Chettle, one of the villages of Cranborne Chase situated in the rolling foothills between Tarrant Hinton and Farnham, is built, as its name suggests in a secluded, wooded hollow. It has two ancient long barrows, dug over 2,000 years ago as the final resting place of Neolithic Stone Age farmers.
The seclusion made it a good place to live in times of trouble, an it was here that the Chaffins set up home in the 17th century. Thomas Chaffin being a commander of a troop of Dorset Horse which opposed the Duke of Monmouth at the battle of Sedgemoor. Thomas died a natural death in 1691 at the age of 41, a tablet in Chettle's beautiful church commemorates the event.
It was the redoubtable George Chaffin, MP and Ranger of Cranborne Chase who commissioned Thomas Archer in 1710 to rebuild the Manor house, A Queen Anne house in the English Baroque style, set in 5 acres of gardens with many unusual herbaceous plants and shrubs
Hunting was a common obsession of the Chaffins, and George Chaffin's zealous guardianship of the rights and privileges of the Chase led to frequent confrontations with his neighbors, and on one occasion led his neighbor and fellow MP Bubb Dodington of Eastbury Park, Tarrant Gunville, to challenge him to a duel.
A later owner of Chettle House was William Chaffin (1733-1818), author of the best account of the battles between keepers and deer poachers, 'Anecdotes and History of Cranborne Chase' and a man mad about sport. William was even more rumbustious than his grandfather, and accidentally shot a woman on his first outing with a gun.
The turbulent history of the Chaffin's of Chettle continued right into the 20th century, when in 1914 another Chaffin came back to live at Chettle, and whilst writing another book about Cranborne Chase, 'Anecdotes of the Cranborne Chase.' was struck by lightning. However, he lived to finish the book.
Chettle House was the home of Rev John West [1778-1845]. He was also parson of the church in its grounds but is now better remembered in Canada than in this quiet Dorset village. West was appointed chaplain to the Hudson's Bay Company and would he the first missionary to the North American Indians on behalf of the Church Missionary Society [1820-28]. His Red River Settlement church and school became St John's Cathedral, Winnipeg.