The following is a timeline of the history of Evershot.
Christopher Stickland founded a Free School in this year. The Deed reads, in part: “… to have a free school for reading, writing and grammar erected and settled within the town of Evershot where he was born, for the instruction and breeding of men children … a schoolmaster there for ever to train up, instruct and teach the same child in good learning, true religion and the fear of God.”
From an auction catalogue of a sale of blown glass bottles held in USA in 2003:
“Black glass seal bottle, “T. BIDDELL / EVERSHOT / 1720″ (on applied seal), English, ca 1720, deep olive onion, 6″h., 4 1/2″ base diameter, pontil scarred base, applied string lip and seal.”
The suggested price range was set by the auctioneer at $2000 – $3500.
The Dorset Record Office has a hand-written notebook containing the Militia list for Evershot. It consists of the names and occupations of all the village men between the ages of 18 and 50 who were thus liable for service in the Militia.
The Militia were reformed by parliament in 1757, the year before this notebook, following allegations of inefficiency during the Scottish uprising of 1745. The counties’ quotas were divided up into parish quotas, and 30,000 men were raised in the whole of England. A man who did not want to serve was allowed to nominate a substitute, if he could persuade another man to serve instead. Or he could buy his way out of service for £10, a considerable sum in those days. The men served for three years, training annually for a week or two in the summer and exercising throughout the year. To begin with, the parishes kept the arms and equipment, but this was soon taken over by the counties. The lord lieutenant of each county was in command on behalf of the king, a chain of command that (hopefully) prevented any political bribery and corruption. The Militia eventually became the Territorial Army which exists to this day. There was a parallel organisation, the Yeomanry, consisting mainly of small farmers and gentry who had horses. This became in effect the Militia cavalry.
Some of the names of the jobs are quite obscure nowadays. A cordwainer was apparently a leather-worker, generally employed in making boots. A yeoman was a tenant farmer. An apothecary was a pharmacist: this one also apparently kept the shop. Additionally the names indicate that there were three barbers in the village however the name could have also applied to a surgeon.
Other villages had several occupations that might have been expected to appear in Evershot’s list, but which do not: eg plowman, servant, shepherd, innholder, weaver and dairyman.
From ‘Dorsetshire’ in England Illustrated, 1764: “Evershot stands upon the borders of Somersetshire, about 123 miles from London, and is a little obscure town, in which there is little of note.”
From Pigot & Co., Directory: Dorsetshire, 1830:
“Evershot is a small village and parish, in the hundred of Tollerford, situated midway between Beaminster and Cerne Abbas; distant from London 129 miles by way of Sherborne. The village is a neat and clean little place, without possessing any thing worthy of especial notice. The river Frome rises in this parish, and a tributary stream to the Iver has its source on the north side of the hill here. The church, an ancient structure, was originally a chapel of ease to Frome St. Quintin, but the living is now independent of that parish. The principal seat in the neighbourhood is “Melbury house,” the seat of the Earl of Ilchester. Formerly a market was held here on Saturday, but it has been discontinued some years; a fair is held on the 12th of May, for cattle, pigs and cloth. The parish contained, in 1821, 587 inhabitants.”
From A Topographical Dictionary of England, Samuel Lewis, 5th edn 1844:
“EVERSHOT, a chapelry, in the parish of Frome St Quentin, union of Beaminster, hundred of Tolleford, Dorchester division of Dorset, 7½ miles (E. by N.) from Beaminster; containing 566 inhabitants, and comprising 1409a. 2r. 33p. [1409 acres, 2 roods, 33 poles, or about 1409.7 acres, or 570 hectares]. A fair for fat-cattle is held on the 12th of May; and there was formerly a weekly market on Saturday, which has been discontinued. The tithes have been commuted for £173. 10. 6., and the glebe comprises about 1 acre. The chapel is dedicated to St Osmund. There is a free grammar school, with an endowment in land, bequeathed, in 1628, by Christopher Strickland [sic], the rent for which is about £100 per annum; also a school for girls, supported by the Earl of Ilchester.”
