Dorset OPC

Fifehead Neville


Dorset OPC

All Saints Chruch, Fifehead Neville
© Kim Parker/Dorset OPC 2015

Fifehead Neville is a leafy village and civil parish in the Vale of Blackmore about 2 miles Southwest of Sturminster Newton and 14 miles North-Northeast of Dorchester. The first part of the name,‘Fifehead’, is a corruption of “five hides”, which is how the estate was assessed in the Domesday Book of 1086. A hide was originally the amount of land that would support one free family and its dependents – this varied in different parts of the country, but was typically 48 acres in Wessex. The later addition of ‘Neville’ is manorial from William de Neville, who originated from Neuville in France and in the early 1200s married local heiress Isabel de Walerand, a descendant of Waleran the Hunter who held the estate at the time of the Domesday Survey.

South of the village of Fifehead Neville is another settlement called Woodrow. In 1920 Lower Fifehead or Fifehead St. Quentin, a detached part of the former parish of Belchalwell (now part of Okeford Fitzpaine), was also transferred to the parish. The manorial affix of St. Quentin is from the family of ‘de Sancto Quintino’, here from the 13th century. In the West of the parish is Deadmoor Common, its name thought to signify that it was once disused marshland. The little River Divelish runs through the East of the parish, its name derived from an old Celtic word for ‘dark stream’.

In 1880 and 1903, not far from the Mill, the remains of two wings of a Roman villa were found, complete with floor mosaics, hypocaust system and a horde of tools and early Christian jewellery. Many of the artefacts are now on display at the Dorset County Museum at Dorchester. Also of note in the parish is a medieval packhorse bridge over a ford in the river, one of only three in the county (the other two being at Rampisham and Tarrant Monkton). The bridge is 6ft (1.83m) wide with two distinctive pointed arches 6ft (1.83m) tall.

There was likely a church here in the 13th century, as the first known vicar, John de Purcombe, was installed in 1298, but nothing remains of it. The existing church, with its plain bellcote, sits on raised ground adjacent to a large residence and shaded by an old, twisted yew tree that forms an umbrella over the lych gate. The oldest feature is the Purbeck stone font, which is 14th century. Parts of the building have roots in the 15th century but the nave was remodelled in the 18th century when the tower was taken down, and there were further alterations in the 19th century. Inside the church are elaborate memorials to the Ryves and Salkeld families, as well as a plain one to Roger Goodfellow, commemorating his charitable gift to the ‘second poor’ of the parish, i.e. those not receiving parish relief. Outside in the churchyard is one of the largest table tombs in Dorset - 20ft (6.1m) by 15ft (4.6m) and nearly 6ft (1.83m) tall - the mausoleum of the Brune family.

Bridge & Ford, Fifehead Neville
© Kim Parker/Dorset OPC 2015

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Census 1841 Census [Mari Viertel]
1851 Census
[Ron Adams]
1861 Census
[Ron Adams]
1871 Census
[Ron Adams]
1881 Census
[Nicola Pomroy]
1891 Census
[Ron Adams]
1901 Census
[Nicola Pomroy]
1911 Census
[Godfrey Symes]
Parish Registers Baptisms
Marriages 1573-1841 [Kim Parker]
Trade & Postal Directories  
Other Records Transfer of Fifehead St Quinton from Belchalwell to Fifehead Neville Parish in 1920 [Kim Parker]
Monumental Inscriptions Monumental Inscriptions (Church) [Brian Webber]
Monumental Inscriptions (Cemetery) [Brian Webber]
Records held at the Dorset History Centre
Christenings 1573-1640, 1646-1651, 1670-1999.
Marriages 1573-1640, 1670-1710, 1718-1807, 1815-1996.
Burials 1573-1640, 1670-1998.

Brune Family Tomb
© Kim Parker/Dorset OPC 2015

19th Century Lecturn, Fifehead Neville Church
© Kim Parker/Dorset OPC 2015

Plumber Cottage, Fifehead Neville
© Kim Parker/Dorset OPC 2015


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