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Verwood centre - - 8907.jpg
Verwood town centre
Verwood is located in Dorset
Location within Dorset
Population15,196 (Source: Mid Year Estimates, Office for National Statistics Jul-22)
OS grid referenceSU0808
Civil parish
  • Verwood
Unitary authority
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townVERWOOD
Postcode districtBH31
Dialling code01202
FireDorset and Wiltshire
AmbulanceSouth Western
UK Parliament
List of places
50°52′53″N 1°52′43″W / 50.8815°N 1.8785°W / 50.8815; -1.8785Coordinates: 50°52′53″N 1°52′43″W / 50.8815°N 1.8785°W / 50.8815; -1.8785

Verwood is a town and civil parish in eastern Dorset, England. The town lies 10 miles (16 km) north of Bournemouth and 13 miles (21 km) north east of Poole as the crow flies. The civil parish comprises the town of Verwood together with the extended village of Three Legged Cross, and has a population of 15,170 according to latest figures (2014) from Dorset County Council.[1] Verwood is the largest town in Dorset without an upper school.[2]


Early history[edit]

Verwood was originally recorded as Beau Bois (Norman French: "beautiful wood") in 1288, and it was not until 1329 that it got the name Verwood, which developed from Fairwood or The Fayrewood.[3]

Verwood is recorded as "Fairwod" (1329) and as "Fayrwod" (1436); this name has the meaning "fair wood" and the modern form shows the change of initial "f" to "v" characteristic of many Southwestern English dialects.[4]

Pottery industry[edit]

The East Dorset pottery industry, known collectively as Verwood Pottery, thrived from early times on the clay soils of the neighbourhood which had ample firing material close at hand. The major production was of domestic earthenware although finer and more unusual pieces have been found from earlier times. In the latter days ornamental and novelty items were produced.

Until the end of their useful life, the methods of production had not varied from Roman times, all the processes being carried out with no mechanisation or electrification. For example, the clay was always trodden by foot and not mixed in a pug mill. The wheel was turned by an assistant with a pole or handle, and the kilns were wood fired. For these reasons the Crossroads Pottery, then the last remaining in the area, attracted national and local newspaper attention in the early to mid 20th century.

The industry was not confined to a local sales base. Hawkers, or "higglers", took the wares for sale over a wide area of southern England. They were also exported abroad, especially to Newfoundland which had a thriving trade with the nearby port of Poole. Examples of Verwood pots can be seen at the Verwood Heathland Heritage Centre.

Verwood Heathland Heritage Centre


Verwood's first supermarket opened in the 1980s. In 1985 the town was twinned with the French town Champtoceaux. In 1987 the population of Verwood reached 9,856. The Parish Council passed the necessary resolution to become a Town Council under provisions made in the 1972 Local Government Act. In 1992, the new Verwood Town Council offices were opened. Later that year, the town twinned with the German town Liederbach am Taunus. In 2001, the town reached a population of 12,069. Verwood Heritage Centre was opened by Rt. Hon. Viscount Cranborne. The centre is used as a museum of local history and a coffee shop. In 2007 the Verwood Hub, a multi-purpose cinema and theatre, opened to the public.

By 2014 the town had a population of over 15,000 and the Verwood Town Plan, published that year, identified a number of priorities including providing residents with new facilities, such as a swimming pool and an upper school.[5]

Shopping and facilities[edit]

A country market which is open from 10:00 to 11:30 is held each Friday in the Memorial Hall. The market sells locally produced seasonal vegetables and fruit, plants and cut flowers, homemade cakes and jams and craft items.

The town has a number of shopping areas: in the town centre, a Morrisons superstore at Pennine Way, LIDL and Co-op on Ringwood Road. There are three pubs, the Albion, The Monmouth Ash and Swans. In addition there is a wine bar in the centre called Ranoufs Cheese and Wine Bar.

