St Hippolytus church, Ryme Intrinseca, outside

St Hippolytus church, Ryme Intrinseca, inside

Ryme Intrinseca is generally regarded as one of the most interesting of all village names in the County of Dorset, and was so regarded by John Betjeman in his poem, “DORSET”.

The earliest association of Ryme, however appears to be with Somerset being referred to in a survey of that County in 1086 as a “manor called Rime”, held by one “Alwi, a Saxon tenant”. It was not until 1102 that Ryme appears to have passed into the Diocese of Salisbury.

The name is a combination of Saxon and Latin - Ryme being a derivative of “Rima”, meaning rim, border or ridge and probably adopted to describe the situation of the village with respect to the range of hills immediately to the south.

In mediaeval times there were two adjoining manors both known as Rima or Rym, and in order to distinguish between them, one was given the prefix “In” and the other “Out”. In the 15th.century they were Latinised as Ryme Intrinseca and Ryme Extrinseca. The latter was associated with the manors of Long Bredy and Langton Herring and has long since disappeared as a place name.

Ryme was responsible to the Dean of Salisbury, not to the Bishop, hence the village was known as a “Deans’ Peculiar”. Peculiars of the Diocese were places that were entirely exempt from Episcopal Jurisdiction. The earliest record of a Deans visitation to the village was that of John Chandler, Dean of Salisbury in 1405. The arrangement of Peculiars was abolished in the late 19th.century.


The reason for the dedication of the Saint to the Parish Church is not known, nevertheless as the name appears on a grant from Edward I to Humphrey de Beauchamp one can deduce that the dedication was made by the Lord of The Manor at the consecration of the original Chapel.

Hypolite was the gaoler in charge of St.Lawrence and it is said that the example set by this man during his imprisonment so impressed Hypolite that he became converted to the Christian faith. He became Bishop of Ostia near Rome, but was anti-Papal and was martyred in the year 236 AD. His feast day is 13th.August.

There are a number of dedications to the Saint in France, however in this country there is only one other church with the same patronage in the village of Ippolyt near Hitchen, Herts.


Ryme Church in all probability came into being as a Chapel for the convenience of the Lord of the Manor, his household and the few inhabitants of his estate. There are insufficient architectural features on the outside of the present building to date the Chapel further back than the 13th.Century, however, in 1298 it was recorded that Edward I granted Humphrey de Beauchamp and his heirs of a weekly market on Monday at the Manor of Ryme in the County of Dorset, and of a yearly fair there on the Vigil, the Feast and the morrow of St.Hippolytus. This record not only confirms the existence of a place of worship but also the dedication of the Chapel.

If the original Chapel is represented by the present Chancel and Nave (without the tower) such a building at that time when many manor Chapels were of wood, Ryme Chapel built of Ham stone from the Beauchamp’s quarries in Stoke-sub-Hamdon, would betoken a person of importance as its founder and resident Lord of the Manor. In this respect the Beauchamp family amply fulfil these requirements.

The two lancet windows in the north and south Chancel walls are early 13th.C, and were originally part of the south wall, being relocated to their present position during a period of restoration.

Whether the Nave was built at the same time as the Chancel, if not contemporaneous, must have been shortly afterwards. In 1669 the Church wardens reported in their Presentment to the Dean, that “the Chancel was not tiled but thatched”, leaving one to conclude that the Nave was an extension at a later date.

The restoration work found to be necessary due to decay, and problems with the structure, has meant, that had there been a separate entrance to the Chancel any indication of such has long since been removed. The only evident sign of a doorway in the south wall is at the western end of the Nave, and was in use until the 15th.C, when it was deemed to be impractical for normal Village use and was blocked up when the present entrance was made. The porch was added much later.

It is difficult to ascribe a date for the heavy buttress on the south wall, but its position and the straightening of the adjoining wall would suggest that it was done sometime in the 17th.century when the Churchwardens were reporting the Chancel wall as being in need of repair.

