Beaminster (/ˈbɛmɪnstər/ BEM-in-stər) is a small town and civil parish in Dorset, England, situated in the West Dorset administrative district approximately 15 miles (24 km) northwest of the county town Dorchester. It is sited in a bowl-shaped valley near the source of the small River Brit. The 2013 mid-year estimate of the population of Beaminster parish is 3,100.

In its history Beaminster has been a centre of manufacture of linen and woollens, the raw materials for which were produced in the surrounding countryside. The town experienced three serious fires in the 17th and 18th centuries; the first of these, during the English Civil War, almost destroyed the fabric of the town.

Beaminster parish church is notable for its architecture, particularly its tower.

Beaminster Town Centre - - 108071

Beaminster town centre
Beaminster is located in Dorset
Location within Dorset
Population3,100 (2013 estimate)
OS grid referenceST4701
• London145 miles (233 km)
Civil parish
  • Beaminster
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townBeaminster
Postcode districtDT8
Dialling code01308
FireDorset and Wiltshire
AmbulanceSouth Western
EU ParliamentSouth West England
UK Parliament
WebsiteBeaminster Town Council


In the Domesday Book of 1086 the manor of Beaminster was recorded as being owned by the See of Salisbury. Bishop Osmund gave it as a supplement to two of the Cathedral prebends in 1091.[1]

In the English Civil War the town declared for Parliament and was sacked by Royalist forces in 1644. Prince Maurice stayed in the town on Palm Sunday,[1] though his stay was brief because a fire, caused by a musket being discharged into a thatched roof,[2] almost totally destroyed the town.[1] The town suffered further accidental fires in 1684 and 1781.[3]

Previously Beaminster was a centre for the production of linen and woollens. Flax was grown and sheep kept on the surrounding hills and the town was locally more important than it is today: factories were constructed in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and as many as seventeen inns existed in the town in the early 20th century.[4]

No railway line came through Beaminster and as a result the town declined relative to other local towns such as Bridport and Dorchester.[5]

Horn Park, about 1 12 miles (2.4 km) northwest of Beaminster, is a neo-Georgian country house of five bays and two storeys, designed by architect T. Lawrence Dale and completed in 1911.[6] Inside the house the central corridor is barrel vaulted and leads to a drawing room whose groin vault is reminiscent of the work of Sir John Soane (1753–1837).[6] The drawing room includes Jacobean features re-used from the largely mid-16th-century nearby Parnham House,[6] which was being altered and restored at about the time that Horn Park was being built.[7] Horn Park is Listed Grade II. Its gardens are occasionally open to the public as part of the National Gardens Scheme.


Beaminster, view along Hollymoor Lane - - 1383388
View showing hills to the west of the town

Beaminster is sited 50 to 80 metres (160–260 ft) above sea level in a bowl-shaped valley, surrounded by hills which rise to 244 metres (801 ft) at Beaminster Down to the northeast. The River Brit and many small streams emerge from springs on the slopes above the town.[8] The confluences of several of these streams are within the town's boundaries. Beaminster's growth has historically been along the course of these streams, resulting in a settlement pattern that is roughly star-shaped.[9]

Beaminster is situated approximately 45 miles (72 km) south of Bristol, 38 miles (61 km) west of Bournemouth, 35 miles (56 km) east of Exeter and 15 miles (24 km) northwest of the county town Dorchester.


Beaminster is sited mostly on Middle Jurassic fuller's earth clay, with some Inferior Oolite in the south of the town and Bridport Sand Formation north of the town centre. The hills north and east of the town are Cretaceous chalk with a scarp face of Upper Greensand Formation, while those to the south and west are of Bridport Sand Formation. There are several faults running west-northwest to east-southeast through the town and its southern environs.[9] Horn Park Quarry SSSI[10][11] produced building stone from the Inferior Oolite and some quality fossil specimens[12] before becoming a light industrial estate on the road to Broadwindsor. Apart from the ammonites, the site displays a remarkable flat erosion surface and the most complete succession in the Upper Aalenian ironshot oolite limestone of the area.


Beaminster parish

Dorset County Council's 2013 mid-year estimate of the population of Beaminster parish is 3,100.[13]

The historic population of Beaminster parish from the censuses between 1921 and 2001 is shown in the table below.