Eating establishments include an Italian restaurant, Indian restaurant and takeaway, cafe, fish and chip shop, kebab shop, Costa Coffee and a Chinese take-away (also a bistro in The Hub, see below, and an eating area in Morrisons).

Verwood is home to the Hub, a community facility which opened in April 2007. The Hub houses the 300 seat Merryfield Theatre, a 100-seat hall and a number of other smaller rooms. These facilities are used for films, plays, concerts and many other activities and the rooms can be hired by various organisations. In the centre of the Hub is a bistro area, surrounded by art displays and various exhibitions.

Media and culture[edit]

Verwood is proud to boast three thriving brass bands. Verwood Concert Brass Principal Band, Verwood Town Band, and Verwood Community Band. As at 2022, Verwood Concert Brass is in the championship section in the West of England Region under the baton of Kevin Smith.[6] The band became West of England 4th Section champions in 2005 and 2006. This resulted in two trips to the National Brass Band Finals of Great Britain in Harrogate where they finished 6th and 7th respectively. In September 2008 the band were placed second at the 3rd section national finals after winning the area championship in March, and made another 'Finals' appearance in 2009 in the 2nd section. They perform in many concerts in the local area including several performances at the Hub.

Verwood holds an annual carnival [7] around the time of the Spring bank holiday. A thriving carnival committee ensures that all organisations and individuals in and around Verwood are able to participate in the annual carnival parade, typically including floats from Verwood Guides, Verwood Hillside First School, Verwood Youth Club The Hive, and the Verwood Pantomine Society. There are also marching bands, fire engines, individual displays and much more.

Forest FM is a community radio station, broadcast from Verwood for listeners based in Dorset. It hosts Europe's longest-running Beatles themed radio show ('BeatlesandBeyond') on its regular schedules.

VerwoodToday is an interesting online local source of news [8]

Viewpoint Magazine has been established for over thirty-five years and has its roots in Verwood. In April 2011 the magazine expanded into West Moors, Ashley Heath and St Ives. Its circulation has the potential to reach over 35,000 readers.

Sports and recreation[edit]

Flameburst 2012 – main display across the lake
Association Football

Verwood is home to Verwood Town F.C., a football club founded in 1920. They are based at Potterne Park [9] and are currently members of Wessex League Premier Division.

Rossgarth Youth Football Club [10] is one of the most successful clubs in the area and has several teams covering all age groups for boys and girls, up to adult level. Eddie Howe, the former AFC Bournemouth manager, is a former Rossgarth player.


Verwood Cricket Club [11] has several teams in both Adult and Youth (Colt) leagues. Home games are played at Potterne Park.[12]

Lawn Bowls

Verwood Bowling Club[13](green bowls) who play at Moorlands Road, have several men's and ladies' teams.

Rugby Union

Verwood is the home to Verwood Rugby Club,[14] a relatively young and ambitious rugby club founded in 1994. The club's pitch is located at Potterne Park. Verwood RUFC are currently members of Dorset & Wilts Division 3 South League.
Dorset Dockers Rugby Club [15] have two teams, playing Barbarian-style rugby


Potterne Park play area[16] provides the community with 12 acres (4.9 ha) of sporting provision including rugby, football, tennis, netball, cricket and a skate park.

Verwood also hosts three large family events: Verwood Carnival traditionally takes place on Spring Bank Holiday Monday, the Rustic Fayre on August Bank Holiday Monday, and Flameburst on the last Saturday in October.