From the Western Gazette, Friday 29 September 1865:
DREADFUL FIRE.—TWENTY HOUSES DESTROYED.
On Tuesday last, a dreadful fire, which was not extinguished until nearly twenty houses had been destroyed, and more than a hundred people had been rendered homeless, occurred in this little town. Summers Lane is a somewhat narrow thoroughfare leading out of the main street of the village in a southerly direction, towards Cattistock. On Tuesday, at noon, this lane contained several houses, but only one or two detached cottages now remain. It was on the west side of this lane, a few paces from the main street, and at the back of a house occupied by a carpenter named English, that the fire broke out. As far as we could ascertain from personal enquiries on the spot, it was caused by hot ashes placed in a back-house connected with Mr. English’s premises. The flames were discovered about one o’clock, the whole of the house being almost instantly enveloped in them, as if by magic. The neighbouring houses being thatched, and the thatch being as dry as tinder in consequence of the long-continued drought, P.C. Hare, and others who were on the spot immediately, at once saw that the whole of the lower end of the town was in danger and messengers were instantly despatched for the two engines kept at Melbury House. In the meantime, the wind blew the flames and sparks across the narrow thoroughfare, upon the roofs of the barn, slaughterhouse, &c., occupied by Mr. Trenchard, butcher, and these were soon discovered to be on fire. The flames now spread rapidly towards the main street, until the whole of the houses in Summers Lane, with the exception of the one or two detached cottages to which we have before referred, were one mass of fire, and the lane was no longer passable. Telegraphic messages were now sent to Yeovil for more engines, and to Dorchester for a staff of policemen. The request for the engines reached Mr. Bradley, the Captain of the Yeovil Volunteer Fire Brigade, at a quarter past two, and his engine started in fifteen minutes after its receipt, and reached Evershot in 45 minutes. Before its arrival, however, the wind had changed and driven the flames across the main street, and house after house in this thoroughfare also fell a victim to the flames. At this time, the scene was a grand but dreadful one. Both sides of the street and the lane were masses of fire, both thoroughfares were impassable, the heat was so great that it was impossible to approach any of the burning premises, and it appeared probable that the fire would sweep up both sides of the street, and wipe Evershot out (as a Yankee would say) altogether. It was only by dint of the most strenuous and well-directed exertions of those in charge of one of the Melbury House engines, and of the Yeovil Brigade engine, that this catastrophe was averted, and the fire confined to the lower end of the village. Two other engines were present—a second from Melbury House and the West of England Company’s from Yeovil, but these were less serviceable than the two first named. To attempt to extinguish the fire in the seventeen or eighteen houses in which it was already raging was useless, and the efforts of the firemen were directed to the cutting off of the flames, and thus preventing their further spread up the street. There was an abundant supply of water in a stream, one or two hundred yards distant, or the engines would have been comparatively useless, and the total destruction the of the place inevitable. By keeping the houses next to those which were burning completely saturated with water, the firemen eventually succeeded in checking the progress of the flames, and saving the remainder of the little town.
A body of police soon arrived from Dorchester; and, under Supt. Brown, who happened to be in the village, and Sergeant Vickery, they rendered valuable assistance. We need hardly say that, at such a time as this, everybody turned out, and, without regard to class or station, and with a sublime indifference to dirt and discomfort, did all that could be done to arrest the progress of the flames. Among the most active were Mr. Baskett, solicitor, Mr. Martin, Mr. Baring, the Earl of Ilchester’s steward, the Rev. – Greenhill, Mr. Clapcott, and Mr. Forward; and even the Rev. – Collins, the clergyman of the parish, and his wife and daughters, were seen handing to each other the buckets of water for the engines. Mr. Clapcott, Mr. Collins, Mr. Martin and others, opened their houses and provided refreshments for all who needed them. One was almost tempted to lose sight for a moment of the crowd that had been rendered homeless, and to feel something like satisfaction that so fine an opportunity had been for once afforded for the working together in one common use, and with one mind and soul, of a whole community. Such a sight is certainly quite as uncommon as the destruction of half a town in a single afternoon.
