Hiring the Abbey for a Large or Standard Concert

Thank you for your interest in booking our Abbey for your concert.  We are very experienced in hosting large events, with regular bookings from the English Music Festival, OSJ and our own Dorchester Festival, and are happy to accommodate the additional requirements of live broadcasts and filming or catering for special patrons or sponsors.

Venue Spaces

For a large concert the Nave, Shrine Chapel and the West End of Nave are used for the audience and the Chancel is used as the performance space. A ‘full house’ is 450-550, depending on the number of performers. The Abbey seats around 180 in the pews and has 170 folding chairs which are available for hirers to use. Hirers have the option of hiring in extra chairs (usually 150-200), to fill the rest of the space as they choose.  Here is a to scale floor plan of the Abbey

The Performing Area – The Chancel

chancelThe lower Chancel – our main performance area – measures approximately 8m (26 feet) wide by 6m (20 feet) deep. Within this space, there are three rows of choir stalls in position on either side, making six in total. The choir stalls can be removed before and replaced after concerts and events. It is also possible to use staging in the Chancel area. Please ask the Events Hire Manager for details.

The upper Chancel (nearest the Sanctuary) measures approximately 6.5m (21 feet) wide by 5m (16 feet) deep. These measurements exclude the two ‘Beauforest’ medieval pews which are one on each side. These are fixed onto plinths, and cannot be moved to create more performance space.

The audience areas – The Nave , West End and Shrine Chapel

naveThe Nave contains fixed pews, which seat a maximum of 175 people. Gaps in the pews may be supplemented with extra folding chairs, subject to access to fire exits being clear at all times. Alternatively, the area halfway up the Nave on the right hand side, can be used for patrons in wheelchairs and carers. The pew immediately behind this area is then used for stewards. The West End (back) of the Nave is an open area, which can be used to provide additional seating space by putting out chairs.

The Shrine Chapel can be used as a seating area, fitting up to 100 chairs with a good view of the lower Chancel performing area

Performers’ Green Rooms

There are a variety of Green rooms available at the Abbey:

  • Conductors, Principals or small groups usually use the Sacristy, situated just off the Chancel with direct access to the performing area, toilet facilities and the Cloister Garden
  • Large groups can use the Guest House meeting rooom

Facilities and Support

Instruments and Music Stands

The Abbey has a very good grand piano (Yamaha), recently rebuilt Walker organ (with over 2000 pipes and the latest computer-assisted registration changes) and a chamber organ, which can all be hired for reasonable rates and an electric piano that can be used free of charge. Hirers must bring their own music stands.  It is not possible to move the grand piano to the West End of the Abbey.

Concert Managers

Charlotte009The Abbey provides a volunteer Concert Manager to assist all hirers during the period of their event at the Abbey. The Concert Manager meets the hirer on arrival to ensure that organisers have access to all they need for the set-up period, then remains on call during the rehearsal period, and looks after the venue at the concert/event.

Sound system

The Abbey has a state-of-the art sound system, including lapel, hand-held and lectern microphones, all included in the hire. With notice we can also set up an additional 12 microphones but these may require the hirer to pay for set up and sound management for the event.  CDs may also be played over the system.


The Abbey has recently finished a complete refurbishment of its lighting system, providing us with modern, controllable and efficient lighting which enhances the building.  Replacing the old sodium lights in the building with over 200 modern LED lights has transformed the way that the Abbey looks at all times of day and the new lights are much more controllable, through simple one button settings on a wall pad and also through an iPhone app, providing us with the capability to switch on and dim any light for an event or service.
Customised lighting for specific events must be requested and arranged in advance.


At the back of the Abbey behind the West End of the Nave. This area is suitable for serving simple refreshments such as tea, coffee, cakes, sandwiches, or alcoholic drinks and canapes. It is not a fully equipped kitchen and does not have an oven, but does have a warming cupboard.


Responsibility for marketing hire events in the Abbey lies with the hirer. If full details of programme, prices and box office details are supplied, the Abbey can support hirers in marketing their concert/event in the following ways:

  • Listing in the Concerts and Events page of this website
  • Listing in the monthly Abbey events e-newsletter (325 subscribers as at July 2015)
  • Submission to the listing section of the Dorchester News parish magazine (copy required by the Editor by 10th of month prior to your booking)
  • Display of A4 poster on the Events noticeboard in the Abbey
  • Display of flyers in the leaflet rack at the entrance of the Abbey.  Posters and other literature must not be put in the Abbey or on noticeboards without permission from the Events Hire Manager.