The Street has been the main artery for Charmouth for almost 2000 years. When you walk along it’s length you may well be following in the footsteps of Roman soldiers travelling from their bases between Dorchester and Exeter. It is shown as a settlement in 1086 in the records of the Domesday Book with its main occupations as farming and sea salt extraction. The first mention of The Street is in 1170 when it was owned by the Abbot of Forde. The village expanded and in 1295 it was created a Borough with a number of 1/2 acre burgage plots on both sides of The Street. These led up to a high stone wall which still exists today almost unbroken. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a great success and was overtaken by Lyme Regis and Bridport. For centuries it was important as a stop off point on the long journey from Dorchester to Exeter and a number of Hostelries were created by the monks. These were later to become Coaching Inns. The most important of these was the Coach and Horses where Jane Austen stayed in 1803. She was very flattering about the village which in her novel, Persuasion she described as “Charmouth, with its high grounds and extensive sweeps of country, and still more its sweet, retired bay, backed by dark cliffs, where fragments of low rock among the sands make it the happiest spot for watching the flow of the tide, for sitting in unwearied contemplation”.It was to share with Lyme Regis a popularity as a genteel “Watering Place” with its own bathing machines. As a result, at the beginning of the 19th century a number of fine villas were built along the Street. This also resulted in a selection of shops, many of which are still to be seen such as Charmouth Stores that was founded in 1807 and known today as Nisa.When you walk along the length of the Street you see a wide variety of period houses, some of which date to before the 16th century. Charmouth has a popular beach attracting many visitors. It is a great pity that so many of them miss the historic Street that is only a short distance from the coast. The Talk will highlight all that I have been able to find about its fascinating past with a wide selection of unique images.

We are beginning this talk with this view looking down along the route of The Street from the Ancient Mill to Old Lyme Hill in 1850, as it clearly shows how the village had settled along it rather than by the coast.
The first mention of the name “Street” is in 1170, shortly after the village was given to Forde Abbey by Richard de Estre. The village seems to have been divided into three distinct settlements. For In 1292 the Abbot had rents worth of £2.19s.8d. From Charmouth and Newlands and £2.15s.0d for Strete (Street).The name Street derives from the old English word which means Roman Road. It could as we shall see have been in existence almost 2000 years ago.

We will start with the available evidence to prove that our Street is  ancient. This simplistic map shows the network of Roman roads in Southern England most of which were centered on London as they do today. In Britain, as in other provinces, the Romans constructed a comprehensive network of paved trunk roads during their four centuries of occupation whose primary function was to allow the rapid movement of troops.

Ivan Margary spent a lifetime  identifying  many roads of a possible Roman origin, which were detailed in his  final publication of “Roman Roads in Britain” in 1973. The illustrations are from his book clearly showing the route of the Dorchester – Exeter Road passing through Charmouth.

Using the previous map as a basis I have added relevant Roman sites in the vicinity. The most important is the proximity to the Woodbury Fort and settlement at Axminster which marked the junction of the Road linking Dorchester with Exeter and the Fosse Way, which went from Seaton to Lincoln via Ilminster and Bath. Although the Port has long since disappeared under the sea, Seaton has a fine Villa at “Honeyditches” and only recently over 22,000 Roman coins were found at Seaton Down. There is also the remains of large Villa that existed at Holcombe on the outskirts of Lyme Regis. An excavation in 2005 at Hogchester Farm just north of Charmouth  by the famous archaeologist, Bill Putnum produced a short stretch of the Roman Road as it climbs Thistle Hill.

He writes in his authoritative  book “Roman Dorset”: “near Eggardon Hillfort the road leaves the chalk high ground and drops onto the greensand, with its many small hills and valleys. Here its route must have been tortuous, and tracing it is very difficult. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that it passed through or near Bridport, Chideock, Morecombe Lake, Charmouth and Pen Cross, before leaving Dorset at Raymonds Hill. Its route does not become entirely clear again till it reaches Axminster, where it parallels the Axminster bypass.”
Further evidence of the Road from Bridport was found in 1948 when Mr. F. Moore, R.W.A. discovered it four feet below the surface under the main road in Chideock near the church, whilst a trench was being dug for a Telegraph Cable. This is recorded in greater depth in  the “Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society's Journal for 1950.
It would be wonderful if one day a similar stretch could be found in Charmouth.

The Domesday entry for Charmouth in 1086, describes it as “Cernemude” - the mouth of the river Cerne where there was a small harbour.
Sixteen Salt Workers were employed there boiling the Sea Water in large shallow open Lead Pans until the water evaporated and the salt removed. It may well have gone back to Roman times with its proximity to the Roman road, where the Street is today. The industry was carried on along the Dorset Coast and there is a reference in 774 to a Salt House in Lyme Regis owned by Sherbourne Abbey. The main use of the salt was to preserve food for the winter months and was one of the first traded products and would have been carried by packhorse or boat.

The Lord of the Manor at this time was Robert, Count of Mortain in Normandy, who was William the Conqueror's half brother and fought with him in 1066. He is shown here  on the right of the King in the famous Bayeux Tapestry. He held over six hundred other manors, including 71 in Dorset. Below him were a number of tenants in chief who after his death in 1091 formed separate Manors. A French nobleman, William De Estre is shown as the Lord of the Manor of Charmouth. It is his grandson, Richard who was to later give the village to Forde Abbey in 1170. The painting on the right is an early depiction of Salt workers boiling the Sea Water.

The prosperity of Charmouth for many centuries was based on Salt. The Domesday Book for 1086 shows the population included 16 Salt workers. In the same year, Lyme Regis had 27 workers. Later in 1172 there is “a grant in free alms by William Heron to the Abbot of Forde of all that part of his tenement in Charmouth which lies to the west of the land of Henry de Tilli between the top of the brow of the cliff and the sea as far as the stream of Cerne and to the south of the curtilage formerly of Elfric up to the sea, for making salt, keeping a boat or other purposes”.The engraving shown here is of nearby Seatown from Golden Cap depicted by William Stukeley in 1723, which still had Salt Pans along its estuary  as would have been the case in Charmouth.  Further along the coast, Budleigh Salterton was renamed based on the importance of the Salt Pans at its the Estuary.

 To bring the story of Sea Salt production up to date. Jethro, shown here in 2017 founded the Dorset Sea Salt Company on Portland using similar methods to that employed in Charmouth in the past. He produces a  range of Sea Salts as shown here which can be bought in a number of Stores, including Washingpool Farm Shop at Bridport. The photograph below is one of the two Roman Salt Pans Situated along the eastern coastline of East Weares on Portland.

After studying all available early references to Charmouth it would seem that it consisted of three areas: The Street, Newlands and the Beach, where the Ancient Chapel stood. This is confirmed in a letter in 1281 where the Bishop is asking the Abbot of Forde who had created a separate settlement along The Street to resite it there as it was being lost to the sea. It reads as follows:
Notification by Robert, Bishop of Salisbury, that he has been informed by many trustworthy men that the secular chapel of Charmouth built a long time ago near the sea, has been ruined by the battering of the sea and storms. He gives his authority and assent to the Abbot and monks of Forde, the postulant patrons of the chapel, to move it to a more suitable site than the shore and build a chapel on their own land to the honour of the blessed apostle Matthew and All Saints, in which they may provide clerics and secular priests to minister divine service”. As a result they built a new church shortly afterwards where St. Andrews is today on the Street. A later boundary is described as “along the course of the river to the sea and to the chapel of the village”.
Further proof that an earlier settlement was sited in an area now far out to sea was a find of a wooden bowl in 1979 which was later carbon dated as 12th century. It is now kept in the Dorchester Museum.

This slide is of a Cartulary still kept at Forde Abbey which records many of their early transactions of Land. The first 60 entries are for Charmouth and are a valuable record of the village during their 400 year ownership. The monk's established a Grange here which would have been worked by lay brothers. There was also a Guildhall, Mill, Market Cross, Pillory, Fair and Bridge. The most important event in Charmouth's history took place in 1295 when William, Abbot of Forde improved the Manor by making it a Free Borough. The burgages were to be 66 feet by 330 feet, let at 6d. p.a.; the burgesses, who could buy and sell houses freely, had to use the Abbot's mill and attend his court in the Guildhall. Burgesses were allowed to use the common land. The town boundaries (also defined) include references to the monks’ Mill, the Church, the Pillory and the Cross which was in the road to Lyme Regis. Charmouth had become a separate parísh. The entry is very descriptive of the boundaries of the village and the half-acre Burgage plots that were to be created along either side of the Street. Unfortunately, it was not a great success with the growth of Lyme Regis and Bridport instead. Many burgages were amalgamated into larger, more viable plots. A later survey of 1564 reveals that most villagers had by then an acre with their house on the Street and a further acre of common land between the Street and the Sea.
In 1343 it was recorded that the Abbot held of John Beauchamp, in Charmouth one fee, and also one fee in Strete (Street). This would  suggest that the new town on the Roman road and the Abbot's other lands were considered distinct and with the destruction of the church by the beach the coastal settlement disappeared.

It is still astonishing that the original 13th Century stone boundary wall has mainly survived and sections along its length are seen here. Although many of the half acre burgage plots were later amalgamated with their neighbours, there are still a large number of the original boundary walls left. The last slide shows part of one of these running along Barr`s Lane.

