Shroton WW1 & WW2 War Memorial

As we now commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the beginning of the First World War and the landmarks that stand in the five year period from 1914 to 1918 it is not remiss to concentrate on the young men mentioned on our war memorial.  National events will focus on the National response but here we have the opportunity to focus on these men as individuals.  We have 11 young men from Shroton who died in the First World War and none of them have a known grave. They are commemorated on monuments from Thiepval on the Somme, Arras, Loos, Helles for the Gallipoli campaign and Sofia, Bulgaria for the Salonika campaign.  A number of our dead will have known each other as friends, in particular the five who joined the Dorsetshire Regiment.  The Regimental and Battalion archives still exist for these men and are retained at the Keep Museum in Dorchester.  This Museum concentrates on the Dorsetshire Regiment, amalgamated into the Devon and Dorsets and now combined with other Regiments to form the now known ‘Rifles’  Unfortunately this cannot be said for the remaining five as their records were destroyed in the Second World War when the National archives at Kew were destroyed in the Blitz.  We also have one young man, a pilot on HMS Ark Royal, who died in the Second World War. He is remembered on the war memorial at Lee on Solent, Hampshire.  As we stand at the war memorial on Remembrance Sunday, each November, to remember our dead I hope this document will bring a better understanding of the sacrifice that these men made.  This document is produced in their honour, for their now distant relatives and also for the residents of Shroton.

Nicholas Bate

Click here to read the document

A History of Shroton

Shroton  ( Iwerne Courtney), Farrington and Ranston

We know that from the mass of information and finds amassed during Professor Roger Mercer’s archealogical excavations in the 1970’s and 1980’s, Neolithic people arrived in Britain from Northern and western France and the Low Countries sometime after c.4200 BC and gradually developed a highly successful Society to the point where c. 3700 BC the first enclosure of some 19 hectares was built on the central summit of Hambledon Hill. The enclosure system was expanded and elaborated over the following four centuries to become one of the largest in Europe before its eventual destruction. Some time after 600 BC the northern spur of the hill was fortified with one of the most dramatic Iron Age hillfort enclosures in southern Britain. Professor Mercer and his team used the vil lage school as their base during their stay. 

The Romans settled in the valley. In 1894 General Pitt- Rivers excavated a site at Park Farm and revealed a Roman Villa. All artefacts were removed from the site and subsequently lost or destroyed. There is no visual evidence left of the site today
In 1084 Farrington and Iwerne Courtney were originally in the Feredone (Farrington) hundred together with Child Okeford, Hanford, Gold Hill and Sutton Waldron. In 1086 smaller hundreds were amalgamated and this one joined the Redlane Hundred.
In the 1200’s “Ywern Manor” was passed into the hands of the Courtneys under the Norman Kings. Robert Courtney died at his manor of “Ywern” on 7 Aug 1242.

In 1261 Henry III granted to Master John Courtney, and his heirs forever, a market on Wednesdays and 2 yearly Fairs.  One of the Fairs, held on 25 and 26 September, lasted for centuries. Shroton Fair was considered to be one of the best in the West country; famous for it’s horse, sheep and cheese sales as well as for annual hiring of labour (servants, thatchers, grooms etc). Both Thomas Hardy and William Barnes wrote about visiting Shroton Fair. Unfortunately the rise in popularity of The Dorset Steam Fair (on the same dates) resulted in the demise of Shroton Fair in the 1970’s.

In 1541 King Henry VIII gave the Manor of Iwerne Courtney to his Queen, Katherine, for life.

By 1548 the Enclosure of the common fields was complete. Many villagers were given (to rent) too small a piece of land to survive so they surrendered it to the Lord of the Manor and earned money to pay their rent by working for the Lord or left the Parish to live in the towns.

Robert Freke was granted the Manor in the 6th year of Queen Elizabeth I. His son Sir Thomas rebuilt the Church in 1610 and Elizabeth his wife founded a ‘school for little children’ in 1640 and left financial means to pay a Schoolmaster, by using the rent of a field called Ladymead ( Farrington).  John Freke (Robert’s brother) lived and ‘farmed’ Farrington Manor. It is possible that the Tithe Barn may have been built at this time, although it has been officially dated early 1700’s

The school building was re built in 1851 but unfortunately the school closed in 1978. However, after much fund raising, the village purchased the building and it is now the Village Hall.

On 4 Aug 1645 Oliver Cromwell ordered his troops to charge 4,000 Dorset Club men who had gathered on Hambledon Hill. Many men were killed but 200 were taken prisoner and held in Shroton Church.

In 1714 George Pitt inherited the Manor (from the Frekes) but the family eventually made Tollard Royal their main seat and Iwerne Courtney manor house, located behind the Church, it was sold to Peter William Baker in 1789, Baker then pulled down the house using the stone for the Ranston Park wall and the Palladian stone bridge over the 2 new lakes.

Ranston or Randolf’s Town was owned by Elias Falaise in 1272 and then granted to William le Brune. In 1544 it was sold together with 1600 acres to Robert Ryves of Blandford. In 1758 it was remodelled for Thomas Ryves and today’s Georgian West facing front was created.

Peter William Baker purchased Ranston House in 1781, and it has remained in his family line since that date (Selina Gibson Fleming 1925-2011 was born Baker) Peter William Baker enclosed the area of Parkland as it now stands, in the 19th century wings were added. In 1961 the house was substantially demolished and rebuilt retaining the Western Façade. the architect was Louis Osmond.

In August 1756, 6 battalions of infantry, 6 squadrons and 2 troops of light horse with 12 pieces of infantry, commanded by Major General Wolfe, were camped close to Blandford, but it was called Shroton Camp. Map evidence shows that this main camp was actually on Pimperne Down but a subsidiary camp was sited at the base of Hambledon, now named Shroton Lines . The Hill’s steep slopes were used to prepare the troops for the war against the French, in Canada. (Quebec).

Most people were either employed to work on the land of the 4 farms- Manor, Church , Hellum  and Ranston or domestic work. The village was self sufficient- it had 3 main shops – Harvey’s General Stores and Bakery, the Post Office, the Bootmaker and the Blacksmith.

Shroton had its own Brewery in the 1800’s and there were three village pubs- White Hart Inn (now Cricketer’s), Crown and the King William Beer House.  The village Poor House was located at the Cross and in 1801 it had 13 inmates.

The village had connections with Smuggling.  Isaac Gulliver’s grt grt grt grandson and family (Fryer) lived here for most of the 20th century, and Roger Rideout was born in Farrington in 1736 before he moved to Fiddleford Mill.

John Andrews, Yeoman of Iwerne Courtney (and later, his son Edwin) was co founder of a local Bank, ‘Fryer, Andrews, Woolfry and co’ in 1790. It had branches at Poole, Wimborne, Blandford and Sturminster. It was acquired by the National Provincial Bank of England in 1840 but it is now part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group!

The biggest change to Shroton came in the 1918 village sale, which gave individuals the chance to own their property, (those that could afford it) which had been held by the Pitt- Rivers family (Lord of the Manor).

Visually, Shroton has not changed much except that the village stream which ran alongside the Main Street down to the Mill Pond (opposite the Church) was diverted in the 1960’s- the pond and old stream bed were filled in In the 1950s to 1970’s there was a lot of council house building and the Church sold the Rectory and Glebe field, this prompted the mix of housing found there today. In 2012 the Parish Council took ownership of the Glebe from NDDC.

(This is a brief historical recount. It was written by an amateur armchair historian. All facts gathered from a variety of sources including the internet)

For a more complete history of the village and Hambledon Hill click here