Although the loss of property was great, no life was lost, nor any personal injury sustained. This being so, the inhabitants have good reason to comfort their souls with that reflection, so full of resignation and true philosophy, “It might have been worse.” We say that no “life” was lost; and when we say this, we are not thinking of human life only. It was reported that some pigs were unintentionally converted into roast pork, but we are happy to say that such was not the case, that the animals in question are still living, and that, whenever they go the way of all swine, they will probably do so in a strictly orthodox manner.
There has not yet been time for any steps to be taken to raise a fund for the relief of the poorer sufferers from this sad affair, but we are greatly mistaken in our estimate of the wealthy inhabitants of Evershot and its neighbourhood if some such steps are not taken shortly. Of the families left houseless, several were allowed to take possession of a large unoccupied house, the property of the Earl of Ilchester, some have gone away to a distance, and the remainder have been taken in temporarily by their neighbours.
Our news-agent was burnt out among others, but we cannot refrain from expressing a hope that this circumstance will in no way interfere with the discharge of his duties on Friday. One calamity a week is enough; and it would be sad indeed if, immediately after such a catastrophe as that of Tuesday, the Evershot people should be deprived of their weekly copies of the Western Gazette.
From the Western Flying Post, 3 October 1865:
This place was on Tuesday last the scene of one of the most destructive fires it has fallen to our lot to record. Eighteen dwelling-houses, besides a barn and some stalls, were totally destroyed, and but for the exertions of those entrusted with the working of the engines employed in stopping the progress of the flames, there is every reason to believe that property to a much greater amount would have fallen prey to the devouring element. As it is, the loss to the noble owner will, we understand, be considerable, and although many articles were saved, yet the greater proportion of the furniture, &c., belonging to the unfortunate inhabitants was destroyed. A grocer’s stock in trade and some fat pigs are also mentioned as being among the property lost on the occasion. On the breaking out of the fire the engine belonging to the Earl of Ilchester was soon on the spot, and a telegraphic message was sent to Captain Bradley, at Yeovil, requesting the aid of the Brigade. On receipt of the news a muster of the members was soon made, and the brigade drawn by four of Mrs Bulleu’s best horses, with their engine and apparatus, were soon on the scene. On their arrival they at once set to work, and in conjunction with the other engine succeeded in preventing the fire from spreading, and aided by a good supply of water, the fire was pretty well got under by eight o’clock. The engine belonging to the West of England Insurance Company from Yeovil which arrived during the evening, relieved the Brigade, who as soon as they saw no danger of the fire spreading, set off on their return journey, arriving at Yeovil at half-past nine. We are informed that very little of the property was insured. Many conjectures are made as to the origin of the fire, but the cause most generally assigned seems to be that some straw was ignited by wood ashes thrown by one of the tenants on the ground adjoining one of the houses. The thatched roof of one of the dwellings by some means was ignited and the rapid spread of the fire, aided by the wind was the result. This catastrophe has rendered some twenty families houseless.
From The Dorset County Chronicle, 5 October 1865:
The late Fire
We learn that to mitigate the losses of the poor cottagers a subscription has been started, and the youthful Earl of Ilchester, Mrs. Strangways, Mr. Martin and the principal residents are among the subscribers. Eighteen families, living in fourteen houses, have severely felt the ravages of the fire. Their names are as follows: Aubrey English, carpenter (in whose house the fire is supposed to have commenced); Charles White, labourer; George Brett, tailor; Edward Rutley, labourer; Thomas Frampton, labourer; Stephen Christopher, butcher; John Groves, labourer; John Groves, jun., gamekeeper; John English, labourer; James Childs, labourer; John Tompkins (?Tompkyns), labourer; Ann Sartin, widow; John Perrett, cooper; Samuel Chubb, grocer; John Edwards, shoemaker; Esau Knell, tailor; and Samuel Jessop, labourer. In addition to the destruction of the cottages we learn that two stables, two slaughter-houses, a barn, cowshed, and several linhays [a shed or other farm building open in front, usually with a lean-to roof (Shorter OED)] were involved in the conflagration. Mr. Chubb’s stock-in-trade we hear was insured in the West of England Insurance Office; and Mr. Trenchard, butcher, who had property in the outbuildings, was also insured in the same office. The cottagers’ furniture suffered as much from the hasty removal as from the effects of the fire, and we hope the subscription list will be sufficient to recoup them for the loss they have sustained. The total damage is estimated at about £3000.