The Black Death entered England at Weymouth in 1348 and it is was to kill up to half the population. This would have been devasting to the newly created borough of Charmouth and may be one of the reasons for its failure.

We have attempted to add buildings and features to the Tithe Map which would have existed in mediaeval Charmouth. A number of properties are much older than they appear as they have been refaced, such as the Elms and Manor House opposite the Church. There would have been at least three Inns - The Fountain, Rose and Crown as well as the George which is still operating. A Weekly market was held opposite the Church. The area between the Bank and the Sea was common land divided into half acre and acre plots, some of which still exist.

Thomas Charde was to be the last Abbot of Forde when he succeeded to the position in 1520. He must have realized that the days of the Abbey were coming to an end and went on a spending spree using their resources. He was to enlarge his abbey and cover the front with decorative scroll work incorporating the initials of his name T.C. He was to do like wise in Charmouth where his brother Ralph Tibbes (his mother's surname) was steward, which still can be seen above the former entrance. A later Survey in 1564 describes it as the finest house in the village and is now known as “The Abbots House” after him. The Lay Subsidy of 1525 reveals a population of about 200. It was shown to account for less that 10% of the total income of the Abbey. His tenure at the Abbey came to an end in 1539 when he surrendered it to Sir William Petre, the Sequestrator, who amongst the many Estates he was to gain was that of Charmouth in due course.

This is the earliest image that has come down to us of the village. It forms part of a larger map of the southern coast which was surveyed for King Henry Vlll showing its defenses ready for an expected Spanish invasion. The church is seen towering above the many houses that existed at that time. The year of 1539 was to be very important for the village as it was to mark its end under its ownership by Forde Abbey after nearly four hundred years.

After the Dissolution the village was owned by the Crown. Queen Elizabeth was to later grant Charmouth in 1564 to Robert and William Caldwell for just £25.5s.1d. They in turn were to sell it in the same year to Sir William Petre. The original Charter was included in the deeds to the Manor and in 1853 was copied out by Matthew Liddon to prove his ownership of the foreshore. It is very long and seems to apply to all the lands and buildings in the village.A comprehensive survey was instigated by Sir William Petre soon after he had bought it and can be seen amongst the rental books for the family now kept in the Devon Record Office in Exeter. It details all the tenants and their lands and buildings at that time and provides an insight into the village during the transition from the Abbey. On his death his son was to inherit the village in 1575 and sold part of it to Sir John Pole, who lived at Shute, near Axminster and the rest separately with 2000 year leases with fixed rents. These included The Elms to Richard Piers of Lyme.

The Pole family who lived at Shute in the Manor house shown in the painting owned many of the surrounding villages including Colyton and Seaton. They were to sell Newlands, which once formed part of Charmouth to William Wadham of Catherston in 1590. There are a number of magnificent memorials to them in their chapel at Colyton. It was Sir William Pole who became famous for the book he wrote “The Worthies of Devon”. He was to sell the Manor of Charmouth to William Ellesdon in 1648. Although he did keep the Mill and fields around it which remained in the family until the mid 18th Century.

The Ellesdons were originally successful merchants from Lyme Regis and were regularly Mayors of the borough. It was William Ellesdon who was to buy the Manor of Charmouth in 1648 and his father purchased the Manor of Newlands the year after. They were forced to leave Lyme Regis as it was a parliamentarian town, and he supported the King. It was William who had assisted in Lord Berkley escaping to France after the Battle of Worcester in 1651 and he was then asked to do likewise for the King. Unfortunately, the owner of the boat, Stephen Limbry failed to turn up in time and the King had to return back to safety at Trent Manor. After his restoration the King remembered his good deed and gave him a pension of £300 a year. It was William`s son Anthony, born here in 1654 who would be remembered today with his fine memorial in the church and plaque recording his generosity. He was to live at the old Manor house for over 80 years as the Squire.

The main means of transport along the roads in the past were teams of packhorses which traversed the countryside, as shown in this contemporary engraving. Isaac Taylor published in 1765 the first large scale map of Dorset of which this is a section. It shows the Great Western Road which travelled through Charmouth from 1757 and is marked as “Turnpike”. Using money secured against the toll income, a trust arranged to improve and maintain the road. The roads formed a network across Dorset.  They allowed the Coaching Inns in the village to enter a golden age with seven or eight coaches passing daily through the village.  

If we could back in time to the late 18th century, we would have found that Charmouth was a center for the production of Sail Cloth with three workshops. At the top of the village was George Webber at the Grange, Jacob Ridley at Yandover (Little Lodge) and William Burnard by the river. The fields around would be growing Flax and a large number of women would be working from their homes weaving it. Sailing ships used tremendous amounts of the cloth and this increased dramatically with the Wars with Napoleon`s France. All This  came to an end with its defeat at Waterloo in 1815 and the main supplier, Jacob Ridley went bankrupt as a result and moved to London.

The earliest Directory for Charmouth dating back to 1811 by John Holden is surprisingly accurate and gives us an insight into both the inhabitants and their occupations. It describes the principal manufacturer as Sailcloth with the three main producers - Burnard, Ridley Kitt and Webber, highlighted. It was already attracting the well-off members of society who were described as Gentlemen. The most exiting entry is that for Charmouth entrepreneur - Joseph Bradbeer who was at that time operating both the newly opened Post Office, which is Nisa is today and the Coach and Horses Inn, where Jane Austen would have stayed. The Directory entry highlights the fact that Russell and Sweet were operating Waggons and Stagecoaches daily from Charmouth.We are very fortunate to have a link with the village over 200 years ago in the form of a Census carried out in 1813 shown here. It lists the householders with their occupation and males and females living in their house. It is surprisingly accurate as it correlates with the official figures by the government two years earlier.

Some of Charmouth`s finest houses are shown here, all of which were built as a consequence of William  Edwards, who lived where Beech House is today, selling his estate on which they were to be subsequently built, in 1830. Notice the similarity of the doorways and windows. They coincided with the popularity of  Lyme Regis during the early 18th Century as a fashionable resort made famous by Jane Austen in Persuasion.

This is a close up of the 1841 Tithe map with the 14th century wall unbroken parallel to The Street and signs of the former bank on the southern side of it. It clearly shows how important The Street was with few buildings between it and the beach.

It can be seen that by 1886 when this Ordnance Survey map was published that the village was still centered on The Street with some additional houses along it. A number of the thatched buildings were either lost in devastating fires and rebuilt or refronted

The 1926 Map reveals that there was to be more development in the village with the start of  housing on the fields between the Street and the coast.

By 1960 the village expansion was restricted by the 14th century monastic wall to the north of the Street although there was to an increase in housing to the south.

Today's aerial photograph reveals that the ancient stone wall is still restricting the expansion of the village and there has been considerable infill in the area to the south of the Street.

Although A comprehensive Census for the country was established in 1841, there are detailed statistics for each village from 1801, including Charmouth. We have listed them as best we can into a graph shown here, with the associated number of houses along the bottom. It can be seen that for over 100 years the population was approximately 600 people inhabiting about 150 houses. From 1921 this increased every year with the extensive development of the former Common fields between The Street and the Beach to a population today of  about 1400.


This part of the talk will be an imaginary circular walk of the Street highlighting interesting stories about specific buildings over time. We will use historic images, many of which have never been seen before to achieve this. The walk will begin and end at the junction of Lower Sea Lane with the Street.
This photo is from a larger view of the village from Stonebarrow Hill taken in 1890. Inset at the bottom Is a contemporary map of the area. It clearly shows the centre of the village before the line of thatched buildings were destroyed in a devastating fire in 1895. In the foreground is the large field known as Pear Tree where Wesley Close is today. In 1837  the Reverend John Hales was to buy "Pear Close", The building that is the Pharmacy was originally a Carpenters work shop. He also owned some property on the other side of the Street, including what is now the playing field. A Railway station for a line from Lyme Regis to Bridport was proposed on this site by Sir John Hawkshaw in 1874, but never came to fruition.

We now move on to a similar view to the last from an aerial photograph taken of the village in 1928. Harry Pryer was  running his Stone Masons yard on the corner of Lower Sea Lane. He also owned the strip of land opposite where he had a garden for the two houses he had built at the end of Barrs Lane. It wasn’t until after his death in 1933 that both sides were developed as shops. Devonedge was built soon after the great fire in 1895 as a bakers and hotel by Francis Cole. Harry Pryer sold off part of Pear Tree field to Billy Gear who established his Garage on the site.

To bring it up to date, we have included a view using google earth of the same area today with considerable infill over the last 100 years.

We return back now to the start of our imaginary walk from the corner of Lower Sea Lane. We would have looked on to Pear Tree Field, which was not to be developed until it’s owner Harry Pryer, known as Pusey died in 1931 and the land sold. Whilst in his ownership the village made great use of it and held their Annual Fete and Flower and Vegetable Shows there every August as they still do today. The photo is taken roughly where the Village Hall is with the large outline of Devonedge in the distance.

It is difficult to get a similar view today as Wesley Close has been built on the field. This one will give you a rough idea.

