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Puddletown, parish church of St. Mary - geograph.org.uk - 474200.jpg
Parish church of St Mary, Puddletown
Puddletown is located in Dorset
 Puddletown shown within Dorset
Population 1,450 [1]
OS grid reference SY758943
District West Dorset
Shire county Dorset
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Puddletown
Postcode district DT2
Dialling code 01305
Police Dorset
Fire Dorset
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament West Dorset
List of places

Coordinates: 50°44′53″N 2°20′44″W / 50.748°N 2.3455°W / 50.748; -2.3455

One of the prehistoric 'Rainbarrows' on Duddle Heath in the southwest of the parish

Puddletown (formerly Piddletown) is a village and civil parish in Dorset, England, situated in the West Dorset administrative district about 4.5 miles (7 km) northeast of Dorchester. It is in the valley of the River Piddle, from which it derives its name.[2] In 2013 the estimated population of the civil parish was 1,450.

Puddletown is called "Weatherbury" in Thomas Hardy's novel Far from the Madding Crowd.


Evidence of prehistoric human occupation in the parish exists in the form of 30 round barrows, about half of which are sited over chalk and half over Reading Beds. Many of the barrows have been damaged by more recent activities. The remains of strip lynchets of 'Celtic' fields have been found near a few of the barrows. One of the three 'Rainbarrows' on Duddle Heath has been excavated; bucket urns containing cremations from the site are held at Dorset County Museum.[3]

The Roman road between Durnovaria (now Dorchester) and Badbury Rings passed through what is now Puddletown civil parish; it cut a WSW-ENE route through what is now Puddletown Heath, between Puddletown village and the River Frome.[3]

About 0.5 miles (0.80 km) northeast of Puddletown village, just north of the River Piddle, is the deserted medieval village of Bardolfeston. Records indicate this settlement was declining by the 13th century and, though still occupied in the 16th, it was completely deserted by the 17th century. The site covers about 15 acres (6.1 ha) and is well-preserved, revealing a 40 feet (12 m)-wide hollow way aligned southwest-northeast, with the sites of at least eleven houses alongside, though the southern end of the site was destroyed when watermeadows were later created along the river.[3]

The parish church of St Mary is mainly late medieval with an earlier core. Features of interest include the beaker-shaped font, the panelled roof to the nave, and the 17th century box pews, pulpit and gallery. There are also a number of 15th and 16th century monumental brasses and some stained glass by Ninian Comper.[4] The South or Martyn family chapel has three 16th century tombs with alabaster effigies.

To the east of the church is Ilsington House, also known as the Old Manor. It was built in the late 17th to early 18th century and is listed by English Heritage as Grade II*.[5] It was originally owned by the 3rd Earl of Huntingdon and in 1724 by Robert Walpole. Between 1780 and 1830 it was leased to General Thomas Garth, principal equerry to King George III. The General adopted King George III's illegitimate grandson by Princess Sophia, and brought him up at the manor. In 1861 the house was bought by John Brymer and remained in the possession of the Brymer family for just over 100 years. In 2000 it was presented with a "Dorset Architectural Heritage Award".


Puddletown is within an electoral ward that bears its name and extends north to Cheselbourne. The ward's population was 2,437 at the 2011 census.[6] This ward is one of 32 that comprise the West Dorset parliamentary constituency, which is currently represented in the UK national parliament by the Conservative Oliver Letwin.


Puddletown civil parish extends between the flood plain and watermeadows of the River Frome in the south to the chalk watershed of Puddletown Down in the north.[7][8] It covers 7,185 acres (2,908 ha) and is bisected by the River Piddle, which crosses it from west to east.[3] Measured directly, Puddletown village is about 4.5 miles (7.2 km) northeast of Dorchester, 16 miles (26 km) west of Poole and 11 miles (18 km) southwest of Blandford Forum.[9]


In 2013 the estimated population of Puddletown civil parish was 1,450.[1]

Figures from the 2011 census have been published for Puddletown parish combined with the small parish of Athelhampton to the east; in this area there were 663 dwellings,[10] 614 households and a population of 1,405.[11]

Literary connections[edit]

Puddletown is called "Weatherbury" in Thomas Hardy's novel Far from the Madding Crowd. Hardy's cousin, Tryphena Sparks, who was the inspiration for Hardy's poem Thoughts of Phena at News of Her Death, lived in Puddletown.[12]

Notable people[edit]

  • Ralph Wightman (1901–1971), author and broadcaster, lived at Puddletown.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Parish Population Data". Dorset County Council. 20 January 2015. Retrieved 1 March 2015. 
  2. ^ Roland Gant (1980). Dorset Villages. Robert Hale Ltd. p. 187. ISBN 0-7091-8135-3. 
  3. ^ a b c d "'Puddletown', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 3, Central (London, 1970), pp. 222-231". British History Online. University of London. Retrieved 1 March 2015. 
  4. ^ Betjeman, John, ed. (1968) Collins Pocket Guide to English Parish Churches; the South. London: Collins; p. 176
  5. ^ "Ilsington House, Puddletown". British Listed Buildings. britishlistedbuildings.co.uk. Retrieved 1 March 2015. 
  6. ^ "Puddletown". ukcensusdata.com. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  7. ^ Ordnance Survey (1978) 1:25,000 Second Series, Sheet SY 69/79 (Dorchester)
  8. ^ British Geological Survey (2000) 1:50,000 Series, Sheet 328 (Dorchester), ISBN 0-7518-3310-X
  9. ^ Bartholomew (1980) 1:100,000 National Map Series, Sheet 4 (Dorset), ISBN 0-7028-0327-8
  10. ^ "Area: Puddletown (Parish). Dwellings, Household Spaces and Accommodation Type, 2011 (KS401EW)". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 1 March 2015. 
  11. ^ "Area: Puddletown (Parish), Key Figures for 2011 Census: Key Statistics". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  12. ^ Millgate, Michael Thomas Hardy: a biography revisited (2004) Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-927566-1

External links[edit]