Dorset, England
Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 Click here for more information

West Bay, Dorset, England         OS Map Grid Ref: SY462904
 The County of Dorset
1:5,000   Photo
1:10,000   Photo
1:25,000     Photo
1:50,000     Photo
1:100,000     Photo


 Shopping Centres    Leisure Centres    Theatres    Country Parks    Churches    Information Centres    Accomodation    Caravan Sites    Camp Sites    Historic Houses    Gardens    Ancient Monuments  

Notice Boards

2   messages
Wanted & Lost

Bridport is the 'Port Bredy' of Hardy's novels.

A small market town about a mile from the Dorset coast at West Bay. It is at the confluence of the rivers Asker and Brit (from which it derives its name), near the western end of the great curve of Chesil Beach and fifteen miles west of Dorchester by road. The main portion of the town is connected to the 'village' of West Bay (which is within the town boundaries) by a winding street.

The Asker and the Brit which powered several of the town's mills merge to its south to form a tidal river which meets the waters of the Channel at West Bay.

The town is embraced by two rivers, the Brit and the Asker, supplying several mills. They combine to the south as a tidal river, flowing into the sea at West Bay.

The harbour village of West Bay has been given over to tourism with kiosks, pubs and restaurants. They bay was fomerly known as Bridport Bay or Haven.

The streets of the town are amongst the widest in the west of England and were used for the twisting of the ropes made here and for which Bridport was famous, not least for the 'Bridport dagger', as the hangman's noose was often called.

Permission to hold a Saturday market in the town was granted by a charter of Queen Elizabeth I and this has since been supplemented by another held on Wednesdays.



The town was one of Alfred the Great's (871-899) 'burghs', towns he ordered fortified within walls to offer better defence against the frequent raids of the Danes. In the reign of Athelstan (924-939), Bridport possessed a mint.
'burgh of Brydian'

Of some importance before the Norman conquest of 1066, Bridport is first mentioned as a borough in the Pipe Roll of 1189.

Bridport recieved its first charter from Henry III (1216-1272) in 1253 when it became a royal borough. Another charter granted by Queen Elizabeth I allowed the town to hold markets and fairs. The town was incorporated in 1619 by a charter of King james I.

From 1295 until 1868, the borough returned members to parliament and this was reduced to one until 1885, prior to the formation of the West Dorset parliamentary division.

The fugitive Charles II, having made his bid for the crown lost by his father at the battle of Worcester, stayed at Bridport briefly having failed to secure passage to the Continent from Charmouth (see: The Town Hall).

Monmouth's rebellion in 1685 brought a skirmish to Bridport in which one of its inhabitants was killed - a memorial to his memory can be found in the Parish Church.


Locally grown flax and hemp were the basis of the town's rope industry, the ropes being wound in its wide streets. Bridport was noted for the manufacture of ropes and cables as early as 1213 when King John (1199-1216) ordered hawswers here, commanding the town to make them 'by night and day'. The Royal Navy procured its hawsers from the town in the 16th century (the Act of Parliament which tells us this also records that the town had been supplying the Navy for centuries). In the 18th century, the trade with Newfoundland led to the prosperity of local merchants and, as at Poole, led to the building of many fine houses in the 18th century.

The town continued to produce cordage linen, fishing nets and lines and sailcloth into the latter part of the 20th century. The town also retained its flax mills for processing the locally-grown flax into the 20th century.
Henry VII 'protected' Bridport's hemp in 1505

'Poor Man's Friend', and ointment made by local doctor and apothacary Giles Roberts sold widely about the turn of the 19th century.

As a market town, Bridport serves the surrounding area of agriculture, horticulture and some trade in timber. It never became a significant port because West Bay is only accessible to small vessels.

Some of Bridport's history is now depicted, carved in stone. It may be seen in "Bucky Doo" Square near the Town Hall.

A report of the demise of the Sherborne Turnpike Trust in the Sherborne Journal dated November 1st, 1877, also mentions the doom of the turnpikes in Bridport. It refers to West Bay as "Bridport Harbour";

End of Turnpike:   Last night the Sherborne Turnpike Trust expired and at midnight the gates were thrown open and anyone could pass and repass free of toll. At the same time the gates at Lyme, Charmouth, Honiton, Bridport and Bridport Harbour and Minehead also came to an end.

Bridport has over one thousand 'listed' buildings of historical or architectural merit.

THE GEORGIAN TOWN HALL stands at the juction of East, West and South Streets. It was built in 1786.

Such an event was bound to attract a goodly load of lore and a story is told of how, the princely groom attending to the party's horses in the yard of an inn, he was approached by an ostler who thought he knew the fugitive. The prince asked the ostler where he had worked previously and, on being informed that it was at Exeter, assured the man that it was from that town that he knew him.

Within it hang four pictures by the local artist FH Newbery depicting scenes from the town's history; Joan of Navarre arriving at West Bay to marry king Henry IV (1399-1413) in 1403; shipbuilding in the Bay; one of King Henry VIII; the last celebrates an event which transpired unbeknown to the town as King Charles II sought shelter here unsuccessfully, attempted to secure passage to France from nearby Charmouth after the Royalists were defeated at Worcester. A stone marks the lane down which the King's party fled on horseback towards Dorchester, Bridport being full of hazards.

 The Escape of Charles II to Europe

THE PARISH CHURCH is medieval.

THE FRIENDS' MEETING HOUSE was built in 1700.


MANGERTON MILL     nr. Bridport       Ordnance Survey Map Ref: SY 490957
The mill had two breastshot waterwheels, both 3.6m x 1.2m (12ft x 4ft), which drove a grist mill at one side and a flax mill at the other. Both wheels were rolled out and turned around to become overshot. The flax mill later became a saw mill and its waterwheel was abandoned in favour fo the more efficient turbine which is still in place. the corn mill has been restored to its working order and is now open to the public who benefit from the tea room on this site (tel: 0130 855224).

see also:   Gazeteer of Dorset Mills

The cruciform parish church is medieval and the 13th century workmanship can still be seen in the transepts.

In one of the transepts is the stone effigy of a knight, with a sword and his legs crossed, whose identity is unknown but expected to be one of the Chideock family.

A brass in a gilded frame serves is the memmorial to Edward Coker who was killed by one of Monmouth's officers during Monmouth's rebellion.

"The Parish Church and the Chantry, or Dungeness"

The former port, first mentioned as such in the 13th century, is within the boundaries of the town. Granted and indulgence by the Bishop of Sarum in 1444 "for its repair", its import/export trade ceased in the 19th century and the 'village' now occupies itself with tourism and fishing.

Shipbuilding was also carried on here until the latter part of the 19th century. Sixteen vessels were built here during the Napoleonic Wars including a ship of a thousand tons which was launched in 1856. Wooden shipbuilding at West Bay ceased only two decades later.

Pier Terrace, the imposing block of flats, was built by the architect Edward Prior who was a follower of the Arts and Crafts movement.

There are holiday flats and a caravan site near the Esplanade and beaches. Other facilities include a nearby golf course and the Real Tennis Court was recently reopened by HRH Prince Edward.

The coastal path passes through West Bay climbing the impressive cliffs which characterize the west Dorset coast.

There is some controversey about the western extenxt of Chesil Beach and some authorities include all that portion of coast from Portland to West Bay including Burton Beach - that portion between Burton Bradstock and West Bay and Cogden Beach between West Bexington and Burton Bradstock.


Links to Other Pages on this Site

Kittric: Dyslexia  
Fatal error: Cannot redeclare alphamenumake() (previously declared in /customers/ in /customers/ on line 33