Giles Pryer moved to Charmouth in 1827 and described himself as a Mason and Plasterer. By 1841 he had bought what is today Stanley House and was to buy the field known as Pear Close from the Reverend Hales and have his workshops there. With his wife, Elizabeth, they bought up seven children and in 1854 built the Cement Works, which is now the Heritage Centre, for George Morcome.
On his death in 1881, his son Harry, known as Pussey, took over the business which continued to prosper until his death in 1931. His former workshops and field opposite were afterwards redeveloped as the shops we see today.

St. Andrews and many local churches have a number of the gravestones and memorials that he carved. He is shown here in 1900 with his staff in front of his office. This building which is now The Pharmacy  still exists and was originally built in the 18th century for the Steward of the Manor Estate.

This view has changed considerably from the earlier photograph

Another view of the yard taken in 1900,looking down the Street. The buildings in the distance at the other side of the Pear Tree field is the Abbots House with the Chapel behind it. The ships figurehead was washed up on Charmouth Beach and became a landmark until it disappeared soon after Harry Pryer died in 1931.

Many here will remember Braggs Store which stood on the corner as is shown here in the 1960s before is closure in 2006. The original shop was constructed in 1932 by John Bragg of Lyme Regis, incorporating an 18th century Carpenters Workshop.

There were a number of  shops that  had lorries crash into them. The worst was in 1987 when a Grain Lorry overturned at Braggs Grocery store and almost demolished the entire building. Here are some of the photos taken at the time to record the devastation.

Ann and Andrew Peach are seen here standing behind the counter of their shop with shelves piled high with cereals.

The parade of shops in this side of the Street have changed many times over the years. These photos were taken on 1953 by Herbert Pinn and show how they have all been replaced with different styles of businesses since then. Beasley's sold knitwear, wools, jewellery and gifts in their shop seen here and Herberts was a Chemist

This fascinating photo taken in 1982 to celebrate the end of the Falkland Wars reveals a number of changes in the shops. The Cheshire Cat which sold a wide range of Giftware, has reverted to a house again. The bank Café was actually Lloyds Bank. Next to it is Charm the Hairdressers and then the Chemist run by Michael Davis.

The View today

To newcomers moving to Charmouth it is something of a mystery why we have to drive so far out of the village to find a garage, but it has not always been this way. In fact it actually had two Garages facing one another on the Street, with the same owner, Billy Gear. He was also the owner of the large Car Parks by the beach. He is shown in this photo with Bert Dancey and George Rowland on the forecourt of the Garage with some of their cars.
Alhough the workshops have been built on since, their former showroom is incorporated today in the Fish and Chips shop.

This view has changed dramatically, although the present day Fish and Chips shop was formerly part of the garage.

This photograph taken in 1940 kindly lent by Jill Matthews reveals the inside of the workshops. From left to right can be seen Bert Dancy who was known to assist with the petrol sales on the forecourt with Vic Hunter. Then Jill's father Len Linthorne can be seen with Dick Woollard, one of whose daughters now lives in Lyme Regis.

This candid photo taken by Claud Hider in 1928 outside Gears Garage gives us an idea of how the bottom end of the Street would have appeared nearly a century ago.

We move on further down the Street to the Abbots House, seen on the right. It is one of a number of photos taken by Samuel Hansford of a procession along the Street commemorating the coronation in 1911 of King George V.

The building now known as The Abbotts House, was rebuilt in the early 16th century by Thomas Chard of Forde Abbey who placed his initials above the main entrance door seen here. In 1651 Charles II stayed there for one night in his attempt to flee the country after the Battle of Worcester. He failed in this as a result of the wife of the master of the ship, Stephen Limbry, finding out what her husband was up to and locking him up in their house. By the time he got out it was too late, and the King had left for Bridport and eventual freedom from Shoreham. In 1803 it belonged to the non-conformists who held their services in the adjoining chapel and used part as a school. It was later to be extended and is shown here as a Tea Room.

The former chapel set back from the road is seen in these photos. It was founded in 1662 in the neighbouring Abbots house and rebuilt on this site in 1815 by Reverend Jeanes. It was recently sold and is now a Holiday Let, known as St. Pauls after the owner.

Mrs Lily Bugler with 4 of her 5 Children in 1908 is seen here in the doorway of Grange House. Her husband, George Bugler kept the engine behind The Grange where the old Fire Station is now. An earlier owner was Peter Clapcott who was a Captain in the army and married Leah Goring in 1769 at St. Marys in Bridport. Her father, Peter Goring owned The Fountain Inn, which is now Charmouth House. The Clapcotts had a daughter, Mary who married Samuel Bartlett Jerrard of Chideock in 1792 who were to inherit the Clapcotts House. It is fortunate that they still owned it in 1841, for the Tithe Map of that year identifies it as "Grange House" and the acre behind now has a number of houses built on it, including the "Old Fire Engine House”.

The Grange today, with a few alterations to the windows.

Barney Hansford and his brother, David in their Workshops which were in part of the extensive yard and Gardens behind Fred Penny`s "Lilacs" and near the Old Fire Station. . They lived with their father, Samuel at Mintaka next door. They can be seen repairing a carriage and early automobile. The gabled building in the background was later bought by Samuel`s son, Barnie and was in time demolished to widen the entrance to Barney`s Close.

The view today

Photos of this end of the Street are very scarce and this is the only one that I have found of the Lilacs and Mintaka. There appears  to be a small grocers store in front of the Lilacs at that time, which would be in the 1920s. It had an extensive garden and was the home for many years of Fred Penny, his wife and four children. “Mintaka” was where Samuel Hansford lived from 1916 until 1920 and was built by Penny in part of his grounds.

The present row of cottages  known as Mill View seen on the left were built in 1857 after the earlier ancient house was destroyed in a fire 6 years before. It was let initially to the Admiralty for £100 a year, before they built their own coastguard cottages in Lower Sea Lane.

John Wesley. the founder of Methodism, has a link with Charmouth. His great grandfather was the Rector here. He and his son John lived in a house where Mill View is today until they sold it in 1668. The original deeds show that had earlier been owned by Stephen Limbry. Bartholomew Wesley  became Rector in 1645 by the Parliamentarians and supported their cause. His time as Rector coincided with the attempt by the future King Charles II escape by boat to France from the shores of Charmouth in 1651. The photos are of John Wesley and the Pulpit from which his grandfather preached which is now in Bridport Museum.

Thomas and Mary Genge lived in no.2 Rose Cottage and are seen here with some of their 8 children. He was a Wagoner and worked with John Hodder who lived next door at no. 1 at this time.

Rose Cottage is seen here at the junction of Bridge Street with the Street.

John Hodder standing proudly outside the entrance to no. 1 Rose Cottage where he lived. He owned a Wagon and Wagonette and was the general Haulier for the area. He also manufactured aeriated drinks such as Ginger Beer which he sold from his premises.

This amazing photograph was taken in 1937 of a lorry piled high with barrels precariously hanging over the former bridge, with a young girl running from the event. The bridge was later to be altered and widened in 1957.The old mill bridge was built by the County in 1824 and was one of several bridges which contained the following warning:-"Dorset. Any person wilfully injuring any part of this county bridge will be guilty of felony and upon conviction liable to be transported for life by the Court. T.Fooks." During the war in 1940 when a German invasion was threatened the word "Dorset" was cut out.

The same view today, without the Lorry.

This photograph taken in 1890 shows an idyllic view  of the old bridge and Mill buildings with the River flowing through it.

It is difficult to match the previous view as they now form part of Manor Farm Holiday Center. This is the nearest that was achieved with the former Mill buildings on the right.

The photograph shows the Ancient Mill in its heyday when it was operated by Mr. John Toms with his workers by his cart laden with sacks of corn. The Mill went into decline and vestiges of it can still be seen by the County Bridge.

A similar view today with the former Mill Buildings  extended and converted into housing  below the road surface.

John Gillingham, Farm Bailiff to the Bullens at Catherston stands outside Mill Cottage, in 1911. His house was  adorned with flags and bunting celebrating King George V`s Coronation in that year.

The same view today. Almost unrecognisable with the road height raised and a Bus Shelter now obscuring the doorway

An early view taken in 1890 looking down the street towards the George with the Mill Managers  house on the right. Notice the large number of thatched roofs at that time. The old Volunteers Drill Hall, now called Firlands House is in the centre.

The same view taken in 1911 with Firlands, with a new gabled roof, which was then a house for Mr. And Mrs. Toms. On the right is The Mill house  with a new  porch and fencing along it.

John and Rose Toms with Madge Smith are shown outside Firland's House in the left picture. He was a Farmer and Corn Dealer at the neighbouring Mill which he rented off the Bullens.  Barney Hansford bought Firlands House and the yard behind which he converted into premises for his Fossil Exhibition. It had originally been the Drill Hall for the local Volunteers and later the Telephone Exchange.

Barney Hansford is seen here with a giant Ammonite and a view of his Country life Exhibition in an advert from the annual guide to Charmouth.

The earliest photograph yet found of the George Inn as it looked in the year 1880, when Harry William Pryer was the Landlord. Notice the side windows sealed up and the Sign hanging at the side rather than the top.On the right is Bow House which actually had bow windows at that time. It was here that  William Burnard lived. He was a Sail Cloth Manufacturer with his workshops behind the house and by the river. Adjoining it was Stow House where his wife`s father, Peter Good lived. His Will reads as follows:
"I Peter Good of Charmouth, Protestant Dissenting Minister, give my now erected dwelling house with back court and garden, deed of conveyance dates 1804 being of the north side of the street and bounded on the west by a dwelling in possession of Morgan and known by the name of the George Inn and on the east by a dwelling house and lands in tenure or possession of Mr. William Burnard, Canvas Manufacturer and which I purchased of said William Burnard unto my beloved wife Rebecca Good and her heirs

The same view taken in 1900. The rebuilt “Coach and Horses” can be seen in the distance after the former thatched building was lost in a fire in 1882. The state of the road needed a lot to be desired in those days.

