Dorset OPC


Dorset OPC

Ibberton Church, dedicated to St Eustachius
© Kim Parker 2010

Ibberton is a village and small parish nestling in the lee of Bulbarrow Hill on a tributary of the River Stour, 7 miles West of Blandford Forum. Frederick Treves, in his 1906 book “Highways & Byeways of Dorset”, described Ibberton’s location as ‘a sheltered cove in an amphitheatre of hills’. The hills in question run through the parish from East to West, commanding magnificent views of the Vale of Blackmore. As a name, ‘Ibberton’ has been on an interesting journey around the vowels of the English language. Recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as ‘Abristetone’, the Norman rendering of a Saxon place-name meaning ‘Eadbeorht’s farm’, it became ‘Hedbredinton’ in 1212, ‘Edbrightinton’ in 1288 and ‘Ibrigton’ in 1291. The local population repaid their Norman masters in kind, corrupting their new name for the village spring from ‘St Eustachius’ to ‘Stachy’s Well’.

The village has passed through the hands of many owners, the most famous of whom was Henry VIII’s short-lived fifth wife, the hapless teenager Catherine Howard, although there is no evidence that she ever came here. By the nineteenth century ownership was concentrated into the hands of Lord Rivers. Not until the 1970s did the Pitt Rivers family sell off the bulk of the land and properties into private ownership. While property ownership has become more fragmented, farms have merged and converged, with only three remaining now – Manor House Farm, Cross Farm and Marsh Form – when as little as sixty years ago there were more than three times that number.

A steep bridle path leads up to the Church of St Eustachius, built 1380-1400. Only two other churches in England are dedicated to this saint, a sort of Roman Job - one in Hoo, Suffolk and the other in Tavistock, Devon. It is amusing to speculate on how Victorian ladies made the climb, constrained as they were by whale-bone corsets, crinolines and other paraphernalia deemed essential to the well-dressed woman. But perhaps the lofty situation of the church served a useful purpose, for no vandalising Victorian architect laid a finger on it, despite the fact that the church was literally crumbling and the western wooden gallery had utterly collapsed. Indeed, both this church and that of Aldhelm’s in Belchalwell were in such a dilapidated state in Victorian times, that from 1893 to 1909 the congregations of both parishes met in Ibberton Village Hall. The restoration was handled by the long-serving Rev. Lionel Plowman, who clearly knew the difference between ‘restore’ and ‘rebuild’, preserving a genuine country church for posterity. He lies buried next to the last occupant of Ibberton’s Rectory, Rev. Michael Pomery - affectionately known to his parishioners as ‘Pom’ - in the churchyard that probably has one of the most spectacular views in the country. 

Within the confines of the Parish is the hamlet of Leigh and it was here that the Primitive Methodists built a chapel in 1869. The chapel is still active under the North Dorset Circuit, but the Methodist chapel built at Ibberton has since been converted into a private residence, as has the village school and the post office. Apart from the church, the only village amenity still thriving is the pub. No surprise there: climbing all those hills is thirsty work.

Ibberton Cottages
© Kim Parker 2010

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Census 1841, 1861, 1871, 1891 [Ron Adams]
[Jean Trevett]
Parish Registers/Bishops Transcripts
Early Parish Registers have been lost/destroyed, so BTs have been used to supplement the missing information
Baptisms 1731-1761 [BT] 1761-1840 [PR] [Kim Parker]
[PR] [Jan Hibberd]
Marriages 1731-1775 [BT] 1801-1850 [PR]
[Kim Parker]
Burials 1731-1797 [BT] 1800-1850 [PR]
[Kim Parker]
1851-1988 [Jan Hibberd]
Trade & Postal Directories  
Other Records Ibberton Parish Rectors [Kim Parker]
Ibberton Roll of Honour
[Kim Parker]
Index of Wills of Ibberton Residents
[Kim Parker]
Monumental Inscriptions Monumental Inscription index for St Eustace church

Records held at the Dorset History Centre
Christenings 1761-1988. Marriages 1801-1980. Burials 1777-1778, 1794-1797, 1814-1988. Banns 1801-1873
Registration District
(for the purpose of civil registration births, marriages, deaths & civil partnerships)
1 Jul 1837-31 Mar 1974: Sturminster
1 Apr 1974-17 Oct 2005: North Dorset


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