Dorset OPC


with Throop

Dorset OPC

Holdenhurst St John the Evangelist Church
© Kim Parker 2010

Holdenhurst is a small village and ancient parish of Saxon origin, famed as the mother parish of the city of Bournemouth, whose north-eastern suburbs it now adjoins. Originally, as well as Bourne, the parish included the hamlets of Iver (Iford), Muccleshell, Muscliff, Strouden, Throop and Townsend. The four last-mentioned communities are still part of the parish today. Holdenhurst parishioners could be forgiven for thinking that its daughter city was an ungrateful child, having lost over half its 7,390 acres in 1894 to create the parishes of Bournemouth and Winton. In subsequent years Bournemouth took further chunks out of Holdenhurst. Then in 1931 the reverse takeover was complete when Holdenhurst was incorporated into the Borough of Bournemouth. As a result of the 1972 Local Government Act, Holdenhurst, as part of Bournemouth, was transferred from Hampshire to Dorset.

In ancient documents, Holdenhurst has been variously described as Holehest (1086), Holeherst (1172), Holnhurst (1397) and Holnest (1540), derived from Old English ‘holegn’ and ‘hyrst’, meaning “copse or wooded hill where holly grows” - perhaps “Hollywood” for short. Given Holdenhurst’s location by the River Stour, source of not only water but also of fish, with an abundant supply of birds, willows and rushes in the adjacent marshy meadows and rich supplies of turf, peat and heather from the vast heathlands, it is not surprising that settlement in this idyllic spot stretches back far beyond the era of written records to the Romans and to the Celtic Durotriges tribe before them.

Earl Tostig, treacherous brother of Harold, the last Saxon King, held Holdenhurst prior to the Norman Conquest. After 1066, William the Conqueror first held it himself, later bestowing it upon Hugh de Port who distinguished himself by killing so many English at the Battle of Hastings. Decades later it reverted to the Crown and in 1100 Henry I gave the Christchurch Estate and the Manor of Holdenhurst to his cousin, Richard de Redvers, Earl of Devon. Held by the family for almost 200 years, the last of the de Redvers, Isabel de Fortibus, conveyed the manor to Edward I on her deathbed in 1293. Holdenhurst remained royal property for some time, and was twice allocated to Queen Consorts as part of their dower. From 1330 its fortunes were tied to those of the Earls of Salisbury when Edward III granted it to William de Montague. After the Dissolution, Henry VIII gave a lease on the Manor of Hurne and part of Holdenhurst to the prominent politician Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton. Holdenhurst passed back and forth between the Crown and its favourites for generations, until in 1661 it was sold to the Hooper family, in whose possession it remained until 1795. Subsequent families who have been associated with Holdenhurst include the Tapps (Barons of Hinton Admiral), the Harris (Earls of Malmesbury) and the Meyrick families.

© Kim Parker 2010

Ecclesiatically, Holdenhurst was a chapelry of Christchurch until 1808, and even afterwards it continued to be a perpetual curacy annexed to Christchurch vicarage until 1875, when it was finally constituted a vicarage in its own right in the gift of the Bishop of Winchester. Built in 1834, the medieval-style church of St. John the Evangelist with it’s distinctive bell-cote replaced a much-lamented chapel of Saxon origin, which had fallen into a dilapidated state and could only seat 200 of the 620 parishioners. Attempts were made to site a new church in the centre of the parish, but when no land could be acquired, the Tapps family, who had benefited enormously from the 1802 enclosure of commons (to the detriment and distress of the over-worked and under-fed masses), donated a piece of land near the original chapel. Unfortunately for contemporary historians, the cheapest option was to build a new church from scratch and demolish the old one. Even so, the Saxon font was to be retained. Somehow, in transporting it the few metres from the old chapel, it got lost and was only recovered years later in a garden some miles distant. It now has pride of place in the church.

The post of Online Parish Clerk (OPC) for Holdenhurst is currently vacant
If you would like to take on the role, please contact the coordinator

Census 1841 Census 
Parish Registers Baptisms 1813-1820 [Jan Hibberd]
Marriages 1680-1841 [Kim Parker]
Trade & Postal Directories  
Other Records Holdenhurst Clergy [Kim Parker]
Monumental Inscriptions  
Records held at the Dorset History Centre
Christenings 1679-1866. Marriages 1680-1956. Burials 1679-1834. Banns

© Kim Parker 2010

© Kim Parker 2010

© Kim Parker 2010


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