Weymouth-Dorset.co.uk Local History

Kingston Russell

Kingston Russell House, near Long Bredy, Dorset

Kingston Russell House

Kingston Russell is an interesting place, perhaps somewhat unique. Not a parish in its own right being extra-parochial, it is seemingly part of Long Bredy where Kingston Russell House stands. Yet the main area of it is at its other extreme adjoining Winterbourne Abbas to the east and Compton Valence to the north. It is situated in an area known for ancient tumuli and the Kingston Russell Stone Circle. The Poor Lot barrows form a boundary with Littlebredy and Winterbourne Abbas.

Kingston Russell takes the second part of its name from the Russell family who were granted the estate for their service to the King. The service performed for the King was originally as marshal of the buttery, and later to count his chessman and to put them away after a game had been played. The latter is mentioned in an inquisition in the 3rd year of the reign of Edward III (c.1329) after the death of Nichola, the wife of Nicholas de Morteshorn who held the manor from William Russel for the term of her life.

The manor and estate of Kingston Russell continued down through the Russell family for several centuries. Theobald Russell had three sons: Theobald, who adopted his mother's maiden name of Gorges and became the ancestor of the Bradpole and Wraxall families in Dorset and that of the branch in Hereford; Ralph of Kingston Russell through whose family the estate passed to his son Maurice, and William Russell the ancestor of the family seat at Berwick in the parish of Swyre, Dorset, the Dukes of Bedford.

Maurice Russell held at his death in 1416, Kingston Russell, the manor and hundred of Redhove (Redhone) and Beminster Forum (Beaminster) in the manor of Bradpole, as well as the manor of Derham, Gloucester and Horsington, Somerset. His son and heir was Thomas Fitzmaurice Russell who died seized of his Dorset manors in 1431 and three years later they were granted to his sisters and their respective husbands and so the manors passed out of the family name of Russell, but only temporarily.

In 1560 the manor of Kingston Russell was granted to Francis Russell, the second Earl of Bedford descended from the branch at Berwick in Swyre. At some point possibly around the 1640's, part of it, including the house, came into the possession of the Michel family until in 1862 the Dukes of Bedford bought it from the Michels. The Michels partly rebuilt the seventeenth century Kingston Russell House and it still stands today at the end of a long driveway. The Michel family also owned Dewlish House in Dewlish, Dorset and removed there sometime during the 1760's and the house was then let. The famous Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, Nelson's flag captain, was born there on 5th April 1769, his mother being the daughter of Thomas Masterman of this place. By the turn of the twentieth century however, the house was in a dilapidated condition and the estate was sold off in 1913. The new owner brought the house back to its former glory, extended it and laid out the gardens.

A small chapel dedicated to St. James once stood nearby. It is reputed to have been built by the Russells and was financed by them through tithes and the glebe in Pitcombe. The last rector of the chapel was Roger Bond who was appointed to it, along with Little Bredy in 1531. The inhabitants then used the church at Long Bredy for burials.

After its closure it was leased separately to various people over the course of time. In 1565 it was granted to Edith Cole, widow and John and Joan Martin, her children for their lives. It was then granted to John, Henry and William Mintern for their lives from 1585, then in 1605 to Fenton, esq. captain of the guard, and 1607 to George Ward. The chapel of St James then came to the Mellers of Little Bredy who sold the tithes and part of the glebe to the Michels. By this time the chapel was in ruins and in Hutchins' time only the walls remained. During the time of the Michel's residence of the manor, according to Hutchins, it was inhabited by poor people.


Pedigree of Russell of Kingston Russell




Buckland Ripers


Langton Herring

Little Bredy

Portesham (and Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy)



Winterbourne Abbas

Winterbourne Steepleton


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