In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Cerne Abbas like this:
CERNE-ABBAS, a small town and a parish in Dorchester district, Dorset. The town stands on the river Cerne, 4¾ miles ESE of Evershot r. station, and 7½ N by W of Dorchester. It includes four or five streets; is a seat of petty sessions; and has a post office,‡ of the name of Cerne, under Dorchester, three inns, and a workhouse, a church, two dissenting chapels, and some remains of a Benedictine Abbey. The church is perpendicular English; and has a tower. The Abbey was founded, in 987, by Aylmer, Earl of Cornwall; plundered, in 1015, by Canute; and occupied, in 1471, by Queen Margaret, on her way to Tewkesbury. ...
St. Augustine is said by some to have founded it; Edwald, the brother of St. Edmund the martyr, is said by others to have founded it, and to have been buried in it; and Cardinal Morton, born at Bere-Regis, was one of its monks. The remains of it are a gatehouse, bearing escutcheons, a long buttressed barn, still used as a granary, and some traces of the gardens and park. An ancient earthwork, unknown to record, is north of the churchyard. A lofty eminence, called Trendle-hill or the Giant's hill, rises adjacent to the town; has the figure of a man, 180 feet high, cut on its chalky surface; and is crowned by an ancient camp. Markets are held on Wednesdays; fairs are held on Midlent Monday, 28 April, and 2 Oct.; and some trade is carried on in inalting, brewing, and leather-dressing.The parish comprises 3,063 acres. Real property, with Upper Cerne, £6,389. Pop., 1,185. Houses, 254. The property is not much divided; and the manor belongs to Lord Rivers. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Salisbury. Value, £81.* Patron, Lord Rivers.
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 Cerne Abbas has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of West Dorset. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Cerne Abbas and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Cerne Abbas in West Dorset | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 26th May 2015
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