The view as we see it today with few changes apart from an improved road.

Mr. and Mrs French, the landlords in 1900 with their daughters are seen here standing proudly in front of the Inn.The George Inn is very fortunate in having today been  one of the oldest continuously run hostelries  in the country. It has a remarkable history stretching back to the Middle Ages when the village was owned by the monks of Forde Abbey. By the 18th century it was a coaching inn and signs of this can be seen with its entrance that jetties out into the street so customers could see the oncoming coaches.

John Hodder seen here with the beard and Mary and Fred Penny standing on the right of him outside the George Inn in 1911.

Some patrons of the George back in the 1950s.

Billy Gear and his workmen outside his first Garage which used the stabling of the George Inn which is behind them in this picture.

On the 4th July 1984 the Bridport News reported:
“On Friday, four Charmouth delegates left for an unofficial visit to Asnelles-Sur-Mer,in France, to probe the possibility of the two communities twinning. From left to right, the picture shows Mr. Colin Gibson, Mr. Mike Davis, Mr Mike Lake and his wife Di. They were all warmly greeted by their French counterparts, including the mayor”.
They are seen here standing outside The George Inn. The Twinning Group has been a great success and continues to this day with annual visits between the two places.

Frank Cole and his son, Francis are seen here in their horse drawn cart delivering their loaves of bread. The photograph is taken in front of Devonedge Lane. The building on the left is Swiss Cottage which replaced an earlier Inn that stood there until 2003. The cottage on the right is now called Alicia.

A hand coloured postcard posted in 1905 of a group of Edwardian children outside the New Inn, later to renamed The Wander Inn.

A similar view taken in 1950 when the village had two garages opposite each other, both owned by Billy Gear. The Ivy clad building on the left was the Wander Inn, a popular Café.

The Wander Inn which was  formerly the New Inn was very ancient, originally known as the Rose and Crown, with records now held the Exeter Record Office dating back to 1561, when John Tye of Plumtree in Devon sold it to William Borcombe of Wootton Fitzpaine.    After the  last War, James and Dorothy Potter renamed it the Wander Inn. They created a Cafe in what was The Swiss Cottage that was so successful that they extended it into the rest of the building. The last resident in the property was David Hoffler and his father. In 2003,the ancient edifice  crashed to the ground and a new building was erected on the site. The photograph shows it in a dilapidated state shortly before it disappeared.

The new building on the site that we see today. Red Bluff and Swiss Cottage which have replaced the former Inn.

Before the 1894 fire, which destroyed it, "Lansdowne" was a thatched shoe shop, kept by the Felstones. The site was later purchased from Frank Coles by Stapleforth of Lyme who built the house and garage in 1923. Here it is in rather a sorry state back in the 1970s.The former Garage has been replaced with a Wine Shop.

Lansdowne House  and the Wander Inn are seen on the left of this photo taken in 1982 as a March Pass went by at the end of the Falkland Wars.

The two thatched buildings on the left were lost in a disastrous fire in 1894.They were later to be replaced with Devonedge and Lansdowne House. The House with the fine iron railings was earlier occupied by Brian Coombe, the Village Rector, who owned substantial property in the village including Backlands Farm at the rear of The Street and Stonebarrow Farm.

A magnificent image of days gone by, with a view that has changed radically over the years. Most of the buildings on the left were to be lost to fires. The hedge stretching to the “Abbots House” in the distance was the boundary of Pear Close, owned by Harry Pryer who ran his business from the workshops on the corner of Lower Sea Lane.

Visitors are seen outside Devonedge before  leaving by the bus which was driven by Mr William Holly junior in 1900.

The building on the left - Sunny side", now known as "Devons Edge" was run as a Bakers and tea room by the Cole Family with a Hotel on the upper floors. It was rebuilt after a disastrous fire, in 1894. The photograph was taken in 1928 and shows the Garage that stood in the forecourt of Lansdowne House.

Another wonderful photograph taken by Claud Hider in 1928 of the towering Devonedge Hotel from the grounds of Harry Pryers masons yard on the opposite side. The arcades of shops were still to be built then.

The building known as "Streets" as it looked before the fire that destroyed it. It was for many years occupied by the Village Clerk,Digory Gordge, which  is a name to conjure with. He held this position for fifty six years on a salary of three guineas a year. In 1894 Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Homes stories, and two companions visited a haunted house in Charmouth where the corner shop is today.The family who lived there were plagued by unexplained noises and activity. On the second night a fearsome noise broke out, but they were unable to find the cause. Doyle went on to write that a year later that  the house had since burnt down and an old skeleton of a child was found buried in the garden.

Sunnyside in 1900, with the neighbouring site on the corner of Barrs Lane a vacant plot, which it was to remain until 1933, when soon after the parade of shops we know today were built.

A similar view taken in the 1970 with parade of shops, including Robinsons the Bakers on they corner.

A view of the former Post Office and Grinters the butchers which formed the ground floor of Devonedge in the 1980s. Notice the Post Box which still stand on the same site.

George Restorick outside his Butchers shop, which now forms half of Morgan’s Stores.

This photo taken in 1984 shows the same retail unit as before, but now forming part of Morgan’s.

Charmouth was very often in the headlines for the frequent Lorry crashes. It would seem that quite often the brakes would go, especially in hot weather, down the steep hill and out of control would smash into other vehicles and buildings. Here is one of the many incidents recorded by Mary Davis over the years until the Bypass came as a welcome relief in 1990. They also provide an opportunity to see changes in the shops as can be seen here with a Garage on the right run by Whittakers and Marlene's the hairdressers on the left. This crash was in 1972, fifty years ago now.

Ernest Thompson standing in the doorway of his Drapers shop on the corner of Barrs lane and The Street. It was he who submitted plans for four shops. We are fortunate that the original detailed drawings have survived at the Archives in Dorchester. They show frontages that have been altered over time, but outward looking virtually the same. Ernest was to take the corner building for himself and opened it in 1934 as a Drapers which he ran with his wife Ethel.

This astonishing photograph shows an elephant from a visiting circus outside the shops, soon after they were built. Earlier in 1929 the village made the national news when a Lion escaped from a Circus Car when it hit into a tree just outside the village. It roamed the fields for a time and attracted large crowds. It went on to seize one of the cows there and sadly was shot dead by a marksman.

The same view today without the Elephant.

If John Hawkshaw had achieved his ambitions  in 1864 we would now have a Railway Station.  He was  one of the Country`s greatest railway engineers, who had spent his first five years working in the office of Charles Fowler, the architect of Charmouth Church. Their paths would later cross again when a new railway station at Charing Cross was needed and Hawkshaw won the commission. But it meant the end of the short lived Hungerford Market designed by Fowler which was demolished to make way for the Station buildings in 1863. In the same year Hawkshaw was working on a Railway Line linking Bridport with Lyme Regis through our village. He had bought most of the land up in both Lyme and Charmouth with the intention of putting a line through to Bridport. The station would have been on the playing field, with access from The Street by Barrs Lane.  Sadly it got thrown out by parliament, due to pressure from Great Western Railways and despite other attempts over the years we still have no railway.

This old photograph is of the building now known as Charmouth Lodge on the corner of Barr's Lane. It would have been one of the workshops of the Sail Cloth Maker, Jacob Ridley Kitt who lived next to it in the house now known as Little Lodge. It was later converted into the house seen here by Stephen Atkinson. On the right is the thatched roof of "Streets" which was to be burnt to the ground in the fire of 1895.Richard Whittington was to move to the village with his wife and family in 1900. He was a direct descendant of the real life hero, who was to become Lord Mayor of London in the 14th Century and afterwards be made famous in Pantomime. Their time was short in the village, and he died in 1906 and his wife 5 years later. It was their daughters who were subsequently to make their mark with their opening a School next door and involvement with the Tennis Club. The House was known as the Limes, after the line of trees in the Garden and is now called Charmouth Lodge.

The same view today.

Misses Beryl, Winnie and Joan Whittington with their cat, Nemo in Charmouth Lodge.None of the five daughters married and the longest surviving, Winnie and Joan, retained the position of Grande Dames of the village until Winnie died in 1974, aged 95, and Joan died in 1976, aged 91. They were well-known as a result of their pedigree and also through their involvement in church matters, the tennis club and an exclusive private school in the adjoining building to the Limes now known as Little Lodge, which had formerly been a shop.

The original house on this site dating back to the 14th century was called Yandover. In the 18th century it was to be the site of a Sail Cloth Factory. Many of the fields were owned or rented by  Jacob Ridley Kitt  to grow Flax, the staple for his cloth. At the end of the War with France in 1815, the demand for sail dropped off and sadly Kitt went bankrupt. His daughter, Ann briefly opened a shop there, which  In time was used as a school room before moving to Lower Sea Lane

Little Lodge in 1890 with the adjoining shop which was demolished soon after and is now car parking.

