ABBOTSBURY - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868

"ABBOTSBURY, a parish and town in the hundred of Uggscombe, in the county of Dorset; 9 miles S.W. of Dorchester, and 128 S.W. from London. It is a place of great antiquity, and was once a market town. Its situation is very picturesque and pleasant, in a valley shut in by lofty chalk hills, not far from the north end of the Chesil Bank, and open to the sea at the south-west.

Its name is derived from its ancient possessors, the abbots of the monastery dedicated to St. Peter, which was founded (as it is supposed) in the year 1044, by Orking (steward of the household to King Canute) and Tola his spouse. It belonged to the Benedictine order, and became a very wealthy house. All that is now left of the building is a gateway, with portions of the walls. It was granted, at the Dissolution, to Sir G. Strangeways. A mansion was afterwards erected on the site, which was held and garrisoned by the Royalists in 1644, and was attacked and burnt by Sir A. A. Cooper.

The town consists of three streets. The chief employment of the population is fishing. Some time ago cotton-weaving was introduced, but the experiment did not succeed. A fair for sheep and toys is held on the 11th July. The church, which is dedicated to St. Nicholas, was built in the reign of Edward IV. It is a large and handsome edifice, in the perpendicular style, with a square tower. The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of Salisbury; value 140. The patron is the Earl of Ilchester, who is also lord of the manor. Strangeway's Castle, his seat, stands in the midst of extensive beautiful grounds, including a large decoy for wild-fowl, and a swannery.

There is a free school, founded by the Earls of Ilchester, and the new school-house has just been completed by the present earl at the cost of 1000. At a short distance from the town is a cromlech. There are also traces of a Roman camp, which occupied a space of about 20 acres. On an elevation south-west of the town stands the rained chapel of St. Catherine, supposed to have been erected in the reign of Edward IV., which now serves as a landmark for coasting-vessels."

"EAST BEXINGTON, (and West Bexington), hamlets in the parish of Abbotsbury, hundred of Uggscombe, in the county of Dorset, near Abbotsbury. They are situated on the coast of the Channel, and formerly constituted a distinct parish. The living was annexed in the 15th century to the rectory of Puncknowle, and the ruins of the church still stand on the shore.

"ELWORTH, a hamlet in the parish of Abbotsbury, county Dorset, 6 miles N.W. of Weymouth."

Source: The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003