Dorset: Local History Resources

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An Introduction To Dorset

Dorset is a county in England and is roughly 110 miles away from the English capital, the City of London. It’s in a region called South West England.

Dorset is bordered by Somerset and Wiltshire to the north, Devon to the west and Hampshire to the east, and its southern edge consists of coastline against the English Channel.

Dorset is famous for its beautiful countryside, its 88 miles (142 km) of beaches and coastline facing the English Channel, and in particular the limestone arch called Durdle Door and the 18-mile shingle barrier of Chesil Beach.

Other things you can do in Dorset include visiting castles, stately homes, parks & gardens, steam railways, child-centred visitor attractions and the chance to enjoy a wine tour. Museums, theatres and festivals, and the Great Dorset Steam Fair provide plenty of entertainment. Poole, Weymouth and Swanage are popular with families seeking sandy beaches.

Fossil enthusiasts come to Dorset to examine the many miles of Jurassic cliffs which have yielded spectacular finds in the past.

While Dorset’s territory extends across 2,653 km² of land, which is almost twice the size of Surrey, there are less than a million people living there. Furthermore, more than half the population lives in the southern half of the county, and there are no motorways. You can see why half the county is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Cities In Dorset

Although Dorset has ports at Poole, Weymouth and Portland, connection to London through two railway mainlines, and an international airport, there is no city in the county.  Therefore, the county capital of Dorset is the historic town of Dorchester.

Towns And Villages In Dorset

  • Abbotsbury, Affpuddle, Alderholt, Allington, Alton Pancras, Arne, Ashmore, Askerswell
  • Batcombe, Beacon Hill, Beaminster, Belchalwell, Bere Regis, Bettiscombe, Bincombe, Bishop’s Caundle, Blackdown, Blandford Forum, Bloxworth, Bookham, Bothenhampton, Bournemouth, Bourton, Bradford Abbas, Bradford Peverell, Bradpole, Branksome, Bridport, Broadmayne, Broadstone, Broadwey, Broadwindsor, Bryanston, Buckhorn Weston, Buckland Newton, Buckland Ripers, Burstock, Burton Bradstock
  • Canford Cliffs, Canford Magna, Cann, Castleton, Castletown, Cattistock, Caundle Marsh, Cerne Abbas, Chalbury, Chaldon Herring, Charlestown, Charlton Marshall, Charminster, Charmouth, Chedington, Cheselbourne, Chetnole, Chettle, Chickerell, Chideock, Child Okeford, Chilfrome, Chiswell, Christchurch, Church Knowle, Clifton Maybank, Colehill, Compton Abbas, Compton Valence, Coombe Keynes, Corfe Castle, Corfe Mullen, Corscombe, Cranborne, Crendell, Cripplestyle, Crossways
  • Dewlish, Dorchester, Durweston
  • East Compton, East Creech, East Knighton, East Lulworth, East Orchard, East Pulham, East Stoke, East Stour, Easton, Edmondsham, Evershot
  • Farnham, Ferndown, Fiddleford, Fifehead Magdalen, Fifehead Neville, Fifehead St Quintin, Fishpond Bottom, Fleet, Folke, Fontmell Magna, Fortuneswell, Frampton, Frome St Quintin, Frome Vauchurch
  • Gillingham, Glanvilles Wootton, Goathill, Godmanstone, Gussage All Saints, Gussage St. Andrew, Gussage St. Michael, Guy’s Marsh
  • Halstock, Hammoon, Hampreston, Hamworthy, Hazelbury Bryan, Hermitage, Herston, Higher Wraxall, Hilfield, Hilton, Hinton Martell, Hinton Parva, Hinton St Mary, Holnest, Holt, Holway, Holwell, Hooke, Horton, Hurn
  • Ibberton, Iwerne Courtney, Iwerne Minster
  • Kimmeridge, Kings Stag, Kingston (North Dorset), Kingston (Purbeck), Kingston Russell, Kington Magna, Knowlton
  • Langton Herring, Langton Matravers, Leigh, Lillington, Littlebredy, Littlemoor, Litton Cheney, Loders, Long Bredy, Long Crichel, Longburton, Lower Mannington, Lower Wraxall, Lydlinch, Lyme Regis, Lytchett Matravers, Lytchett Minster
  • Maiden Newton, Mannington, Manston, Mapperton, Mappowder, Margaret Marsh, Marnhull, Marshwood, Melbury Abbas, Melbury Bubb, Melbury Osmond, Melcombe Horsey, Melcombe Regis, Melplash, Milborne St Andrew, Milton Abbas, Milton on Stour, Minterne Magna, Moor Crichel, Morcombelake, Morden, Moreton, Motcombe, Mosterton
  • Netherbury, Nether Cerne, Nether Compton, Nettlecombe, Nottington
  • Oakley, Oborne, Okeford Fitzpaine, Organford, Osmington, Osmington Mills, Over Compton, Overcombe, Owermoigne, Oxbridge
  • Pamphill, Peacemarsh, Pentridge, Piddlehinton, Piddletrenthide, Pilsdon, Pimperne, Plush, Pokesdown, Poole, Portesham, Isle of Portland, Poundbury, Powerstock, Poxwell, Poyntington, Preston, Puddletown, Pulham, Puncknowle, Purse Caundle
  • Radipole, Rampisham, Ridge, Ringstead, Ryall, Ryme Intrinseca
  • Sandbanks, Sandford, Sandford Orcas, Seaborough, Seatown, Shaftesbury, Shapwick, Sherborne, Shillingstone, Shipton Gorge, Shitterton, Silton, Sixpenny Handley, Slepe, South Perrott, Southwell, Spetisbury, St Ives, St Leonards, Stalbridge, Stanton St Gabriel, Steeple, Stinsford, Stoborough, Stoborough Green, Stockwood, Stoke Abbott, Stoke Wake, Stourpaine, Stour Provost, Stour Row, Stourton Caundle, Stratton, Studland, Sturminster Marshall, Sturminster Newton, Sutton Poyntz, Sutton Waldron, Swanage, Swyre, Sydling St Nicholas, Symondsbury
  • Tarrant Gunville, Tarrant Hinton, Tarrant Keyneston, Tarrant Launceston, Tarrant Monkton, Tarrant Rawston, Tarrant Rushton, Thorncombe, Thornford, Tincleton, Todber, Toller Fratrum, Toller Porcorum, Toller Whelme, Tolpuddle, Trent, Trickett’s Cross, Turners Puddle, Turnworth, Tyneham
  • Up Cerne, Up Sydling, Upton, Upwey
  • Verwood
  • Wakeham, Walkford, Wareham, Warmwell, West Bexington, West Chelborough, West Compton, West Knighton, West Lulworth, West Moors, West Orchard, West Parley, West Stafford, West Stour, Weymouth, Whitchurch Canonicorum, Whitcombe, Wimborne Minster, Wimborne St Giles, Winfrith Newburgh, Winkton, Winterborne Came, Winterborne Herringston, Winterborne Houghton, Winterborne Kingston, Winterborne St Martin, Winterborne Monkton, Winterborne Stickland, Winterborne Whitechurch, Winterborne Zelston, Winterbourne Abbas, Winterbourne Steepleton, Witchampton, Woodlands, Woodsford, Woodyates, Wool, Woolland, Wootton Fitzpaine, Worgret, Worth Matravers, Wyke Regis, Wynford Eagle
  • Yetminster

