Dorset OPC


Dorset OPC

Holy Trinity. Chilfrome Church
© Kim Parker 2010

Chilfrome is a small hamlet situated on the old Roman road to Bath not far from Dorchester, set amongst woodland, fields and orchards on the western edge of the water meadows between Maiden Newton and Cattistock. Chilfrome is so near to Cattistock, that the spire of the Church of St Peter and St Paul can be seen from Chilfrome’s churchyard. Despite its size, Chilfrome was an independent parish right up until the 1970s, but today forms part of the Melbury Team in ecclesiastical terms and Frome Valley from a civil administration perspective. The population of Chilfrome, recorded as 120 in 1870-2 when John Marius Wilson wrote his “Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales”, had halved by the time of the 1961 Census and s tood at 50 in 2001.
The Dorset historian, the Reverend John Hutchins, thought that the name of Chilfrome was either derived from the Saxon word ‘Ciele’ or ‘Cilt’, both of which mean ‘cold’, and the name of the nearby River Frome, or, citing the expertise of a certain Mr. Camden, ‘chalky clay’ referring to the type of soil found in this and adjacent parishes. In his book “Dorset Placenames”, A. D. Mills proposes that Chilfrome means ‘Estate on the River Frome belonging to the noble-born sons’, from Old English ‘Cild’ While Hutchins has trouble distinguishing Chilfrome from four other manors listed in the 1086 Domesday Book with similar names, Mills has identified it as the ‘Frome’ described as formerly having belonged to three thegns or noblemen. First granted to the Punsund family, principal ownership then lay with the Somerset manor of Dunster and the Mohun family for several generations, with leases being granted to various notable Dorset families, including the de Boscos and Matravers. During the latter years of Edward III’s reign, Chilfrome manor came under the control of the lords of the manor of Wraxhall, including the Bryans, the Staffords, Avice Countess of Wiltshire, George Duke of Clarence, the Saint Maurs, the Stawels and the Bampfields. In the 19th century Mr Ezekiel Pope began to purchase land in the parish, with his sons Edward and Francis continuing to consolidate ownership of the entire parish by the Pope family after his death in 1852.

In former times Chilfrome was known for the wake celebrated at the church on the feast of Holy Trinity, which falls on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Indeed, the Church is dedicated to the Holy Trinity. Of 13th century origin, it was largely rebuilt by the Victorians, who left only a faint trace of the former building. Consisting of a chancel with vestry on the north side, a nave, a north porch and a cob for a single bell on the west gable, the walls are constructed of flint and rubble stone, with freestone dressings, while the roof has clay tiles. Inside the church, the most notable features are the three-sided stone pulpit with the Lamb of God in spurred quatrefoil in the centre of the middle panel and corbels sculpted into angels by the eminent Dorset craftsman Benjamin Grassby.
There used to be a free chapel of St. Ellen situated in the North-Eastern corner of the parish, which was either a chapelry of Holy Trinity Church or a chantry. It was founded by Walter de la Wile, Bishop of Sarum (1263-71), at the petition of William Punsund, Lord of Chilfrome, and Amicia his mother, who gave land to maintain a priest to celebrate mass for their souls. St. Helen’s bridge and the still existing St. Helen’s lane, at the end of which Trinity Church is located, probably took their name from this chapel.

Greenings Cottages
© Kim Parker 2010

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 [Julie Browning]
1851 Census [Keith Searson]
1861 Census [Keith Searson]
1871 Census [Keith Searson]
1881 Census [Keith Searson]
1891 Census [Ann Atkinson]
1901 Census [Keith Searson]
Parish Registers Baptisms 1732 - 1879 [Terry Pine]
Marriages 1709-1866 [Emma Squires]
Burials 1732 - 1879 [Terry Pine]
Trade & Postal Directories  
Other Records Chilfrome Rectors [Kim Parker]
Chilfrome Tudor Subsidy Roll (1545) [Kim Parker]
Chilfrome Roll of Honour [Kim Parker]
Chilfrome Wills index [Kim Parker]
Monumental Inscriptions Index of names on Burial Monuments [Brian Webber]
Maps A map outlining the Parish of Chilfrome (1851)
Records held at the Dorset History Centre
Christenings 1695-2000. Marriages 1709-1993. Burials 1678-1995. Banns 1754-1925





Visitors to Dorset OPC

shopify site analytics

Privacy Policy

Copyright (c) 2018 Dorset OPC Project