Bere Regis is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Dorset. Winterbourne Kingston is a chapelry of Bere Regis.

Other places in the parish include: Milborne Stileham, Shitterton, and Bere Heath.

Alternative names: Beer Regis, Bere Regis with Winterbourne Kingston

Parish church: St John The Baptist

Parish registers begin:

Bere Regis

  • Parish registers: 1788
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1585

Milborne Stileham

  • Parish registers: 1687
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: None

Nonconformists include: Independent/Congregational and Wesleyan Methodist.

Adjacent Parishes

  • Milborne St Andrew
  • Bloxworth
  • Wool
  • Tolpuddle
  • Turnerspuddle
  • Affpuddle
  • Winterbourne Whitchurch
  • East Stoke
  • Winterbourne Kingston
  • Wareham

Historical Descriptions

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

BERE-REGIS, a small ancient town, a parish, a subdistrict, and a hundred in Dorset. The town stands on the Bere rivulet, adjacent to a vast tract of barren heath, 1¾ mile N of the river Piddle, 5¾ miles N by W of Wool r. station, and 8 SSW of Blandford-Forum. It dates from the time of the Romans; was a residence of Queen Elfrida and of King John; and suffered severely from fire in 1634, in 1788, and in 1817.

It is now a poor place, consisting chiefly of thatched cottages. It has a post office under Blandford, and two inns; and, till lately, was a market-town. It was constituted a free borough by Edward I., but never sent representatives to parliament. The parish church at it is a large ancient edifice, with a square tower; contains a round figured font, and numerous monuments of the Turbervilles and others; and was entirely restored and repaired in 1835. There are chapels for Independents and Methodists, a free school with £30, and other charities with £16. Remains of King John’s palace are seen in a field opposite the church; and the manor-house of the Turbervilles, an ancient irregular structure, with armorial bearings, stands at the outlet toward Wool. Cardinal Morton, who figured prominently in the time of Henry VII., and Bishop Turberville of Exeter, were natives. Pop. of the town, 1,336. Houses, 278.

The parish includes also the tything of Shitterton and the hamlet of Milborne-Stileham; and is chiefly in the district of Wareham, but partly in that of Blandford. Acres, 8,894. Real property, £7,602. Pop., 1,624. Houses, 338. The property is divided among a few. Half of the manor belonged to the Turbervilles from the time of the Conquest; and the other half was given by Henry III. to Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, given again to the King’s brother Edmund, and given by Henry VIII. to the Turbervilles. Woodbury-Hill, ½ a mile east of the town, was the site of a Roman camp; has still a circular entrenchment of 10 acres, formed by three ramparts and ditches; commands a very extensive view; and is the scene of an annual fair, formerly very famous, on 18 Sept. and the five following days. The surrounding tract has many barrows. The neighbouring downs are a resort of sportsmen. The living is a vicarage, united with the vicarage of Winterborne-Kingston, in the diocese of Salisbury. Value, £330. Patron, Balliol College, Oxford.-The subdistrict is in the district of Wareham, and comprises seven parishes, besides the greater part of Bere-Regis. Acres, 33,833. Pop., 4,749. Houses, 988.-The hundred comprises only the parishes of Bere-Regis and Winterborne-Kingston; and is partly in the division of Wareham, partly in that of Blandford. Acres, 11,402. Pop., 2,213. Houses, 447.

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72].

A Topographical Dictionary of England 1848

BEER REGIS (St. John the Baptist), a town and parish, in the union of Wareham and Purbeck, hundred of Beer Regis, Wareham division of Dorset, 7 miles (N. W.) from Wareham, and 113 (S. W.) from London; comprising the tythings of Milbourn-Styleham and Shitterton; and containing 1684 inhabitants. This place, which is supposed by Dr. Stukeley to have been the Ibernium of Ravennas, derives its name from the Saxon Byrig, and the adjunct Regis from its having been held in royal demesne. Elfrida, after the murder of her step-son, is said to have retired hither to avoid suspicion; and King John, who occasionally made this his residence, granted the inhabitants the privilege of a market, in the seventeenth year of his reign. Edward I. made it a free borough, but it does not appear to have ever returned any members to parliament. A great part of the town was destroyed by fire in 1634: it experienced a similar calamity in 1788, and in 1817 another destructive fire occurred, in which the parish registers were burnt. The parish comprises 7898 acres, whereof 1825 are common or waste; the cultivated land is arable, lying on chalk, and the surface is in general hilly. The town is pleasantly situated on the small river Beer; the houses, in general, are modern and well built, and the inhabitants are amply supplied with water. The market was on Wednesday, but has fallen into disuse: a fair is held on September 18th and the four following days, on Woodbury Hill, for horses, horned-cattle, sheep, cloth, and cheese. The living, which, in conjunction with that of Charmouth, formerly constituted the golden prebend in the cathedral of Salisbury, is a vicarage, with the vicarage of Winterbourne-Kingston annexed, valued in the king’s books at £25. 5., and in the gift of Balliol College, Oxford; net income, £330. The great tithes of Beer Regis have been commuted for £820. 7. 6., and the vicarial for £305. 2. 6. The church is a spacious ancient structure, with a square embattled tower crowned with pinnacles. There are places of worship for Independents and Wesleyans. A charity school was founded and endowed by Thomas Williams, Esq., in 1719; the annual income is about £20. On Woodbury Hill, about half a mile from the town, is a circular camp comprehending an area of ten acres; and to the west of it are the site of the ancient chapel of Sancta Anchoretta, and a well called Anchoret’s well. Dr. John Moreton, Archbishop of Canterbury, and a cardinal; and Dr. Tuberville, Bishop of Exeter, were natives of the place.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis 1848

Parish Records

FamilySearch Catalog – Free


Census returns for Bere-Regis, 1841-1891

Church Records

Bishop’s transcripts for Bere-Regis, 1585-1879 Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Bere-Regis (Dorsetshire)

Churchwardens’ accounts, 1607-1740 Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Bere-Regis (Dorsetshire)

Parish registers for Bere-Regis, 1788-1989 Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Bere-Regis (Dorsetshire); Dorset Record Office


The book of Bere Regis Author: Pitfield, F. P.

Land and property

Land tax assessments for Bere-Regis, 1780-1832 Author: Great Britain. Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace (Dorset)

Poor law records, 1624-1839 Author: Bere-Regis (Dorset)

Military records – Militia

Militia papers, 1779-1812 Author: Bere-Regis (Dorset)


Poor law records, 1624-1839 Author: Bere-Regis (Dorset)

Poorhouses & Poor Law

Poor law records, 1624-1839 Author: Bere-Regis (Dorset)

Public records

Poor law records, 1624-1839 Author: Bere-Regis (Dorset)


Land tax assessments for Bere-Regis, 1780-1832 Author: Great Britain. Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace (Dorset)

Poor law records, 1624-1839 Author: Bere-Regis (Dorset)


Vision of Britain historical maps


  • County: Dorset
  • Civil Registration District: Wareham
  • Probate Court: Court of the Peculiar of the Dean of Salisbury
  • Diocese: Salisbury
  • Rural Deanery: Pre-1847 – None, Post-1846 – Whitchurch
  • Poor Law Union: Wareham and Purbeck
  • Hundred: Bere Regis
  • Province: Canterbury

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