Dorset OPC

Compton Valence

alias East Compton 

Dorset OPC

Compton Valence Church
© Kim Parker/Dorset OPC 2015

Compton Valence (or East Compton) is a well-watered village and civil parish lying in a hollow in the hills of the Dorset Downs at the head of a small tributary to the River Frome. The area has been settled from the earliest of times, as evidenced by ancient burial mounds and traces of a Celtic field system.

In the Roman era the village supplied water to Dorchester, 7 miles to the West. Appropriately for a parish famed for its water, there is an idyllic, tree-lined pond near the centre of the village and another in the grounds of the 17th century Manor House, just to the north of the Church of St Thomas of Canterbury.

The Roman name of the village is unknown, the present name being a mixture of Old English topographical terms and a family name. ‘Compton’ means ‘farm or estate in a valley’, from Old English ‘cumb’ for valley and ‘tun’ for estate, while the manorial affix comes from William de Valencia, Earl of Pembroke, who was granted the manor here in 1252. In the run up to the Norman Conquest it had been held by a certain Bondi, the local constable, but by 1086 it was in the hands of a Norman lord, Hugh de Port.

A later owner of the village, Robert Williams Esq. of Bridehead at Little Bredy, took it upon himself to restore the church, employing Christchurch architect Benjamin Ferrey to carry out the work in 1838. Following a design in the early Victorian Gothic revival style, Ferrey lengthened the nave, added a North aisle and reconstructed the chancel, giving it an apse-shaped end wall. When the work was complete, Williams held a celebratory dinner on 29 September 1840, ‘of which all the workers and every person in the parish partook.’

Despite the Victorian makeover, the church retains a medieval appearance. Yet all that remains of the Reverend Thomas Maldon’s church - who had rebuilt it in the 1400s and to whose memory there is a brass in the nave - is the tower. Even the 17th century bells cast by the Purdue family were eventually re-cast in 1870. To complete the re-fitting of the building, a clock was installed in 1841 (and later electrified in 1979).

Compton Valence is known locally for the magnificent display of snowdrops that bloom along its verges in late winter. For two weeks in February the village becomes a bustling place as people come from miles around to admire these delicate flowers and after partake of the best sticky toffee pudding in the county at the village hall.

Compton Valence Pond
© Kim Parker/Dorset OPC 2015

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 [Pearl Blanking]
1851 Census
[John Ridout]
1861 Census
[Jon Baker]
1871 Census
including Wynford Eagle [Jacqui Bowen]
Parish Registers Baptisms 1732-1879 [Valerie Robbins]
Marriages 1735-1860 [Valerie Robbins]
Burials 1732-1879 [Valerie Robbins]
Trade & Postal Directories Extract from Kelly's 1880 Directory [Emma Squires]
Other Records  
Monumental Inscriptions Monumental Inscriptions index [Brian Webber]
Records held at the Dorset History Centre
Christenings 1656-1992. Marriages 1657-1667, 1677-1988. Burials 1655-1992





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