After the world had passed through what we know today as the ‘Misty Time’ when the fossilized beings we find in the limestone cliffs hereabouts existed, after the ancient men buried their chiefs in the tumuli like Bindbarrow there lived hereabouts a warlike tribe known as the Durotriges, they crowned the hills with earthwork castles – some of which still stand – and gave their name to the county Dorset. It was these people who fought in vain with the Romans, and it was they who helped to form what is now know as the Celto-Roman civilisation, and all was comparative tranquillity with the landowners building villas on the farmland that grew up on the southern slopes that led down to the sea, this lasted for 400 years until the Roman Empire ceased to exist – then that tranquil island we know as Britain once again became the target of all who would plunder with fire and sword – these were known as the Dark Ages.
Soon the Anglos and the Saxons took over the larger part of our land and with battles raging with the Norse invaders there seemed to be a constant battle going on, the worst for this area was the invasion when the Danes came ashore – as many did – at the mouth of the river at Freshwater, and here the locals did battle with the Norse invaders until the hills ran with blood, and the hollow just before the Freshwater site is still known today, by the locals, as Red Bottom.
In 1066 – when the Normans conquered Britain – Burton Bradstock became the property of the Crown, and it is registered in the Domesday Book and other records of that time, we read of ‘Bonvil’s Bredy’ now Bredy Farm, and of the widow of Hugh, son of Grip, who was chief tenant of Graston and Sturthill Farms, of the local forest of Haucombe, which stretched north of Burton. Henry I gave the Manor of Burton to the Abbey of St Stephen at Caen in Normandy, and later land of the parish was passed to the Bradenstoke Priory in Wiltshire.
The name of the present village is a derivation of some of these names, Burton is a corruption of the Saxon village name Brideston – the village on the banks of the river Bride or Bridey – and Bradstock is corrupted from Bradenstoke (the Priory).
Eventually the village passed to the Pitts-Rivers family. They never lived in the village, but their long paternal reign was one of Burton’s better times, but in 1958 the Squire decided to put the village up for auction – first allowing the tenants to buy their properties at much reduced prices so that the old families of the village remained therein.
Burton stands in an area once famous for growing flax and hemp and Bridport’s main industry is still the making of nets. In the early 1800s the Roberts family moved from Wales and one of their sons, Richard built in 1803 the first swinging mill in England. This was in Grove Mill, that has now been converted into flats.
As you enter the village (from Bridport) you come to the Anchor Public House. If you turn left you will find yourself entering the old part of the village, with the old thatched cottages and the Church and the village green – where once stood a pump.
The Dorset stone cottages that surround the Green are pre 17th century in origin, but over the years have been altered as you see them today – the attractive properties that we know to make up the Dorset village.
Parish church of St Mary’s
Probably the church was here in Norman times – the oldest features are the 12th century shaft and base to the font. The main structure of this building dates back to the 15th and 16th century. The embattled grey tower of the Church stands four – square and heavenward amidst the thatched cottages, just as it has since Drake and the Armada.
The clock that ticks away as it has for many years, came from Christ’s Hospital, the famous home of the Bluecoat Boys when it stood in Newgate Street, London.
Once there were 3 chapels in Burton Bradstock – St Luke’s was on the site where the present church has stood for over 500 years.
St Catherine’s – stood up on the Shipton Hill, and it is said that there is a cross there that marks the spot.
St Lawrence’s – stood opposite the Anchor Public House, and the ground was used for a poor house and a dog pound.
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