A Topographical Dictionary of England, Samuel Lewis, London 1831


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STALBRIDGE, a market town and parish in the hundred of BROWNSHALL, Sturminster division of the county of DORSET, 7 miles (E. by N.) from Sherborne, and 111 (W.S.W.) from London, containing, with the tythings of Gomershay, Thornhill, and Weston, 1571 inhabitants.

The name of this place, in Domesday-book, is written Staplebridge, and at the time of the Conquest it belonged to the abbey of Sherborne. The town and the greater part of the parish are situated upon a rock, which supplies building materials for the neighbourhood; the streets are not regularly paved, but are partially lighted by subscription, and the inhabitants are well supplied with water. From the south end of the main street another diverges, and at the intersection is an ancient stone cross, thirty feet in height, including the pedestal (ornamented on the sides with sculptured emblematical figures), from which rises the frustum of a pyramid, twelve feet high, with fluted angles, and decorated on one of the faces with a figure of our Saviour with a lamb at his feet, and at the bottom with shields of arms, and surmounted with canopied shrines, in one of which is a representation of the Crucifixion; above these are enriched canopies, terminating in a crocketed pinnacle, formerly surmounted by a cross, the whole being supported on three octagonal flights of steps, which diminish in the ascent. In the park formerly belonging to the manor-house the Anglesea cricket club is held: a building has been erected for the accommodation of the members, who meet weekly during the season, but the rest is converted to agricultural purposes, and is surrounded by a wall five miles in circumference. Stalbridge was formerly noted for the manufacture of stockings: several of the inhabitants are now employed in winding silk. A branch of the river Stour, and the Dorsetshire and Somersetshire canal, pass through the parish. In the reign of Edward I., a grant of a market and fair was made to the abbot of Sherborne; the present market is on Tuesday, and on every alternate Tuesday is a great market for cattle: fairs are held May 6th and September 4th.

The living is a rectory, in the archdeaconry of Dorset, and diocese of Bristol, rated in the king's books at 27. 4. 7., and in the patronage of the Senior Bachelor of Christ's College, Cambridge. The church, which is dedicated to St. Mary, is a spacious and ancient structure, with a lofty embattled tower; on the capitals of the pillars supporting the chancel are figures of angels holding scrolls inscribed with texts of Scripture: it contains some ancient monuments. There is a place of worship for Independents. A National school for children of both sexes is supported by subscription.

Volume 4, page 156

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