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CHARMOUTH (ST. MATTHEW), a parish, and formerly a market-town, in the union of AXMINSTER, hundred of WHITCHURCH-CANONICORUM, Bridport division of DORSET, 2 miles (N. E. by E.) from Lyme Regis; containing 620 inhabitants. This place derives its name from its situation at the mouth of the river Char, which here falls into the English Channel. It was the scene of a sanguinary battle in 833, between the Saxons, under Egbert, and the Danes, who, though many of them were killed in the action, yet maintained their post, and made good their retreat to their ships. Another battle was fought in 840, when the Danes defeated the Saxons under Ethelwulf, but, without improving their victory, precipitately embarked, leaving their booty behind. In the 7th of Edward I. the abbot of the monastery of Ford, in the vicinity, obtained for the inhabitants the grant of a weekly market and an annual fair. After the battle of Worcester, Charles II. and his suite fled to the place, intending to escape into France; but, being frustrated in that expectation, quitted it without delay. On this occasion, a blacksmith having discovered, from the manner of shoeing the horse of Lord Wilmot, who had remained behind, that the party came from the north, a pursuit was instantly commenced, but without success. The village is pleasantly situated at the base of a steep hill, round which the road was carried in 1758; and, from its situation on the coast, is a place of resort for sea-bathing. The scenery is enlivened by the river Char, over which is a bridge leading to the village; and the neighbouring cliffs abound with martial pyrites, bitumen, and other inflammable matter, which after heavy rains emit a vivid flame, and were particularly observable in the year 1751. The living is a discharged rectory, valued in the king's books at £8. 16. 8., and in the gift of certain Trustees: the tithes have been commuted for £ 120, and the glebe comprises 6 acres. The church was lately rebuilt. There is a place of worship for Independents.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, 1848. Transcribed by Nigel Batty-Smith ©2014

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