Verwood UK - Heritage Centre

Verwood Museum Trust - Dorset UK. (Registered Charity No. 1067952)


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VERWOOD, (Developed from FAIRWOOD, FAYRWOOD, WRTWOOD & WEIRWOOD) was first recorded in 1329 and is situated on the far eastern boundary of Dorset near the Hampshire border, five miles north-west of Ringwood and about twelve miles north of Bournemouth. It became a Civic Parish in l894. Previously it's history was recorded under Cranborne. 

Its ALTITUDE above sea level varies between 70 and 130 feet. The CLIMATE is mild and the average RAINFALL is approximately 32 inches. 

To the north and east lie areas of coniferous forests and to the west are mixed farms. There are two tracks of heath which are of Special Scientific Interest. 

For centuries it was a small, scattered settlement whose inhabitants made a living from the surrounding heathland.  The clay and sand deposits gave rise to potteries and brick and tile yards in the early 1900's, with the heath providing materials for besom making, fodder & peat.  Eventually it became the centre of production of the distinctive yellowy-green glazed pots. Potters, brickmakers, broom makers and the like all plied their trades alongside the traditional agricultural workers.   Today it is a fast growing town of some 14,000 and rising.

Development of Verwood is relatively recent and it was only in the last century that the settlement built its own small cob church which was consecrated in 1829. Till then the village, together with Alderholt, had been part of the huge parish of Cranborne. Parochial Status for Verwood was granted in 1887.


Many thanks to the "Verwood Historical Society" who provided the following information.
If you have any Genealogical or detailed Verwood Historical enquiries please contact them directly on their Website.

Verwood was mentioned in a charter of 1377 as “Fairwoode” though the name of its Norman landowners the “Beau Bois” family of Edmondsham is recorded earlier. This family was also known by the Latin name of Bello Bosco. In any language the meaning is a Fair or Beautiful Wood. The later adoption of the spelling Verwood is due to its long time pronunciation in the Dorset Tongue.

This was never a village grouped around a long established church but a collection of scattered settlements bisected by the fertile farmlands of the River Crane and equidistant from the market towns of Ringwood and Cranborne in whose parish it lay until 1887. An Anglican Chapel of Ease had been erected in 1829 on the site of the present Parish Church and several Nonconformist Chapels were also established within its boundaries. The Ecclesiastical and Civil administrative area has always included Three Legged Cross.

Verwood owes its character and development to its situation on the heathlands of East Dorset and has a surprisingly industrial past. Apart from the meadows around the river valley, its acid soil was unsuitable to large scale agriculture and so various smaller enterprises grew up over the years, making use of the natural features beneath and above the commons.

Clay, sand, timber, heather and gorse were utilized by craftsmen to fashion into pots, bricks, brooms, hurdles, farm implements and even provided building material for the cottages they lived in. Fodder was collected and animals pastured on many acres of scryb land unlike other more productive settlements where Enclosure Acts had deprived the population of these additional sources of income.

It was therefore, an area which attracted newcomers over the 18th and 19th centuries because of the comparative lack of restriction on their settlement and occupation. The population of 400 in 1829 grew by the end of the century to 1000 and fifty years later had doubled this figure. With development from the 1960’s onward the numbers began to increase dramatically leading to an estimated population in 1999 of over 12,000.

The railway from Salisbury to the coast arrived in 1866 and heralded a change in Verwood’s fortunes. More goods could be imported and exported but ironically this contributed to the demise of the potteries when lighter, manufactured household ware became readily available.

High quality Verwood sand was taken to South Wales for use in the glass and brickmaking industries. It was also used for the construction of Mulberry Harbours in WWII. The railway line and station closed in 1964 to the natural regret of the local population

The last pottery at the Crossroads ceased production in 1952.

The flourishing brick and roofing tile works, which depended on continuous firing could no longer operate under World War ii blackout regulations and were never re-opened.

Broom making died out during the course of the 20th century as demand receded and sons followed other trades. Bricks began to supplant the traditional mud “cob” mixture as the indigenous building material.

Verwood no longer provides the full employment it once did for its working population. In these days of enhanced transport and leisure time it seen as a desirable place to live and conveniently situated for the many attractions of the surrounding neighbourhood. In many aspects, despite enormous changes, the village atmosphere still prevails.

Those who doubt that Verwood is still a “Fair Wood” need only to climb to the top of Stephen’s Castle on the Northern common.

From that tranquil viewpoint, scarcely a roof is to be seen of all the myriad buildings nestling beneath a canopy of delightfully varied foliage.



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