The County of Dorset

Dorset is bounded North by Wiltshire and Somersetshire, East by Hampshire, South by the English Channel, and West by Devonshire; being about 50 miles long, and 27 broad. It has five great divisions, Blandford, Bridport, Dorchester, Shaston, and Sherborne, which are divided into numerous liberties and hundreds. Rivers, — the Stowr, the Frome, and the Ivel. It has 17 market towns. It is in the Province of Canterbury, in the Diocese of Bristol, and in the Western circuit. — Area, 1005 square miles, or 643,200 acres. Population, 175,043.

Source: Leonard’s Gazetteer of England and Wales; Second Edition; C. W. Leonard, London; 1850.

Dorset Towns & Villages

Abbotsbury The Parliamentary Gazetteer of England and Wales 1840

The Tithe Barn, Abbotsbury
The Tithe Barn, Abbotsbury near Weymouth (watercolour – scene of the sheep-shearing in “Thomas Hardy’s “Far from the madding crowd”). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ABBOTSBURY, a parish, formerly a market-town, in the hund. of Uggescombe, union of Weymouth, Dorsetshire; 8 miles south-west of Dorchester, and 132 south-west by west of London. It includes the hamlets of Roddon and Look. — Living, a discharged vicarage, formerly in the archd. of Dorset and dio. of Bristol, now in the dio. of Salisbury; rated at £10; gross income £140. The earl of Ilchester was patron in 1835. Pop., in 1801, 788; in 1831, 874. Houses 172. Acres 4,050. A. P. £5,324. Poor rates, in 1837, £376. The town is situated in a valley near the coast, surrounded by bold hills. In the fishing-season most of the inhabitants are employed in fishing. An annual sheep-fair is held here on the 10th of July. A free school for educating 30 boys was founded here in 1758. The master’s annuity is £20, with house, school-room, and garden. There are, besides, a National school, and several small charities. Abbotsbury derives its name from its vicinity to an ancient Benedictine monastery, founded in the reign of Canute, of which there are still some remains, consisting of a gateway, and a few portions of the walls. Tanner, in his ‘Notitia Monastica,’ says: “Orcius, or Orking, steward to King Canute, about the year 1026, instituted a society of sacred canons here, who were by him, or his widow, named Tola, changed into a monastery of the Benedictine order, and dedicated to St Peter. By the bounty of its founders, and succeeding benefactors, the yearly revenues of this abbey were increased to £390 19s. 12d. Dugd., and £485 3s. 5d. Speed. The site was granted, 35° Henry VIII., to Sir Giles Strangwaies.” Sir Giles also obtained a gift of the noble swannery belonging to the abbey, which still exists on the property of the earl of Ilchester, and where about 600 swans are at present kept. They are said to have amounted, at one time, to 7,000 or 8,000.— About half-a-mile from the town, between it and the sea, are the ruins of St Catherine’s chapel, founded in the reign of Edward IV. They form a conspicuous object to mariners. — About 1 ½ mile to the west is an ancient entrenchment, enclosing an area of about 27 acres, and known by the name of Abbotsbury castle; and to the east of the town is a large cromlech.

Source: The Parliamentary Gazetteer of England and Wales; A Fullarton & Co. Glasgow; 1840.

Abbotsbury Dorset Lewis Topographical Dictionary of England 1845

The Ilchester Arms, Abbotsbury
The Ilchester Arms, Abbotsbury Famous inn in the centre of Abbotsbury. One of many attractive stone buildings in the village. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Abbotsbury (St. Nicholas), a parish (formerly a market-town), in the union of Weymouth, hundred of Uggscombe, Dorchester division of Dorset, 8 ¼ miles (W. S. W.) from Dorchester, and 129 (S. W. by W.) from London ; containing, with the hamlets of Rodden and Elworth, 1005 inhabitants. The name of this place is evidently derived from its ancient possessors, the abbots of the monastery of St. Peter, which is supposed to have been founded in 1044, by Orcus, or Orking, steward of the household of Canute the Great, and Tola his wife, for monks of the Benedictine order. According to the register of the abbey it appears that a church was erected here at a very early period, by Bertulphus, a priest, and dedicated to St. Peter. This having afterwards become a place of retreat for the West Saxon kings, and the territory having come into the possession of Canute, lands to a considerable extent were given by him to Orcus, by whom and Tola, or Thole, dying without issue, they were subsequently granted to the church of St. Peter, built a long time previously, and then forsaken and in decay, on account of its having been frequently infested by pirates. Orcus erected the monastery, which occupied a large extent of ground, and, in progress of time, was endowed with rich grants and divers immunities, and was frequently rebuilt : the remains consist of a gateway and portions of the walls. Its revenue, at the dissolution, was estimated at £485. 3. 5.: it was granted to Sir Giles Strangeways, and on its site was erected a mansion, which, having been garrisoned for the king, in 1644, was attacked by Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, and burnt to the ground. The church was also occupied by a party of royalists, who surrendered before it sustained any damage.