Census population of Beaminster Parish 1921-2001
Census 1921 1931 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population 1,651 1,612 1,785 2,000 2,350 2,370 2,770 2,920

Source: Dorset County Council[14]

2011 census

Published results from the 2011 national census combine information on Beaminster parish with the small neighbouring parish of Mapperton to the southeast. Within this area there were 1,680 dwellings,[15] 1,529 households[16] and a population of 3,136.[17]

Economy and society

Beaminster, Danisco plant - - 922639
DuPont factory

DuPont produce Nisaplin (E234), a commercial formulation of the natural bacteriocin nisin, at a factory in the town.[18] It was first isolated by Aplin and Barret and produced in the 1950s in the factory laboratory then at 11–15 North Street. The Clipper tea company is based in Beaminster. It is currently owned by the Dutch company Royal Wessanen.[19][20]

Beaminster hosts the Beaminster Festival, an annual music and art festival.[21] Whitcombe Disc golf course at Beaminster has hosted the British Open Disc Golf Championship several times and the European Disc Golf Championship in 2003.[22] The town is twinned with the town of Saint-James on the Brittany/Normandy border in France.

Beaminster is also home to an annual vintage dog and pony show called Buckham Fair, hosted by Martin and Philippa Clunes on their farm in Beaminster. Attracting, on average, around 15,000 visitors for this one-day event in August, the event is run solely to raise money for a nominated local charity. To date, Buckham Fair has raised over £500,000.


The nearest railway station is 5 miles (8 km) north of the town at Crewkerne. Exeter International Airport is 30 miles (48 km) to the west. The main road through the town is the A3066, which leads to Bridport to the south and Mosterton and Crewkerne to the north. The road north passes through Horn Hill tunnel, which opened in June 1832[23] and is the sole pre-railway age road tunnel that is still in daily public use.[24]


Primary schools in the town include St Mary's Church of England Primary School.

Beaminster School is the town's secondary school. It has a combined sixth form with The Sir John Colfox Academy, in the nearby town of Bridport.


St Mary's Parish Church - Beaminster - - 717547
St. Mary's parish church

Beaminster has an Anglican church, St Mary's, and a Catholic church, St John's.[25] St Mary's is notable for its architecture, which is considered among the best in the county.[1] The tower in particular has been described as "a handsome example of its period" and "the glory of Beaminster".[4][26] St Mary's construction mostly dates from the 15th and 16th centuries, but was restored twice in the 19th. The eastern part of the north aisle incorporates part of an earlier 13th-century building, and the font bowl is late 12th-century.[26] The pulpit is Jacobean.[1]

In literature

Beaminster is referenced as "Emminster" in the fictional Wessex of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles.[27]

Dorset's 19th-century dialect poet William Barnes wrote of Beaminster:[27]

Sweet Be'mi'ster, that bist a-bound
By green and woody hills all round,
Wi' hedges, reachèn up between
A thousand vields o' zummer green.

It is a location for part of the story for the post-apocalyptic novel The Day of the Triffids.[28]

Notable people

Twin towns

Beaminster is twinned with:

