Dorset OPC


Dorset OPC

Holy Trinity Church, Stourpaine
© Kim Parker 2010

Stourpaine is located in the shadow of Hodd Hill where the little river Ewerne meets the Stour, on the A350 to Shaftesbury, 3 miles North-North-West of Blandford.  The village has its origins in the Saxon period and it’s name simply means “Estate on the Stour held by the Payn family”, from the river that flows past and the surname of the 13th century lords of the manor here.  According to the 2001 census the population was 608 residents, not a far cry from the 1867 total of 658, but happily in far different conditions. At that time the parish of Stourpaine, which included the hamlets of Ashe and Lazerton, lived from agriculture. Wages were lower here and, as a good deal of cottage property was either life-held or belonged to landlords who were not particular about their tenants, the village became a refuge for those turned away by other parishes. Nineteenth-century Stourpaine was in the grip of extreme poverty. The Vicar gave evidence to the Poor Law Commissioners for their report of 1867, describing cramped living conditions, with large families sharing one small room and children being kept out of school to grow food on the allotments or knit clothes for sale to bring in a few essential pennies for rent.  There are now no farms based in Stourpaine, the nearest being Ash Farm.

It is not known for sure whether there was a church here in Saxon times, but being important enough to be entered into the Domesday Book of 1085, where a gift of land to the church is recorded, suggests that there may have been. Building on the site of the present Church of the Holy Trinity began in 1190 and was completed in 1300. At this time, there was also a chapel dedicated to St. Andrew at Lazerton, but as it was only half a mile from Stourpaine and the vicarage was in any case a poor one, the rectories were united in 1431. Later in the 15th century, the tower was demolished and the present greensand tower was built. By the 18th century, the chancel and nave were filled with large square pews all held by the families of yeomen farmers, while there were benches for “the others”.

Sadly, by the mid-19th century, the church was in such a poor state of repair that only the tower, together with its kneeling effigy of John Straight, vicar here from 1650-69, could be saved. T. H. Wyatt undertook the construction of a new chancel and nave, incorporating elements of the original church where he could. Two perpendicular windows survive in the north wall, but the ancient font “disappeared”. The elaborately carved oak pulpit was the work of four parishioners and the vicar, who carved it in their spare time over a period of 3 years from 1911 to 1914 as a labour of love. More recently there has been a major renovation of the Grade II listed Lychgate.

In a field near the church there are traces of what is thought to have been the manor house and a mill, as well as a small circular embankment that served as the cockpit. Anciently Stourpaine was well known for the celebration of bull baiting, cock fighting and other sports at the Trinity Feast. Today Stourpaine’s main attraction is the National Trust’s Hodd Hill, site of a D-shaped Roman fort, built within a conquered Ancient British fort. It is in fact the largest of Dorset’s hill forts and is also unique in having served as a strategic encampment during Vespasian’s invasion of 43-44 AD. Weapons and artefacts including tools, pottery and fragments of harnesses have been found on the hilltop, together with coins bearing the names of several Roman Emperors. With such heritage, not to mention the magnificent views of the vale of Blackmore, the River Stour and its tributary the River Ewerne, it is no surprise that Hodd Hill and Stourpaine are popular stops for ramblers walking the Wessex Ridgeway, Jubilee Trail and Stour Valley Way.

Former Wesleyan Chapel
© Kim Parker 2010

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

Census 1841 Census [Andrew Wright]
1851 Census
1861 Census
1871 Census
1881 Census
1891 Census
1901 Census
Parish Registers Extracts from the Registers in Hutchins [Kim Parker]
Stourpaine Parish Registers (1631-1799) [Edward Alexander FRY]
Trade & Postal Directories Extract from the 1865 & 1880 Directory [Lynda Small]
Other Records List of Wills proved at Blandford [Lynda Small]
Rectors of Stourpaine & Lazerton [Kim Parker]
Roll of Honour {Kim Parker]
Wills of Stourpaine Residents [Kim Parker]
Monumental Inscriptions  
Maps Map showing Stourpaine Parish Boundary (1851)
Records held at the Dorset History Centre
Christenings 1631-1925. Marriages 1631-1995. Burials 1631-1881. Banns 1789-1940





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