Dorset History Facebook Groups

Bournemouth Local History

“Interesting information and photographs about Bournemouth and the surrounding villages and suburbs. Uncover the hidden history and past of Bournemouth.”

Poole in Old Photos & Postcards

“A place for people who love the history and heritage of our town to share photos/postcards of Poole and surrounding area, past and present.”

Milton Abbas Local History Group

“We have 44 paid up members, and meet on the first Wed of the month in the Reading Rooms. The history goes back to the foundation of the monastery in around 934. a town grew up around the Abbey.”

Dorset Local History Resources

There are so many national resources for anyone looking into the local history or family history of the UK, that we’ve listed them on a separate page. Many of them will hold valuable information about Dorset.

In addition, the following resources and groups focus solely on Dorset and its immediate surroundings:

  • Athelhampton House and Gardens
  • BCP Council (previously the councils of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole)
  • Broadstone’s War Memorials
  • Christchurch Local History Society
  • Clouds Hill – home of T.E .Lawrence
  • Corfe Castle Model Village and Gardens
  • Dorset Council
  • Dorset Family History Society
  • Dorset History Centre
  • East Dorset First World War Project
  • Exbury Gardens & Steam Railway
  • Hardy’s Cottage
  • Kingston Lacy
  • Lulworth Castle & Park
  • Mapperton House & Gardens
  • Max Gate – home of Thomas Hardy
  • Milton Abbas Local History Group
  • Moordown Local History Society
  • Poole, the First World War and its Legacy
  • Poole History Online
  • Poole History Centre
  • Poole & District Philatelic & Postcard Club
  • Poole View
  • Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum
  • Shaftesbury Abbey Museum & Gardens
  • Sherborne Castle
  • Society of Dorset Men
  • Society for Poole
  • St. Johns Almshouse
  • Streets of Bournemouth
  • Verwood Heritage Centre 
  • Western Front Association (Wessex Branch)

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With thanks to Howard Walsh for use of the Durdle Door image at the top of this page.