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Hammond, Reginald J. W. (1979). Dorset Coast. Ward Lock. p. 41. ISBN 0-7063-5494-X.
  2. ^ Treves, Sir Frederick (1905). Highways and Byways in Dorset. Macmillan & Co. p. 299.
  3. ^ Newman & Pevsner, 1972, page 86
  4. ^ a b Wightman, Ralph (1983). Portrait of Dorset (4th ed.). Robert Hale. pp. 151–154. ISBN 0-7090-0844-9.
  5. ^ Bettey, J. H. (1974). Dorset. City & County Histories. David & Charles. p. 88. ISBN 0-7153-6371-9.
  6. ^ a b c Newman & Pevsner, 1972, page 88
  7. ^ Newman & Pevsner, 1972, page 87
  8. ^ Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Pathfinder Series, Sheet ST 40/50 Crewkerne & Beaminster, published 1984
  9. ^ a b "Beaminster Part 3 and 4 Context and sources". Dorset County Council/ February 2011. Archived from the original on 19 March 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
  10. ^ "Horn Park Quarry Geology Guide".
  11. ^ "Horn Park Quarry SSI".
  12. ^ "Horn Park Quarry Teachers Information Pack" (PDF).
  13. ^ "Parish Population Data". Dorset County Council. 20 January 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  14. ^ "Parishes (A–L), 1921–2001 Census Years". Dorset County Council. 17 March 2010. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  15. ^ "Area: Beaminster (Parish), Dwellings, Household Spaces and Accommodation Type, 2011 (KS401EW)". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  16. ^ "Area: Beaminster (Parish), Key Figures for 2011 Census: Key Statistics". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  17. ^ "Area: Beaminster (Parish). Key Figures for 2011 Census: Key Statistics". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 26 September 2013.
  18. ^ Delves-Broughton, Joss (24 September 2007). "Use of Nisaplin® as a preservative in pasteurised liquid egg products". Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  19. ^ "Clipper Teas bids whittled down to five". The Grocer. 10 November 2007. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  20. ^ "Clipper tea firm to stay in Dorset, new owner Wessanen says". BBC News. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  21. ^ Gerryts, Rene (10 June 2011). "Beaminster Festival: Melvyn Bragg one of the headlines at annual event". Bridport NEWS. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  22. ^ "PDGA Results search". Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  23. ^ "'A tunnel wide'". Dorset Life. November 2010.
  24. ^ "BEAMINSTER: A LITTLE HISTORY". Beaminster Town Council. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  25. ^ "In and around Beaminster". Beaminster Town Council. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
  26. ^ a b "'Beaminster', An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 1: West (1952), pp. 17–27". British History Online. University of London & History of Parliament Trust. November 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  27. ^ a b "Surrounding towns and villages". Dorset County Council. 29 October 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  28. ^
  29. ^ McGooghan, Ken (2003). Ancient Mariner: The Amazing Adventures of Samuel Hearne, the Sailor who Walked to the Arctic Ocean. HarperFlamingoCanada.
  30. ^ Gerryts, Rene (18 August 2010). "Martin Clunes shuns Hollywood for Beaminster". Dorset ECHO. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  31. ^ Tyzack, Anna (20 August 2012). "Martin Clunes interview". The Telegraph. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  32. ^ The Wild Garlic
  33. ^ Beckett, Andy (20 August 1995). "Indian Summer". The Independent. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  34. ^ [1]
  35. ^ "British towns twinned with French towns [via]". Archant Community Media Ltd. Archived from the original on 5 July 2013. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  36. ^ "Beaminster twinned with Saint-James". Beaminster Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  37. ^ Thoury, Michel. "31 ème anniversaire du Jumelage à Beaminster". Site de L'Office de Tourisme Saint James (in French). Archived from the original on 29 July 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  38. ^ "Dorset Twinning Association List". The Dorset Twinning Association. Archived from the original on 21 June 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2013.


External links

2015 West Dorset District Council election

The 2015 West Dorset District Council election took take place on 7 May 2015 to elect members of West Dorset District Council in England. This was on the same day as the general election and other local elections.

A series of boundary changes saw the number of councillors reduced from 48 to 44.

Beaminster Down

At 244 metres, Beaminster Down is one of the highest hills in West Dorset, England.

Beaminster Forum and Redhone Hundred

Beaminster Forum & Redhone Hundred was a hundred in the county of Dorset, England, containing the following parishes:




Chardstock (transferred to Devon 1896)





North Poorton

South Perrott

Stoke Abbott

Toller Porcorum (part)

Wambrook (transferred to Somerset 1895)See also: List of hundreds in Dorset

Beaminster Grammar School

Beaminster Grammar School, known in its final years as Beaminster and Netherbury Grammar School, was a small grammar school in the town of Beaminster, in Dorset, England, founded about 1868 and closed in 1962.

Beaminster School

Beaminster School is a coeducational secondary school and sixth form located in Beaminster in the English county of Dorset.It is a voluntary controlled Christian school administered by the Church of England Diocese of Salisbury and Dorset County Council. The school also has a specialism in technology, and was called Beaminster Technology College for a while.

