Castleton Churches

There are several churches in and around Castleton.

St Edmunds church is at the foot hills of Peveril Castle, a church of Norman origin built before the year 1200. Originally built as a garrison church to the castle, it features a broad Norman chancel arch and a pinnacled tower and inside the building are some very well preserved 17th-century box pews and also a very valuable Breeches Bible dated 1611. It was restored in 1837 and the dates can be found on several of the stained-glass windows.

The church is a focal point of the Castleton Garland or Oak Apple Day celebrations, a unique custom to the area which takes place annually on May 29, a procession and festivities which celebrate the pagan rites signalling the end of winter, and also the restoration of King Charles II to the English throne in 1660 after the rule by Oliver and Richard Cromwell. On Oak Apple Day, a garland of fresh flowers is paraded through the streets on top of the Garland King, a smaller wreath for the Queen. The Garland is then hoisted to the top of St Edmunds church tower, where it remains for a week until it naturally withers and dies.

St Mary Magdalen Church, Castleton

The little Norman building, standing in its tiny churchyard of one third of an acre when Sir Walter Raleigh first came to Sherborne in 1592, was demolished when Raleigh got permission. But he built a new one where the present church of Castleton now stands. The new building, finished in 1601, appears to have been a structurally very poor substitute for the 450 year old church he destroyed. It’s possible, however, that the new church may have suffered damage in the two sieges of Sherborne Castle during the Civil War.

Castleton church is now fronted by a very pleasant 17th and 18th century buildings opposite in a quiet by water of Sherborne. The tradition of the solitary belle of St Mary Magdalene calling worshippers to the church continues, having lasted more than 800 years.

St Martin’s Church

St Martin’s Church has stood on the same site since 1862, but unfortunately, by the late 1980s, dry rot had taken its toll and the church was declared unsafe. With the help of English Heritage funding the building, it was repaired and transformed inside with an upper and lower hall and the worship area being half the original size. It was rededicated by the Bishop of Manchester, in July 2003.

It is an integral part of the community, the halls being used daily by local groups, from special needs groups to dancing activities, choral groups to conferences, from toddlers to teenagers, the halls are available for hire.