When first completed all attending Mass would stand there being no seating on an earth floor which was probably covered in straw. Whether there was a semblance of a high altar is not known, if there was it would most likely have been pulled down at the time of the Reformation when Communion tables were introduced. Records show that the Church did have a communion table and a pulpit in the late 16th.century when the sermon had become the rival for sacramentals.

The East wall was rebuilt in the 17th.C, when the present window, consisting of three graduated lights under a stepped hood moulding and typical of that period was incorporated. The Tower with its embattled parapet and pinnacles is a well balanced feature of the Church. It is early 17th.C, though there may have been an earlier tower; certainly, in 1553, two bells were recorded by Edward VI’s commissioners. On the north side, a 17th.C door opens to the square turret staircase, which is probably unique in Dorset in that it is made if timber. The stair leads to pyramidal embattled roof, surmounted by a weather-vane stamped 1799.

In 1923 W.H. Hudson a natural historian of repute, published a book entitled “Adventures among Birds”, an extract from which under the heading of “Goldfinches in Ryme Intrinseca”, was reprinted for national circulation in an issue of the RSPB’s magazine BIRDS. In this extract the author describes, when en route from Yeovil to Dorchester, he went out of his way to visit the village of Ryme Intrinseca, “...solely on account of its singular and pretty name.” On entering the churchyard he was immediately confronted by no fewer than twelve goldfinches, “all protesting against my presence at that spot, flitting from tree to tree within two or three yards of my head. Never have I seen goldfinches so excited”.

Regrettably the goldfinches no longer make their home in the churchyard yews, but until they do return this beautiful bird will always remain synonymous with the Church.



Two of the attractive kneelers showing the Goldfinches and the C17th font

The embroidered bench runners for kneeling worshippers are the result of a community enterprise involving almost every household in the Village, a project ably co-ordinated by Mrs. Brigid Waite, whose initials are to be seen on many of the examples.

The earliest memorial is to be found on the north wall of the chancel, that to the memory of John Elford who died 1664. Elford was a pluralist, being the incumbent at Ryme whilst vicar of Rampisham. The epitaph on the memorial stone:

“Reader,weep on his bones in whom did dwell, All vertues, yet through love made him excel”

Together with dates of his birth and demise would point to the fact that the stone was originally the head stone on his grave in the Chancel, later removed to its present position when his wife was interred.


There are four memorials to the memory of John Blennerhassett and his family, which together confirm the esteem in which he was held by family and parishioners during his sixty years as incumbent. The portrait hanging on the west wall was presented to the village school, of which he was a founder, by his children to mark his devotion to the school and to the village children.


As a family, the Blennerhassetts had a deep and lasting sense of belonging to the village church. John died in office in 1890, at the age of 87. His widow too, was buried alongside him in 1904; her memorial tablet is in the chancel alongside that of her husband. Their daughter Geraldine (Wingfield Digby) was also buried in the church in 1913 alongside her husband who was interred in 1907. The last surviving daughter, Elizabeth (Lady Headley) was interred in the family vault in 1928. In her last will and testament, she bequeathed the sum of £1,000 to be invested, the income thereof to be applied for the upkeep and beautifying of Ryme Church and the upkeep of the family Vault and the graves of any member of that Family and the general upkeep of the Churchyard.


Latest news:

Despite the awful forecast Saturday 10th May saw a good turnout from the village for the annual churchyard tidy up.  Stalwart Gilly Wilson organised villagers to cut hedges, trim the yews weed the path and gutters around the church and graves and cut the grass so all was looking much tidier by 12 0 clock when the heavens did open.  There was lots of mechanical noise as people brought along their strimmers, mowers and hedge cutters and there was plenty of chat too.  We were joined by the new Rector who brought along shortbread biscuits which we devoured at coffee time.  Mike Batten was away but provided a trailer delivered by Mathew Templeman and the big Frankham tractor to haul away the cuttings.


A break during the churchyard clean-up






All clean/wearable clothes,bags,belts,hats & shoes (tied together) most welcome. Towels,blankets, bedlinen & soft toys too , but please NO Duvets,pillows,curtains or pieces of material. NO RAGS.


Please leave in bags in church porch where they will be collected daily or call Gilly Wilson 01935 872 982 if you need other help.