The Church of St. George, Portland, Dorset, England
We arrived at St. George on Portland on a wonderfully sunny afternoon with bright blue skies but an hour later cloud suddenly descended. It was a rather strange experience to watch as and the church disappeared before our eyes! The atmosphere was palpable and we must admit that if we were not used to being in graveyards, it would have been quite eerie to say the least. We suppose being on an island next to the sea this is a regular occurence but something we had not experienced so quickly before.
The church building is quite different from others we have visited, being a very smart Georgian style, and is now under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. See their website at: CCT. They are used to visitors to the church and while we were there a volunteer there who was full of enthusiasm and knowledge and told us of many things about the building we might otherwise have missed.
Three parts of the church are listed for their historic value and information about the listings can be found at the Historic England website:
The church building is Grade I - St. George listing The lych gate is GV II - Lych Gate listing The graveyard wall is Grade II listed - Graveyard Wall listing.
The graveyard is extensive and we quickly knew we would not be able to photograph it all, so spent most of our time inside the church instead. The graveyard was unusual - all that we could see were in the grey/white Portland stone (instead of a mix of types of stone and colours) which made it look quite uniform even though the shapes of the stones varied considerably. The church too was looking almost white in the sunshine and the whole area looked cohesive and very striking.
A notice in the churchyard tells us the CCT have now adopted a management regime so it becomes a haven for wildlife. This means leaving grass uncut which will of course make it look very untidy and unkempt and usually means the gravestones become lost from sight and even damaged. We hope all gravestones have been photographed and inscriptions recorded before nature is allowed to reclaim the land.
It would be nice to re-visit Portland and photograph all the stones before they erode and the inscriptions and carvings are lost forever, but we reckon it could easily take a whole week to photograph, if not more, and as we do not live near it this is unlikely to happen. Should we be able to return it will be interesting to see how the area has changed from our first visit and if our fear that the stones will be lost amongst the grass has happened.