacqui Bowen]
1861 Census [Jacqui Bowen]
1871 Census [Jacqui Bowen]
1881 Census [Kim Parker]
1891 Census [Jacqui Bowen]
1901 Census [Kim Parker]
1911 Census [Kim Parker]
Parish Registers Baptisms 1866-1905 [Kim Parker]
Marriages 1867-1920 [Kim Parker]

Burials 1868-1900 [Rachel Kent]
Postal Directories  
Monumental Inscriptions  
Other Records PCC Wills [Kim Parker]
Will of Nathaniel Bond 1789/90 [Ros Dunning]
Poll Book 1807 [Kim Parker]
History of St John the Evangelist Church
Records held at the Dorset History Centre
Registers (formerly part of East Stoke)
Christenings 1866-1995. Marriages 1867-1994. Burials 1868-1990. Banns 1867-1977


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