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Rampisham, old post office - geograph.org.uk - 521907.jpg
Cottages in Rampisham village
Rampisham is located in Dorset
 Rampisham shown within Dorset
Population 110 [1]
OS grid reference ST562022
District West Dorset
Shire county Dorset
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Police Dorset
Fire Dorset
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
List of places

Coordinates: 50°49′07″N 2°37′26″W / 50.8186°N 2.6238°W / 50.8186; -2.6238

Former rectory, designed by Pugin

Rampisham (pronounced 'Ransom')[2] is a village and civil parish in the county of Dorset in southern England, situated in the West Dorset administrative district approximately 11 miles (18 km) northwest of the county town Dorchester. The village is sited on greensand in a valley surrounded by the chalk hills of the Dorset Downs. The parish includes the hamlet of Uphall northwest of the main village.

Dorset County Council's 2013 mid-year estimate for the population of Rampisham parish is 110.[1] The principal means of making a living is agricultural, mainly grain production.


In 1799 a Roman pavement was found about 1 mile (1.6 km) northnorthwest of the church; it measured approximately 14 feet (4.3 m) by 10 feet (3.0 m) and was well preserved, having a pattern of concentric rings and a floral decoration, but it was removed by treasure-hunters.[3]

In the Domesday Book in 1086 Rampisham was recorded as Ramesham.[4] It was in the hundred of Tollerford, had seventeen households and the tenant-in-chief was Bishop Odo of Bayeaux.[5]

Rampisham's parish church, dedicated to St Michael and All Saints, has a medieval south tower which was built in phases in the early 14th (1326) and 15th centuries.[3][6] The rest of the building was largely rebuilt in two bouts of Victorian restoration: first in 1845–7 and then in 1858–60.[2][3][6] Augustus Pugin was involved in the first restoration, designing a new east window and chancel.[6] He also built a school and rectory for the village, though both these are now private houses.[7] The second restoration involved an extension to the tower and a rebuilding of the nave; this was undertaken by John Hicks, possibly with assistance from a young Thomas Hardy.[6]

A quarter of a mile northnortheast of the church is the base and part of the shaft of a 15th-century wayside cross.[3]


Rampisham village is sited on greensand at an altitude of 125 to 145 metres (410 to 476 ft) in a tributary valley of the River Frome. It is surrounded by the chalk hills of the Dorset Downs, which rise to 224 metres (735 ft) at West Hill to the north.[8][9] Measured directly, the village is 8 miles (13 km) northeast of Bridport, 11 miles (18 km) northwest of Dorchester and 8.5 miles (13.7 km) south of Yeovil in Somerset.[10]

Communications station[edit]

Above the village on Rampisham Down is a large transmitting station which was one of the main BBC World Service transmitter sites, operated by Babcock International Group as part of the takeover of VT Group (formerly VT Communications and Merlin Communications following the privatisation of BBC Transmission Services in 1997). The 189-acre site was acquired by the BBC in November 1939 and the station, known as Overseas Extension 3 (OSE3), was equipped with four Marconi type SWB 18, 100 kW short-wave transmitters. The transmitter halls, each containing a pair of these transmitters, were separated by heavy blast walls. A comprehensive aerial system was installed consisting of 29 arrays supported between 15 masts of heights varying between l00 ft and 325 ft. Full world coverage was given by this aerial system, although the transmissions were primarily intended for areas outside Europe. This was the first of the BBC' s short-wave stations to be provided with 4-wire transmission lines, following tests made at Daventry (OSE1). A remotely controlled switching tower was used for connecting any transmitter to any aerial array (antenna).

OSE3 was provided with an emergency power supply consisting of two 750-bhp diesel alternator sets. The diesel engines, which had been designed for railway locomotives abroad, were equipped with battery starting facilities instead of the compressed-air starting arrangements that were conventional for diesel engines of this size. The station came into service on 16 February 1941 and during May of that year a number of tests were carried out using a captive balloon to measure the performance of the horizontal dipole arrays and to determine the effect of the contour of the ground close to the station on their vertical radiation pattern.

During those first years the site was subject to attempts at destruction by the German Luftwaffe. Mr E.A. Beaumont, who was part of the original installation team writes..' I have vivid recollections of my colleagues during these years when we completed the installation and putting into service of the station to the accompaniment of the Luftwaffe's efforts to put southern England out of action and can I can still recall the line of craters left on the north side of the road opposite the station by a stick of bombs deposited by a German bomber one night and the cannon shells which penetrated the diesel generator building on another occasion. Aerial dog fights between large formations of German bombers and our defending fighters became a daily occurrence and our wives had to put up with hit and run bombing raids in Bridport itself ‘.

The original transmitters remained in service until 1963 when they were replaced by 250 kW transmitters built by Marconi along with two twin-channel 100 kW units. About three years later the first of the BBC's relay stations overseas was built on Ascension Island and in order to provide a programme feed to the island two 60 kW Single Side Band transmitters were installed at Rampisham. This method of sending programme feeds to the relay stations continued until satellite feeds became available.

In 1982 Rampisham went through the biggest re-engineering since it began. The site was completely stripped of the old antennas and the building gutted to a shell in preparation for a complete new installation. Ten 500 kW transmitters and 34 wideband curtain arrays were installed. The majority of antennas point in an Easterly direction with others capable of beaming to the West. A fully automatic control system was also installed that continually monitored the broadcasts and the site.

In 2013, the site was designated by Natural England as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, as the lowland acid grassland beneath the towers has hardly been disturbed since the site was installed. Many rare species of plant and insect, native to Dorset, thrive amongst the undisturbed pasture.

Following extensive budget cuts by the BBC World Service, due to the ceasing of funding by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the site was earmarked for closure in Summer 2011. The final broadcast from the site took place on Saturday 29 October 2011. Sender 48 was the final transmitter on-air, broadcasting Deutsche Welle's German service to Europe on 6075 kHz between 21:00 and 21:59. This was the final Deutsche Welle broadcast to Europe. The final BBC transmissions were in Arabic between 20:00 and 21:00 on 5790 kHz and 11680 kHz to North Africa.

Gallery (communications station)[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Parish Population Data". Dorset County Council. 20 January 2015. Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Roland Gant (1980). Dorset Villages. Robert Hale Ltd. p. 102. ISBN 0 7091 8135 3. 
  3. ^ a b c d "'Rampisham', An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 1: West (1952), pp. 191-193". British History Online. University of London & History of Parliament Trust. November 2013. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  4. ^ "Dorset H–R". The Domesday Book Online. domesdaybook.co.uk. 1999–2013. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  5. ^ "Place: Rampisham". Open Domesday. domesdaymap.co.uk. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Rampisham". Dorset OPC Project. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  7. ^ Steve White; Clive Hannay (November 2009). "In the footsteps of Treves — The Tollers, Wynford Eagle, Rampisham and Evershot". Dorset Life Magazine. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  8. ^ Ralph Wightman (1983). Portrait of Dorset (4 ed.). Robert Hale Ltd. pp. 16, 95. ISBN 0 7090 0844 9. 
  9. ^ Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Pathfinder Series, Sheet ST 40/50 Crewkerne & Beaminster, published 1984
  10. ^ Bartholomew 1:100,000 National Map Series, Sheet 4 Dorset, published by John Bartholomew & Son Ltd, 1980. ISBN=0 7028 0327 8

External links[edit]