including the Rectory of Charborough

Interior of St Mary's
Courtesy of Catherine Marks

The tranquil rural parish of Morden (or Moreden) lies north of the Purbeck Hills, 5 miles north of Wareham and 6 miles north-west of Poole, comprising the hamlets of Morden, East Morden, West Morden, Charborough and Whitefields. The name is thought to derive from the Saxon word for heath, “mor”, and “dune”. At the time of Domesday it was divided amongst several landowners, the most important of whom was Walter de Clavile. Eventually it passed to the Matravers family, and ultimately to the Drax family, with whom it was long associated.

Parish registers date from 1575, although there are significant gaps throughout. In 1747-8 the parish was hit by an epidemic, infecting 90% of the residents and exacting a high death toll, before spreading from here to the neighbouring villages of Sturminster Marshall, Corfe Mullen, Bloxworth, Lytchett Matravers, Lytchett Minster and others.

From 587 in 1801, the population had almost doubled by 1851 to 1,018 souls, but stood at only 325 in 2001.

Noted for its tall tower and nave, the parish church of St Mary’s, rebuilt in 1873 by Joseph Seller on the site of a more ancient structure, dominates the principal village of Morden.

Inside the church are the remains of a 1597 monument to the Erle family of Charborough Park, which has been split in two: a knight, Thomas Erle, kneeling on one knee in the act of homage, adorns the right side of the entrance to the bell tower, while an effigy of three of his six children who had pre-deceased him – John, Thomas and Dorithe – adorns the other side.

Morden Village

Other famous sons include Samuel Smith, born at Morden on 17th July 1812 who, together with his wife Frances and his son Sidney Smith, also born at Morden on 4th March 1837, emigrated to Australia in 1847 and worked to found the famous Yalumba vineyards of the Barossa Valley in South Australia.  

In the past, employment in the parish traditionally relied on agriculture, forestry and estate maintenance, much of this linked to the Charborough Estate which still owns most of the land and at one time owned the majority of the houses. Today, most of the parish is designated a Conservation Area and there are a considerable number of listed buildings, ancient monuments and historical features. The old public house, The Cock and Bottle, is still central to the life of the community.

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 Morden 1841, 1861 (Julie Chaplin)
West Morden 1841, 1871
(Julie Chaplin)
East Morden 1861, 1871
(Julie Chaplin)
Parish Registers Baptisms
, 1770-1851


Directories Kelly's Directory & other Gazetteers
Photographs Photos by Kim Parker
Photos from others
Earle Family Effigies
Wills Index of wills of Morden residents
Other Records Tudor Subsidy Rolls
Morden Roll of Honour
18th Century Church Contributors
Registers held at the Dorset History Centre
Christenings 1575-1640, 1653-1694/5, 1719-1854. Marriages 1575-1639, 1654-1656, 1662-1677, 1685-1693/4, 1719-1795, 1813-2001. Burials 1575-c1615, 1653-1672, 1678-1693/4, 1719-1872. Banns 1823-1853.

Christenings 1576-1722, 1770-1854. Marriages 1575-1837. Burials 1575-1837.


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