Burton Bradstock

by Frank Cole

Burton Bradstock is a large village, lying about three miles north-west of Swyre. Burton is a corruption or contraction of its ancient mane of Briaeton, which it derives from the little River Bride, which runs through it and falls into the sea a mile West from it. Its additional name derives from the priory of canons regular of St.. Augustine of Bradenstoke or Bradstock Co. Wilts, to which some part of it belonged. It is located in a vale, in a deep, enclosed and rich country. The soil is, in general, clayey and in some places very stony, especially in Burton and Shipton and consists of arable, pasture and meadow.

In the Doomsday Book (Tit. 1), Brideton is surveyed with several other places, all belonging to the crown. King Henry 1 gave it to the Abbey of St. Stephen of Caen, to redeem the regalia, viz, the crown and other royal ornaments which his father, on his deathbed, gave to that house. A charter of Richard 1 confirms this. In 1293, the lands of the Prior of Frampton here were valued at £121.13s.4d. (Taxat. Temporalit). On the suppression of foreign monasteries, it was given to the Dean and Canons of the collegiate church of St. Stephen at Westminster, founded by King Edward 111 in the 22nd year of his reign. As the Priory of Frampton was successively a cell to that abbey and college, it became included in the liberty of Frampton, though it now has little or no dependence upon it.

It remained in that college until the dissolution, after which it seems to have been in the crown till 12 Eliz. The patent recites that, 1452; The Dean and Canons of St. Stephen's had demised this manor for three lives, paying £61.13s.4d. yearly and 1547 had demised the reversion to Ralph Lane, with the tithes of the Chapel of St. Lawrence here. The Queen granted the fame to Humphry Michel, gent. Clerk of the honour of Windsor Chapel. 32 Eliz. The reversion of this manor was granted to Richard Swain and Thomas Freke, clear yearly value £421. Not long after it was granted to John Taylor, merchant and alderman of London, whose daughter and heir Elizabeth, widow of Francis Smith, marrying Thomas Freke of Cerne Esq. Brought it to her husband (Le Neve, monument. Aug.1V.168). Mr Taylor was descended from the Taylors of Carlisle, 1 E. V1. A younger branch of this family were Lords of Fakenham Magna, Co. Suffolk, until 1692. 24 Car 11.This manor, farm and demesnes and the farms, or tenements of Grafton and Gregorys, in the parish belonging to Thomas Freke esq. who left it to George Pitt jun. of Stratfield Saye esq. whose son George, now Lord Pitt Rivers, possesses it. Lord Rivers has a court-leet here, where the constables and tithing men are chosen. He also has the probate of wills and the right of admiralty. The farm is £2501 per annum. He pays acknowledgement to the crown.

The sea shore, from Portland to this place, is an open beach but here the cliffs, which are of stone, rise to a great perpendicular height and abound with various sorts of fossil. In June 1757, the sea threw up a mermaid between Burton and Swyre, thirteen feet long. The upper part of it had some resemblance to human form; the lower was like that of a fish. The head was partly like that of a man and partly like that of a hog. Its fins resembled hands: it had forty-eight large teeth in each jaw, not unlike those of the jawbone of a man.

A little North of the church stands a desecrated chapel, long since converted into a poor-house. This seems to be St. Lawrence's Chapel. Near it is supposed to have been a chapel yard, many human bones having been dug up thereabouts, particularly in 1735 a skeleton seven feet long 12 Eliz. The tithes of the Chapel of St. Lawrence here were granted inter alia to Humphrey Michel. 21 Eliz. The tithes of the grain, hay, wool &c. of this chapel and the advowson of The Rectory of Burton were granted to Sir Christopher Hatton. In the garden are the remains of an ancient cross.

Here also was a chapel of St. Catherine, to which belonged the tithes of Down Farm. Simon Bowring possessed it in 1650. Here was a freehold; for, 20E.111. John de Haddon held in Burton and Pourton one fourth of a knight's fee

Land of the Prior of Bradenstock

Whether this was a manor is not certain; but it is very ancient and with the church, belonged to the Abbey of St. Wandragefilus (Dugdale, Mon. vol. 11. 949. 1004.) Afterwards, this land and avowson belonged to the Priory of Bradenstock, for (14. E.1. 1286), there was a charter of confirmation of exchange, by which the Abbot and Convent of Wandragefilus at Roan, granted to the Priory and Convent of Bradenstock all that they possessed in Towcester, in the diocese of Lincoln and in Brideton, in the diocese of Sarum; and the priory and convent granted in lieu all that they possessed in Rogerville and Sandavilla in the diocese of Roan and (16 E. 1) here was a plea concerning lands in Brideton relating to that priory (Placit.in com. Dorset, 16 E. 1. Affiz . Rot. 1. Apud Tanner, p.596). In 1293, the lands of the prior here were rated at £41.6s.8d. (20 E. 111) and he held here in Brutton, in Goudernetyhorne hundred, half a knight's fee. After this it came by exchange or purchase, to the priory of Frampton and College of St. Stephen. It is to be observed that the Prior of Bradenstock never presented to this rectory after 1469, about which these lands and the avowson probably came to the prior and college.

Hamlets &c. in this parish

Bridy, Graston, Shipton, Higher Stirthill, Middle Sturthill, Lower Sturthill


Fascinating press cutting dated 1933 - lengthy article by Frank on "The River Goddess" - the story of how the River Bride got its name from the Durotrigae Tribes.

Franks Pictures

click on a picture for an enlargement

View down Rookery Lane



Church Street

Burton beach 1954

Darby Lane - 1960

High Street looking south

High Street.burton bradstock

Looking up the High street

St Marys Church

Village Green

A peaceful scene by the river
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