The village of Owermoigne, three miles from Ringstead Bay, has never had a pub, but such was the high incidence of smuggling activities long ago, that it probably never needed one. Kegs of contraband spirit were hidden in the church, and the rectory has a blocked up window where once the rector's barrel was smuggled in. Of the original 15th century church only the tower, (used by the 18th century smugglers as a store), remains. the rest of the church was rebuilt in 1884 with rather odd square windows.
An odd array of bungalows and houses are left behind as old Owermoigne comes into view, with a village centre typically Dorset, but with an unhappy and violent history. Owermoigne's disgrace occurred in the 16th century. The Moygnes lived there from Norman times for 300 years. The last heiress married a Stourton and a few generations later the act which brought shame to a family and a village took place'
Charles, Lord Stourton, was in dispute with a father and son called Hartgill. He invited them to his home pretending that he had forgiven them and clubbed them to death, burying them 15 feet beneath his cellar, and covered the spot with barrels of brandy. The deed however, was discovered. Sentenced to be hanged, he pleaded for some indulgence from Queen Mary. After all he was a Catholic and a nobleman. With a wry sense of humor, the Queen ordered that he should be hanged with a 'halter of silk in respect of his quality' and they buried that fiendish murderer in Salisbury Cathedral.
In 1588 a ship of the Spanish Armada came ashore at Ringstead Bay, was plundered and the crew murdered. Timber from the ship became beams in the rectory dining room at Owermoigne.
French born, Theodore Janssen, once lived at Owermoigne, a man of vast fortunes hated by the villagers earning 7 or 8 shillings a week. He was an astute businessman and King William knighted him and later he was created a baronet by Queen Anne. He was a director of the South Sea Company and when the 'Bubble' burst, Walpole blamed the company and scapegoat Janssen was forced to return £250,000. He died in 1748.
The second part of the villages name is straightforward, since -moigne is a manorial affix from the family of Moigne (from Old French moine 'monk') who held this manor from the beginning of the 13th century. Owermoigne first appears with the manorial addition in the 14th century in such spellings Oure Moyngne in 1314 and Ovre Moigne in 1375. The same family gave its name to Shipton Moyne in Gloucestershire.
However, the first part of the name Owermoigne has always been puzzling from the etymological point of view. The name is first on record in the Domesday Book of 1086 with the strange spelling Ogre, and subsequent medieval spellings include Ogres in 1210, Oweres in 1212, Oure in 1219, Oghre in 1244, and Ogris in 1275. The suggestion that it might be from Old English ofer 'a slope or ridge' looked topographically suitable, but it was very unlikely on phonetic grounds in view of the dominant -g- spellings among the early forms.
A recent explanation of the name proposed by Professor Richard Coates seems to provide a solution. He convincingly suggests that an ancient British (Celtic) word ogrodrust 'a wind-gap', probably in a plural form, might lie behind the name. Such a name would refer to the gaps in the chalk hills which funnel prevailing south-westerly winds off the sea. If this fascinating solution is correct, it adds yet another Celtic name to the significant number already recognised in Dorset.