Dorset OPC

Chaldon Herring

alias East Chaldon

Dorset OPC

St Nicholas Church, Chaldon Herring
Courtesy Jim Parsons

Known through time as Celvedune, Calvedone (1086 - Domesday Book), Chalvedon (1224), Chaluedon Hareng (1243) and Chaldon Hearynge (1574), the name of this tranquil village is derived from the Old English cealf and dun, meaning ‘hill where calves are pastured’, with a manorial addition from the Norman family of Harang, established here from the 12th century, and whose coat of arms included three herrings. Set amid chalk hills, it is bounded by the parishes of Owermoigne to the west and north, Winfrith Newburgh to the north-east and West Lulworth to the east. The parish was united with West Chaldon or Chaldon Boys (named for the 13th century de Bosco family) in 1446. Bronze Age barrows, known as the Five Marys, as well as the evocatively named Fossil Farm in the north of the parish, hint at the ancient past of the parish.

The parish church is dedicated to St. Nicholas, patron saint of mariners. Dating from the 15th century, but incorporating elements from an earlier church, including a Saxon font, the Victorians extensively remodelled it. Standing sideways on to the church at the beginning of the path that leads up to it is the Victorian schoolhouse, complete with school bell, which now serves as the Village Hall.

Close by is the Manor House, now Grange Farm, rebuilt by Richard Gostelowe in 1728 and purchased by the Weld family in 1790, who retained it for almost 200 years. Previously, it had been held by Bindon Abbey, and was acquired by the Poynings family of East Lulworth after the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII.

Given the topography of the parish and its proximity to the notorious smuggling villages of Osmington Mills and West Lulworth, it is not surprising that Chaldon Herring is famed for its smugglers, including the Stickland, Squibb and Snelling families, members of whom regularly feature in the registers of the County Gaol. The village pub, “The Sailors Return” - no doubt a centre of smuggling activities in former times – was originally a pair of thatched cottages built in the old Dorset fashion using stone and rubble, and includes a pre-reformation altar stone amongst its flagstones. The pub takes its name from a story of three brothers who left to join the Royal Navy, one of whom found his wife in the company of another man upon his return. It was the setting for the book of the same name, published in 1926, whose author David Garnett used to stay at The Sailors Return when visiting Chaldon Herring. Other literary and artistic residents have included Theodore F. Powys (for whom Chaldon Herring became “Folly Down” in the novel “Mr Weston’s Good Wine”), Sylvia Townsend Warner, the poet Valentine Ackland and the sculptress Elizabeth Munz.

Interior View of St Nicholas Church
Courtesy Jim Parsons

The post of Online Parish Clerk (OPC) is currently vacant
If you would like to volunteer for the role, please contact the OPC Project Co-ordinator
Contributions of additional resource materials for the site are always welcome

Census 1841 Census [Keith Searson]
1861 Census [Royston Clarke]
1871 Census [Dorinda Miles]
Parish Registers Baptisms 1621-1730 1731-1880 [PR] [Kim Parker]
Marriages 1621-1734 1735-1860 [PR] [Kim Parker]
Burials 1621-1880 [PR] [Kim Parker]
Postal Directories  
Monumental Inscriptions  
Maps The 1891 Ordnance Survey maps of the parish can be seen at the old-maps site, just enter 'Chaldon Herring' under place search.
Records held at the Dorset History Centre
Christenings 1621-1895. Marriages 1621-1964. Burials 1621-1993. Banns 1754-1812.


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