Dorset OPC


including Alderholt, Blagdon & Boveridge

Dorset OPC

Cranborne Church

Cranborne lies in the valley of the River Crane at the heart of an ancient woodland chase, part of a large expanse of chalk downland that includes nearby Salisbury Plain and Dorset Downs. A royal hunting venue from the time of King John to that of King James I, then later the headquarters of smuggling and poaching gangs, Cranborne is now a hub for rambles and sightseeing, and the home of an educational centre comprising numerous reconstructed historical buildings. The almost 800-strong village is located at the heart of the Cranborne Estate, whose sixteenth century Manor House and famous garden is one of the homes of the Marquess of Salisbury.

Until 1849 Alderholt formed the easterly district of the parish of Cranborne, and was served by a Chapel of Ease, St. Clement, Bishop & Martyr. In 1846 a new church was consecrated in the new centre of the village, dedicated to St. James and 3 years later Alderholt was formed into a new ecclesiastical parish. For many years it was a sparsely populated tract of heath land, but the village now boasts a population of over 3000 people.

Besides Alderholt, the parish included also the tythings of Holwell, Blagdon, Boveridge, Verwood, and Monckton-up-Wimborne and was the largest parish in Dorset.

The parish church of Saints Mary and Bartholomew is Norman in origin, built on the site of a Saxon Benedictine monastery founded in 980 by Aylward Sneaw (Snow) and linked for many years with the abbey at Tewkesbury. Initially, Tewkesbury was subordinate to Cranborne, but the situation was reversed in the late eleventh century when Queen Matilda confiscated the estates pursuant to an alleged act of insubordination by the unfortunate Brictric and awarded them to William Rufus, who in turn gave them to the patron of Tewkesbury. In 1102 the Abbot of Cranborne and 57 monks were removed to Tewkesbury and Cranborne became just a cell and priory. Almost four and a half centuries later, both came to an end as a result of the dissolution of the monasteries, surrendered to Henry VIII on 31 January 1540.

Cranborne Manor

At Cranborne, the Church with its fifteenth century eight-belled perpendicular tower built of stone and flint is the only surviving part of the monastery, whose last remaining buildings were demolished in 1703. The oldest part of the church is the doorway in the north porch, which is late Norman. The rest of the building is pre-Reformation, with the exception of the east end, designed by David Brandon in 1875. The interior houses a thirteenth century font of Purbeck marble and a fifteenth century pulpit engraved with the monogram “T.P.”, possibly for Thomas Parker, the Abbot of Tewkesbury and Cranborne from 1389-1421. More recent additions and improvements to the Church include the chancel screen, the reredos in the Lady chapel and the tower screen, all carved by Rev. F. H. Fisher, vicar of Cranborne from 1888 to 1910 and the renewal of the wagon roof in 1958.

Cranborne appears in Thomas Hardy novels under the pseudonym of ‘Chaseborough’. In “Tess of the d’Urbervilles”, the heroine danced in a barn at Chaseborough near the Flower-de-Luce Inn, modelled on one of the out-buildings of the present-day Fleur de Lys Inn, before walking back across the hills on her way to Trantridge (Pentridge). Cranborne Chase, re-named in Hardy as ‘the Slopes’, “that venerable tract of forestland”, was the scene of her seduction by Alec d’Urberville. The Fleur de Lys Inn has existed since at least the seventeenth century. In addition to Thomas Hardy, other well-known visitors have included Judge Jeffreys, who stopped here on his infamous progress around the West Country after the ill-fated Monmouth Rebellion, and the First World War poet Rupert Brooke, who even wrote a poem in praise of the inn.

Quite apart from fiction, legend has it that Cranborne was the setting for a real life story of love and revenge when one Brictric son of Algar, a Saxon Lord of the Manor, spurned the love of a certain Flemish Princess called Matilda, who then turned her attentions to the tall but corpulent and balding sixth Duke of Normandy, known as William the Bastard. She married him and he conquered England, thereby earning the more flattering soubriquet of William the Conqueror. Matilda returned to Cranborne triumphant but unforgiving, and had Brictric cast into a dungeon.

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

Bishops' Transcripts Verwood and Alderholt, Bishops Transcripts
1731-1751, 1751-1778, 1780-1812, 1813-1824
1826-1836, 1836-1855, 1857-1879 by Valerie Robbins

1731-1751, 1751-1778, 1780-1813, 1813-1835
1836-1841 by Valerie Robbins

1731-1751, 1751-1778, 1780-1813, 1813-1835
1836-1855, 1857-1879 by Valerie Robbins
Census 1841
1841 District 1 [Cranborne Town], District 2 [Holwell], District 3 [Alderholt], District 4 [Blagdon], District 4a [Boveridge], District 4b [Oakley, Monckton up Wimborne, Bellows Cross], District 5 [Verwood West], District 6 [Verwood East], Lunatic Asylum

1851 in 6 districts by Valerie Robbins
11A [Cranborne], 11B [Alderholt], 11C [Holwell]
11D [Cranborne], 11E [Verwood], 11F [Verwood]

1861 in 6 districts by Valerie Robbins
D11, D2 [Boveridge/Blagdon/Oakley/Monkton]
D3 [Alderholt], D4 [Holwell], D5 [Boveridge Heath]
D6 [Verwood]

1871 in 6 districts by Valerie Robbins
District 1 [Cranborne], District 2 [Munkton up Wimborne/Oakley/Boveridge/Blagdon], District 3 [Alderholt] , District 4 [Holwell], District 5 [Three Legged Cross/Crab Orchard/Verwood], District 6[Verwood]
Directories Cranborne Pigot's Directory 1830 by Valerie Robbins
Cranborne Kelly's Directory 1880
Cranborne Kelly's Directory 1915 by Valerie Robbins
Alderholt Kelly's Directory 1915 by Valerie Robbins
Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales by Kim Parker
Wills Wills proved in the Prerogrative Court of Canturbury By Kim Parker
Other Abbots, Priors and Vicars of Cranborne by Kim Parker
Roll of Honour for WWI & WWII by Kim Parker
Cranborne in the books of Thomas Hardy
by Kim Parker
Ode to the Fleur de Lys Inn at Cranborne by Kim Parker
Photographs Photographs of Cranborne by Kim Parker
Links Alderholt Village web site


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