Mere, a town and a parish in Wiltshire. The town stands 1½ mile N of the boundary of Dorsetshire, 2½ E of the boundary with Somerset, 4 miles N of Gillingham station on the L. & S.W.R., and 21 S by E of Bath. It has a post, money order, and telegraph office. Acreage of the civil parish, 7650; population, 2749; of the ecclesiastical, 2279. The name is probably taken from the Saxon word mera, signifying " limits," alluding to its position near the meeting-point of three counties. The family of Mere takes its name from here. The town was once a place of considerable importance; had a castle of the Earls of Cornwall, now only the hill on which it stood remains; sent members to Parliament in the time of Edward I., but lost its franchise on the ground of poverty; is irregularly built; and has two chief inns, a church, several dissenting chapels, a public cemetery, a literary institute, and a workhouse. The church, dedicated to St Michael, dates from the 13th century; has a beautifully carved oaken screen and tower-roof; includes two chapels; has an embattled tower, with lofty pinnacles; and contains a fine brass of John Bettisthorne of 1398. The public cemetery was opened in 1856, and an ancient earthen vessel was found at the forming of it, containing about 300 Roman coins. Castle Hill was presented to the town by the Prince of Wales in 1887 as a public recreation ground. The mission church of St Matthew was opened in 1882. The old market-house was taken down in 1866, and a clock tower, with illuminated dials, was erected on its site.
The parish contains the tithings of Chaddenwick, Woodlands, and Zeals. The manor belongs to the duchy of Cornwall. Mere Park was anciently a royal residence. Mere Woodlands was a manorial seat of the Dodingtons. Ashfield Water, a tributary of the Stour, rises at the foot of a chalk hill and turns several mills. A British camp, called White Sheet, is on a hill to the NW of the town. Pen Pits, several thousand rudely circular holes, are in the neighbourhood. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Salisbury; value, £200 with residence. Patron, the Bishop of Salisbury. The rectory of Zeals Green is a separate benefice.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Ecclesiastical parish||Mere St. Michael|
|Poor Law union||Mere|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
The Cemetery, on the south side of the town, consisting of about three acres, was opened in 1856, and has two mortuary chapels; it is under the control of a committee of the Parish Council, acting as a burial board.
We have transcribed the complete 1901 census return for Mere. Other years will be coming soon.
The Phillimore transcript of Marriages at Mere 1561-1812, Wiltshire is available to browse online.
The registers are in a good state of preservation, and date from 1572, and the churchwardens' books, still preserved, date from 1556.
Findmypast, in association with the Wiltshire Record Office, have the following parish records online for Mere:
Church of England
The mission church of St. Matthew, about 1½ miles south of the town, and on the Shaftesbury road, was opened in 1882, and is an edifice of stone and brick, consisting of apsidal chancel, nave, north porch, and a turret containing one bell, and will seat 150 persons: the cost of erection was about £1,000, the site being the gift of the late Miss Chafyn Grove; it is served by the clergy of St. Michael the Archangel.
St. Michael the Archangel (parish church)
The church of St. Michael the Archangel is a building of stone in the Perpendicular style, with traces of Early English and reputed Saxon work, consisting of chancel with chapels, clerestoried nave of five bays, aisles, north and south porches, over each of which is a parvise, and a western tower 100 feet high, with pinnacles, and containing a clock with chimes and 8 bells: the chancel is separated from the nave by a beautifully carved oak screen, the upper part of which has been restored at the cost of Mrs. A. Morrison: there are two chantry chapels, and in the south chapel is a brass to John Betteshorne, d. 1398: the present chancel and the chapels were built in the 14th century, but the tower dates from about the middle of the 15th century: there are 580 sittings: in 1883 the churchyard was levelled and planted with shrubs and flowers.
Photo © Emma Batty-Smith
Brethren meeting house
The Congregational chapel was founded in 1795; the present edifice, a large Gothic structure, was erected at a cost of over £8,000, defrayed by the late Charles Jupe esq.
Primitive Methodist Chapel
Society of Friends
Society of Friends Meeting House
For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Mere from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858. (Mere (St. Michael))
Online maps of Mere 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 following Wiltshire papers online:
- Salisbury and Winchester Journal
- Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette
- Wiltshire Independent
- Swindon Advertiser and North Wilts Chronicle
Transcript of the residents of the Mere Union Workhouse on 6th June 1841