In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Bere Regis like this:
BERE-REGIS, a small ancient town, a parish, a subdistrict, and a hundred in Dorset. The town stands on the Bere rivulet, adjacent to a vast tract of barren heath, 1¾ mile N of the river Piddle, 5¾ miles N by W of Wool r. station, and 8 SSW of Blandford-Forum. It dates from the time of the Romans; was a residence of Queen Elfrida and of King John; and suffered severely from fire in 1634, in 1788, and in 1817. It is now a poor place, consisting chiefly of thatched cottages. It has a post office‡ under Blandford, and two inns; and, till lately, was a market-town. ...
It was constituted a free borough by Edward I., but never sent representatives to parliament. The parish church at it is a large ancient edifice, with a square tower; contains a round figured font, and numerous monuments of the Turbervilles and others; and was entirely restored and repaired in 1835. There are chapels for Independents and Methodists, a free school with £30, and other charities with £16. Remains of King John's palace are seen in a field opposite the church; and the manor-house of the Turbervilles, an ancient irregular structure, with armorial bearings, stands at the outlet toward Wool. Cardinal Morton, who figured prominently in the time of Henry VII., and Bishop Turberville of Exeter, were natives. Pop. of the town, 1,336. Houses, 278.
The parish includes also the tything of Shitterton and the hamlet of Milborne-Stileham; and is chiefly in the district of Wareham, but partly in that of Blandford. Acres, 8,894. Real property, £7,602. Pop., 1,624. Houses, 338. The property is divided among a few. Half of the manor belonged to the Turbervilles from the time of the Conquest; and the other half was given by Henry III. to Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, given again to the King's brother Edmund, and given by Henry VIII. to the Turbervilles. Woodbury-Hill, ½ a mile east of the town, was the site of a Roman camp; has still a circular entrenchment of 10 acres, formed by three ramparts and ditches; commands a very extensive view; and is the scene of an annual fair, formerly very famous, on 18 Sept. and the five following days. The surrounding tract has many barrows. The neighbouring downs are a resort of sportsmen. The living is a vicarage, united with the vicarage of Winterborne-Kingston, in the diocese of Salisbury. Value, £330.* Patron, Balliol College, Oxford.-The subdistrict is in the district of Wareham, and comprises seven parishes, besides the greater part of Bere-Regis. Acres, 33,833. Pop., 4,749. Houses, 988.-The hundred comprises only the parishes of Bere-Regis and Winterborne-Kingston; and is partly in the division of Wareham, partly in that of Blandford. Acres, 11,402. Pop., 2,213. Houses, 447.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Bere Regis has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Purbeck. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Bere Regis and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Bere Regis, in Purbeck and Dorset | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 31st January 2015
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