Bere Regis, Dorset
Bere-Regis, a small ancient town and a parish in Dorset. The town stands on the Bere rivulet, adjacent to a vast tract of barren heath, 1½ mile N of the river Piddle, 6½ miles W from Wareham station on the L. & S.W.R., and 8 SSW of Blandford-Forum. It has a post, money order, and telegraph office under Wareham. It dates from the time of the Romans, was a residence of Queen Elfrida and of King John, and suffered severely from fire in 1634, in 1788, and in 1817. It was once a market-town, but is now an agricultural village. It was constituted a free borough by Edward I., but never sent representatives to Parliament. The parish church is a large ancient edifice with a square tower; contains a round Norman font and numerous monuments of the Turbervilles and others; and was entirely restored and repaired in 1875. There are Congregational and Methodist chapels, a free school with £30, and some small charities. King John's palace stood in a field east of the church. The manor house of the Turbervilles afterwards occupied the same site. Cardinal Morton, who figured prominently in the time of Henry VII., and Bishop Turberville of Exeter, were natives.
The parish includes the tithing of Shitterton. The hamlet of Milborne-Stileham was separated from Bere for ecclesiastical purposes in 1890. Acreage, 8313; population, 1144. Half of the manor belonged to the Turbervilles from the time of the Conquest, and the other half was given by Henry III. to Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, given again to the King's brother Edmund, and given by Henry VIII. to the Turbervilles. Woodbury Hill, ½ a mile east of the town, was the site of a Roman camp; has still a circular entrenchment of 10 acres, formed by three ramparts and ditches; commands a very extensive view; and is the scene of an annual fair, formerly very famous, on 21 and 22 Sept. The surrounding tract has many barrows. The neighbouring downs are a resort of sportsmen. The living is a vicarage, united with the vicarage of Winterborne-Kingston, in the diocese of Salisbury; net combined value, £170. Patron, Balliol College, Oxford.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Poor Law union||Wareham and Purbeck||1836 -|
|Registration sub-district||Bere Regis|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
The parish register of baptisms, marriages and burials begins in 1588, but the 18th century registers were burnt in a fire at the vicarage in 1788.. 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. John the Baptist (parish church)
The parish church of St John the Baptist is a building of flint and stone, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, south porch and an embattled western tower, with carved pinnacles, containing a clock with quarter chimes and 5 bells; the style is principally Perpendicular, but there are traces of Norman work in the interior, and the south aisle is Decorated: the roof of the nave, erected by Cardinal Morton (who also built the tower), in Henry VII.'s reign, is of richly carved oak with fine hammer beams adorned with figures, which have been repaired and repainted in their original colours: the seats are of oak with beautifully carved ends: the windows are all stained, and were presented by the late Mrs Ernle-Erle-Drax: there are two finely canopied tombs in Purbeck marble of the Turberville family, the ancient lords of the manor; one in the chancel to John Skerne, with a curious inscription, and a brass with Latin epitaph to Andrew Loup: the church was thoroughly restored and reseated in 1875, from designs by the late G.E. Street esq. R.A. at a cost of over £5,000: an oak reredos was presented in 1909 in memory of J.L. Eggington esq.: there are 428 sittings.
Bere Regis was in Wareham Registration District from 1837 to 1937 and Poole Registration District from 1937 to 1974
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Bere Regis from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858. (Beer Regis (St. John the Baptist))
- 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 Bere Regis 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.
Villages, Hamlets, &cMilborne Stileham
The Visitation of Dorset, 1623 is available on the Heraldry page.