The Dorset County Chronicle, 5 October 1865:
A Railway Guard Killed
H. Lock, Esq., the deputy-coroner, held an inquest at the Lion Hotel on view of the body of William Phillips, a Great Western under guard. It would appear that on Friday evening in company with Thomas Kilby, the head guard, deceased was ‘working’ the down goods train, a heavily laden one. It was behind time, and about 11 o’clock at night they left Yetminster Station, shortly after which one of the driving rods broke. This necessitated the division of the train, the head guard going on with the first portion and leaving the deceased in charge of the remainder. The engine, after getting the first portion to Evershot, returned, and upon approaching the tail end of the train the driver saw that Phillips shewed by his lamp ‘all right’. Deceased should have connected the engine, but finding he did not do so the engine-driver jumped down and found the deceased lying between the rails with his head near the tender wheel. Deceased was raised, but though breathing was found insensible, and shortly after died. The impression of the driver and stoker was to the effect that the deceased sat down between the rails just in front of the carriages and fell asleep, and the coupling chain struck him on the side of his head which led to his death. This theory was disputed by Mr John Clapcott, surgeon, who was called in to see the body. Saving a slight abrasion he could discover no marks on the head, but the left shoulder was smashed and driven in, producing hemorrhage. His opinion was that he was struck while standing, probably asleep, and crushed by the buffer, falling afterwards. Verdict “Accidental Death.”
From the Western Gazette, Friday 6 October 1865:
Fatal Railway Accident.—On Saturday evening, an inquest was held at the Lion Inn, Holywell, before Mr. Lock, deputy coroner, and a respectable jury, of which Mr. Wm. Kellaway was foreman. From the evidence adduced it appears that, on Friday night, about eleven o’clock, the goods train from Yeovil arrived at a place about a mile and a quarter from Evershot station, when a portion of the trucks was left there in charge of an under guard, named Wm. Phillips, whilst the other portion of the train was taken on to Evershot station. On the return of the engine from Evershot, the driver saw the lamp signalling “all right,” but the guard in charge was afterwards found in a senseless state on the line. He was quickly got into one of the vans, and removed to the Lion Inn, and medical aid sent for. Dr. Clapcott, with P.C. Hare, quickly arrived, but on examination, the poor fellow was found to be quite dead, the collarbone having been driven into the lungs, causing fatal hemmorrhage. It is supposed that the deceased must have placed the lamp which signalled “all right,” and then leaned against the buffer, waiting for the engine from Evershot, and, whilst there, fallen asleep, and continued so until the engine came up and caught him between the buffers. The poor fellow was from Swindon, and about 30 years of age; he has left a widow with two children, which will shortly be increased to three. The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death.”
The Late Fire.—We regret to state that a number of unprincipled people carried off many of the articles rescued from the flames. A correspondent informs us that plunder was the order of the day. Blankets and bedroom carpets which had been saved from the fire disappeared most mysteriously, and the contents of a butt of cider, the property of Mr. S. Christopher, which had been removed to Mr. Knell’s garden for safety, were likewise stolen.We trust that the heartless wretches who took advantage of this great calamity to rob their neighbours may be speedily brought to justice. On Sunday by nine o’clock, the inhabitants of the neighbouring towns and villages began to pour into the place to view the scene of the fire. The street was literally crowded throughout the day, not less than from 600 to 1,000 people being present at one time. In the evening, the church was crowded, many strangers being present in the expectation of hearing the Rev. E. Collins make some reference to the sad event. The rev. gentleman selected his text from the first verse of the 27th chapter of Proverbs:—”For thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” A considerable part of his sermon related to the recent catastrophe, so that those who went to hear his references to the one topic of the week were not disappointed. We are pleased to find that a subscription has been set on foot for the benefit of the poorer sufferers, and that the youthful Earl of Ilchester, Mr. Martin, and other gentlemen in the neighbourhood, have contributed liberally. £70 was raised in two days.
