Beaminster (/ˈbɛmɪnstər/ BEM-in-stər) is a village and civil parish in Dorset, England, situated in the Dorset Council administrative area approximately 15 miles (24 km) northwest of the county town Dorchester. It is sited in a bowl-shaped valley near the source of the small River Brit. The 2013 mid-year estimate of the population of Beaminster parish is 3,100.


Beaminster town centre
Location within Dorset
Population3,100 (2013 estimate)
OS grid referenceST4701
 London145 miles (233 km)
Civil parish
  • Beaminster
Unitary authority
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townBeaminster
Postcode districtDT8
Dialling code01308
FireDorset and Wiltshire
AmbulanceSouth Western
EU ParliamentSouth West England
UK Parliament
WebsiteBeaminster Town Council

In its history Beaminster has been a centre of manufacture of linen and woollens, the raw materials for which were produced in the surrounding countryside. The town experienced three serious fires in the 17th and 18th centuries; the first of these, during the English Civil War, almost destroyed the fabric of the town.

Beaminster parish church is notable for its architecture, particularly its tower.


In the Domesday Book of 1086 the manor of Beaminster was recorded as being owned by the See of Salisbury. Bishop Osmund gave it as a supplement to two of the Cathedral prebends in 1091.[1]

In the English Civil War the town declared for Parliament and was sacked by Royalist forces in 1644. Prince Maurice stayed in the town on Palm Sunday,[1] though his stay was brief because a fire, caused by a musket being discharged into a thatched roof,[2] almost totally destroyed the town.[1] The town suffered further accidental fires in 1684 and 1781.[3]

Previously Beaminster was a centre for the production of linen and woollens. Flax was grown and sheep kept on the surrounding hills and the town was locally more important than it is today: factories were constructed in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and as many as seventeen inns existed in the town in the early 20th century.[4]

No railway line came through Beaminster and as a result the town declined relative to other local towns such as Bridport and Dorchester.[5]

Horn Park, about 1 12 miles (2.4 km) northwest of Beaminster, is a neo-Georgian country house of five bays and two storeys, designed by architect T. Lawrence Dale and completed in 1911.[6] Inside the house the central corridor is barrel vaulted and leads to a drawing room whose groin vault is reminiscent of the work of Sir John Soane (1753–1837).[6] The drawing room includes Jacobean features re-used from the largely mid-16th-century nearby Parnham House,[6] which was being altered and restored at about the time that Horn Park was being built.[7] Horn Park is Listed Grade II. Its gardens are occasionally open to the public as part of the National Gardens Scheme.


Beaminster is sited 50 to 80 metres (160–260 ft) above sea level in a bowl-shaped valley, surrounded by hills which rise to 244 metres (801 ft) at Beaminster Down to the northeast. The River Brit and many small streams emerge from springs on the slopes above the town.[8] The confluences of several of these streams are within the town's boundaries. Beaminster's growth has historically been along the course of these streams, resulting in a settlement pattern that is roughly star-shaped.[9]

Beaminster is situated approximately 45 miles (72 km) south of Bristol, 38 miles (61 km) west of Bournemouth, 35 miles (56 km) east of Exeter and 15 miles (24 km) northwest of the county town Dorchester.


Beaminster is sited mostly on Middle Jurassic fuller's earth clay, with some Inferior Oolite in the south of the town and Bridport Sand Formation north of the town centre. The hills north and east of the town are Cretaceous chalk with a scarp face of Upper Greensand Formation, while those to the south and west are of Bridport Sand Formation. There are several faults running west-northwest to east-southeast through the town and its southern environs.[9] Horn Park Quarry SSSI[10][11] produced building stone from the Inferior Oolite and some quality fossil specimens[12] before becoming a light industrial estate on the road to Broadwindsor. Apart from the ammonites, the site displays a remarkable flat erosion surface and the most complete succession in the Upper Aalenian ironshot oolite limestone of the area.


Beaminster parish

Dorset County Council's 2013 mid-year estimate of the population of Beaminster parish is 3,100.[13]

The historic population of Beaminster parish from the censuses between 1921 and 2001 is shown in the table below.

Census population of Beaminster Parish 1921-2001
Census 1921 1931 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population 1,651 1,612 1,785 2,000 2,350 2,370 2,770 2,920

Source: Dorset County Council[14]

2011 census

Published results from the 2011 national census combine information on Beaminster parish with the small neighbouring parish of Mapperton to the southeast. Within this area there were 1,680 dwellings,[15] 1,529 households[16] and a population of 3,136.[17]

Economy and society

DuPont produce Nisaplin (E234), a commercial formulation of the natural bacteriocin nisin, at a factory in the town.[18] It was first isolated by Aplin and Barret and produced in the 1950s in the factory laboratory then at 11–15 North Street. The Clipper tea company is based in Beaminster. It is currently owned by the Dutch company Royal Wessanen.[19][20]

Beaminster hosts the Beaminster Festival, an annual music and art festival.[21] Whitcombe Disc golf course at Beaminster has hosted the British Open Disc Golf Championship several times and the European Disc Golf Championship in 2003.[22] The town is twinned with the town of Saint-James on the Brittany/Normandy border in France.

Beaminster is also home to an annual vintage dog and pony show called Buckham Fair, hosted by Martin and Philippa Clunes on their farm in Beaminster. Attracting, on average, around 15,000 visitors for this one-day event in August, the event is run solely to raise money for a nominated local charity. To date, Buckham Fair has raised over £500,000.


