A MARKET and hundred town, In the division of Bridport, is 132 miles from London, 18 from Dorchester and 6 from Bridport; situated on the fertile borders of the small river Birt, whose stream propels three mills for the spinning linen yarn employed in the manufacture of sail cloth, which is here carried on to a small extent. Formerly the woollen trade flourished here; it is now but of little importance to the place. This town was nearly destroyed by fire in 1645, and again in 1686; it now consists of one main street, the houses of which for the most part are well built and of modern appearance. The public buildings are the church, a methodist chapel, the town-hall, and a good market-house. The church, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is a stately edifice, standing on an eminence at the south side of the town. The tower is an object of great admiration, being nearly one hundred feet in height, extremely well proportioned, and consists of three stories with double buttresses at the angles, enriched with niches towards the basement, and terminating with small regular shafts. The west front is also particularly grand, and altogether forms a very handsome design. In the church yard is an alms-house, founded in 1634, by Sir John Strode, Knight, and a free school for teaching 20 poor boys of the town, reading, writing and arithmetic, founded by Mrs. Frances Tucker, in the reign of William III. Beaminster is a parochial chapelry belonging to the vicarage of Netherbury; the Rev. James Brookland is the present Incumbent. The great tithes of the parish are held by Robert Conway, Esq. as lessee of the manor of Beaminster Parsonatus; besides this manor there are two others belonging to the parish, Beaminster Prima and Beaminster Secunda: all rested in the prebends of Salisbury Cathedral, from whom the lands are leased. The country around here is hilly; the land fertile, and the views are of a pleasing rather than of a bold or picturesque character. The market, which is well supplied with corn, butcher's meat, &c. is held on Thursday, and an annual fair for cattle on the 19th of September. By the returns for 1821 the town and parish of Beaminster contained 2806 inhabitants, and the parish of Netherbury 1954.
Source: Pigot & Co.'s Directory of Dorset, 1830. Transcribed by Nigel Batty-Smith ©2003
- Parish registers for Beaminster began in 1585.
- The Dorset History Centre hold the Parish Registers for St. Mary, and Holy Trinity
- UK Genealogy Archives have a full transcript of the Marriages at Beaminster, 1585-1812 taken from the Phillimore Marriages series.
- A description of Beaminster from "The Dorset Page"
- A description of Beaminster from the Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5 is available on the UK Genealogy Archives site
- The Dorset On-line Parish Clerks scheme (OPC) transcribe records relating to the county.
The Beaminster pages contain many useful resources.
- Peter Higginbotham has a site dedicated to the Workhouses. It includes a brief history of the Poor Laws and a history, with photographs, of the Beaminster Workhouse.