St John the Evangelist

 

A grant to help fund a project that included the construction of a small extension to accommodate a disabled toilet and the installation of kitchenette. This was considered essential for the future of the Church. St John's as a flexible community space would be well used. The association of the village with the Tolpuddle Martyrs attracts many visitors and the Martyrs Museum alone has 40,000 visitors a year, many of whom come onto visit the church and its churchyard containing the grave of James Hammett. The present building has elements dating from the 12th century, including the Nave, a Romanesque doorway with a fine tympanum inside the south porch and a smaller doorway relocated from the original Nave north wall to the north wall of the North Aisle. Use of the church was limited due to the lack of a water supply, kitchen facilities and a disabled WC. In the churchyard there is a commemorative headstone by the sculptor and engraver Eric Gill to mark the grave of James Hammett (1811-1891), the only Tolpuddle Martyr to return to live and die in the village after transportation. A wreath is laid on James Hammett's grave each year during the Martyr's Festival in July. In the year 1832, the Vicar of Tolpuddle, the Rev. Thomas Warren betrayed the agricultural workers of Tolpuddle (many of whom were Methodist). He did this by first acting as a witness to an agreement between farm labourers and landowners for a fair wage, and then denying any such agreement when the land owners went back on their promises. In 2010 a covenant was signed between the Church of England and the Methodist Church and the rift was healed.

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