Dorset OPC


with East & West Woodyates

Dorset OPC

Pentridge Church
© Dorset OPC 2014

The village and parish of Pentridge nestles beneath a hill of the same name, at the end of a narrow lane at Dorset’s boundary, almost equidistant from Blandford (10 miles SW) and Salisbury (12 miles NE). Meaning “the hill of the boar”, from the Celtic “penn” for hill and “tyrch” for boar, Pentridge boasts one of Dorset’s most ancient placenames, which seems apt for a parish replete with Neolithic, Saxon and Roman earthworks. These include Bokerley Dyke, a long defensive ditch used first by Iron Age and later Romano-Britons to keep out invaders from the East, the Neolithic causeway known as the Dorset Cursus, which runs from Long Crichel to just short of Bokerly Dyke, and various barrows - both Neolithic long barrows and Saxon round barrows, two of which contained pagan Saxon inhumations, a rarity in Dorset.

Within the parish lies the hamlet of East Woodyates and adjacent to it the extra-parochial liberty of West Woodyates. The name “Woodyates” simply means “wooden gates” and is thought to refer to former entrances to the hunting grounds of Cranborne Chase. Of the West Woodyates parish church nothing now remains. It was last mentioned at the Quarter Sessions of 1741 when the court found for Sixpenny Handley in a case against West Woodyates. Poor Nathaniel Bestland, whose family were the sole occupants of the place, was ordered to receive paupers ‘removed’ from the neighbouring parish, despite there being no churchwardens or overseers of the poor, on the grounds that there was a church at West Woodyates where Anglican service was occasionally performed. The two parishes were officially amalgamated in 1933, formalising a de facto union of almost 200 years.

Both Pentridge and West Woodyates have strong literary associations, with Pentridge being “Trantridge” where Tess attends a dance in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles and West Woodyates being the home parish of the earliest known forebears of the poet Robert Browning. The poet’s grandfather, Thomas, was the landlord of West Woodyates Inn, probably called the Shaftesbury Arms after the Earl of Shaftesbury who owned the manor. Sadly nothing but a chalk wall now remains, the inn having been demolished in 1967 - a loss not only for admirers of the poet, but also for students of British Naval history: the inn was the 13th staging post along what is now known as the Trafalgar Way – the route Captain Lapenotiere of HMS Pickle took from Falmouth to London to break the news of Admiral Nelson’s death.

Robert Browning’s forebears are commemorated by a simple marble plaque in Pentridge church. The church itself is an attractive, relatively modern structure, built in 1855 by Slater in imitation of the 14th Century Decorated Style, retaining only the chancel from the previous rebuilding project in 1815. In the churchyard are a pair of fine table tombs to the Goddard family, prominent here in the late 18th Century. The dedication to St. Rumbold is highly unusual. He was a 1st Century infant prodigy descended from the royal families of Mercia and Northumbria. Although the babe lived only three days, in his short life he proclaimed his faith, demanded baptism and Holy Communion, and then preached a sermon on the need for virtuous living.

Pentridge Cottages
© Dorset OPC 2014

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 Pentridge 1841 Census [Wendy Howell]
Pentridge 1851 Census [Wendy Howell]
Pentridge 1861 Census [Ron Adams]
West Woodyates 1861 Census [Emma Squires]
Pentridge 1871 Census [Ron Adams]
West Woodyates 1871 Census [Jon Baker]
West Woodyates 1881 Census [Jon Baker]
Pentridge and West Woodyates 1891 Census [Ron Adams]
West Woodyates 1901 Cenus [Jon Baker]
Parish Registers Baptisms 1704-1812 [Kim Parker]
Marriages 1714-1835 [Kim Parker]
Burials 1714-1813 [Kim Parker]
Trade & Postal Directories  
Other Records List of Surnames appearing in the 1841-1901 Census
List of Rectors of Pentridge [Kim Parker]
Monumental Inscriptions  
Records held at the Dorset History Centre
Christenings 1714-1987. Marriages 1714-1985. Burials 1714-1983


Lane leading to Pentridge
© Dorset OPC 2014



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