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The Village

St Mary's Church

St Mary's Church

1. Historical Outline

Man has inhabited the area from early times. Signs of Neolithic and Bronze ages can still be seen on the chalk down lands beyond Breamore Wood. These include early burial sites such as the long barrow known as the "Giant's Grave" and a number of round barrows. The northeastern boundary of the parish follows Grims Ditch, part of the extensive ditch system which divided up the Bronze Age downland landscape.

By the Iron Age, farms and hamlets were being established throughout the area. At least five sites are now known as a result of archaeological surveys. These farms continued in use into the Roman period.

The battle of Cerdic's Ford, which gave its name to Charford, in the north of the parish, took place in 519AD. This eventually resulted in the establishment of the kingdom of Wessex.

The settlement known as 'Brumore', the forerunner of the modern village, probably originated around the middle of the Saxon period, in the area of North Street and the church. The church was built around the end of the 10th century.

The Doomsday Survey, completed in 1086 is the only surviving documentary detail of Saxon life in the village. The Doomsday Entry states:-

"The King holds Brumore which belongs to the manor of Rockbourne and as held by King Edward. Here is 1 plough land in demesne and 4 villeins and 8 borderers with 4 plough lands, also 82 acres of meadow. This manor 2 1/2 hides and wood for 50 hogs are in the forest and they pay 51/8d. There is forest land in Brumore, Rockbourne, Broughton and Burgate which together was worth £13. l0s."

The village, consisting of twelve dwellings at the time of the Doomsday Survey, seems to have been situated along the present day Upper Street.

Gradually the settlement spread southwards and eastwards with new groups of houses around the Marsh and the Mill - by 1300 the village appears to have contained about fifty dwellings. As the population grew, there must have been an increase in arable land enclosed from the surrounding uncultivated 'waste'.

Folly in Breamore Wood

Folly in Breamore Wood

The Priory was founded on the west bank of the Avon in about 1130. Over the next two centuries it acquired about half of the houses and land in the village, much of it on the more recently settled southern side. The remainder was retained by the Earls of Devon as Lords of the Manor of Breamore and they built a substantial manor house near the church.

On the 5th July 1536 the Priory was dissolved and its property granted to new owners. By 1580, William Dodington, Auditor of the Tower Mint, had purchased the village, including the former Priory property. He soon built the splendid new manor house which survives today.

The housing stock remained largely medieval in style until the end of the 16th century, when the great "Tudor rebuild" began. Some of the cottages which we see in Breamore today replaced the former tiny and often unsanitary dwellings at this time.


Bridleway through Breamore Wood

In 1748 the estate was purchased by Sir Edward Hulse, whose family has retained Breamore House, the Lordship of the Manor of Breamore and extensive lands in the area until the present day.

Over the past two and a half centuries, there have been many changes to village life. While many cottages have survived, others inevitably have needed replacing. Additional estate workers' cottages were built in Victorian times and the countryside has evolved to suit changing fashions in agriculture, particularly since the last war. The 17th century system of irrigating the "water meadows" has fallen out of use within the past forty years. The Downs no longer echo to the bleating of large flocks of sheep.

In 1748 almost every dwelling in the village was occupied by a farmer, smallholder or estate worker, many of whose parents and grandparents had worked the same lands. In contrast, few of today's occupants are involved in farming and many are new to the village. The railway has come and gone, the horse and cart have disappeared, while the general availability of the motorcar has perhaps done more to change the old way of life than any other single factor.

Despite all these changes the village has retained much of its atmosphere. Here, more than in most villages, the visitor, with a little imagination, should be able to visualise the past and to recognise some of the historical developments which have produced the community we see today.

2. The Village as it is Today

Breamore is a largely unspoilt village situated in the valley of the River Avon, just south of the Wiltshire border. Unlike most villages, it is free of modern suburban-style developments and is now largely protected by Conservation Area status.

Breamore Parish includes low-lying meadows and large areas of fertile, arable land, woodland and chalk down land. The village housing is somewhat scattered along the main Salisbury/Bournemouth road, around the Mill, around the edge of the Marsh, along Upper Street and the hamlet of Outwick. There are also a number of outlying farms and dwellings.

The electoral roll has approx. 290 names. With the changing nature of agriculture numbers of people employed directly locally has declined in the last three or four decades and with this change occupation and ownership of many dwellings has altered so that there are many more commuters and retired people living in the village. With these changes there is the desire to modernise / improve many of the old buildings and to add extensions and garages.

So the pressure on the village comes not from the needs of the 'Estate' and agriculture but from residents desiring to take advantage of the village's unique nature and to have all the comforts and facilities they have been used to in modern urban areas.

3. Development in the Village

Development is and will be severely restricted and it is likely that only a few affordable houses, to meet social and economic need, will be considered for the few sites available.