From the Beat Book of the Evershot police constable, in the section detailing local convicted persons:
Name: Thomas Jeans
S or M: M
Ostensible means of support: Blacksmith
Date of conviction: 6th March 1871
Crime: For Arson
Punishment: 7 years transportation
Prosecutor: Mrs Jeans
This case of arson was easily the most serious crime in the constable’s Beat Book. Most of the other incidents were poaching, allowing horses to stray on the highway, driving an engine (no doubt a steam engine) outside permitted hours and, well out in front, drunk and disorderly. The Tiger’s Head at Rampisham seemed to be the centre of the constable’s problems in this.
From Mercer & Crocker’s Directory … Dorchester, 1871:
Evershot is a parish and village 6 miles from Beaminster. The church, dedicated to St. Osmond, is a modern building. The living is annexed with Frome St. Quinton, value £325 per annum; patron, The Earl of Ilchester. The Rev. Edward Collins, M.A. is the rector.
The shop was run as a cooperative from the 1870s to at least the 1890s. The Dorset Record Office has the minutes of the management committee from 1877 to 1893. At the time the committee were facing problems such as:
10th May 1880: Mr Tuck reported That the Assistant was in the habit of driving furiously through the street. A resolution was passed requesting him to desist.
31st June 1881: The Storekeeper enquired of the Committee the cause of his dismissal and was informed by the Chairman that it was owing to mismanagement.
12th September 1881: Resolved … to blow up Mr John Samways for not sending up a parcel which had been at the station since Saturday morning.
12th June 1883: The Storekeeper reported That much damage was done to the bacon by rats. It was considered advisable to adopt some means to prevent the same.
Other problems include the question of which outstanding bills from their suppliers the cooperative could afford to pay; pilfering by the Assistants (generally employed as apprentices) who on one occasion were caught having taken six cakes from the packages they were bringing from the station; no reliable way of ensuring that parcels delivered by rail and arriving at the station at Holywell were passed quickly to the store at Evershot before the goods rotted in the sun; how to find and keep good Storekeepers and Assistants and how much to pay them; finding suppliers of goods of all sorts of reasonable quality at reasonable prices; and even a case of the Storekeeper and his wife having ‘undue influence’ on the apprentices in matters of religion!
From JS Udall, Dorsetshire Folk-Lore, 1922:
“Dumb Maids’ Plot. Amongst my notes I find a reference to a tradition attaching to a field called the “Dumb Maids’ Plot” in the parish of Evershot, not far from Stutcombe Bottom (the fine weather musketry range of the old Evershot Volunteers), according to which three dumb sisters used to meet to while away the time by dancing on the green. This tradition was mentioned by the late Mr. S.R. Baskett, who acted as cicerone at a meeting of the Dorset Field Club in that neighbourhood in August 1895; but no further particulars appear to have been given, nor can I find any reference to it in the published accounts of that meeting either in the Dorset County Chronicle or in the Proceedings of the Society.”
