Cerne Abbas

A view of Cerne Abbas circa 1910
More photographs at the bottom of the page
Cerne Abbas is a parish and small town situated on the River Cerne about 8 miles north of Dorchester. The parish church is dedicated to St Mary, this comprises nave, aisles, south porch and embattled western tower with pinnacles. It has 500 sittings, the registers date from 1653. The burial ground was enlarged in 1881 and now consists of two acres  under the control of a burial board of 9 members. Here are Congregational, Wesleyan and Methodist chapels. Cerne is chiefly entitled to notice for its giant, a figure cut in outline, 180 feet long, on the side of a hill to the north east of the town.
This little town has the remains of an abbey said to have been founded by St Augustine, the gateway of this once extensive monastery still remains in a tolerable state of preservation. The soil is light gravel with the subsoil chalk and the chief crops are barley and roots. The area is 3068 acres. The population in 1891 was 834 including 33 officers and inmates of the workhouse.
Above details extracted from Kelly's Directory for 1895
A quiet street scene in Cerne Abbas
 Photographs © C Smith-Burns

The Online Parish Clerk (OPC) for Cerne Abbas is Claire Smith-Burns

Resources with links are available on-line, other resources have not yet been transcribed and are available by contacting Claire. 

Census 1841, 1851, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 available for look-up
Parish Registers
Baptisms 1653-1699, 1700-1749, 1750-1762, 1763-1772, 1773-1792, 1793-1812, 1813-1822, 1823-1832 , 1833-1842, 1843-1852, 1853-1862

Marriages 1654-1752, 1753-1762, 1763-1772, 1773-1792, 1793-1812, 1813-1822, 1823-1832, 1833-1842, 1843-1852

Burials  1653-1699, 1700-1762, 1763-1772, 1773-1792, 1793-1812, 1813-1822, 1823-1832, 1833-1842 , 1843-1852,1853-1862
Surveys 1617 Survey for Cerne Abbas 
1780 Dorset Land Tax Assessment with Index of Names
1782 Dorset Land Tax Assessment with Index of Names
1798 Cerne Abbas Admeasurement Map
1798 Great Britain Land Tax Assessment with Index of Names
Protestation Returns Protestation Returns of 1641/42 also includes Nether Cerne
Wills List of Wills, Administrations and Inventories for Cerne Abbas People (on-going project, now linked to extracts if available) 
Strays Database of Cerne Abbas Strays:  Marriages of Cerne Abbas People outside of Cerne Abbas 
Surnames Database of Cerne Abbas Surname occurrences compiled from records from 1525 up to the mid-1800s 
Genealogical Database for COOMBS, NUTT, WHITE and related families of Cerne Abbas
Churchwarden's Accounts Cerne Abbas Churchwarden’s Accounts 1628-1820; transcribed and name indexed from 1628-1645
Rates 1654
Directories Universal British Directory of Trade 1793-1798
1842 Pigot's directory of Dorset [Kevin Smith - External]
Overseer's Accounts Cerne Abbas Overseer’s Accounts 1632-1718
Militia Returns Militia Returns for Cerne Abbas:  1796, 1798, 1799 
Monumental Inscriptions Photographs and Transcribed Inscriptions of Memorials inside St Marys Church
Monumental Inscriptions of Cerne Abbas are available online courtesy of the Cerne Abbas Historical Society (note this file opens in a new window and is 5.46Mb)
Photographs See below
Selection of Photographs of Cerne Abbas courtesy Sally Beadle
Other Rentals of the Estates of George Pitt, 1772
Case of assault, Cerne Abbas Workhouse 1846 [Michael Russell]
Hearth Tax 1662-1664
Fire & Hurricane at Cerne 1828
John Brodby, 1805
Web Sites List of web-sites with Cerne Abbas information available or visit the Cerne Abbas Village web site

The 1891 Ordnance Survey maps of the parish can be seen at the old-maps site, just enter 'Cerne Abbas' under place search.For modern location maps visit:-
Books See below

The following books may be of use to the researcher. I have most of these and can advise on their relevance to your research.

Dorset Books
Meekings, C.A.F., ed.  Dorset Hearth Tax assessments, 1662-1664 

Sloate, T.L., ed.  Dorset Tudor Subsidies, 1523-1593 (Bristol:  T.L. Sloate, 1982) (photocopies of Cerne Abbas pages)

Bettey, J.H.  Man & the Land:  Farming in Dorset, 1846-1996 (Dorchester:  The Dorset Natural History & Archaeological Society, 1996)

Crisp, Roger.  Wessex:  A journey through two thousand years (Salisbury:  Wessex Books, The Wessex Series, 1999)

Cullingford, Cecil N.  A History of Dorset (Chichester:  Phillimore & Co., Ltd., 1980)

Draper, Jo.  Discover Dorset:  The Georgians (Wimborne:  The Dovecote Press, 1998)

Hutchings, Monica.  Inside Dorset (Sherborne:  The Abbey Press, 1965)

Knott, Olive.  Down Dorset Way (Dorchester:  Longmans Ltd. at the Friary Press, 1954)

Knott, Olive.  More About Dorset (Dorchester:  Longmans Ltd. at the Friary Press, 1954)

Knott, Olive.  Old Dorset (Poole:  J. Looker Ltd., 1958)

Mee, Arthur.  The King’s England:  Dorset, Thomas Hardy’s Country (London:  Hodder and Stroughton, 1939)

Penn, K.J.  Historic Towns in Dorset (Dorchester:  Dorset Natural History & Archaeological Society, Monograph Series No. 1, 1980)

Pennell, Joseph.  Highways & Byways in Dorset with Illustrations (London:  Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1914)

Cerne Abbas Books

Coffin, Leslie W.  Cerne Abbas & Villages:  Places & People, Past & Present (Sherborne:  Miss S.E.M. Coffin, 1987)

Gibbons, A.O.  Cerne Abbas:  Notes and speculations on a Dorset village (Dorchester:  Longmans Ltd. at the Friary Press, 1962)

Jones, Mary D.  Cerne Abbas:  The Story of a Dorset Village (London:  George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1952)

Vale, Vivian & Patricia.The Parish Book of Cerne Abbas, Abbey & After [plus index] (Tiverton:  Halsgrove, 2000)


Abbey Street with Abbey Manor at the end. Circa 1900 A modern day street scene
The famous Cerne Abbas giant The village stocks
Cerne Abbas Workhouse. At the time this
postcard was produced it was being used as Cerne Abbas Youth Hostel
Cerne Abbey Gates

All photographs above © Claire Smith-Burns 2011-2017


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