Stephen's Castle and Stephen's Stone[edit]

Stephens Castle is an Iron Age barrow set in a SSSI site (site of special scientific interest), to the North of Verwood and at the top of an old sand and gravel quarry. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The barrow was excavated by archaeologists in 1828, where human remains dating back to the Iron Age were found.[17]

The Stephen Stone is now well hidden amongst pine trees, surrounded by boggy ground. Located approximately 400m north-east from Stephen's Castle, legend has it that Stephen was a local tribal chief of great strength. He was supposed to have hurled the 'Stephen stone' half a mile into Ringwood Forest, no mean feat as the stone weighs around 3 tonnes. In 1220 Stephen's Stone was recorded as "LE HORESTONE" and there was a boundary point in this area so it could be a boundary stone.[18]

The Stone is an ancient block of sandstone, placed in a seemingly random location deep in the woods. It is not a native sandstone and no other such stones have been found in the area. This type of object is known as a 'monolith' - a single massive stone or rock placed as a monument. Although it is now laying flat, it is thought to have originally stood upright so its height above the ground may have exceeded 10 feet. This being so, it would be one of the largest stones of this type ever to have stood in Dorset. The area is once meant to have been open heathland, with the view maybe extending as far as Hengistbury Head on the coast.

Lost for many years in the overgrown wilderness, only scattered references to the existence of such a stone were available. In 1841, an author recounted a 561 year old testimony speaking of a large stone on the heathland of Verwood. In 1993, a prominent sacred site investigator named Peter Knight[19] lead a project to rediscover the stone. The site was then cleared in 1994 to allow public access.[20]

Records suggest that many years ago, the local inhabitants regarded the stone with a sort of superstitious reverence and told long tales about the impossibility of removing it. There was meant to be a golden casket buried underneath the stone, and of a belief that "if anyone attempted to remove it, a black bird of dire omen perched upon its top to scare the miscreants." Perhaps the 'golden casket' was in fact a metaphoric reference to powerful supernatural energies that may be accessible at this location. For whatever reason, warnings may have evolved to inform people not to misuse the site.



The town effectively sits on the cross-roads of the B3081 and the B3072; connected to the A31 and A338 to the south-east via the B3081 and south to A31 at Ferndown via the B3072.

Public bus services[edit]

Public bus services are mainly provided by Wilts & Dorset serving Bournemouth and Poole. Services are also provided by Yellow Buses to Bournemouth and Poole College.


Verwood once had its own railway station, served by the Salisbury and Dorset Junction Railway. This was closed in 1964. The nearest stations to the town are: Christchurch 11.9 miles, Hinton Admiral 13.3 miles and Bournemouth 13.6 miles.


Schooling in Verwood is based on the 3-tier system, although after first school and middle school pupils transfer to either Queen Elizabeth's School, Wimborne Minster or Ferndown Upper School.

There are 3 First schools, accommodating children aged from 4–9: Verwood CofE First, Hillside First and Trinity CofE First.

Emmanuel CofE Middle School takes children from the three First schools, at ages 9–13. The school is on the same campus as Verwood First School.

Plans to open an upper school in Verwood were discussed as part of the 2014 Verwood Town Plan.[5]

Notable residents[edit]

Twin towns[edit]


  1. ^ Parish & Ward Population Data – Dorset County Council 2014
  2. ^ Christchurch and East Dorset Local Plan: Part 1 – Core Strategy (para 11.12)
  3. ^ The original Verwood and TLX Community website, Short History
  4. ^ Ekwall, E. (1940) The Concise Dictionary of English Place-names, 2nd ed., 1940, p. 466
  5. ^ a b Verwood & Three Legged Cross Local Plan published 2014
  6. ^ Verwood Concert Brass home page
  7. ^ Verwood carnival home page
  8. ^ Verwood Today home page
  9. ^ Potterne Park - Verwood Town
  10. ^ Rossgarth Youth Football Club
  11. ^ Verwood Cricket Club
  12. ^ Potterne Park
  13. ^ Verwood Bowling Club
  14. ^ Verwood Rugby Union Football Club
  15. ^ Dorset Dockers Rugby Club
  16. ^ Potterne Park play area
  17. ^ "Stephens Castle - Dorset Council".
  18. ^ The Megalithic Portal Dec 2003, Le Horestone, Stephen's Stone
  19. ^ "About Us".
  20. ^ "Stephen's Stone, Verwood".

External links[edit]