Beaminster School offers GCSEs, BTECs and NVQs courses as programmes of study for pupils, with some courses offered in conjunction with Kingston Maurward College. Beaminster Schools sixth form provision is offered in conjunction with the Sir John Colfox Academy in Bridport, and students in the sixth form have the option to study from a range of A Levels and further BTECs. Beaminster School received a 'Good' grade in its latest Ofsted report of November 2013.


Bettiscombe is a small village and civil parish in west Dorset, England, situated in the Marshwood Vale four miles (6.4 km) west of Beaminster. Dorset County Council's 2013 mid-year estimate of the population of the civil parish is 50.


Broadwindsor ( ) is a village and civil parish in the county of Dorset in South West England. It lies in the West Dorset administrative district, about 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Beaminster. Broadwindsor was formerly a liberty, containing only the parish itself. Dorset County Council estimate that in 2013 the population of the civil parish was 1,320. In the 2011 census the population of the parish, combined with that of the small parish of Seaborough to the north, was 1,378.The parish church is principally Perpendicular in style, though it has origins in the 12th and 13th centuries, and was rebuilt in 1868. Thomas Fuller, who wrote The Worthies of England and The History of the Holy Warre, preached here between 1634 and 1650.King Charles II stayed the night in the village on 23 September 1651, after his flight from the Battle of Worcester.


Chardstock is a village and civil parish located on the eastern border of Devon, England off the A358 road between Chard and Axminster. The parish population at the 2011 Census was 828. The parish also contains the hamlets of Bewley Down, Birchill, Burridge, Holy City and Tytherleigh.

The parish is a major part of the electoral ward of Yarty. The ward population at the above census was 2,361.The parish was in Dorset until 1896. Historically it formed part of Beaminster Forum and Redhone Hundred.

The attractive village is surrounded by farmland and woodland and is within the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The River Kit runs through the village. The village church dates from the 19th Century. The village also has a post office and pub.

The collection of work by Artist Kenneth Butler Evans, cousin of poet William Butler Yeats, is based in the village at the home of his widow, sculptor Ann Ford.

DT postcode area

The DT postcode area, also known as the Dorchester postcode area, is a group of eleven postcode districts in England, which are subdivisions of nine post towns. These postcode districts cover much of Dorset, including Dorchester, Weymouth, Beaminster, Blandford Forum, Bridport, Lyme Regis, Portland, Sherborne and Sturminster Newton, plus very small parts of Devon and Somerset.


Drimpton is a village in the English county of Dorset, situated in the West Dorset administrative district approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) northwest of Beaminster and 3.5 miles (5.6 km) southwest of Crewkerne in Somerset. It lies within the civil parish of Broadwindsor.

Drimpton is sited on a small tributary of the River Axe which was unnamed until 2005 when, after a vote by villagers, it was officially named the "Little Axe". Neighbouring settlements include Clapton, Seaborough, Blackdown, Kittwhistle, Broadwindsor, Burstock, Greenham and Netherhay, the latter two being small hamlets virtually contiguous with Drimpton. At Greenham there was once a flax mill, part of which still survives as a factory making pet products. The village has two places of worship: the Anglican parish church of St Mary's and the Netherhay Methodist Chapel. Three books, chronicling life in the area, have recently been compiled; the project was called 'Village Voices'.

East Chelborough

East Chelborough is a small village and civil parish 7 miles (11 km) north-east of Beaminster in Dorset, England. Dorset County Council estimate that in 2013 the population of the parish was 50.On the top of the ridge at the nearby Castle Hill are the earthwork remains of a motte-and-bailey castle.


Mapperton is a civil parish in Dorset, England, 3 miles (4.8 km) south-east of Beaminster. Dorset County Council estimate that the population of the parish was 60 in 2013.


Netherbury is a village and civil parish in the English county of Dorset. It lies within the West Dorset administrative district, by the small River Brit, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) south of Beaminster and 4 miles (6.4 km) north of Bridport. The A3066 road connecting those towns lies 0.5 miles to the east.


Nisin is a polycyclic antibacterial peptide produced by the bacterium Lactococcus lactis that is used as a food preservative. It has 34 amino acid residues, including the uncommon amino acids lanthionine (Lan), methyllanthionine (MeLan), didehydroalanine (Dha), and didehydroaminobutyric acid (Dhb). These unusual amino acids are introduced by posttranslational modification of the precursor peptide. In these reactions a ribosomally synthesized 57-mer is converted to the final peptide. The unsaturated amino acids originate from serine and threonine, and the enzyme-catalysed addition of cysteine residues to the didehydro amino acids result in the multiple (5) thioether bridges.