A much reduced Little Lodge today without the large shop adjoining it on the right.

An early photograph of the Whittington sisters with their carriage in front of the gates of Little Lodge, where the former shop had stood for over a century.

The Star Inn was formerly at the rear of the Charmouth Stores and closed down many years ago. The first photo shows Frank Turner, Vivian Hallett and Alf Hallett during the War and the other has a group outside the Star Inn with Frank Bailey. its Landlord with a pipe and bow tie.

The former Star Inn can be seen in the distance behind the Nisa Stores.

The view of Prospect Place in 1880 when Charmouth Stores was run by George Mortimer, who is seen in the doorway with his staff.The building we know today as Nisa opened as Charmouths first Post Office in 1806. Joseph Bradbeer who was the first Postmaster had  been the Landlord of the Mail Coach Inn opposite. On his death in 1821, his wife Lydia continued to run it as a Grocers. It  was then taken over by John  Carter, who had previously been a Carpenter. His family continued there until it is bought by George Mortimer who is shown in this early photograph.

After George Mortimers time at the shop, he sells it to Edward Vince in 1886 who makes a great success of it turning it into a department Store selling Clothes as well as Groceries. He lived with his family directly opposite in Carrium. This photograph has the list of goods he sells emblazoned on the side wall. You will see that his name has been altered to John Baker who takes it over in 1896.

John Baker lost interest in the stores and it rapidly went down until it  was bought by William John Dampier in 1918. He had moved from Dorchester where he worked for the department store of Boons and Sons. The Directory shows their telephone number as just 4 at that time. This photograph from 1935 shows William with his staff. From the left it is believed that the people shown are Percy Larcombe (young assistant who lived next door), Cecil Bugler (Assistant), Sammy Smith (Delivery Man),Peter Oldworth(Provisions), Donald Hubert Dampier(son), Gladys Frampton(daughter), William John Dampier (Owner).

G.K. Chesterton of Father Brown fame was a frequent the Charmouth Stores. One of the verses he was famous for was The Wicked Grocer", which reflected badly on the trade. As a recompense to the Dampiers he penned a new verse in 1929 which he dedicated to William called "The Good Grocer" that is full of his praises. Ron and Jean still treasure this original letter from the famous author.

This is a view of the inside of their shop with Donald Dampier, father of Ron behind the counter of Charmouth Stores taken in the 1950`s.

Ron and Jean Dampier stand in front of their Drinks display in the year 2000.

Next to Nisa is a shop which they call “Bumbles”. It had formerly been the house where the famous artist Thomas Carter Galpin had lived. He had bought the process of Lithography to this country and produced a number of prints of the village and surrounding area, some of which are shown here. One of his most beautiful was of the newly built St. Andrews Church in 1836.

This wonderful view is from a large hand coloured postcard looking down the Street in the year 1905.

Another view of the procession being led by John Hodder moving down the Street in 1911. They are now opposite Charmouth Stores which was run by John Baker, who had married the widow of the Landlord of the Coach and Horses opposite and neglected the business until it was bought by William Dampier in 1919, whose family were to run it successfully for over 80 years.

The Pryer Family outside Stanley House, where they lived. The house was one of 4 rebuilt by their ancestor Giles after a disastrous fire in 1864 and were called Prospect Place. It was his son, Harry who was to continue his business.  There were two doors one of which was used as an undertakers office by him. Next door is Rupert House which formed part of a terrace known as "Prospect Place".

It is interesting seeing the large number of people standing in the middle of The Street at that time before the age of Automobiles put a stop to it. The village Policeman is shown coming towards us. The gentleman in the boaters are standing behind the iron railings of The Manor, opposite the Church.The ancient Manor House had been refaced and split into three sections by this time. Its roof timbers reveal it dating to the 16th century , when it would have been more magnificent. It had been originally owned by the Abbot Of Forde. After the dissolution in 1539 the ownership of the village passed to the Petre family and then the Pole family who lived elsewhere. It wasn’t until William Ellesdon from Lyme Regis purchased it in 1649 that it became a home again and it was his son Anthony, born in 1659, who was to spend much of his long life there until his death in 1734. He was  very benevolent and restored the Church as well as a number of bequests to the poor and the Rector. There is a fine Marble memorial to him as well as a plaque in St. Andrews today. He left no children and the house was rented out by the Henvills, who inherited the Manor until they sold it to James Warden in 1788, who lived there briefly until being killed in a duel four years later. His descendants were to sell it in due course to Simeon Bullen in 1803, whose family were to live there  until 1887 before moving to nearby Catherston Manor.

The same view today.

This photograph was taken outside the Old Manor House at the turn of the 19th century and shows the Axminster Wagonette , which must have been the equivalent of the 31 bus which stops outside today.

This astonishing photo was found in awful condition and after repairing and strengthening the image now provides a unique view of an Otter Hunt. The building on the right is Backlands Farm house.  The Cotley Harriers are seen here in 1910 outside the Coach and Horses where they used to meet before moving to the New Inn further up the hill. They are still active today. The tall building in the centre was Backlands Dairy House and now called Hardings.

The same view today..

A resplendent number 1 Hillside festooned with bunting commemorating King George V Coronation in 1911. The Templer Family lived there for many years

Sir Jeffry Wyatville was the architect chosen by the owner Joseph Wilson in 1824 to design the three identical Villas. He was famous for the work he carried out at both Windsor Castle and Chatsworth and other stately homes.The photograph shows Dairy on the right with Nos. 1-3 Hillside to the left of the passageway which led to Backlands Farm at the rear. A herd of cows moving down The Street was a regular sight on their way to be milked in the Sheds behind the building.

A view of Hillside Terrace covered with Ivy. The long building in the center was the Dairy for Backlands Farm which covered much of the area to the rear of the ancient boundary wall at the back of the Street. In 1858 James Harrison, living at no.3 Hillside, found fossils from the cliffs of Black Ven that were quarried for raw material at the Cement Works owned by George Frean. Amongst them were bones from the first dinosaur found in England which he sent to Professor Richard Owen who named it Scelidosaurus Harrisonii after him.

The View today

Until recently the history of this thatched house originally known as the Cottage and more recently as Albury House” was unclear. Thanks to the generosity of our local Estate agents we now have the original deeds going back over 200 years. After careful research we hope to publish an article on the house in the next issue of the Echo. The deeds date from 1795 when Thomas Bidwell mortgaged the house to Joseph Bragge. It referred to a lease for 800 years dating from 1729, but by whom is not known. It was owned in 1799 by William Juson when he also owned "Backlands Farm“ behind it, and left it to his servant Hannah Hunter for her life, who died in 1845. In 1862 the owner was Andrew Tucker, Village Lawyer who rebuilt the stables employing Samuel Dunn and William Hoare. He later sold it to John Hodges of Bournemouth, whose family were to generously give the Playing Fields to the village.

The Cottage in the 1960s when it was a popular Hotel and Tea Room. Before the advent of overseas travel the village had a large number of Hotels and gust houses in the former larger properties. These included The Court, Charmouth House, Sea Horse House, Claremont, Devonedge, Coach and Horses.

The view today, lost behind a high hedge.

This wonderful photograph dating back to 1870 records a number of  Georgian buildings.
Above Albury House is Luttrell House which was built for Edward Bragge in 1735. He and his father before him were Rectors of Charmouth for 74 years. There is a magnificent memorial to the latter by the altar with the family's coat of arms. When Edward died he is reported to have had his coffin made from his dining room table as he enjoyed his food so much.

The view today

The view with Peria and Luttrell House in 1906 on the left reveals the mass of trees and hedges that once lined the street. One of the young boys has a Yoke on his shoulders to carry buckets of milk which he no doubt has collected from the nearby Backlands Dairy. Although the buildings are the same as before  you can see that both Luttrell House and its neighbour Peria had their Georgian fronts dramatically altered by the builders, Pryers with large bay windows at the end of the 19th century. Sadly, this was to give a Victorian look to many earlier houses along the Street, including Bow House, Claremont, Melbourne House and Well Head.

Mary Napier Stuart was to make a tremendous impact on Charmouth, the results of which can still be seen today. Her maiden name was Schalch, a family originally from Switzerland who had made a fortune as Master Founders at Woolwich Arsenal in the 18th century. She had married Daniel Stuart in 1813 and they lived both in Harley Street and Wykeham Park in Oxfordshire. He had amassed a fortune from two newspapers “The Morning Post”and “Courier”, which had huge national circulations in their day, by employing writers such as Samuel Coleridge, Robert Southey and William Wordsworth.
He died in 1846 and his widow, Mary moved to Charmouth in 1855, where her brother, Philip Shalch lived. This gentleman had married Mary Purlewant, a niece of the Reverend Brian Coombes, who had left Stonebarrow and Backlands Farm to her and her husband.
Mary Stuart bought three ancient cottages in the village and built “The Court” in their place. She was not happy with the adjoining Almshouses, so she had three new ones built for the occupants in Lower Sea Lane and had the old ones demolished. To safeguard her view towards the sea, she next bought the field opposite, now known as Fountains Mead. Finally in 1870 she purchased her late brothers' farms and became Charmouth`s largest land owner. She left her house to her daughter as long as she never married – which she obeyed.

