No single owner of Charmouth had more impact on its history than Forde Abbey whose Abbots were to be it's Lords for nearly 400 years. Their Abbey had been founded in 1147 and in time was to become one of the richest and most learned institutions in England. By the end of the 13th Century they owned over 30,000 acres of land in Devon, Dorset and Somerset. It seems that land would be given to them on the understanding that they prayed for the souls of the donor.
Amongst these bequests was one in 1170 by Richard del Estre for land in Cernia as Charmouth was known then. Later his son confirmed this gift with another adjoining piece of land given by his brother Ace. With additional blocks of land the Abbey was soon the owner of the village and the Abbot was being described as Lord of the Manor in later documents.
Within the church is a piece of carved stone which was found some years ago built into the garden wall of the rectory. It stood on the east end of the chancel of the former church. It was probably part of the Norman church which was demolished in 1503. It represents an Abbot standing in front of a cross, and by carefully studying the figure, one can clearly see the tonsure, chasuble and alb. The uplifted left hand was evidently holding a Pastoral Staff, and the right hand was raised in the act of blessing. It is to be remembered that Abbots of great Abbeys were entitled to use a Pastoral Staff as well as Bishops.This figure probably represents one of the Abbots of Forde Abbey.
The school children contributed 10:6d.The largest sum was £100 the smallest 6d. The proceeds of two bazaars were £30.18.0. Collections at the laying of the foundation stone was £14 and at the opening £50.18.6. The total cost came to £3098. By grants and sale of old. material this sum was collected by 1837 with the exception of £10. 9d which was advanced by the Rector. Services during the building were held in the school and a great many people went to Lyme.
For more of the history of St Andrews & Charmouth, go HERE