Blandford Forum, Dorset
Blandford-Forum, a municipal borough, a town, and a parish in Dorsetshire. The town stands on the river Stour, and on the Somerset and Dorset Joint railway, 121 miles from London, 10 miles NW by W of Wimborne-Minster. It dates from remote times; but was damaged by arms in the Civil War, and by fire in 1579,1677,1684,1713, and 1731, -suffering in the last of these years a demolition of all its houses except forty; and it now presents as modern and sprightly an appearance as any town in the county. It comprises two main streets, meeting in a spacious marketplace; and consists chiefly of red brick houses, with high roofs and ornamented fronts. The town-hall is a handsome edifice of Portland stone, with Doric columns and entablature. The corn-exchange was built in 1855 and restored in 1892, and is a commodious structure. The chief bridge across the Stour is a substantial structure of six arches. There is a literary institution and Young Women's Christian Association. A cottage hospital was opened in 1889. There are Constitutional and Liberal Clubs. The parish church, built after the fire of 1731, is a handsome Grecian edifice, with a tower, and was thoroughly restored in 1879. A pump under a portico, adjacent to the church, was erected in 1760 as a memorial of the fire. There are two high-roofed mansions - one, Dale House, in Salisbury Street, and the Old House in the Flocks-the only existing ones which date prior to 1731. A farmhouse, in the outskirts beyond East Street, includes remains of Damorey Court, the seat in the time of Edward II. of Roger D'Amorie, constable of Corfe Castle. Bryanston Park, the seat of Viscount Portman, terminates one of the streets. The town has a post, money order, and telegraph office of the name of Blandford, a railway station, two banks, three hotels, two dissenting chapels, five endowed schools, almshouses, and some large charities. A weekly market is held on Saturday, and fairs on 7 March, 9 September, and 8 November. The manufacture of very fine point lace was formerly carried on. The town is a borough by prescription, but sent members to Parliament only under Edward I. and Edward III.; it was incorporated by James I., and is now governed by a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors; and it is a seat of petty sessions and a polling-place. By the Local Government Act of 1889 the area of the municipal borough was extended to correspond with the urban sanitary district, and now includes part of Blandford-Forum, part of Blandford St Mary, and part of Bryanston. Area of the municipal borough, 145 acres; population, 3974; of the civil parish, 497 acres; population, 3985; of the ecclesiastical parish, 4014. The living is a rectory and a vicarage in the diocese of Salisbury; net value, £168 with residence. Patrons, the Dean and Chapter of Winchester. Archbishop Wake, Archbishop Lindsay, Bishop Lisle, Dean Ryves, Creech, Pitt, Bastard the poet, Sagittary the physician, E. Wake the founder of the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy, and John A. James, the author of the "Anxious Inquirer" were natives. This town gives the title of Marquess to the eldest son of the Duke of Marlborough. The neighbourhood is very rich in Roman and British remains.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Ecclesiastical parish||Blandford-Forum St. Peter and St. Paul|
|Poor Law union||Blandford (1835-)|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
The parish register of baptisms, marriages and burials begins in 1731. The original register books are now deposited with the Dorset Archives Service, but have been digitised by Ancestry.co.uk and made available on their site (subscription required).
Church of England
St. Peter & St. Paul (parish church)
The old church of SS. Peter and Paul, having been consumed in the fire of the 4th June 1731, was rebuilt during the period 1732-9, at a cost of £3,200, and opened 8th April 1739: it is an edifice of stone in the Renaissance style, from designs by John and William Bastard, and consists of chancel, nave of six bays, aisles, north and south porches, and a western tower 80 feet high surmounted by a cupola 25 feet high, and containing 8 bells, which were put up in 1750 and recast in 1883 by Taylor, of Loughborough; the western gallery was added in 1794, and those on the north and south sides in 1837: in 1896 the chancel and organ-chamber were built, at a cost of £1,650: the roof is supported on each side by five Ionic pillars of solid Portland stone, each 22 1/2 feet high: there are several monuments and eight memorial windows: the church was restored in 1880-83, at a cost of about £2,000, and affords 1,450 sittings.
For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.
Blandford Forum was in Blandford Registration District from 1837 to 1956 and Poole Registration District from 1956 to 1974
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Blandford Forum from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, 1848 (Blandford-Forum (St. Peter and St. Paul))
- Hunt & Co.'s Directory of Dorsetshire, Hampshire, & Wiltshire 1851
Land and Property
The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Dorset is available to browse.
Online maps of Blandford Forum are available from a number of sites:
- Bing (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- Google Streetview.
- National Library of Scotland. (Old maps)
- old-maps.co.uk (Old Ordnance Survey maps to buy).
- Streetmap.co.uk (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- A Vision of Britain through Time. (Old maps)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the Dorset County Chronicle and the Sherborne Mercury online.
The Visitation of Dorset, 1623 is available on the Heraldry page.