The daughter of Vernon Hugh Scalch who lived at The Court was married to Alfred Haggard, brother of Rider Haggard, author of King Solomon's Mine who was a frequent visitor at 'The Court'. When he required names for two of his characters for the novel, “She” that he was writing in 1886, he chose Leo Vincey after Edward Vince the owner of Charmouth Stores (Nisa today) and L. Horace Holly after William Holly, the owner of “Wistaria” who operated the Axminster Bus from there. Haggard's novel is a first-person narrative of a journey into an African kingdom, where a mysterious white queen rules. Famous authors like Henry Miller and J.R.R. Tolkien have cited She as a key influence of their work. She has gone on to sell 83 million copies.

This early photograph looking down The Street, with Monks Rest and the Stone House on the left, predates 1864, as this was the year that Mrs. Stuart rebuilt the Court and later demolished the Alms-houses below it, still to be seen in this image.

The same view today including the Court after being rebuilt.

“Peria” had been built at the same time as its neighbour Lutrell House. This photograph shows it with its Victorian Bay Frontage. The shop to the right had originally been a workdhop rented by Village Carpenter, Samuel Dunn. It was later opened as a shop by R.H.Hazard, who kept an ironmonger's and grocer's shop. In about 1890 these premises were burnt down and rebuilt. Another fire destroyed his shop and has remained an open space ever since.Peria had at one time been owned by Gabriel Bray, a famous Naval Captain and Artist. He retired in 1809, moving to Charmouth, and becoming a local churchwarden. There he proposed a new lifeboat design in 1817 for which he was presented with a silver medal by the Royal Society. He died in 1823 and his wife continued to live in their house until it was put up for auction on her death in 1835.

The view today with a gap where the former shop would have stood

Dolphin Cottage, Grasmere and Fountain Cottage are seen  in this early photograph taken in 1870. They were the homes of the Innes family for a number of years.
Sir Charles Alexander Innes served as Governor of Burma from December 1927 to December 1932. He lived at Lynwood, now called Dolphin Cottage and the adjoining properties were owned by other members of his distinguished family.
There are two brass plates in St. Andrews to Charles Alexander Innes and Maxwell Campbell Innes, who came from a very distinguished family. Charles was a Surgeon who had been present at the Siege of Sebastapol in 1855. He then went on to India and took part in the Siege of Delhi. His father was Lieutenant Alexander Innes who had fought at the Battle of Waterloo. In 1915 Charles was living at Lynwood as neighbour with his daughter, Susan Bush at Grasmere and his son Major Hubert at Omega. Another son, Charles went on to be Governor of Burma from 1927 until 1932 and was knighted for his services.

It is difficult to match the earlier photograph up as there is a huge hedge there now.

This early photograph dating back to 1865 has John Stevens, the owner of Portland House standing in the doorway of his new shop. Charmouth House on the opposite side had an iron fence then , before being replaced with a stone wall.

This is a wonderful water colour that came up for sale on eBay recently without a title. It was later recognised by Neil as Charmouth. It can be dated between 1865 and 1871 when John Stevens ran it as a Grocers Shop and placed his name above the Window. There is a Cart full of Barrels and cases by the side of it. The picture supplies valuable information about this and other buildings in the village.  The shop occupied part of the ground floor of Portland House and had originally opened as a grocer' s shop  in 1823 by Joseph Cozens, although the building is much older, with deeds going back to 1743, when it was owned by John Anning

The Whittington sisters who lived in The Limes (Charmouth Lodge) are seen here inspecting a map, which they may well have bought from Miss Elizabeth Tarr in the Stationers shop run by her for nearly 60 years in Portland House.

A fascinating photograph taken in 1900 of two sailors - Ted Hunter and Charles Larcombe  outside Miss Tarrs Shop. Mr Smith and his wife stand in the doorways of Bayville House. Captain Manley and Mrs  Juliana Dixon who lived in the Elms are seen in the Wagonette on the right

The view today without their respective shops.

In 1962 Andrew and Christine Asquith bought Portland House and opened the shop as “Mediterranea”. Here they would sell a variety of goods that they had purchased on their annual tours of the continent. They were to move in 1976 and it was for a time a Hairdressers called “Susannes” until in 1982 it was bought by David and Sheena Mandy who still live there. On the other side of the road was Badgers Bookshop, which still bears its name, but no longer a shop.

This wonderful postcard dated to 1922 shows some of the businesses in this part of The Street  at that time. At the top can be seen The New Inn, then The Fish Shop run by Cecil, brother of Billy Gear. The village G.P. Dr. Chamberalin lived at Askew House. At Melville House was a Post Office and Stores. Next door at Waterloo House was Childs a Hardware Store (now the fossil shop). Ernie Hutchings, was a cobbler living and working from Granville House on the right, the window to this former shop can still be seen today.

Ernie Hutchins, a cobbler is seen here looking out of his shop whilst his wife stands in the doorway of the adjoining “Granville House” where they lived.

This wonderful photograph from 1900 shows the village Blacksmith Alfred Childs and his family and workers outside  Waterloo House.In 1803 Benjamin Diment, purchased it from Samuel Oliver for £150 and his son, Benjamin the Younger, erected the first blacksmith's shop there. In 1887 it was bought By H.P. Childs. The entrance to Childs forge was through an archway by the small ironmonger's shop. They were there for many years until moving to Langley House and then to the shop where Morgans is today which is the reason they still have a range of hardware goods.

Longs was a store in part of Melville House. It had opened in 1937 as a grocery business and was in time the village Post Office. Nora and Ellis Long were very active in the village for over 30 years and during the war he was an Incident Officer with the Civil Defense Corps. The Poster on the right for The Regent Cinema was one of many produced by Ellis to advertise local events it advertises the film “Crackerjack” which was released in 1938 and helps date the photo.

Two car loads of holiday makers stop outside Longs Post Office and Grocers, which has long since closed and is now called Melville House.

Another scene from the 1911 Coronation celebrations with a banner proclaiming God Bless the Queen on the fence of Askew House, which was the surgery for Alfred Barratt Hine who was the doctor at that time.  Later Dr. Chamberlain would have his Practice here. 

The Bridport News on the 21st February 1867 reports :"One of those excellent institutions on a small scale is about to be established at this place, to be supported by voluntary subscription. A House has been taken, capable of receiving a few patients, in which a nurse will reside. It will be under the Superintendence of Mr. Norris, surgeon (originator of scheme) and a committee”. The photograph shows the building next to the former New Inn at the top of the Street, which became the Village Hospital for a time.

In 1888 a fire broke out in Mr Durrant`s Grocery Shop, seen here on the left, and spread quickly to the adjoining New Inn occupied by Mr H. Wild. The newspaper report at the time mentions that the Lyme Regis fire engine made a start for the fire but was unable to proceed for want of a horse. This is  a very early photograph c.1860 of the former New Inn and the shop that were destroyed in the fire.  The line of old cottages of the Axminster Road are seen in the distance.

 This is a very nostalgic look at Old Charmouth taken in 1911 by Samuel Hansford of an Ivy clad New Commercial Inn. The youngsters on the left are standing by an advert for Stones Axe Vale Cider from Axminster.

Whilst in the cellar at The Elms we came across a large painting of the former New Inn from 1948 by a local artist. It is now on display in The Pavey Room and is of interest as it shows the colours of the building at that time.

This photograph has regulars enjoying a pint at The New Inn which was situated at the top of the Street. Jack French, Henry Trott, Syd Grinter with the Landlords -Tony and Maisey Marshall are shown here. In 1977, Palmers sold the premises to The Department of the Environment for road widening. The pubs car park is now under the road and the former Inn is subdivided into a number of houses

Another procession with the Boys Brigade passes the New Inn in the 1940s. To the left of it can be seen the Singing Kettle. This was a tea room run by Turner and Smales. As well as light meals villagers could get their cigarettes and newspapers there.

This painting by Claude Muncaster of the top of the street  was one of a series National Savings Posters produced in 1954 to promote their services. It shows the Post office when it was run by The Long family from what is Melville House today. Immediately up from the shop was Askew House set back from the road, which for a long time was the Charmouth Surgery run by Dr. Chamberlain. The building known as The Holt  with the Sold sign was once a Fish shop  run by Cecil  Gear.

Melbourne House can be seen on the right of this photograph taken in 1880 with its high stone Wall. It was here that the Lady of the Manor, Ann Liddon lived with her daughters for many years after the early death of her husband Captain Matthew Liddon. She was  the daughter of James Warden, who died in a duel in 1792. She married Matthew Liddon, four years before and they had 5 children. Her husband died in 1803 and she later moved to Melbourne House with her daughters. On the death of his Mother in 1849, Captain Matthew Liddon was to briefly become Lord of the Manor of Charmouth. But in 1854 he and his sister, Lucy sold the Estate to George Frean of Plymouth for £9100. By then Matthew was living in Andover in Hampshire and the Church is fortunate to have a memorial to him and his family. Both his sisters continued to live the rest of their days at Melbourne House.

A lovely picture of a  Miss Harrison at a small bench with her mother and grandmother in the garden of the Well Head which the family had purchased in 1889.   It had previously been the farm house for Foxley farm run by Mr and Mrs Reuben Durrant. In 1926, the famous Historian, Reginald  Pavey bought Well Head, then known as Bruton House and lived there for the next 47 years. The Pavey Group was founded in recognition of the important part he played in recording its past until his death in 1973. His many Albums were donated to the Record Office at Dorchester, where they can be readily seen today. The Church has a large East window commissioned by him to mark its centenary in 1936.

