Dorset OPC


Dorset OPC

St Mary;s Church, Chettle
© Kim Parker 2011

Chettle is an estate village and parish tucked into the gently rolling foothills of Cranborne Chase in Northern Dorset, 6 miles North East of Blandford Forum. Appearing as ‘Ceotel’ in the 1086 Domesday Book, the manor has a very ancient past, as the two long barrows dug over two millennia ago for the final resting place of Neolithic Stone Age farmers attests. The name refers to the situation of the village, from the old English for ‘kettle’ in the topographical sense of a deep valley surrounded by hills.

One of the principal attractions of the village is Chettle House, a beautiful Queen Anne country mansion attributed to Thomas Archer and set in 5 acres of charming gardens with many unusual herbaceous plants and shrubs. It is a graceful oval structure in a state of genteel dilapidation, built of red brick with dressings of Chilmark stone. Inside the entrance hall on the East side is stunning staircase rising in two flights on the left and right walls, then turning and joining at the balcony which leads to another staircase beneath a barrel vaulted ceiling. The other rooms in the house are also very fine, in particular the South drawing room which was decorated in Louis Seize style by Mr Blake of Wareham.

In the grounds of Chettle House is the dower house, now a well-regarded country hotel and restaurant, ‘The Castleman’, named after one of the former owners of the mansion. The house was much enlarged in the Victorian era. Features include a galleried hall, a Regency style drawing room, fine plasterwork ceilings in the dining room and a Victorian oak drawing room with Jacobean fireplace. In the hall and up the stairs are family portraits and paintings with a religious theme, including one dating back to 1650 painted by a follower of Guercino.

St Mary’s Church, in the grounds of Chettle House, was rebuilt in 1849 by Edward Castleman of Wimborne, who had bought the Chettle estate in 1846. The tower, however, is of a previous edifice and houses three bells cast in Salisbury in 1350. Inside the church are many memorials to the former lords of the manor here, the rumbustious Chaffin family. The first lord of the manor of that name, Thomas Chaffin (1650-1691), distinguished himself in the service of King James II at the Battle of Sedgemoor against the Duke of Monmouth in 1685 as well as on the home-front, fathering 14 children by his wife Ann Penruddock (1654-1715). Subsequent heads of the family proved to be keen hunting enthusiasts, including the MP and Ranger of Cranborne Chase, George Chaffin (1689-1766), who commissioned the present Chettle House to be built and was once challenged to a duel by fellow MP Bubb Dodington of Eastbury Park, Tarrant Gunville; William Chaffin (1733-1818) who accidentally shot a woman the first time he handled a gun, but grew up to become the Rector of Chettle Parish and a later William Chaffin who in the year the First World War broke out was struck by lightning, but survived to complete a book about local hunting anecdotes.

Chettle House
© Kim Parker 2011

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Census 1841 Census [Kim Parker]
1851 Census
1861 Census
[Ron Adams]
1871 Census
1881 Census
[Terry Smith]
1891 Census
1901 Census
[Keith Searson]
Parish Registers Baptisms
Marriages 1539-1850 [Kim Parker]
Bishops Transcripts Baptisms 1732-1845 1846-1879 [Emma Squires/Terry Pine]
Marriages 1715-1845 [Emma Squires]
Burials 1732-1879 [Terry Pine]
Trade & Postal Directories  
Other Records Rectors of St Mary, Chettle [Kim Parker]
Monumental Inscriptions Monumental Inscriptions in the Church Burial Ground [Brian Webber]

Records held at the Dorset History Centre
Christenings 1538/9-1812. Marriages 1539-1931. Burials 1539-1814. Banns 1754-1825
Registration District
(for the purpose of civil registration births, marriages, deaths & civil partnerships)
1 Jul 1837-31 May 1895: Wimborne
1 Jun 1895-30 Jun 1956: Blandford
1 Jul 1956-31 Mar 1974: Poole
1 Apr 1974-17 Oct 2005: North Dorset





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