Whitemill stands at the junction of three Parishes: Shapwick, Pamphill and Sturminster Marshall.

If you study the large scale Ordnance Survey map you will see that the Parish of Shapwick, within which Whitemill stands, has a strange bulge at this point in order to keep the whole of Whitemill and Whitemill Farm grounds within its boundaries. The Parishes of Shapwick and Pamphill lie within the National Trust's Kingston Lacy Estate. Sturminster Marshall, on the other side of the Stour, was never a part of the estate.

Lying within the Parish of Shapwick, Whitemill is technically associated with the Parish Church of Saint Bartholomew, but the nearest church is actually that of Saint Mary the Virgin in Sturminster Marshall (across the river). Depending on the density of foliage, one can normally see the tower of Saint Mary's from the mill grounds and one can certainly hear the bells.

The Parish Church of Saint Stephen, at Pamphill, is much more recent than the other two and was built by the Bankes family more or less as their private chapel.

The three churches are linked as the "United Benefice of Sturminster Marshall, Kingston Lacy and Shapwick" and they share "The Bridge" as their parish magazine.

The Benefice website can be found at http://www.bridgebeneficedorset.org/.

Exterior: St Bartholomew - Shapwick
Parish Church of St. Bartholomew - Shapwick.
According to the church guidebook the earliest parts of the church probably date from the end of the 11th century and the beginning of the 12th. All that remains from that period is the north wall, north porch doorway and the lower part of the east (chancel) wall.

The rest of the church has been much reworked over the years, often reusing original materials, with the tower being added in the 14th century. The construction is mainly of flint and rubble, dressed with Purbeck stone and roofed with stone slates.

The church received a major restoration during the 1880s at a cost of some 2000.

There are four bells in the tower but they are no longer rung as the frame is in poor condition.

In the photographs we see: The church from the south-east (above), the nave, the handle on the south door and the rather unusual font cover of 1884 (in memory of two girls drowned in the Stour).
South Door Handle: St Bartholomew - Shapwick The Nave: St Bartholomew - Shapwick
Font Cover: St Bartholomew - Shapwick

Exterior: St Bartholomew - Shapwick
Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin - Sturminster Marshall.
On a Saxon site, the Normans built the first stone church here in the 12 century. Extended in the 13th century, and agin in the 14th, the church then stood largely unaltered until the tower fell down in 1802. The tower was rebuilt in 1805 but by 1859 the church was in such a poor state or repair that extensive repairs, alterations and reinforcements were required. The tower was heightened and embellished in 1860.

The tower carries 6 bells, which are frequently rung. Three of these are reputed to be the "oldest mediaeval bells in Dorset", with two of them dating from around 1350 and the third from 1400.

In the photographs we see: The church from the south-east (above), the nave and two of the stained glass windows.
The Nave: St Mary the Virgin - Sturminster Marshall Stained Glass 1: St Mary the Virgin - Sturminster Marshall Stained Glass 2: St Mary the Virgin - Sturminster Marshall

Exterior: St Stephen - Pamphill
Parish Church of St. Stephen - Pamphill.
In 1904 Walter Ralph Bankes left 5000 in his will for the purpose of "buliding and endowing a Church at Kingston Lacy". At this time the parish of Pamphill had been without a church for over 300 years - even the site of the previous church having been forgotten.
The present church was built at the instigation of his widow, Henrietta Bankes, between 1906-07 by C.E.Ponting in the Late Decorated style.
Perhaps oddly, for what could be seen as an overgrown family chapel, the church faces away from Kingston Lacy house towards the Village Green and along the oak avenue towards Little Pamphill. The family's private entrance from the park is tucked away round the back on the north side.

In the photographs we see: The church from the south-east (above), and the gargoyles on the tower along with the Nave and the inside of the roof.
Gargoyles: St Stephen - Pamphill The Nave: St Stephen - Pamphill The Nave: St Stephen - Pamphill

It is interesting to note that Shapwick and Sturminster Marshall churches have very similar lecterns, in the form of an Eagle. The church of Saint Nicholas at Studland (part of the Bankes' Purbeck estates, is similarly provided). Pamphill, however, breaks with this pattern having a comparatively spartan wooden fixture, though we see it here in all its Christmas finery.
From left to right: Pamphill, Shapwick, Studland & Sturminster Marshall.
Pamphill Lectern Shapwick Lectern Studland Lectern Sturminster Marshall Lectern