The village of Pentridge is hidden at the end of a lane off the Salisbury to Blandford road. It is an irregular string of cottages leading to the church, green and village hall.
The twenty-nine houses nestle under Pentridge Hill (sometimes called Pembury Knoll) and are surrounded by ancient barrows, Bokerley and Ackling Dykes, ancient field systems, an Iron Age Hill fort and the mysterious, six mile long Cursus. There is a lot of history in this little place.
St Rumbold’s church has served Pentridge and neighbouring Woodyates since at least the Domesday Book. It was rebuilt in 1855.
The church has a plaque commemorating links with the family of the poet Robert Browning. His paternal great grandfather owned the Woodyates Inn, a major staging post on the London road (now the site of Cobley Close). He was born in 1749 and died in 1833, so may well have been present when the carriage carrying the news of the victory at Trafalgar changed horses there.
The village features in Thomas Hardy’s novel ‘Tess of the D’Urbevilles’ as Trantridge, where Tess keeps poultry for Alec and his mother.
Churchyards hold a unique place in our history, culture and environment. They play a large part in defining who we are and what we believe. They are also virtually the only places that have never been treated with pesticides or fertilizers. As such they provide a unique home to local flora and fauna.
We ask you to tread respectfully and tend any graves with consideration for their natural surroundings.
It is wonderful that we have such a beautiful, living reminder of the amazing world God has given us to care for, and to remind us of His amazing love for us. Thank you.
There are believed to be only six churches in the country dedicated to St Rumbold, or Rumwold - we can only assume that the different spellings are the same person. There are also different versions of his short life. Here is a brief summary:
St Rumbold was born on 1st November 662 at Walton Grounds near Kings’ Sutton in Northamptonshire. He was the son of King Alchfrith and St Cyneburga, the daughter of King Penda of Mercia. At his birth he said ‘I am a Christian’. He was baptised (on his own insistence) on his third day, recited a confession of faith and died.
He was buried in Kings’ Sutton, but his remains were moved to Brackley on August 28th 663 before his final interment in Buckingham two years later. All this followed Rumbold’s own instructions. Unfortunately, the shrine containing the relics was destroyed in the Reformation.
It is said that Alchfrith became a Christian because his wife would not live with him until he was baptised. He disappears from history around 665, although not before he and Cyneburga had another son, Osric. Cyneburga became a nun and founded a convent in Cambridgeshire. She died in 680.
We know Rumbold’s parents lived in the 7th century, but we cannot say for sure if our saint did, or his story is true. It may be a concentrated version of a much longer story, or it may be a story that contains a great truth about faith in Jesus Christ - or it may be literally true. After all, if God wants to bless us through the words of a little baby, then that is how He will do it.