Abbotsbury village.
Abbotsbury village. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Town, situated in a valley surrounded by lofty hills, near the sea-shore, consists of three streets, partially paved, and is well supplied with water : the western part of it was consumed by fire in 1706. Fishing is the chief occupation of the inhabitants, great quantities of mackerel being taken on the coast. The weaving of cotton was introduced here about thirty years since, but has of late much declined. The market, which has fallen into disuse, was held on Thursday, and was granted, together with two fairs, to Sir Jonn Strangeways in the 8th of James I., a former market, granted to one of the abbots, and held on Friday, having been long discontinued. One of the fairs has also been discontinued; the other, which is for sheep and toys, is held on the 10th of July. The Living is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king’s books at £10; net income, £140; patron and impropriator, the Earl of Ilchester, whose tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £127. 10. The church is a large handsome structure, in the later style of English architecture, with a square embattled tower, and is thought to have contained the remains of the founder of the abbey and his wife, which were removed hither from the conventual church at the dissolution. A school, originally founded for twenty boys, was further endowed in 1754, by Mrs. Horner, with £21 per annum, for instructing ten additional boys; and a charity school, for clothing and educating twenty girls, is supported by the Countess of Ilchester, who has also established an infants’ school. St. Catherine’s chapel, supposed to have been erected in the reign of Edward IV., stands on an eminence southwest of the town, and serves only as a land-mark : it is built wholly of freestone dug out of the hill on which it is situated; the roof is finely groined, and on each side is a handsome porch. About a mile and a half to the west of Abbotsbury is an ancient intrenchment occupying an area of nearly 20 acres; and near the town is a cromlech.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis Fifth Edition Published London; by S. Lewis and Co., 13, Finsbury Place, South. M. DCCC. XLV.

Abbotsbury Dorset A Topographical Dictionary of the United Kingdom 1808

St Catherine's Chapel, Abbotsbury
St Catherine’s Chapel, Abbotsbury in Dorset, UK. It was probably built in the first half of the 15th century. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Abbottsbury, a parish in the hundred of Ugglescomb, Dorset, 8 miles from Dorchester, and 128 from London; contains 170 houses and 788 inhabitants; the living is a vicarage, value 10l. It took its name from a magnificent abbey, built on an adjacent liill, by Orisius, steward to Canute the Great, for secular canons. On the ruins of part of the abbey stands the mansion of the lord of the manor. The town is a poor, ill-built place, in the shape of a Y: its chief trade is fishing: here is a weekly market on Thursday.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of the United Kingdom. Benjamin Pitts Capper. 1808.

Faringdon (Farrington) Dorset Topographical Dictionary of Great Britain and Ireland Gorton 1833

English: Church Farmhouse, Farrington
English: Church Farmhouse, Farrington (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Faringdon, co. Dorset.

P. T. Shaftesbury (101) 5½ m. SSW.

Pop. with Cupton.

A parish united with Cupton in the hundred of Red Lane, Sherborne division; living, a curacy subordinate to the rectory of Iwerne Courtney in the archdeaconry of Dorset and diocese of Bristol, not in charge; chapel ded. to St. Mary; patronage with Iwerne Courtney rectory. From Windmill Hill, in this parish, said to have been a Roman intrenchment, may be obtained some very delightful views.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of Great Britain and Ireland by John Gorton. The Irish and Welsh articles by G. N. Wright; Vol. II; London; Chapman and Hall, 186, Strand; 1833