Dorset OPC


Dorset OPC

Thornford Church
© Dorset OPC/Kim Parker 2014

Thornford is a village, civil parish and former ecclesiastical parish (in 1926 the ecclesiastical parish was amalgamated with Beer Hackett to form a new parish, Thornhackett.). The name ‘Thornford’ simply means ‘ford where thorn trees grow’, from Old English thorn and ford. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086) as Torneford, one of the many possessions of the Bishop of Salisbury. Situated 4 miles South-West of Sherborne in the Yeo Valley, it is blessed with extensive views of the Dorset hill country and Devon. Archeological finds suggest continued settlement here since the Bronze Age or earlier. A six-room Roman Villa was discovered close to the village, first excavated in 1876 by Professor J. Buckman.

Designated as a Conservation Area in 1994, the village of Thornford has several fine 17th century farmhouses and 19th century estate cottages, a Victorian school (now a private residence) and a Wesleyan Chapel. At the heart of the village is a red-brick clock tower, erected to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee (60 years) of the reign of Queen Victoria in 1897. Later, inscriptions were added to commemorate other events: the Silver Jubilee (25 years) of the reign of King George V in 1935 and the installation of lighting in Thornford by public subscription as a tribute to those who died in World War II.

The parish church of St Mary Magdalen was anciently a chapel dependant on Sherborne. The building is a stone edifice in the Perpendicular style, incorporating elements from across the centuries, including the 14th century chancel and West tower, the 15th century nave, the 16th century vestry and the 19th century North aisle, built as part of extensive restoration work in 1866. Fittings include an ornate late 19th century pulpit of inlaid marble - the old wooden pulpit having been converted into panelling and placed behind the altar - and several memorial stained glass windows. At the entrance to the churchyard stands an attractive stone and oak lych-gate, flanked by yew trees.

Of old the parishioners placed five shillings in a hole in one of the table tombs in the churchyard before noon on St Thomas’ Day (December 21st) to pre-empt the Lord of the Manor from charging a tithe of hay. In 1810 this practice lead to a bitter dispute between the then Lord of the Manor, Earl Digby, and the incumbent, Reverend Henry George Templer, which dragged on in the Exchequer Court for 17 years. The dispute was only resolved when Reverend Templer agreed to sell the Earl the right of patronage for appointment of clergy, known as the advowson, of the parish of Thornford.

Thornford Church Lych Gate and Porch
© Dorset OPC/Kim Parker 2014

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 [Geoff Hunt]
1851 Census [Geoff Hunt]
1932 List of Parishioners [Kim Parker]
Parish Registers Baptisms
Marriages 1581-1641 [BT] 1676-1837 [PR] [Kim Parker]
Trade & Postal Directories  
Other Records Poor Law Records Index [Luke Mouland]
Thornford PCC Wills Index [Luke Mouland]
Thornford Probate Record Index (W&SHC) [Luke Mouland]
Thornford Directories [Luke Mouland]
List of Rectors of Thornford Parish [Kim Parker]
Protestation Return 1641 [Tony Higgins]
Monumental Inscriptions List of names on Burial Monuments in the church ground [Brian Webber]
Thornford Roll of Honour and Dorset Yeomanry Records [Kim Parker]
Records held at the Dorset History Centre
Christenings 1676-1976. Marriages 1677-1998. Burials 1234-2345. Banns 1677-1932

Thornford Church
© Dorset OPC/Kim Parker 2014

Thornford Glebe Cottage
© Dorset OPC/Kim Parker 2014

Thornford Victorian Clock Tower
© Dorset OPC/Kim Parker 2014


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