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Burton Bradstock and Shipton Gorge


Parish 39

Date of Agreement / Award

Date of Confirmation of Apportionment

Burton Bradstock [part1]

23/7/1839 but not confirmed until



Date on Map

Scale of Map


1839 6 chains

John Martin

Shipton Gorge [Part2]

6 chains

John Martin


                The coast near Burton Bradstock. The river Bride, after which Brideton Bradenstocke is named, enters the sea at the beach.

Burton Bradstock was named from the small river that exits the coast here [1] together with the name of the priory that originally owned the parish based in Bradstock [Bradenstoke], Wiltshire. According to Hutchins Shipton Gorge was a chapelry, tithing, hamlet and manor. Just as Evershot was a chapelry to the parish of Frome St Quintin so was St Martin’s at Shipton Gorge a chapelry to St Mary’s Burton Bradstock. As at Evershot both villages were mapped separately but unlike at Evershot the church in Shipton Gorge was drawn in.

Both maps bear the date 1839 – and unusually the maps title also states the maps were made specifically for “FOR THE PURPOSES OF TITHE COMMUTATION”. Those expecting a gorge similar to the one at Cheddar will be disappointed. At Domesday the manor was known as Sepeton and in 1304 was held by the Gorges family – the name stuck.

Although mapped separately the instrument of apportionment was done for both villages and as a result the overall size was large at four thousand and sixty eight acres but nearly eight hundred acres was tithe free. The Rector, George August Seymer, received £420 but there were two lay impropriators, Thomas Sabine of West Camel in Somerset who got £3 16s and Mary Austin of Charmouth £14 7s.

Burton Bradstock is to the east of Bridport, Symondsbury to the west but both maps include the harbour area with appropriate delineations of the boundaries. Perhaps wary of the problems that had occurred at Batcombe there is an area of the map where he has written in “Supposed to be in the parish of Swyre”. As at Symondsbury there is a depiction of the wave train approaching the coast. Further out the wavy lines are further apart and as they approach the coast they become closer together. The beach is depicted in a fine stippled pattern, behind which are the jurassic cliffs that are a feature of this coast. Numerous minor tributaries of the Bride are depicted on the map and where broad enough the western bank [2] is depicted with a thicker blue pen stroke.

In a large close of pasture land fronting the coast is plot 345b a half acre which is recorded as being a ‘Preventive Station’. Established in 1809 the Preventive Water Guard was set up to help fight smuggling. In 1822 it was combined with the Revenue Cruisers and the Riding Officers to form the coast guard. As is well known Dorset was a favourite haunt for smugglers. Martin had drawn the station in plan view; like an L on it’s back it with a long frontage with five rear extensions. Comparison with a modern satellite picture reveals that the building still exists in the centre of the Old Coastguard Holiday Park.

A more recent defensive structure at Burton Bradstock


It is easy to forget that what we regard today as recreational land was still subject to the tithe. Except sand. The tithe only applied to the ‘annual increase of the produce of the earth’ . There was much dispute about minerals but generally they were exempt as they could not reproduce and increase. Some rectors firmly believed however that minerals did increase under the soil and some parishes did pay tithe on them, albeit not in Dorset.

There are several entries about this commutation albeit from 1845, six years after it had commenced.

January 1845 Received of Mr C Wightman Mr Ropers Commn Expenses for Sturtle Farm Shipton Gorge £5 9s Joel Ropers tithe rent charge was £5 16s 0d
16th June 1845 Received more of Burton Rate £12 7 2d
19th June 1845 Went to Burton Bradstock to receive more of the Rate slept at Bridport
23rd June 1845 Received of Mr Daniell his Rate for Burton Commn £5 2 1d Revd. Daniell was not the rector and owed £5 7s rent-charge. He may have been related to the Daniell family who bought Rampisham.
26th September 1845 Attending to Farming Works Mr Wm Roberts dined with me and paid his Burton Commn Rate
Received of Mr Wm Roberts his Commutation rate Burton £23 19s William Roberts rent-charge was £25 10s 0d
6th October 1845 Working on the Abbotsbury Town Plan for Lord Ilchester Sent Mr Wm Roberts Check to Bank £23 0 0d
10th November 1845 Received George Udalls Rate of Expenses Shipton Gorge £3 5s Mr Udalls rent-charge was £ 5s 0d


List of Commutations under the Tithe Commutation Act

1 Originally called Brideton the river Bride exits through the parish. The river Brit exits through Bridport harbour.

2 Determined at the outfall of the river.