History of Beaminster
Beaminster is home to some of the UK’s most beautiful homes. Horn Park, about 1 1⁄2 miles (2.4 km) northwest of Beaminster, is a neo-Georgian Grade II listed country house of five bays and two storeys, designed by architect T. Lawrence Dale and completed in 1911, and privately owned. Its gardens are occasionally opened to the public as part of the National Gardens Scheme.
Just up the road from Beaminster town is Mapperton Estate, home to the Earl and Countess of Sandwich and a glorious sandstone manor house, and was also entered into the Domesday book of 1086 as Malperetone.
Beaminster’s fine church, St Mary’s, built on the site of an earlier Norman church has a 100-foot tower, erected in about 1500, which is one of the highest in Dorset. One of the carvings on the west face is a man with a fuller’s bat and mill used in the flax trade.
Beaminster Museum is the local history museum for Beaminster and the surrounding villages, including Broadwindsor, Burstock, Chedington, Corscombe, Halstock, Hooke, Mapperton, Mosterton, Netherbury, Seaborough, South Perrott, Stoke Abbott and Thorncombe. Housed in a former Congregational chapel and converted in 1990, it demonstrates how a ‘listed’ building can be modified to meet present-day needs. The chapel’s 19th century chamber organ has been fully restored and is still played regularly.
Flax and sailcloth takes a prominent place in the history of Beaminster, and the exhibition at the Museum is the result of a special study, giving a unique insight into the industry, from the growing of the crop to the weaving of linen to produce canvas, nets, smocks and sailcloth.
The Beaminster Museum offers something for the whole family – with Do and Learn activities for children of all ages, including I-spy hunts and dressing upthrough to those who wish to sit and browse through old photographs or books of historical interest. You can visit the Beaminster museum website for further information.
Beaminster is twinned with the French town of Saint-James. The Beaminster & District Twinning Association team work hard to continue building a collaborative and ongoing friendship with French families by arranging annual visits to, or by, Beaminster-friends in Saint-James, and regular events such as barbecues, dances and even French conversation groups.
And the similarities between the two towns are strikingly obvious. Just like Beaminster, Saint-James is also an old market town serving a large rural area. It sits deep in the Normandy countryside, close to the border with Brittany and just a few miles from the wide sweep of the Bay of Mont-Saint- Michel. Home to some spectacular buildings, the town has a very similar population size as Beaminster with a larger amount of retailers in its town square and a weekly market that occupies the heart of the community.
With its close proximity to the beaches of the Normandy landings, the Americans chose to site one of their major war cemeteries on the edge of the town in a very peaceful spot with views across to Mont-Saint-Michel. Therefore, hardly surprising that the American soldiers chose Beaminster’s own Parnham House as their base during the Second World War.
For more information about the Beaminster Twinning Association, click here