Weymouth-Dorset.co.uk Local History

  Bincombe

The Village of Bincombe, Dorset

The parish and village of Bincombe, Dorset lies just under the Ridgeway, being on high ground with some delightful views towards the sea. Bincombe is a sleepy kind of village despite its close proximity to the traffic to and from Dorchester on Ridgeway Hill. The Ridgeway forms the parish boundary with its neighbour, Winterborne Came. It looks down into the Coombe Valley below and the village of Preston as well as out to sea.

Bincombe is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Beincome and was held by St. Stephen's of Caen, formerly Earl Harold. Later much of the land was to become that of Caius College, Cambridge.

Farming is much in evidence at Bincombe and some of the cottages have chickens roaming around quite freely. West Farm, marked on some maps as Lower Bincombe Farm, lies the nearest to the road of Ridgeway.

The farm buildings lie at a right angle to the road with the early Victorian farmhouse being set up higher on the hill. A date panel shows the buildings to date from 1843.

West Farm or Lower Farm, Bincombe, Dorset

Further along the lane leading to the main part of the village and the church is a house that was once the village school. Standing exposed to the elements it gives the impression from the side that it is perched on the edge of a cliff. From the front it appears like an ordinary dwelling house albeit a little different. Built during Victorian times, it was a school up until about the latter half of the twentieth century and a hub of activity in the village. It replaced an earlier school that stood in The Square, further down on the edge of the village. It stands in isolation opposite a minor road to Winterborne Came.

The Old Bincombe School

Old School, Bincombe

The Dairy House, Bincombe, Dorset

Dairy House, Bincombe

Leaving the school behind, travelling further to the heart of the village, at the crown of the hill are some Victorian cottages which conjure up a more typical street scene of the time. As the road begins to descend, on the left is the Dairy House, standing raised above street level. There used to be an eighteenth century thatched house adjacent to Dairy House to the west, but like so many such buildings in Bincombe, it has long since disappeared.

The road descends to East Farm and the church.

The Church of Holy Trinity, Bincombe, Dorset

Holy Trinity Church, Bincombe, Dorset

Holy Trinity church dates in part from the twelfth century with many later alterations. At the approach it can be seen that it originally had a north door but it was long ago bricked up. The tower dates from the fifteenth century, as does much of the walling of the church. The north wall of the chancel dates from the twelfth century with a Victorian east end added. The font is also of the 12th century. The church was renovated in 1779 and the churchwarden's initials, W.L. and W.M. were engraved on the door.

In the churchyard many of the gravestones that were there twenty years or so ago have now disappeared. The kerbstone type of which there were several have perhaps sunk into the ground as walking over the now bare area one can feel stone underneath in places. To the east of the chancel it is said that there are the unmarked graves of two men who have a sad and tragic story.

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Early nineteenth century Bincombe was a quiet and secluded place, much as it is today. A young girl by the name of Phyllis Grove lived at the bottom of Bincombe Hill, along an isolated track. The daughter of a doctor, Phyllis's life was one of much solitude in the constrictions of paternal discipline of the time.

She had become betrothed to Humphrey Gould, though he paid her little attention and was often away. However, her life was to gain much more interest when she met and fell in love with a young German soldier from the nearby camp. Clandestine meetings with the soldier, a Corporal of the York Hussars became the spark that had so far been missing in her life. The soldier, Matthaus Tina, devised a plan for them both to escape to Germany so that they could be married without opposition.

On the day of the planned meeting, Phyllis packed up a few belongings and walked to where Bincombe met the main Dorchester to Weymouth highway. There she hid to await her lover. However, when the stagecoach arrived, her betrothed, Humphrey Gould stepped from it. Pangs of conscience stirred in Phyllis and much as she had wanted to go with Matthaus Tina for a better life, she felt duty-bound to Gould. She then had the heartbreaking task of telling Matthaus that she couldn't go with him. Matthaus friend, Christoph Bless had already gone on ahead of him to Weymouth to steal a boat for their passage to France. Not wishing to desert his friend who would be waiting for them, Matthaus and Phyllis said a sad goodbye.

Meeting with Humphrey Gould a little later, she was shocked to be told by him that he had recently married. He asked her to tell his father for him as he knew the news would meet with disapproval and he wanted Phyllis to tell his father that she wouldn't have married him anyway. At this news she was devastated, not because she had wanted to marry Gould, but that she had declined to go with Matthaus Tina her true love.

She withdrew into herself, consoled only by her memories as she sat on the wall that she and her lover had shared. One morning she went as usual to sit on the wall and was to be confronted by something that would haunt her for the rest of her life.

Below her, on Bincombe Down, a band playing the march of the dead was leading a procession and soldiers stood in a line behind two coffins. Behind the band followed a mourning coach flanked by two priests and two soldiers. The procession halted beside the coffins. The two soldiers were blindfolded, knelt beside the coffins and prayed. The commanding officer gave a signal and the firing party shot dead both men.

Phyllis fell from the wall she had been sitting on and for a long time was totally inconsolable. Her father, the doctor, feared for her sanity, such was the extent of her distress.

The parish register of Bincombe sums up the event:

Mats. Tina (Corpl.) in his Majesty's Regmt. of York Hussars and Shot for desertion, was buried June 30th 1801 aged 22 years. Born in the town of Sarbruck, Germany.

Christopher Bless belonging to his Majesty's Regmt. of York Hussars who was shot for desertion was buried June 30th 1801 aged 22 years, born at Lothaargen, Alsatia.

The two soldiers were her beloved Matthaus and his friend. When Phyllis was 75 years old she told the famous writer, Thomas Hardy, the tragic story. Only a young man at the time, Hardy later wrote the story as The Melancholy Hussar, having kept the story quiet until long after her death, as he had promised.

Historical Parish Information

 

Parish Registers begin:

1658

Hundred or Liberty:

Frampton Liberty

Poor Law Union & Registration District:

Weymouth

Somerset & Dorset FHS Census Volumes

1841 - Vol.9 1851 - Vol.2 1891 - Vol.10

Online Parish Clerk Project (external link):

Bincombe OPC

Hunt's Directory 1851 - Bincombe, Dorset

 

Nearby Parishes and Places

Broadwey

Preston

Sutton Poyntz

Upwey

Winterborne Came

Winterborne Herringston & Winterborne Faringdon

Winterborne Monkton

 

Local Attractions and Places to Visit

 

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