very old village settled amongst the hills behind the great Chesil Bank,
is known all over the world for it's swannery. This bird sanctuary is
over 600 years old and nestles in the lagoon behind the Chesil Bank.
In what became known as 'The Battle in the Pulpit', Cavaliers sniped at the Roundheads from the church tower of St. Nicholas in October 1644. The pulpit still bears the scars from shots fired by Cromwell's men. After a stubborn resistance in the church and manor house the garrison surrendered, but when the victorious roundheads entered the house the magazine blew up completely destroying the house and killing the plunderers.
Nine Hundred years ago King Canute rewarded the good services of his steward, Orca, with grants of land at Portesham, Abbotsbury and Hilton. It is thought that there was already a small religious community at Abbotsbury and it is this community that Orca and his wealthy wife, Tola, took under their wing and built an Abbey here. The Abbey here which dominated life for over 500 years, and when it was destroyed durring the Dissolution the great barn remained intact and still stands today, the largest thatched barn in the world.
High above the village on a hill which commands a view of the Dorset countryside and the English Channel is St. Catherine's, a small chapel built in the first half of the 15th century. In the architecture of the Perpendicular period. and built completely of stone the chapel's purpose may have been both as a seamark and beacon tower and as a chantry for sailors
Abbotsbury resounded to gunfire again during World War II, when off its shores Spitfire pilots fired there machine-guns onto the ranges and the Bouncing bomb which Barnes Wallis invented to breach the German dams was perfected along the coast as Lancaster bombers swept in low over the fleet, rehearsing the famous incident.