Dorset OPC


Dorset OPC

St Osmund's Church, Evershot
© Kim Parker/Dorset OPC 2011

Evershot, a charming village and parish situated mid-way between Beaminster and Cerne Abbas, is the second highest settlement in Dorset, lying 175m above sea-level. It is the source of the River Frome, which rises from a spring at St John’s Well near the church and meanders for 35 miles across Dorset to the sea at Poole. Popularly thought to mean ‘thicket where wild boars roam’ from the Old English ‘eofor’ boar and ‘sceat’, the ancient spellings of ‘Teversict’ (1202) and Theuershet’ (1268) hint that the name may in fact be derived from the Old English word ‘teofor’ meaning red lead, possibly referencing the colour of the soil.

There has been a chapel on the site of St Osmund’s Church since at least the reign of Richard Lionheart. All that remains of that first edifice is the chancel arch, part of the tower arch and the basin of the font. Since Osmund, named royal chaplain and Earl of Dorset by William the Conqueror, and later Bishop of Salisbury, was not canonised until 1456, the original chapel must have had a different dedication, now lost. The chapel was rebuilt in the 15th century, so the dedication to St Osmund surely dates from that time. There was a further restoration in the 18th century, which was largely undone by R.H. Short’s rebuilding in the mid-19th century in a perfect imitation of the style of the 15th century. The West tower, built in three stages through the centuries, houses six bells cast in 1775, with the tenor bell inscribed with the words: 'I to the church the living call, and to the grave do summon all’. Designed by E.B. Dennison, the designer of Big Ben, and built by E.J. Dent, clockmaker to the Queen, the clock was presented to the village by the third Earl of Ilchester in 1853.

Inside the church there are a number of interesting artefacts, including a late 12th-century stone capital with the carved figure of man with a key, possibly St Peter, and a brass of William Grey, rector here from 1511 to 1524. It is a very rare 'Chaliced Priest' brass; there are perhaps two in Dorset and only twelve in the whole of England. Another famous rector was George Crabbe (1783 to 1789), regarded as one of our great national poets and certainly Jane Austen’s favourite. Nor does Crabbe represent Evershot’s only association with the literary world. Not far from St Osmund’s church is a 16th-century coaching inn that Thomas Hardy called 'The Sow & Acorn' in his novels. Originally known as ‘The Kings Arms’, this old stone-built inn now called ‘The Acorn Inn’ once brewed its own ales with water drawn from the source of the River Frome. Thomas Hardy was a regular here in 1893 when he was working on the enlargement of the Dower House, originally built by Henry Fox-Strangways, 2nd Earl of Ilchester, in 1798 (and since 1979 a hotel). Evershot is the Evershead of Thomas Hardy’s novels and his most famour heroine, Tess from ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’ had breakfast in a ‘cottage by the church’, still clearly recognisable today.

Despite having a considerably higher population than nearby parishes such as Melbury Sampford and Stockwood, until 1974 Evershot was formally a chapelry of Frome St Quintin. On September 26th 1865 there was a terrible fire that destroyed twenty houses, about 15% of the total housing stock, leaving more than 100 people homeless. Not only did the village recover, but what is truly remarkable is that today Evershot is still a thriving village with a church, a post office/shop, a doctors' surgery, a primary school, a bakery, an inn, a hotel and some light industry, all contained in a community of less than 200 people.

Evershot School
© Kim Parker/Dorset OPC 2011

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 [Jacqui Bowen]
1861 Census [Keith Searson]
1871 Census [John Ridout]
1891 Census [Janet Courtney]
Parish Registers Baptisms 1694-1717 [Rachel Kent]
Trade & Postal Directories  
Other Records Death of John Christopher 1864 [Michael Russell]
Monumental Inscriptions  
Records held at the Dorset History Centre
Christenings 1694-1876. Marriages 1694-1841. Burials 1694-1899.

Further views of Evershot
© Kim Parker/Dorset OPC 2011


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