Melbury Osmond

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Melbury Osmond
Melbury Osmond parish church, tower detail - - 518482.jpg
Parish church of St Osmund
Melbury Osmond is located in Dorset
Melbury Osmond
Melbury Osmond
Location within Dorset
Population199 [1]
OS grid referenceST574077
Unitary authority
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
FireDorset and Wiltshire
AmbulanceSouth Western
EU ParliamentSouth West England
List of places
50°52′03″N 2°36′22″W / 50.8674°N 2.6062°W / 50.8674; -2.6062Coordinates: 50°52′03″N 2°36′22″W / 50.8674°N 2.6062°W / 50.8674; -2.6062

Melbury Osmond is a village and civil parish in the county of Dorset in southern England. It lies approximately 7 miles (11 km) south of the Somerset town of Yeovil. The underlying geology is Cornbrash limestone, with adjacent Oxford clay.[2] Within the clay can be found deposits of stone which can take on a very high polish, earning them the name "Melbury marble".[3] The village is mentioned in the Domesday Book as a possession of the Arundell family, and remained so until the 19th century. The parish church, St. Osmund's, was totally rebuilt in 1745[4] and restored in 1888, although it has registers dating back to 1550. In the 2011 census the parish had a population of 199.[1]

The major part of Melbury Osmond village lies on a cul-de-sac lane which from the church descends past cottages to a stream and ford. The attractive appearance of the village has been noted by commentators: it has been described as "a calendarsmith's dream of thatched cottages"[5] and in 1906 Sir Frederick Treves wrote that it was "the most charming village in these Western backwoods".[4]

In its history the village has been involved in the trade of plated buckles and horn buttons, and the manufacture of dowlas.[4] During the 19th century, the village was home to the Dorset Ooser, a wooden mask brought out during "Rough Music" ceremonies.[6]

There are 34 listed buildings and structures within the parish, including the Grade II* Old Rectory and the Grade I parish church.[7]

Thomas Hardy's mother lived in Melbury Osmond as a child, and she was married in the church.[8] The village appears as "Little Hintock" in Hardy's novel The Woodlanders, in which the heroine's name is "Grace Melbury". Hardy also incorporated a legend about the Duke of Monmouth taking refuge in one of the village's cottages into his short story "The Duke's Reappearance".[8]


  1. ^ a b "Neighbourhood Statistics. Area: Melbury Osmond (Parish). Key Figures for 2011 Census: Key Statistics". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  2. ^ Ralph Wightman (1983). Portrait of Dorset (4 ed.). Robert Hale Ltd. p. 18. ISBN 0 7090 0844 9.
  3. ^ West Dorset District Council, Holiday and Tourist Guide, c.1983, p13
  4. ^ a b c Treves, Sir F., Highways and Byways in Dorset, Macmillan, 1906, pp322-323
  5. ^ Roland Gant (1980). Dorset Villages. Robert Hale Ltd. p. 104. ISBN 0 7091 8135 3.
  6. ^ Dewar, H. S. L. (1962). "The Dorset Ooser". Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society. 84: 178–180.
  7. ^ "Listed Buildings in Melbury Osmond, Dorset, England". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  8. ^ a b Ken Ayres (October 2007). "Melbury Osmond". Dorset Life. Retrieved 29 September 2013.

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