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Charminster, 1832.

The 1832 diary, not surprisingly, contains numerous entries about inclosures which cluster into two groups. The first are the Bincombe and Tarrant Hinton entries and the second the Piddlehinton, Charminster and Maiden Newton inclosures. Charminster was a big parish which encompassed a number of smaller hamlets. The inclosure has a number of interesting features. It is not listed by Kain on his electronic database of inclosures and is thus not credited to John Martin. I have not seen a copy of the printed version of his book so cannot confirm its omission there.

The first attempts at inclosure took place in the 18th century when in March 1769 the House of Commons Journal recorded that “Ordered Mr Jennings be added to the Gentleman who are appointed to prepare and bring in a Bill pursuant to the Prayer of the Petition of William Taunton Esquire, John Devenish Gentleman, George White Gentleman, Thomas Taunton Gentleman and others whose Names are thereunto subscribed Owners and Proprietors of Lands and otherwise interested in Several common Fields, Meadow Grounds, sheep Downs, Commons and Waste Grounds in the Parish of Charminster. Mr Jennings presented to the House according to Order a bill for dividing several common Fields, Meadow Grounds, sheep Downs, Commons and Waste Grounds in the Parish of Charminster in the County of Dorset and the same was received and read the first time.”

The Mr Jennings concerned was Mr William Jennings Senior and the following month a petition was placed before the House by John Trenchard objecting to the inclosure. The Trenchards were an ancient Dorset family and on of the family seats was at Wolveton, one of the hamlets which made up the parish. He appears to have objected to the inclosure as being the lay impropriator for the tithes and owner of land in the Manor he “apprehends, he may be greatly affected and injured thereby.”

His objections must have succeeded for nothing further is heard of this bill and the next we hear of the Charminster inclosure is in 1830 when a new bill was brought to Parliament and enacted on May 28th. John Baverstock Knight was the sole Commissioner. William Jennings Jnr. was not involved directly, presumably because he owned land in the manor, but we can imagine he was keen to preserve his own interest and that of the Earl of Ilchester [another land owner in the parish] and Martin was duly appointed as Surveyor. It was a large inclosure of over four thousand acres.

We may assume that the formal process of the inclosure began at 10.00 am on Wednesday 7th July 1830 when Knight undertook to “determine and fix the Boundaries of the Manor of Charminster” in a formal perambulation of the manor. We even know where he started from:“on the extremity of the Parish of Charminster on the Turnpike-road leading from the said parish to the Town of Maiden Newton and proceed [ing] northwards between the Parishes of Charminster and Stratton”.

At the same time both Martin and Knight were working together on the Piddlehinton and Maiden Newton inclosures. Knight signed the maps, which was unusual in itself, but it is unlikely that he drew the maps: Martin was surveyor to all three inclosures and entries in the diaries indicate that it was he who made and worked on the maps. [1] Further meetings followed until in March 1831 a meeting was held to lay out the new roads. Given it’s size and their other commitments it is perhaps not surprising that the inclosure was a long process.

The original map either does not exist or is not fit for perusal by the public. The Charminster map at DHC is dated 1837 and is either a poor photocopy of a good original map or an excellent photocopy of a poor original. I tend to favour the latter explanation. It is difficult to discern anything of interest on it. The best preserved part is the title but even here it can be seen that Knight’s signature has not reproduced well.

If the map is not original at least the Award to which it is annexed is and unusually this includes the oath that the Commissioner and Surveyor had to swear on taking up post. The oath is the same for both men and curiously Baverstock Knight had to swear it before himself. The handwriting would suggest that John Martin wrote out both parts of the oath.

I John Martin / John Baverstock Knight do swear that I will faithfully impartially and honestly according to the best of my skill and knowledge do execute and perform the several Duties incumbent on me as a surveyor/Commissioner by virtue of an Act passed in the Eleventh year of the reign of his Majesty King George the Fourth intituled an Act for inclosing Lands within the Parish of Charminster in the County of Dorset without favor or affection prejudice or malice to any person or persons whomsoever So help me God John Martin / John Baverstock Knight Sworn before me this eighteenth day of June one thousand eight hundred and thirty John Baverstock Knight

One final oddity with this inclosure is the following deposition held at DHC which was recorded in 1835 but the circumstances that led to it being made are not known. Note that James White refers to Mr Knight the Commissioner as “Land Valuer”. It is also not known what his occupation ‘Waterman’ relates to in the circumstances.

