Dorset OPC


Dorset OPC

St Andrew's Church, Burstock
© Kim Parker 2010

Burstock is a small rural village in the Beaminster region, 4 miles West-North-West of Broadwinsor and five miles South-South-West of Crewkerne, close to the border between Dorset and Somerset. It appeared in the Domesday Book (1086) as ‘Burewinestock’, meaning ‘farm belonging to a woman called Burgwynn or a man called Burgwine’, with ‘Bur’ coming from the person’s name and ‘stoc’ meaning place. Looking at a map of the parish, Burstock appears to have been carved out of the middle of Broadwinsor, almost cutting it in two. The only other parish it has a boundary with is Stoke Abbott to the south.
For much of its known history, the parish of Burstock was associated with Ford Abbey, the Cistercian monastery in the Parish of Thorncombe founded by the de Redvers family, Earls of Devon. There were some disputes with other noble claimants, but it was Ford Abbey that developed the mill at the tiny hamlet of Whetham, and eventually in 1316 the Abbot was confirmed as Lord of the Manor of Burstock. At the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII it was sold to Robert Chidley of London, esquire. Burstock then passed to a number of wealthy individuals, until in 1632 it was purchased by Richard Bragge of Sadborough (Thorncombe), in whose family it remained for well over 250 years.

The church of St Andrew is of Norman origin, with later additions, notably a 15th century tower and north transept chapel, and a harmonious partial rebuild by P. H. Peters in the late 19th century – the only example of his work in Dorset. Of particular interest is the 12th – 13th century tub font with rope moulding and the gargoyles on the tower, one of which is a monster clutching a man. P. H. Peter’s restoration included rebuilding the chancel and relaying the floor of the entire church, as well as the removal of the gallery at the west end. At the time that Hutchings wrote his opus on the ‘History and Antiquities of Dorset’, Burstock church boasted three bells. Now there is only one, cast by Llewellyn & James in 1894, but despite being of recent date it is unringable. Deprived of the charm of bells, at least the church still benefits from the generous bequest of one John Smyth who according to the parish register left 3 acres of land called Parish Close to ‘beautify the church’.
As agriculture has become more efficient, requiring less labour, the population of Burstock has declined, halving from 220 in 1872 to 109 in 2001. The names of the narrow, winding lanes, lined by burgeoning hedges that afford occasional glimpses of fields abounding with sheep, attest to the agricultural tradition of the area: Pound, Grange, Rookery and Sheepwash Lanes. The last of these leads out of the village southwards to join the B3164, better known as Cockpit Hill, reminding us of some of the less savoury pursuits of our ancestors. It would be easy to take Burstock’s tranquillity for granted, but it could have been very different. In 1863 the Chard Road and Lyme Regis Harbour Railway Company proposed building a railway line to link Chard and Lyme, with stops in several villages along the route, including Burstock.

St Andrew's Church, Gargoyle detail
© Kim Parker 2010

The new Online Parish Clerk (OPC) for Burstock is Theresa Rose
Please place the words 'OPC Burstock' as your subject for e-mails
 (click on Theresa's name above to generate a pre-addressed email)

Census 1841 Census [Pearl Blanking]
1851 Census [Terry Pine]
1861 Census [John Ridout]
1871 Census [Lynne Radford]
1891 Census [John Ridout]
1901 Census [Keith Searson]
Parish Registers Baptisms
Marriages 1563 to 1812 [Peter Collins]
Burials 1813-1828 [Theresa Rose]
Trade & Postal Directories
Other Records  
Monumental Inscriptions Memorial Inscriptions at St Andrew's [Brian Webber]
Outline Parish Boundary Map giving jurisdiction details in 1851
Records held at the Dorset History Centre
Christenings 1587-1981. Marriages 1560-1979. Burials 1603-1981. Banns 1754-1891





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