Dorset OPC

Frome St Quintin

Dorset OPC

St Mary's, Frome St Quintin
© Dorset OPC 2010

Frome St Quintin is a village and parish situated on gently sloping ground in the Frome Valley, approximately 7 miles north of Dorchester, near the old Roman road that leads out of that town. Originally known as ‘Litelfrome’, meaning ‘little estate by the River Frome’, it received its manorial addition of St. Quintin in the 13th century in honour of the Norman family of that name who were lords of the manor. In marked contrast to its name, in the Domesday Book Litelfrome is represented as a place of considerable extent, with a mill and land enough to support 400 sheep and 50 goats – although the manor then included the hamlets of Evershot, Caldwell and Holywell too. It was held by the King, later passing to the Earls of Gloucester, who remained lords paramount and leased it out over several generations to the St. Quintin family. Later lords of the manor included the Marmions, Fitzhughs, Lords Dacres and Hardys. By the late 19th century, as a result of judicious purchases, ownership of the land was concentrated in the hands of the Earl of Ilchester who resided at Melbury House in nearby Melbury Sampford.
Holywell is still a hamlet within the bounds of the parish, but Evershot finally became a parish in its own right in 1974 and Caldwell, once a chapelry, is now a farm. The population of the parish has remained fairly steady since 1841 at around 150, plus or minus 10, but the village of Frome St. Quintin itself may once have been a more bustling place. In the 54th year of the reign of Henry III (1269-70) a fair was granted to Frome St. Quintin, and fairs continued to be held here on May 1st and July 16th until 1800 when they were discontinued. Now a sense of calm pervades the village and it is known rather for its natural habitat, especially its alder, ash and oak woodlands, tall herb fens and grassland meadows.

Architecturally, the village has some fine old buildings, including Frome House with its three-sided porch of Roman Doric stone columns added by George Baker in 1782 and whose regular house-guests included the famous Dorset poet, Rev. George Crabbe. However, the jewel in Frome St. Quintin’s architectural crown is undoubtedly St. Mary’s church, which survived the Victorian mania for “restoring” medieval churches largely unscathed, with repairs to some walls and stone crosses added to the gable apexes. Set a little apart from the village, the church is reached by a path through a meadow where often as not cows are grazing. Built of local rubble and flint with freestone dressings and stone slab eaves topped with clay tiles, it stands in the middle of the field, enclosed by a high hedge. The churchyard is noted for its several examples of 17th and 18th century table tombs, including a well-preserved one to John Hopkins of 1734 and another to John Sheppard dated June 27 1793.
The nave and chancel of St. Mary’s are late 13th century, with various refenestrations from the 14th to 17th centuries, although two 13th century lancet windows remain. A south porch was added in the 15th century and a carved medieval corbel depicting heads has been reset there, while at the North-West end of the nave a Norman doorway leads to an early 15th century tower with an embattled parapet. Inside the church there is a Purbeck marble font from c1200 and a Purbeck marble coffin lid incised with a floriated cross from the same period. Both the nave and the chancel are capped by fine barrel ceilings. The chancel itself is painted a delicate pink, which pleasantly compliments the bare stone walls of the nave and draws the attention of the viewer to the altar and the attractive reredos. All in all, St. Mary’s is a delightful country church.

Frome St Quintin Cottage
© Dorset OPC 2010

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Contributions of additional resource materials for the site are always welcome

Census 1841 Census
1851 Census
1861 Census
1871 Census
1881 Census
1891 Census
1901 Census
Parish Registers  
Trade & Postal Directories  
Other Records Rectors of the Parish [Kim Parker]
Index of Wills [Kim Parker]
Monumental Inscriptions Roll of Honour and other Memorials [Kim Parker]
St Mary's Church Monumental Inscription index [Jan Hibberd]
Maps Outline of Parish Boundary 1851
Records held at the Dorset History Centre
Christenings 1661-1796. Marriages 1653-1837. Burials 1654-1796. Banns 1824-1870





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