Subtilin and epidermin are related to nisin. All are members of a class of molecules known as lantibiotics.

In the food industry, nisin is obtained from the culturing of L. lactis on natural substrates, such as milk or dextrose, and it is not chemically synthesized.

It was originally isolated in the late 1930s, and produced since the 1950s as Nisaplin from naturally occurring sources by Aplin and Barrett in laboratories in Beaminster in Dorset, and approved as an additive for food use in the USA in the late 1960s, although the Beaminster factory now is owned by DuPont.

Ralph Wightman

Ralph Wightman (26 July 1901 – 28 May 1971) was an English lecturer, journalist, author, and radio and television broadcaster.

He wrote many books on farming and the countryside and in the 1950s and 1960s became a well-known national figure, especially as a regular guest on the BBC radio programme Any Questions?

River Axe (Lyme Bay)

The River Axe is a river in Dorset, Somerset and Devon, in the south-west of England.

It rises near Beaminster in Dorset, flows west then south by Axminster and joins the English Channel at Axmouth near Seaton in Lyme Bay. During its 22-mile (35 km) course it is fed by various streams and by the tributary rivers Yarty and Coly.

It is a shallow, non-navigable river, although its mouth at Axmouth has some boating activity.The name derives from a Common Brittonic word meaning "abounding in fish", which is also the root for the River Axe in the Bristol Channel as well as the Exe, Esk, Usk and other variants. The name is cognate with pysg (plural of pysgod), the Welsh word for fish.In 1999, a section of the river extending for 13 kilometres (8.1 mi)—from the confluence with the Blackwater River (ST325023) to Colyford Bridge (SY259927)—was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It was described as supporting "an exceptionally diverse aquatic and marginal flora". The river's diversity comes from its active geomorphology, which has created a number of natural features that support niche ecologies; it also comes from there being a limited number of trees on the river bank, allowing in light; and also the riverbed stability in the lower reaches of the river. A majority of the SSSI runs through Devon; only 150 metres runs through Dorset. The underlying geology of the riverbed is alluvium with areas of valley gravel, clay, shale and marl. The fish life in the river is considered of European interest; aquatic life more generally includes salmon, bullheads, otters, medicinal leeches and kingfishers; all are of particular value, as is the diverse aquatic and marginal plant life. The geomorphology of the meanders south of Axminster are the particular geological interest.

The Sir John Colfox Academy

The Sir John Colfox Academy (formerly the Sir John Colfox School, and until 1999 Colfox School) is a coeducational secondary school and sixth form located in Bridport in the English county of Dorset.Previously a community school administered by Dorset County Council, the Sir John Colfox School converted to academy status in May 2015 and was renamed the Sir John Colfox Academy. However the school continues to coordinate with Dorset County Council for admissions. Admissions to the school includes pupils that usually attend Bridport Primary School, St Mary’s CE Primary School, Burton Bradstock CE VC School, Loders CE VC Primary School, Powerstock CE VA Primary School, St Catherine’s Catholic Primary School, Symondsbury CE Primary School and Thorner’s CE School.The Sir John Colfox School offers GCSEs and BTECs as programmes of study for pupils. The Sir John Colfox School sixth form provision is offered in conjunction with Beaminster School in Beaminster, and students in the sixth form have the option to study from a range of A Levels and further BTECs.

Thomas Sprat

Thomas Sprat, FRS (1635 – 20 May 1713) was an English churchman, Bishop of Rochester from 1684.

West Dorset

West Dorset is a local government district and parliamentary constituency in Dorset, England. Its council is based in Dorchester. The district was formed on 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, and was a merger of the boroughs of Bridport, Dorchester and Lyme Regis, along with Sherborne urban district, and the rural districts of Beaminster, Bridport, Dorchester and Sherborne. In 2006 the district was named 10th best place to live in the UK.The district and its council will be abolished on 1st April 2019 and, together with the other 4 districts outside the greater Bournemouth area, will form a new Dorset unitary authority.

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