Sturminster Newton

Sturminster Newton

Infobox UK place
official_name= Sturminster Newton
country= England
region= South West England
shire_county= Dorset
shire_district= North Dorset
constituency_westminster= North Dorset


static_image_caption= The water mill.

population= 3,105 (2001 Census)
os_grid_reference= ST786140
map_type= Dorset
latitude= 50.92
longitude= -2.3

post_town= Sturminster Newton
postcode_area= DT
postcode_district= DT10
dial_code= 01258



Sturminster Newton, known to locals as Stur, is a town in the Blackmore Vale area of Dorset, England. The town is famous as the home of poet and author William Barnes, and, for part of his life, Thomas Hardy. The town had a population of 3,105 during the 2001 census, but is growing fast [Office for National Statistics, 2001 [ Census data] .] . 30.93% of the population are retired. The town has 43 shops and there is a primary and secondary school, both of which are in need of expansion to cope with the fast growing population of the town and surrounding villages. A market is held in the town on Mondays. Formerly one of the largest cattle markets in England was held here, but the market was closed in 1998 and is currently undergoing redevelopment into housing and retail. The town is part of the historic West Country Carnival circuit.

Sturminster Newton is situated on a low limestone ridge in a meander of the river Stour. The town is at the centre of a large dairy agriculture region, around which the town's economy is built. The larger part of the town, including most shops and services, is north of the river, but to the south is Newton and Broad Oak. These areas are divided by a wide flood plain.


The town is situated at a historic fording point on the Stour. The ford was replaced in the 16th century with a six-arch stone bridge, and a quarter kilometre embankment crossing the flood plain. The bridge was widened from 12 to 18ft in 1820 [David McFetrich & Jo Parsons, 1998. "Dorset Bridges". Wimborne: Dovecote Press ISBN 1-874336-51-2] . On the south bank of the river is the watermill which was restored in 1980 and is now a museum.

Hidden on the hill above the bridge are the ruins of Sturminster Newton Castle, a manor house rather than a defensive building. The 14th century building stands on a crescent shaped mound which could be the site of an Iron Age hill fort [The Dorest Page, 2000. [ Sturminster Newton] .] . The town and castle were part of Sturminster Newton hundred.

The town was recorded in the Anglo Saxon charter in 968 as "Nywetone at Stoure", and in the Domesday Book as "Newentone". Newton refers to a new farm or estate, and Sturminster to a church (minster) on the Stour. Originally the two parts of the name referred to the settlements on the north and south of the river, but were combined to distinguish the town from Sturminster Marshall and other Newtons [A.D. Mills, 1986. "Dorset Place Names". Southampton, Ensign. ISBN 1-85455-065-9] .

The town is set in the vale Thomas Hardy based his fictional "Vale of the little dairies" on, and Sturminster had the largest livestock market in Britain, which stood close to the town centre until it was closed and demolished in 1998.

The town centre is built in a mixture of styles, including 17th and 18th century thatched cottages, Georgian stone buildings, and 19th century brick buildings. Set back from the main road is the market square and parish church, which was rebuilt in 1486 by the abbots of Glastonbury. The church was heavily modified in the 19th century, but the carved wagon roof remains.

From 1863 the Somerset and Dorset Railway ran through the town until 1966 when it was dismantled as part of the Beeching Axe. The station and goods yard were demolished in the mid 1970s [Mike Oakley, 2001. "Dorset Railway Stations". Wimborne: Dovecote Press ISBN 1-874336-96-2] .

ee also

*List of boroughs in Dorset
*List of hundreds in Dorset
*List of sanitary districts in Dorset
*List of unions in Dorset


External links

* [ Information and History of Sturminster]
* [ Sturminster Museum]
* [ Sturminster history, including old maps]
* [ Sturminster Newton Community Website]
* [ Sturminster Newton Football Club Website]


* [ Images of Dorset's page on Sturminster]
* ['s Sturminster gallery]
* [ The river, church and town centre]

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