In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Cranborne like this:
CRANBORNE, a small town, a parish, a sub-district, and a hundred, in Dorset. The town stands in Crauborne. Chase, near the boundary with Wilts; 7 miles NW of Ringwood r. station, and 9 NNE of Wimborne-Minster. It dates from ancient times; is well-built; has a post office† under Salisbury, two inns, a church, a Wesleyan chapel, and an alms-house; and gives the title of Viscount to the Marquis of Salisbury. The church belonged to a Benedictine priory; is partly Norman; and has a carved pulpit, and monuments of the Hoopers. ...
The priory was founded in 980; and had originally an abbey-status, but became subject, in 1102, to Tewkesbury. The priory-house continued to stand till 1703. Markets are held on Thursdays; and fairs, on 24 Aug. and 6 Dec. The parish includes also the tythings of Alderholt, Holwell, Blagdon, Boveridge, Verwood, and Monckton-up-Wimborne. Acres, 13, 730. Real property, £8, 603. Pop., 2, 656. Houses, 554. The manor belonged, about 950, to Aylward de Meau; went, sometime afterwards, to the Crown; was given by William Rufus to Robert-Fitz-Hamon; passed to the Earl of Gloucester and the Earls of March; and belongs now to the Marquis of Salisbury. St. Giles' Park, 1 mile S of the town, is the seat of the Earl of Shaftesbury. Remains of a circular double-ditched ancient camp of 6 acres, are on Castle-Hill. Much of the parish is hilly and of small value. The living is a vicarage, united with the p. curacies of Boveridge and Verwood, in the diocese of Salisbury. Value, £151.* Patron, the Marquis of Salisbury. Charities, £92. The vicarage of Aldersholt is a separate benefice. Bishop Stillingfleet was a native.The sub-district contains thirteen parishes, part of another parish, and an extra-parochial tract; and is in the district of Wimborne. Acres, 45, 437. Pop., 7, 624. Houses, 1, 572. The hundred contains eleven parishes, and parts of three others; and is chiefly in Wimborne division, but partly also in Sturminster, Shaston, and Blandford divisions. Acres, 34, 088. Pop., 7, 365. Houses, 1, 508.
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 Cranborne has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of East Dorset. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Cranborne and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Cranborne in East Dorset | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 25th October 2014
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