Weymouth-Dorset.co.uk Local History


including Radipole Lake

Radipole Lake - towards the harbour

Radipole Lake looking towards the harbour 1990s

Once known as the Backwater, Radipole Lake flows almost parallel to the beach behind the town. It is home of an RSPB bird sanctuary. The building in the foreground on the right of this picture is Weymouth College. It was demolished to make way for a new housing estate in 2001 and the college facilities transferred to the Cranford Avenue site off the Dorchester Road on the other side of the lake.

Beyond Westham Bridge towards Radipole village the water is no longer tidal. The lake became silted up after the effective damming by the construction of a new Westham Bridge in 1921. Until then, small boats would make excursions up to the village during the summer where at low tide, Radipole had its own mini beach.

It is believed that a port existed at the top end of Radipole Lake at the village in Roman times. Indeed Roman artefacts have been discovered at the top of the hill in what is now known as Southill, part of the parish of Radipole - quite literally the South Hill. Evidence of Roman occupation has also been found around the Spa Road area. During winter the top of the lake is often flooded and it is then easier to imagine how it could once have been a port. (See first picture below)

The River Wey, which gives Weymouth its name, runs through the parish into the lake. Although only a small river and having its source at Upwey a few miles away, it sometimes bursts its banks in winter. In July 1955 after torrential rain fell on the hills above Upwey, the river flooded to such an extent that the bridge by Letterbox Cottage was severely damaged and Myrtle Cottages nearby were later demolished.

Top of the lake in winter

The River Wey at Radipole

Letterbox Cottage and bridge over the River Wey

Parish Church of St. Ann's Radipole, Weymouth, Dorset

The parish church of St. Ann's, Radipole

The parish church of St. Ann's Radipole was originally built c.1250 and it is therefore believed to be Weymouth's oldest building. The nave dates from this time, although additions were made in the fourteenth century along with some rebuilding. More rebuilding took place during the eighteenth century, including the south chapel and the south porch. The font dates from the 13th century and some of the windows from the 14th century.

In the churchyard many victims of Weymouth's most famous shipwreck, the East Indiaman, Earl of Abergavenny which occurred in 1805, lied buried.

Until 1605, St. Ann's church Radipole, then known as St. Mary's, was the mother church of Melcombe Regis. It once again became a parish church in 1927 when it was officially rededicated to St. Ann. The parish extended for some distance, covering part of Redlands and part of Nottington, the Dorchester Road all the way down to and including Greenhill and to the boundary with Melcombe Regis in front of St. John's Church. On the other side of the lake it included all of Southill and extended down as far and including what is now Weymouth Golf Course. The parish registers of Radipole contain an interesting account of the tradition of the "Beating of the Bounds". This was a custom whereby the boys of a parish would be taken around the parish boundaries and bumped so that they would remember where their limits lay. This perambulation of the boundaries was written in 1582 by James Marwell the then rector and subsequently copied into the register by his son Richard.

Next to the church is the Old Manor. The building dates from the 16th century and lies so close to the church that it seems to be part of it. The Manor of Radipole having been part of the holdings of the Abbot of Cerne at Domesday, was in the 31st year of the reign of Henry VIII, granted to Humphrey Watkins. His son Richard Watkins subsequently came into possession and he was responsible for much rebuilding and alterations. Richard's daughter, heiress, married into the Hanham family of Purse Caundle and the manor subsequently passed into their hands. Around the time of the Civil War of the 1640's it was conveyed, along with the manor of Putton in Chickerell, to Thomas Hanham of Wimborne.

Radipole Manor House, Radipole, Weymouth, Dorset

The Old Manor, Radipole

The Manor consisted of the house and adjacent farm, parts of which were on the site of the old school, the land and the advowson of the church. In 1641 the farm, known variously through the years as Radipole Farm, Radipole Manor Farm or Manor Farm belonged to Captain Alexander Keynes, a known recusant, but was sequestered in 1645. By 1663 the manor was in the occupation of Sir Wadham Wyndham and so it continued through his descendants until 1802/3 when it was purchased by Edmund Henning of Poxwell and subsequently by his brother John in 1829. The extent of the land covers an area from the manor house along Spa Road and all the way down the Dorchester Road to Greenhill.

The village school was built in 1840, opposite the church. It is sited at the top end of Radipole Lake and stands on land once occupied by Radipole Manor Farm.

Standing, or rather now leaning over, alongside it is the old boundary stone marking the Northern boundary of the old Borough of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis. The borough's boundary limits changed over the years and gradually spread to encompass more parishes and villages going northwards. There are quite a few of these boundary stones throughout the parish.

The Old Schoolhouse at Radipole, Dorset

The Old School, Radipole

Historical Parish Information


Parish Registers begin:

1560 with Melcombe Regis

Hundred or Liberty:

Culliford Tree

Poor Law Union & Registration District:


Online Parish Clerk Project (external link):

Radipole OPC

There is a forum dedicated to Radipole's history and family history - Weymouth & Dorset Forums

A sister site especially for Radipole and Southill can be found at: www.radipole-dorset.co.uk

Nearby Parishes and Places

Bowleaze Cove


Buckland Ripers





Sutton Poyntz


Wyke Regis





Local Attractions and Places to Visit



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