The nearest railway station is 5 miles (8 km) north of the town at Crewkerne. Exeter International Airport is 30 miles (48 km) to the west. The main road through the town is the A3066, which leads to Bridport to the south and Mosterton and Crewkerne to the north. The road north passes through Horn Hill tunnel, which opened in June 1832[23] and is the sole pre-railway age road tunnel that is still in daily public use.[24]


Primary schools in the town include St Mary's Church of England Primary School.

Beaminster School is the town's secondary school. It has a combined sixth form with The Sir John Colfox Academy, in the nearby town of Bridport.


Beaminster has an Anglican church, St Mary's, and a Catholic church, St John's.[25] St Mary's is notable for its architecture, which is considered among the best in the county.[1] The tower in particular has been described as "a handsome example of its period" and "the glory of Beaminster".[4][26] St Mary's construction mostly dates from the 15th and 16th centuries, but was restored twice in the 19th. The eastern part of the north aisle incorporates part of an earlier 13th-century building, and the font bowl is late 12th-century.[26] The pulpit is Jacobean.[1] A chapel of ease, Holy Trinity Church, was built in 1849-51.[27] After becoming redundant in 1978, it was converted into a private residence, Trefoil House.[28][29]

In literature

Beaminster is referenced as "Emminster" in the fictional Wessex of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles.[30]

Dorset's 19th-century dialect poet William Barnes wrote of Beaminster:[30]

Sweet Be'mi'ster, that bist a-bound
By green and woody hills all round,
Wi' hedges, reachèn up between
A thousand vields o' zummer green.

It is a location for part of the story for the post-apocalyptic novel The Day of the Triffids.[31]

Notable people

Twin towns

Beaminster is twinned with:

See also


  1. Hammond, Reginald J. W. (1979). Dorset Coast. Ward Lock. p. 41. ISBN 0-7063-5494-X.
  2. Treves, Sir Frederick (1905). Highways and Byways in Dorset. Macmillan & Co. p. 299.
  3. Newman & Pevsner, 1972, page 86
  4. Wightman, Ralph (1983). Portrait of Dorset (4th ed.). Robert Hale. pp. 151–154. ISBN 0-7090-0844-9.
  5. Bettey, J. H. (1974). Dorset. City & County Histories. David & Charles. p. 88. ISBN 0-7153-6371-9.
  6. Newman & Pevsner, 1972, page 88
  7. Newman & Pevsner, 1972, page 87
  8. Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Pathfinder Series, Sheet ST 40/50 Crewkerne & Beaminster, published 1984
  9. "Beaminster Part 3 and 4 Context and sources". Dorset County Council/ February 2011. Archived from the original on 19 March 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
  10. "Horn Park Quarry Geology Guide".
  11. "Horn Park Quarry SSI".
  12. "Horn Park Quarry Teachers Information Pack" (PDF).
  13. "Parish Population Data". Dorset County Council. 20 January 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  14. "Parishes (A–L), 1921–2001 Census Years". Dorset County Council. 17 March 2010. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  15. "Area: Beaminster (Parish), Dwellings, Household Spaces and Accommodation Type, 2011 (KS401EW)". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  16. "Area: Beaminster (Parish), Key Figures for 2011 Census: Key Statistics". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  17. "Area: Beaminster (Parish). Key Figures for 2011 Census: Key Statistics". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 26 September 2013.
  18. Delves-Broughton, Joss (24 September 2007). "Use of Nisaplin® as a preservative in pasteurised liquid egg products". Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  19. "Clipper Teas bids whittled down to five". The Grocer. 10 November 2007. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  20. "Clipper tea firm to stay in Dorset, new owner Wessanen says". BBC News. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  21. Gerryts, Rene (10 June 2011). "Beaminster Festival: Melvyn Bragg one of the headlines at annual event". Bridport NEWS. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  22. "PDGA Results search". Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  23. "'A tunnel wide'". Dorset Life. November 2010.
  24. "BEAMINSTER: A LITTLE HISTORY". Beaminster Town Council. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  25. "In and around Beaminster". Beaminster Town Council. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
  26. "'Beaminster', An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 1: West (1952), pp. 17–27". British History Online. University of London & History of Parliament Trust. November 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  27. Hine, Richard (1914). The History of Beaminster. Taunton: Barnicott & Pearce, the Wessex Press. pp. 414–21.
  28. "Wayback Machine" (PDF). Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  29. "Beaminster Town Council". Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  30. "Surrounding towns and villages". Dorset County Council. 29 October 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  31. "Where the Day of the Triffids takes place". Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  32. McGooghan, Ken (2003). Ancient Mariner: The Amazing Adventures of Samuel Hearne, the Sailor who Walked to the Arctic Ocean. HarperFlamingoCanada.
  33. Gerryts, Rene (18 August 2010). "Martin Clunes shuns Hollywood for Beaminster". Dorset ECHO. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  34. Tyzack, Anna (20 August 2012). "Martin Clunes interview". The Telegraph. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  35. The Wild Garlic
  36. Beckett, Andy (20 August 1995). "Indian Summer". The Independent. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  37. Peter Dunn (12 January 1994). "Architecture: The school that got lost in the woods - Peter Dunn on the collapse of a dream of hand-crafted timber furniture (CORRECTED)". The Independent. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  38. "British towns twinned with French towns [via]". Archant Community Media Ltd. Archived from the original on 5 July 2013. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  39. "Beaminster twinned with Saint-James". Beaminster Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  40. Thoury, Michel. "31 ème anniversaire du Jumelage à Beaminster". Site de L'Office de Tourisme Saint James (in French). Archived from the original on 29 July 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  41. "Dorset Twinning Association List". The Dorset Twinning Association. Archived from the original on 21 June 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2013.


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