The Farm House for Foxley Farm is seen here in 1870 on the left. On the right is the house now called Water Head, which had formerly been the Stone House. The two thatched barns on either side have since gone and its fine Georgian front refaced. Alongside is Melbourne House

These Cow Sheds could be seen at the rear of Badgers, but were demolished when South wood was built. They would have formed part of the outbuildings for Foxley Farm which stretched back from Old Lyme Hill and Higher Sea Lane. The Farm House was at the Wellhead, though it later moved to the Knapp. This astonishing early photograph clearly shows how rural Charmouth was in the past with the barn and walls of the Foxley Farm at the rear of the houses now known as Badgers and Foxley Cottage

An early photograph c.1870 revealing how a number of buildings looked at that time. Badgers was then a pretty cottage, before the porches were added.  Claremont has a delightful bow window which was to go when it was refronted by Harry Pryer. An earlier building had been the gatehouse for the Bridport -Exeter turnpike road which was opened in 1758. Waverley was later built next to "Well Head" where farm buildings used to stand. with Early Claremont once appeared with a curious curved window jutting out into its garden. It’s five bay frontage had been altered by this addition and a larger window had been inserted on the next level replacing two earlier windows. It had once been where a Toll keeper had sat waiting for the many coaches that were passing through Charmouth between Exeter and London. The stumps of the original wooden gate that would have straddled the Street were found in 1937 whilst laying sewage pipe.
In 1757, there is a description of the existing road as that“High Road leading from the Almshouse at west end of Charmouth to and thru Lyme Regis which are in a ruinous condition, narrow in many places and very steep and uneven and by reason of the waters in the winter season unpassable at divers places and very dangerous to travellers cannot be repaired, widened by present methods” 
As a result, the following year Charmouth had the first of its turnpike roads built. It was known as the Great Western Road and continued on as far as Aylesbeare, within a few miles of Exeter . It started from the top of the Street where there would have been a toll gate which were generally stout and substantial overseen by a keeper who would collect the tolls. He would be heralded by a coach horn,and would let the mail coach through free of toll.  The bow windows faced in both directions so that the keeper could see the traffic approaching from either side. The original Turnpike Road that passed through Charmouth was built in 1756 and the toll office may well go back to the time it was opened. It was no doubt superseded in 1824 when a new Toll House was built in brick at the bottom of the street near the river, which still stands today.
Charmouth was fortunate to have 2 turnpike trusts set up in 1753 and 1757 which created new roads through to Bridport and Exeter. The original Toll House, now known as "Claremont” still stands at the top of the street though later refronted. This old photograph shows the building with its bow window on the left allowing the occupant to see the coaches as they passed through.There would have been a Toll Gate stretching across the Street, which would allow travellers to pay their Toll and continue with their journey.

At the end of the holiday in 1900, the Carrier would take all the cases to the Station at Axminster. Here the two chaps are trying to get it all on their wagon, watched on by a small boy and 2 dogs. The two aproned chaps may well have just come back from a few drinks at the nearby New Inn to assist.
In his notes on the village, Reginald Pavey writes:"At the turn of the 19th century Visitors arrived and departed either by Holly’s Bus or by The Coach and Horses Break. Their luggage was conveyed to and from the station by wagon. There were no boarding houses and families either took a furnished house and bought their own servants or stayed in lodgings. They usually came for a month or six weeks. The same people came year after year and knew everybody. In the morning after bathing “Top and Run “ was played on the West Cliff, an annual institution until Thalatta was built and the pitch built over. Nearly everyone joined in. In the afternoon was there Tennis at the Club and occasionally a cricket match on which the visitors helped to strengthen the team. Once a year the Ladies played the Men, which was quite a social function". 

A Horse and Cart stops on its way down the hill in 1923. In the distance can be see The Well Head, then called Bruton House, where commander Francis Davies lived. Then Badgers, which at that time was occupied by George Grinter who ran Foxley Farm with its fields stretching from Old Lyme Hill to Higher Sea Lane. Next to it is Claremont House with its board outside promoting its letting apartments.

The view today

Here we see the side of Charmouth House in Higher Sea Lane which has now been cleared of Ivy and the rubble wall rendered over. Whereas part of Knapp Cottage has had its render removed to expose the stone work below.  It is difficult to visualize now that there was a grocer's shop called Cabell`s in one of thses cottages for many years,where a wide range of goods could be bought.

The large thatched building standing on the corner of Higher Sea Lane is very ancient, with a history stretching back to the times when the village was owned by the Abbot of Forde and this was a Hostelry for weary travelers. It was called the Fountain, after the stream that passed its doors and still exits along the Lane. Its name appears under various landlords among the annual list of ale houses for Dorset over the centuries. It was to close its doors in 1811. It was at the height of The Napoleonic Wars, which may have affected its trade. But close it did and was bought by  the wealthy Thomas Gordon and his wife Jane, who retired there and both were to live to a good age, with memorials to them in St. Andrews Church, recording both their deaths in 1855. Their property was to later be sold to George Holly and became an Inn again and was renamed Charmouth House, which it remains today, although its day as a Hotel have long passed. The photograph taken in 1860 shows it with a fine iron fence which was later replaced with stone.

Lucy Rossetti, who was the daughter of the famous artist, Madox Brown stayed at Charmouth House in the summer of 1878 with her children It was then run as an hotel by George Holly. Her painting shows it on the right with Portland House opposite, alongside which can be seen a standing tap for the village water supply.

This lovely photo shows the village Club Day on the field known as Fountain Mead. The distinctive shape of The Court can be seen in the background. The Village band and a forerunner of the Black and White Minstrels can be seen in the foreground. It was the owner of The Court, Mrs Stuart who purchased the field so she could get a view  of the sea from her library. It later became known as Court Field and was the site for many years of the Village Club Fair held every Whit Monday. A house behind the War Memorial bears that name to this day.

A view looking down The Street in 1890 with the walls of the Court on the left and the Royal Oak on the right with two young chaps proudly standing with their horse and cart.

James Bridle was the Landlord of The Royal Oak when this photograph was taken in 1923. Prior to its opening in 1860 it had been a Butchers and their shop window can still be seen on the left. The large sign above the entrance is a link in 1651 when Charmouth was the base from which King Charles attempted his escape to freedom in France. After it failed, he travelled on to Bridport and the painting is of the huge Stone commemorating it outside the town.

This photograph of a group outside the Royal Oak on Remembrance Day in 1925 shows a number of members of important village families at that time. They are from the back: Alby Cook, Andrew Dunn, Jim Bridle - Landlord, Charlie Larcombe, Shane Burridge, middle row: Billy Gear, Reg Rattenbury, Bill Gordge, Ted Hunter, Fred Hitchcock and front row : Jim Bridle Junior, John Hodder, familiarly known as "Scutter" & Boy, his dog

Florence Nightingale was a friend of Lord Herbert who was to open the Convalescent Hospital here in 1857 which had 20 beds and a resident matron. It was later the home of James Harrison of the famous firm of printers. He was to give it the name of Little Hurst, after his London home. It was always a mystery why a village should end up with a Church building designed by one of the country's greatest architects. But a glance at the memorials in the Church gave us a clue, For one is in memory of Jane Fowler, who it turns out was Charles Fowler`s mother who spent her last years with her sister, Mary Culverwell in Charmouth. Both were widows who lived at Little Hurst, in what is now the Doctors Surgery.

An early photograph of the rear of "Little Hurst" as it was later to be called by John Harrison as a contrast to his larger home in Regents Park, London.

Langley House which was formerly called "Wistaria" dates back to atleast the 17th Century, as a pump with the date,1611 used to stand in the kitchen, but was later sadly removed.
Edward Day, the famous geologist who worked with Sir John Hawkshaw on surveying the first Channel Tunnel and other projects, lived here from 1861-1865. He no doubt would have been working on the proposed railway line linking Charmouth with Bridport and Lyme this time. It was later to be the site of the village Post Office run by George Holly,

When William Holly sold the Axminster bus in 1900 he took up the position of Postmaster at his house "Wistaria“ and his son William Holly Junior later took on the post when he retired. It was to remain in that building for the next 40 years until moving to Devons edge. There was also a branch of Lloyds Bank in the left part of the property. The mail van is one of the first motor vans to run between Dorchester and Charmouth. The driver was allowed to carry one passenger. Mr William Holly, the postmaster is seen here standing behind the van.

The Reverend Thomas Snow was Curate from 1827 until 1834 whilst Reverend William Glover was Rector. In 1831 his cousin, Diana Sperling visited him and painted a number of views of the village in that year.  This slide shows the view of the former church, which was to be demolished 4 years later. The building on the left is the Elms and that on the right the house known as Miss Hyde's Cottage, which is now the site of The Library.

A similar view to the previous one taken in 1900 with the building now called Langley House to the right.