I, James White of the Parish of Charminster, Waterman – I am 74 years of age and remember the Parish of Charminster being enclosed. I was there a day and was employed to drag the chain for Mr John Martin of Evershot land Surveyor and Mr Knight of Puddletown Land Valuer. Where the enclosure was made the base line of Survey was set out from the point of Junction of the River Cerne or Charm running through Charminster with what is called the back stream from the direction of Wrackleford by Cuckoo Pound close by where Mr Jennings…afterwards built hatches. The Base line was drawn from that point of junction to the North East Corner of Stratton Downs where a clump of trees was planted to mark the place. From that Base line the Enclosures were marked and set out. When we came to the Aforesaid Base line from the point of Junction Aforesaid Westward the Boundary line between the Vicar on One side and the land of Lord Ilchester, Mr Devenish and others on the other side was measured to the middle of the stream. Where the water was Shallow I went in with the chain. Where it was deep it was measured with a graduated pole- Eastward from the point of Junction afterwards from Mr Jennings Hatches to the New Lodge-The stream is also the boundary from the New Lodge in the direction of Burton Mile. The hedge between the Waterway is the boundary. Mr Jennings with leave from the Parishioners put in Hatches to irrigate his Mead and with certain stipulations- And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing it to be true and by virtue of the statutory declarations


James White October 1835 [2]

It is possible to identify where Cuckoo Pound is from the tithe map and work roughly from there. As a consequence of copyright rules I have shown the approximate position of the base line drawn on a modern “openstreetmap”. I have not been able to locate other positions mentioned by White.

The approximate position of the base line. Cuckoo pound can be identified from the tithe map.

The diary entries for these three inclosures have the most complete details of road construction. Most have not fared well. Their origins can be traced in most cases but a number have seemed either never to have been build or have reverted back to a green lane. One to Bradford Peverell seems to have been severed by the A37 and only one, ‘The Martin’s Town’ road, can be reliably identified and then only because Martin refers to it as the Gascoigne road and it still survives under this name. It was 30 feet wide “leading out of the Cerne Turnpike Road near the Tithe Barn, and extending Westwards in its present course between Twinways and Flower Lands, until it enters the Batcombe and Leigh Road and crossing the same, along the North Boundary of Creeper Lands in a South West direction to the Maiden Newton Turnpike Road, and crossing the same in a South West direction through Gascoigne Water to Gascoigne Bridge leading towards Martins Town.”

©Openstreetmap contributers.

30th January 1832 Charminster Inclosure

Viewing Bank made by Warr round the outward boundary and other matters relating to the inclosure

29th February 1832 returned Home – made a day at Charminster letting Gundry the Gascoigne Road to make slept at Mr Devenish’s
23rd March 1832 Attending at Charminster with Commnr respecting Roads and other matters
9th April 1832 Went to Charminster respecting the Gascoigne Road and went to Dorchester and had Edwin measured for his new clothes
17th April 1832 Attending at Charminster to settle with Gundry for the Gascoigne Road but it was not completed to my satisfaction when he agree to cover it with Fine Gravel 1 ½ inch thick
3rd May 1832 Attending the Charminster Road Men and making out a New Troop Roll for Lord Ilchester
7th May 1832 Doing Various Jobs in Garden paying the Charminster Road makers &c
23rd June 1832 Doing something to Ransom Accts and making out Rough Bill of Charminster inclosure


Looking towards the Gascoigne Road.

Today the Martin’s town road [also known as Tilly Whim Lane] still exists but as the notice says the road is not suitable for road traffic heading into Charminster itself.

As can be seen the map is dated 1837, seven years after the act was passed but it was not until 3rd July 1840 was the Charminster inclosure enrolled at the Dorchester quarter sessions.

Next            Chilfrome Inclosure

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1 Only examples are given to avoid repetition of the point.

2 Tithes, Tithe Commutation and Agricultural Improvement, A case study of Dorset c 1700-1850 .PHD thesis Jennifer Gambier, University of Exeter 1990