HOMES and the village church in Charminster have flooded after severe weather battered Dorset.

Over the weekend, St Mary’s Church became swamped under more than five inches of water and more than six residents’ houses were flooded.

The community believes the amount of flooding is due to one side of the Grade Two heritage listed bridge impeding the water flow and not functioning properly.

Residents from across the village clubbed together with the church wardens to mop up the damage and Dorset Fire and Rescue Service helped pump water from one side of the flooded river to another.

Due to the flooding, church wardens estimate the church will be closed for at least a month to allow water to drain away and for the church floors to dry out.

One church warden Bob Pearson and his with wife Susan have been helping at the church for most of the weekend.

Mrs Pearson said: “Sunday services were cancelled. The last time the village flooded the church closed for three months.

“The Sunday services will continue at Charminster village hall at 9.30am until the church re-opens. Villagers have been coming down and clubbing together to help out at the church – there has been a great feeling of unity here.

“However, cars driving through floods have been sweeping excess water into people’s houses.”

Assistant curate of St Mary’s Church, Rev Hugh Willis and wife Lyn own one of the houses affected by flooding.

Mr Willis said the lower level of his house was swamped by four inches of water over the weekend, and 18 inches the last time his house flooded.

He added: “We went out to celebrate our golden wedding anniversary on Saturday and came back to find the house like this. It’s so frustrating and we have been troubled by floods for more than 12 years.

“We know all the precautions now including propping our sofas on top of plastic chairs and moving everything to higher levels of the house.

“We were up all of Saturday night keeping an eye on water levels in the lounge and making sure the suction pump was working properly. The lower level part of my house was built in 1704 so I do wonder how many times it has actually flooded since then.”

Charminster resident Gwen Yarker said that at least six homes were flooded due to the weather.

She added: “Charminster House opened a gate to their garden allowing it to be completely flooded to save more houses being swamped. In 1860 houses here began to be built on higher ground which indicates flooding was a problem even back then.”