The Elms which is now owned by the Parish Council has a history dating back to when the village was owned by the Abbot of Forde. The Deeds to the property are now in the Dorset Record Office. The earliest is a  lease for 2,000 years, which was made between Sir John Petre and Richard Piers of Lyme in 27th April 1575. The house was known as "Mann's Tenement" and was  previously occupied by Thomas Mann. The lease describes it as "a cottage with one acre of land ad­joining to the south side also another acre of land lying between the land of Thomas Jesse on the north side and the land of William Webber on the south side and common of pasture for a mare and her foal or two rother beasts"  In 1743 it was owned by Samuel Burrow, blacksmith, who sold it to Walter Oke of Axmouth. In 1805 Thomas Shute was the owner and in 1826 Captain E. Gage Morris, father of the well known naturalist Francis Orpen Morris (1810 - 1893). In 1846 it was leased by Dr. Edmunds Norris, who became owner on his marriage with Miss P.Boshear in 1858. Captain Marryat was the author of the famous children' s novel "Children of the New Forest". His daughter Emilia married Dr. Henry Norris in 1862 and lived at The Elms where they had 3 children.

The Elms has been the base for Charmouth Local History Society since it was founded in April 2001.This photo shows the original Committee at a meeting in the Pavey Room in that year. They are from top left:  Roger Aldworth, Peter Press, Geoff Prosser, Mrs. S. Edwards, Jill Matthews, Keith Wiscombe, Mrs Whatmore, Pat Hansford, Pat Stapleton.

Before the old Church was demolished in 1835, Samuel Dunn, the Clerk of Works had his son in law, William Hoare make a detailed model of it.  Bill Burn through his wizardry has superimposed a photograph of it on to a present-day view showing how it would have looked with its higher tower.

Near the entrance to St. Andrew Church standing forlornly held together by rope is the once imposing Tomb to James Warden. recording his many sea battles and his tragic death in a Duel in 1792. It is one of a number of Memorials still remaining both inside and outside the Church to the many important individuals who have played a part in the village's history.
The present structure designed by Charles Fowler in 1836 replaced a 14th century building. He was the Architect of Covent Garden Piazza, so popular today. When we see the stone wall that fronts on to the Street, we would assume that it has been there for centuries. But this is not the case for originally a Butchers shop and an adjoining Pound for cattle formed an obstacle into the Street. The Church wardens with the help of Mrs Stuart bought the old building and demolished it and were able to extend the Churchyard 20 feet in 1866 But in 1950, most of the gravestones were removed and placed against the sidewalls where they remain.

The interesting photographs shows the former thatched Coach and Horses.  In the past  it was the focus of the important Coaching trade that passed through Charmouth. The building we see today replaced a much earlier Inn that stood on the same site until 1882 when it was destroyed in a fire. It was one of a number of fine thatched buildings that went the same way towards the end of the 19th Century in the village. It was originally called the “Three Crowns” when it was owned by William Edwards in 1809 and occupied by James Bradbeer who was also the postmaster. The earliest directory for Charmouth shows that in 1840 there were four coaches leaving and returning each day to the Inn from Exeter, London and Southampton.

Jane Austen`s stay in Charmouth at the Coach and Horses in the summer of 1803, before she went on to Lyme Regis in the autumn of that year and another visit there during the subsequent year.We have Jane Austen to thank for one of the earliest references to the village in Chapter 11 of "Persuasion" when she writes:
“Charmouth, with its high grounds and extensive sweeps of country, and still more its sweet, retired bay, backed by dark cliffs, where fragments of low rock among the sands make it the happiest spot for watching the flow of the tide, for sitting in unwearied contemplation”Records for Charmouth show that in 1760 a Mail coach killed a man and in 1805 a Balloon coach overturned killing Ann Pitt. The Inn had a number of owners and tenants over the years, but the most famous was George Holly whose sign can be seen in the earlier photograph. He was to change the name to the present day “Coach and Horses” 

This is thought to be the earliest photograph we have of Charmouth. It shows the last day of the Coronet coach which ran between Bridport and Exeter from February 1858 till the summer of 1860 when the opening of the L.S.W Railway to Exeter brought the service to an end. The photograph is of interest as it shows   portion of Lydia Watts cottage which was pulled down in 1861 when the church was enlarged. On the opposite side of the road can be seen Hillside, Albury House and Luttrell House.

The Coach and Horses. Jane Austen stayed here in the summer of 1803. It was then called "The Mail Coach Inn" as it was a popular stopover for coaches between Dorchester and Exeter. The original thatched building was destroyed by fire in 1882 and rebuilt. It was later converted into apartments.

Another delightful view of the former thatched building that was lost in a fire in 1882 and rebuilt in brick. There was extensive stabling through the arch to the yard behind. George Holly moved to the village in 1848 and remained landlord of the Mail Coach Inn for next 40 years and changed its name to "The Coach and Horses". The Inn was used extensively by commercial travellers during the coaching period. One of these gentlemen was accidentally drowned whilst bathing. Mr Holly paid for his funeral and 357 of his friends subscribed and gave Mr. Holly, a silver Coffee Pot as a mark of esteem in 1849. The advent of the railways marked an end to the coaches and the photo here from 1860 shows the Coronet Coach on its last journey. In 1873 George purchased Charmouth House, which stands at the corner of Higher Sea Lane for £1560 and was to live there and run it as an Hotel. In 1882 a devastating fire destroyed the old "Coach and Horses" and George never returned and was to die four years later and his daughter, Mrs Elizabeth Salisbury took over running his Hotel with her brother, George Holly 1858 a Lyme-Bridport horse omnibus started, leaving Lyme in the morning and returning in the evening. The Bus had room for 6 passengers outside and 6 inside and continued till August 1922, when it had to give way to the all-conquering motor .The driver shown here with a full coach was Mr W. J. Hounsell

A close up of Holly's Omnibus which took passengers from the coach and horses, whose entrance can be seen in the background, on to Bridport. Notice the G.W.R. Standing for Great Western Ralway on the side of the carriage for which he was an agent.This animated photograph shows one of the many coaches that would stop at the Coach and Horses enroute to Lyme Regis or Bridport.

Charles Sydney Boucher was the owner of the Coach & Horses Hotel in 1923. To the left in the former stabling Billy Gear ran his garage and two of the vehicles he hired can be seen in its entrance.
The first reference to him is in the Kellys Directory of 1927 where he is described as a Car Hirer. He garages his first cars in the two sheds Harold Pryer, the Stone Mason, owned before his death on the east side of a narrow lane alongside the Butchers at “Devonedge”. The business prospered and his next move was to the rear of the George Inn and then finally almost opposite at Pear Close. Billy Gear can be seen here with his cap and bow tie in one of his vehicles which he hired out from the former stables of the Coach and Horses.

Marsh Butcher, Charmouth can be made out on the side of this wagon outside Winton House, The Street, Charmouth

Astonishingly one of the two children has been identified as the son of Frederick Charles Marsh, who ran the Butchers Shop behind them. He is now aged 96 and living in Christchurch in Dorset. His own son, Steve Marsh, who lives in North Carolina saw the picture and gave us this valuable link with the past.

Reub Frampton was the village butcher with his brother Ron standing outside their shop next to The Coach and Horses. They came to Charmouth in 1938 when they bought the butchers from Cecil Marsh and later  served in the Home Guard during the war.

A photo of the former butchers in the 1970s when it was Lyme Locks and Winton House was Charms, a Jewelers

The equivalent to the X31 Bus stops by the Coach and Horses on its journey to Axminster  from Bridport in 1923.  It is interesting to see the ladies chatting on the left with their stylish clothes and bonnets.

On the left of this early photograph can be seen Beech House which in 1803 was a butchers owned by William Edwards who also owned the Coach and Horses Inn which he had rented to Joseph Bradbeer from 1790. It was later bought by Isaac Cooke who was Patron of Charmouth Church from 1827 until 1839, during the occupancy of Glover and Hales as Rectors. He lived in Clifton and was a Solicitor and at one time Mayor of Bristol. He bought Beech House from William Edwards and may well have been the gentleman who rebuilt it at the same time as the The Rectory as they are very similar doorways. 

Mr and Mrs Thomas Larcombe and their family with Tom Long the Postman from Lyme Regis sitting in the garden of Beech House. The lady on the left is Mrs F. Marsh whose husband ran the butchers in the adjoining property. Carium House is seen on the right of the picture.

This photograph taken in 1870 shows the group of three almost identical Villas that were built between 1843 and 1845. They stood on a field that formed the Glebe of the Church which had previously been owned by  the Edwards family who lived in Beech House and owned the Coach and Horses. It was purchased by village Carpenter, William Hoare for £210 and with his father-in-law, Samuel Dunn built Sandford, Littlecote and Carrum. The plans and deeds for them are comprehensive and provide valuable information. It was Samuel who was to let "Littlecote" in 1844  to Miss Henning for £25 a year. 

This photograph was taken in 1895 and shows Edward Vince and his family outside “Carrum” which they were renting from George Mortimer which was directly opposite Charmouth Stores which he ran.

This photograph taken in 1900 is of a carriage speeding past Sandford House, which was to be later demolished.

This Photograph was taken in 1958 just before Sandford House was demolished to widen Lower Sea Lane, which was very narrow as can be seen by the photographs. Braggs Store which is now The Pharmacy almost touches the corner of Sandford House`s garden.

Another view of The Lost House which formerly belonged to Colonel Little who was in charge of The Home Guard during The last War. It was to be purchased by the Dorset County Council in 1958 and pulled down to improve the entrance, to Lower Sea Lane.

The End