The first recorded date in the story of the church is AD 987 when Aethelmaer, Duke of Cornwall gave lands and twelve dwellings and the advowson of the church in “Further Brydian” to the Abbey of Cerne which he had recently founded. It is likely therefore that the Abbot took over an existing Saxon church on this site. No trace of this building remains nor of any Norman building which may have succeeded it.
The CHANCEL is the oldest and architecturally the most interesting part of the church. The C13th three-light east window has counterparts in Salisbury Cathedral which was built between 1225 and 1245. The three windows in the north wall are of the same date although the two westernmost of these windows were altered about 1400 and given square heads. The three windows in the south wall were also altered at that time. The chancel door leading to the vestry is C13th and the chancel arch is modern.
The plan of today’s church was established by the early C15th, with the exception of the South aisle which was added by the Michels of Kingston Russell House in the early C18th . They are buried in the vault beneath.
The early C15th TOWER remains little changed but evidence for the date of the NAVE, NORTH TRANSEPT and SOUTH PORCH was destroyed by the “restoration” of 1862/3. They were perhaps of the same period as the tower, or somewhat earlier. The restoration swept away the old nnave and with it an “old ugly gallery precariously balanced on a single iron pillar”. The quotation is from the Dorset County Chronicle of 6 August 1863 which also reported, “The form of the building has not been materially altered…the old arch and piers into the north transept have been worked in again and these have been the guide as to the style of the restorations, which are that of the latter part of the 14th Century”.
An addition to the church was the creation of the SOUTH AISLE by removing the west wall of the south transept and continuing the latter to join the porch. The small vestry was also added at the same time.
Worthy of notice in the Victorian restoration is the carved stonework including the leaf corbels in the nave and the leaf capitals of the chancel arch. It was carried out by Benjamin Grassby, a London craftsman who came to live and work in Powerstock. The font was also his work and was described by the County Chronicle as “consisting of a square Purbeck marble bowl on the faces of which four medallions of Staffordshire alabaster are let in with the emblems of the four Evangelists. The bowl is supported by four serpentine columns at the angles and a Purbeck marble central shaft, the caps and bases being of alabaster, and the whole stands upon a plinth of Purbeck marble found buried under the old floor and belonging to the original font.
C.J. Bailey, 1985