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Cranborne, Dorset

Historical Description

Cranborne, a small town and a parish in Dorsetshire. The town stands in Cranborne Chase, near the boundary with Wilts, 3¼ miles from Verwood station on the L. & S.W.R. and 10 from Wimborne Minster. It dates from ancient times, is well-built, has a post, money order, and telegraph office under Salisbury, a church, a Primitive Methodist chapel, and an almshouse, and gives the title of Viscount to the Marquis of Salisbury. The church belonged to a Benedictine priory, is partly Norman, and has a carved pulpit, and monuments of the Hoopers. It was enlarged in 1875. The priory was founded in 980, and had originally an abbey status, but became subject in 1102 to Tewkesbury. The priory-house continued to stand till 1703. There is a fair on 6 Dec. The parish is the largest in the county, and includes Alderholt, Holwell, Blagdon, Boveridge, Verwood, and Moncton-up-Wimborne. Acreage, 11,870; population of the civil parish, 2395; of the ecclesiastical, 824. The manor belonged about 950 to Aylward de Mean, went sometime afterwards to the Crown, was given by William Rufus to Robert Fitz-Hamon, passed to the Earl of Gloucester and the Earls of March, and belongs now to the Marquis of Salisbury. Remains of a circular double-ditched ancient camp of 6 acres are on Castle Hill. Much of the parish is hilly and of small value. The living is a vicarage, united with the perpetual curacy of Boveridge, in the diocese of Salisbury; joint net value, £143 with residence. Patron, the Marquis of Salisbury. The vicarage of Alderholt, a separate benefice, is a vicarage in the diocese of Salisbury; value, £123. Patron, the Vicar of Cranborne. Bishop Stillingfleet was a native.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyDorsetshire 
DioceseBristol1542 - 1836
DioceseSalisbury1836 -
Ecclesiastical parishCranborne St. Bartholomew 
Poor Law unionCranborne1835 - 1836
Poor Law unionWimborne and Cranborne1836 -
Registration districtWimborne 
Registration sub-districtCranborne 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

The parish register of baptisms, marriages and burials begins in 1602. The original register books are now deposited with the Dorset Archives Service, but have been digitised by and made available on their site (subscription required).


Church of England

SS. Mary and Bartholomew (parish church)

The parish church of SS. Mary and Bartholomew (once attached to a monastery, founded about the year 980), rebuilt in 1252 in the Perpendicular and Early English styles, the fine specimen of a Saxon arch which forms the main entrance to the north porch being the only bit of the previous church incorporated in the present building, consists of chancel (rebuilt, in 1875), nave, aisles of six bays, north porch and an embattled western tower containing a clock and 8 bells, 2 of which were added in 1890: the church has a very fine warren roof, and the pulpit is a good specimen of rude oak carving reputed to be the work of Abbot Parker (ob. 1421) : the wbole of the oak screen, with the figures and all the other carvings in the church, except the pulpit, was done by the late Rev. F. H. Fisher, vicar here from 1888 to 1910, to whose memory a window was placed near the side altar in the year 1910: the west window is a memorial to Edward Stillingfleet, bishop of Worcester 1689-1700, who was born here in 1635, and there are other memorial windows to the late John Tregonwell esq. d. Oct. 12th, 1885, and the late Henry Francis Brouncker esq. 1897; and in the north aisle is a fine monument (repaired by the Earl of Malmesbury in 1817) to Sir Edward Hooper and family: three frescoes were discovered in the church in 1898; the church has been restored at a cost of £700, and affords 450 sittings.

Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

Cranborne was in Wimborne Registration District from 1837 to 1937, Blandford Registration District from 1937 to 1956, and Poole Registration District from 1956 to 1974

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Cranborne from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Dorset is available to browse.


Online maps of Cranborne are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the Dorset County Chronicle and the Sherborne Mercury online.

Villages, Hamlets, &c

Boveridge or Bouridge
Holwell (Cranborne)
Newtown (Cranborne)
Oakley (Cranborne)

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of Dorset, 1623 is available on the Heraldry page.

DistrictEast Dorset
RegionSouth West
Postal districtBH21
Post TownWimborne