Dorset OPC

Tarrant Monkton

with Tarrant Launceston

Dorset OPC

All Saints Church, Tarrant Monkton
© Kim Parker/Dorset OPC 2015

Tarrant Monkton and its former chapelry of Tarrant Launceston are situated on the banks of the River Tarrant within the Cranborne Chase officially designated ‘Area of Natural Beauty’ ~4 miles East-North-East of Blandford Forum. They are separated from each other by a ford, affectionately known as The Splash (below), which is traversed by one of Dorset’s three remaining medieval pack-horse bridges (the other two being at Fifehead Neville and Rampisham).

There are ancient barrows in the parish and the Roman road from Badbury Rings to Bath cuts through it. Of more recent date is Blandford Camp, a military base which greatly swells the population in numerical terms, but which remains largely separate from the tranquil civilian life here. It is within the confines of Blandford Camp that the old Blandford Race Course was once located. It is mentioned in 17th century documents, but 19th century directories refer to it as being ‘long dis-used’.

The River Tarrant lends its name not only to Tarrant Monkton and Tarrant Launceston, but also to six other parishes dotted along its banks. First recorded in the 10th century, ‘Tarrant’ is an old Celtic river-name – a variant of ‘Trent’, which means ‘trespasser’, i.e. a river likely to flood. ‘Monkton’ references historical ownership of the manor by Tewkesbury Abbey through its cell at Cranborne, from old English ‘munuc’ for monk and ‘tun’ for estate. The Latin version of the name, ‘Monachorum’ (of the monks) was in use until the mid 1500s.

‘Launceston’ has a similar meaning, with the owner of the ‘tun’ in this case being either a man called Leofwine or a family by the name of Lowin. The manorial affix transformed from Loueweniston in the time of Edward I, to Lanston in the 17th century and finally to Launceston by the 19th century. However, it too was owned by the Church after the Norman Conquest, having been gifted to a nunnery at Caen founded by the Conqueror’s wife, Queen Maud.

Despite two major restorations, one in the 18th century and another in 1873, the Church of All Saints (above) retains some of its ancient features. These include a Norman font and three bells: one of 1610 marked ‘Feare the Lord’, another of 1629 inscribed ‘Prayse the Lord’ and a third of 1694 bearing the name of churchwarden Thomas Isaak and the initials of a certain C.T. who cast it. On the wall of the 15th-century tower is a wheel, made c1610, for swinging the tenor bell, of which the clapper alone weighed 26lb (11.8 kg).

There was formerly a chapel of ease at Tarrant Launceston, served by the Rector of Tarrant Monkton once a month. Lamentably, two bells were stolen out of its tower in 1710. The chapel itself was demolished in 1762, since which time the residents of Tarrant Launceston have had to make their way across the Splash to attend services in Tarrant Monkton.

The Splash, Tarrant Monkton
© Kim Parker/Dorset OPC 2015

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Census 1841 Census
T Monkton [Kim Parker] T Launceston [Julie Browning]
1851 Census
T Monkton [Kim Parker] T Launceston [Kim Parker]
1861 Census
T Monkton [Royston Clarke] T Launceston [Royston Clarke]
1891 Census
T Monkton [John Ridout] T Launceston [John Ridout]
Parish Registers Baptisms 1567-1812 [PR/BT] [Kim Parker]
Marriages 1567-1850 [PR/BT] [Kim Parker]
Burials 1567-1812 [PR/BT], 1813-1992 [Kim Parker]
Bishops Transcripts Tarrant Monkton Burials 1785-1837 [Tony Higgins]
Trade & Postal Directories Tarrant Monkton
1855, 1859, 1889, 1895, 1911, 1915
Tarrant Launceston
1855, 1859, 1889, 1895, 1911, 1915

Other Records Tarrant Monkton Protestation Returns 1641
Tarrant LauncestonProtestation Returns 1641

Clergy of All Saints 1310-1999
Photographs Photographs of Tarrant Monkton
Monumental Inscriptions Tarrant Monkton War Memorial/Roll of Honour
Records held at the Dorset History Centre
Christenings 1565-1610, 1618-24, 1630-35, 1692-1783, 1813-1926.
Marriages 1565-1609, 1619-22, 1630-33, 1692-1752, 1784-1836, 1838-1992.
Burials 1566-1610, 1619-24, 1630-34, 1697-1783, 1813-1992.





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