A Topographical Dictionary of England, Samuel Lewis, London 1831


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CHARMOUTH, a parish in the hundred of WHITCHURCH-CANONICORUM, Bridport division of the county of DORSET, 2 miles (N.E. by E.) from Lyme-Regis, containing 607 inhabitants.

The living is a discharged rectory, in the archdeaconry of Dorset, and diocese of Bristol, rated in the king's books at 8. 16. 8., endowed with 200 private benefaction, and 200 royal bounty. J. Cooke, Esq. was patron in 1826. The church is dedicated to St. Matthew.

The ancient village of Charmouth derives its name from being situated at the mouth of the river Char, over which there is a bridge; it lies on the coast of the Bristol channel, at the foot of a steep hill, round the north-western side of which the road was directed in 1758, and is considerably resorted to as a watering-place. The neighbouring cliffs abound with martial pyrites, bitumen, and other inflammable matter, which, after heavy rains, have been seen to burn with a vivid flame, particularly in the year 1751.

Two sanguinary battles were fought here between the Danes and the Saxons ; the first, in 833, ended in the retreat of the latter, under King Egbert, and the return of the former to their ships; the second, in 840, terminated also in the defeat of the Saxons, under King Ethelwolf, who commanded in person; but the Danes so little improved their victory, as to embark precipitately without booty. After the battle of Worcester, Charles II. and his suite fled hither, with an intention to escape into France; but having been disappointed, the monarch quitted the place; soon after which, a blacksmith having discovered, from the manner of shoeing the horse of Lord Wilmot, who had tarried behind, that the party came from the north, a pursuit was immediately commenced, but without success. In the 7th of Edward I. license was granted to the abbot of Ford for a weekly market on Monday, and a fair annually on the eve, day, and morrow of St. Matthew, to be held at this place.

Volume 1, page 375

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