Bridport, Dorset

Bridport, a municipal borough, a market-town, a parish, and a poor law union in Dorsetshire. The town stands on a gentle eminence between the rivers Brit and Asker, a little above their confluence, surrounded by hills, 1 ½ mile N of the Bride's Mouth, 9 ½ miles by railway WSW by Maiden-Newton, and 15 by road W of Dorchester. It has a station on the G.W.R., 154 miles from London. There is a branch to Maiden-Newton and another to West Bay. It had a mint and 120 houses at the time of the Conquest; was occupied by both the Royalists and the Parliamentarians, but not contested by either, during the Civil War; made a riotous outburst at the time of the Duke of Monmouth's landing at Lyme, and had an ancient priory dedicated to St John the Baptist. It consists of three spacious, airy streets, contains many handsome houses, and commands from its summit-ground many fine vista-views. The town-hall occupies the site of an ancient chapel, was built in 1786, and is a handsome edifice of brick and Portland stone. The parish church is cruciform, chiefly Later English, has a central, square, pinnacled tower, was restored in 1860 at a cost of upwards of £3000, and contained a monument to a kinsman of Queen Philippa, and some other interesting monuments. St Andrew's Church, near the northern entrance to the town, is a small, beautiful edifice. There are Congregational, Baptist, Quaker, Unitarian, Methodist, and Roman Catholic chapels, almshouses, and other charities, a literary and scientific institution, and a working men's reading-room and club. Bridport Harbour is at the mouth of the Brit, 1 ½ mile distant, and takes its name from a basin enclosed by a double wooden pier, flanked by picturesque cliffs, and capable of admitting vessels of 250 tons.

Bridport has a head post, money order, and telegraph office, two banks, is a seat of sessions, a coastguard station, and a bonding port, and publishes a weekly newspaper. Markets are held on Wednesday and Saturday, and fairs for cattle and cheese on 6 April, Holy Thursday, and 11 Oct. Manufactures are carried on in shoe-thread, twine, cordage, sailcloth, and fishing nets. The cordage was at one time a great staple, supplied nearly all the royal navy in the time of Henry VIII., and became so identified with the work of the hangman as to be popularly called " the Bridport dagger." The chief exports are cheese, butter, and the local manufactures, and the chief imports hemp, flax, tallow, coal, and slate. The town was chartered by Henry III., sent two members to Parliament from the time of Edward I. till 1867, was reduced in 1867 to the right of sending only one, and by the Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885, the borough was merged in the county division. The town is governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18 councillors. The borough includes all Bridport and Allington parishes, and parts of Burton-Bradstock, Bothenhampton, Walditch, Bradpole, and Symondsbury parishes. Area of municipal borough, 591 acres; population, 6611; area of civil parish, 98 acres; population, 3768. In 1884 a detached part of Loders, known as Loders West End, was amalgamated with Allington. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Salisbury; gross value, £257 with residence. Patron, the Bishop of Salisbury. The Church of St Swithin, erected in 1827, is a plain building of stone in the Greek style, and contains 800 seats. The living is a vicarage; value, £210.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5