Transcript of the description for Abbotsbury from Hunt & Co.'s Directory of Dorsetshire, Hampshire, & Wiltshire 1851

ABBOTSBURY is a parish, formerly a market town, in the hundred of Uggscombe and Weymouth union, 132 miles S.W. by W. from London and about equi-distant from Weymouth and Dorchester, being 8 miles N.W. from the former and the like distance S.W. from the latter town and railway station; it is pleasantly situate in fertile vale, well sheltered on the north and east by a range of lofty hills, but open in the opposite direction to receive the soft marine breezes from the 'balmy south'; the soil hereabouts is of a rich nature and is remarkable for producing fine potatoes, large quantities of which find a ready market in the neighbouring and distant towns; the culture of this valuable vegetable and the catching of various sorts of fish, furnish the chief employment of the working classes. The sea is adjacent and in this neighbourhood swarms with shoals of mackerel and other denizens of the deep, so much so that sometimes as many as 30,000 or 40,000 of the former fish are taken at a draught, and in plentiful seasons it is said an hundred have been sold for one penny. The mackerel fishery begins in the middle of March and continues till August, a period of vital importance to the adventurous fishermen, whose hard earned cash is chiefly expended in the town, and adds most materially to its general prosperity.

Abbotsbury, which is of great antiquity, derives its name from its once famous abbey, said to have been originally founded by Orcas, steward to the Danish king Canute, traces and relics of this celebrated pile are still visible, which shew that it covered a large space of ground. In the time of Henry VIII. it was the residence of the Strangeways family, but during the wars between Charles and his parliament, it was demolished. Henry VIII. gave the manor with all its rights and appurtenances to Sir Giles Strangeways, knt. from whom it has lineally descended to the present Earl of Ilchester. On a steep hill about half a mile south from this place is St. Catherine's Chapel, a gothic chantry, which Mr. Hutchins (the Dorsetshire historian), imagines was erected temp. Edward IV.; from its elevation it commands extensive and interesting prospects besides serving as a useful landmark, both to the seamen and traveller.

The parish church dedicated to St. Nicholas (the patron saint of mariners), is a large and ancient gothic structure with an embattled tower, containing a peal of 6 bells; an antique piece of sculpture over the west door will attract the attention of the curious; here also may be seen a coffin carved from a solid stone. Besides the church there is a chapel for persons of the Independent persuasion, there is also in the parish a free school endowed by one of the Earls of Ilchester, and which was further augmented by Mrs. Horner.

Abbotsbury is noted for its decoy and swannery, the former is a large piece of marshy ground covered with spear-grass or bull-rushes, among which flock vast numbers of wild fowl and are easily captured; the swannery numbers about 700 of these aceful aquatic birds (swans), who 'disport themselves' in the back sea, and occasionally glide down the briny element as far as Portland ferry. On an eminence near the beach is Strangeways Castle, a gothic structure, commanding a fine view of the west bay, this is the marine residence of the Earl of Ilchester. An annual pleasure fair is held on the 11th of July. The parish contains 3829 acres of land, and in 1841 had a population of 1009.

POST OFFICE at Ann Hunt's. Letters are received from Dorchester 8 45 a.m., and are despatched 3 45 p.m.

Ilchester, Rt. Hon. Earl of, Strangeways Castle
Roe Lieut. Robert, Coast Guard
Torkington, Rev. Chas. M.A. (curate), Vicarage
Tullidge, Mr. James
Boatswain, David, farmer
Boatswain, Henry, farmer
Bradford, Thomas, farmer, Lock farm
Broadley, James, stonemason
Brodby, Robert, carrier
Burridge, Wm. farmer, Elworth
Cheney, Henry, blacksmith
Clarke, Matthew, maltster
Clarke, William, farmer
Cornick, George, cooper
Cornick, Thos. boot & shoemaker
Cousins, Moses, grocer, &c.
Critchell, James, parish clerk
Ford, John & Henry, farmers
Gardner, Thomas, grocer
Gee, Thomas, baker
Gibbons, William, farmer
Green John, plumber, glazier, and painter
Green Richard, farmer
Green William, farmer
Hallett Elizabeth (Mrs.) farmer
Hayne John, carpenter
Hayward Robert, farmer
Holmyard Henry,'Ship Inn'
Hounsell William, butcher
Hunt Ann, (Miss,) grocer & draper
Hunt Robt. keeper of the swannery
Hurden Thomas, farmer
Kallaway John, farmer, Elworth
Kallaway Jsph. farmer, Baxington
Knight Robert, blacksmith
Limm Josias, farmer
Poynter Charles, saddler
Poynter John, grocer, &c.
Russell James, stonemason
Shetler Wm. farmer, Wykewood
Simms John, tailor
Studley Joseph, carpenter
Sweeting William, surgeon and registrar of births and deaths
Tullidge John, school
Tullidge John, jun. baker
Vincent Robert, tailor
Wallace John, boot & shoemaker
Wallbridge Henry, miller
Wallis Anne, (Mrs.) grocer
Watts John, farmer
West John & Abraham, farmers
West Sarah, (Miss.) 'Swan'
White James, agent to the Sun fire and life office
White James, jun. farmer
Wood Alfred, butcher
Wood John, jun. boot & shoemaker

CARRIER TO Dorchester, Brodby, on Sat. and to Weymouth, Tues. and Friday