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St Mary the Virgin, Thorncombe

There is evidence to suggest that the building of the first church at Thorncombe was overseen by the Cistercian monks of Forde Abbey.  It was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary by the Bishop of Exeter in 1239.  After the Dissolution of the Monastries  in 1539, the last Abbot of Forde Abbey, Abbot Thomas Chard, who was also a Suffragan Bishop, became the parish priest.

Several of the succeeding vicars of Thorncombe came from the Bragge family of Sadborow, who were Patrons of the Living.  They were largely responsible for the building of the present church in 1866-67.  

This perpendicular-style building lies some 40 yards to the north of the old church, whose position is now marked by a large Wellingtonia tree in the church yard.  The windows of the new church were copied from those of the Forde Abbey cloisters.  Amongst items transferred from the old church are the pulpit, the lectern, the font, the High Altar, now in the Lady Chapel, the chair in the Sanctuary and an exceptionally fine 15th century brass memorial to Sir Thomas and Lady Brooke of Holditch Court.

Thorncombe, on the edge of diocesan and county boundaries, has successively been in the Dioceses of Exeter, Salisbury and Bath and Wells and in the Counties of Devon and Dorset.  It is currently one of 5 parishes in the 2-Shires Benefice along with Winsham, Tatworth, Chaffcombe and Cricket Malherbe.