From Kelly’s Directory, 1911:
“EVERSHOT is a parish and railway station, 149 miles from London by rail, 7½ east-by-north from Beaminster, 12 north-east from Bridport and 13 north-west from Dorchester, in the Western division of the county, hundred of Tollerford, petty sessional division of Dorchester, union of Beaminster, county court district of Bridport, rural deanery of Whitchurch (Cerne portion), archdeaconry of Dorset and diocese of Salisbury. The Weymouth branch of the Great Western railway passes near the borders of this parish, and the Evershot station is about 1½ miles east from the church, at a place called Holywell, but within the parish of Frome St. Quinton. A fine stream called “St. John’s Spring,” rises here, and forms one of the principal tributaries of the river Frome. The church of St. Osmund, restored, with the exception of the tower and chancel, in 1853, is of Forest marble, with dressings of Ham Hill stone, in the Gothic style of the Early 15th century, and consists of chancel, nave of three bays, aisles, south porch, and a western tower containing a clock and 6 bells: the stained east window is a memorial to the late Mr. Martin and his wife: the church has 350 sittings. The registerdates from the year 1694.The living is a chapelry, annexed with the rectory of Melbury Bubb to that of Frome St. Quintin, joint net yearly value £380, with residence, in the gift of the Earl of Ilchester, and held since 1907 by the Rev. William Gilbert Cobbett. The Earl of Ilchester J.P. is lord of the manor and the principal landowner. The soil is chalk and sand; subsoil, chalk and sand. The chief crops are wheat, barley and oats. The ara is 1,409 acres; rateable value, £2,267; the population in 1901 was 353.
Post, M.O. & T. Office.—Miss Joanna Pouncy, sub-postmistress. Letters arrive from Dorchester at 6.40 a.m.& 1.15 p.m. & and are dispatched at 11 a.m. & 6.50 p.m.
Grammar School, with residence for master, endowed by Christopher Stickland esq. in 1628, but now merged in a mixed elementary school, built 1874, for 130 children; average attendance 95; James George, master.
Railway Station, William Henry Shord, station master.
County Police Station, Charles Light, constable.
Carrier to Yeovil.—William Wyatt, tues. & fri.”
18 July: First meeting (after an Inaugural meeting held earlier the same year) of the Evershot Women’s Institute in the Club Room of the Acorn Inn.
10 July: Evershot Parish Council proposed building a village hall. Evershot WI proposed buying a hut from the War Office. The WI plan was adopted, and the hall was duly built as a Peace Memorial.
28 April: The first WI meeting in the new village hall.
29 September: A 99-year lease agreed between the Earl of Ilchester and the Trustees of the village hall on a plot of land where the hall still stands.
All WI meetings during the Second World War were held in members’ houses because the army occupied the village hall. See 1919 and 1921 above.
From Kelly’s Directory, 1939:
“EVERSHOT is a parish with railway station, 135 miles from London by rail, 7 east-by-north from Beaminster, 12 north-east from Bridport, 12 miles from Sherborne and 13 north-west from Dorchester, in the Western division of the county, hundred of Tollerford, petty sessional division of Dorchester, rural district of Beaminster, county court district of Bridport, rural deanery of Cerne, archdeaconry of Sherborne and diocese of Salisbury. The Weymouth branch of the Great Western railway passes near the borders of this parish, and the Evershot station is 1½ miles east from the village, at a place called Holywell, but within the parish of Frome St. Quintin. A fine stream called “St. John’s Spring” rises here, and forms one of the principal tributaries of the river Frome. Electricity is available. The church of St. Osmund, restored, with the exception of the tower and chancel in 1853, is of Forest marble, with dressings of Ham Hill stone, in the Gothic style of the Early 15th century, and consists of chancel, nave of three bays, aisles, south porch, and a western tower, containing a clock and six bells: the east window and other stained windows are memorials: there is a memorial tablet to the men connected with the parish who fell in the Great War, 1914–18: among the memorials in the chancel is one erected by O.A. Collins esq. to his father [?Rev. Edward Collins: see Index of people and places]: the church has 300 sittings. The register dates from the year 1694. The living is a rectory, with those of Frome St. Quintin and Melbury Bubb annexed, joint net yearly value £450, with 19 acres of glebe and residence, in the gift of the Earl of Ilchester O.B.E. and held since 1926 by the Rev. Willie Gulliford B.A. of London University and L.Th. of Durham University. There is a Gospel hall. The Earl of Ilchester O.B.E. (vice-lieut.) is lord of the manor and the principal landowner. The soil is chalk and sand; subsoil, chalk and sand. The land is mainly pasture. The area is 1,569 acres; the population in 1931 was 295.”
A list of village organisations entitled to appoint members to the Evershot village hall committee, dated 16 December, is among the village hall archives. The list consists of the following 16:
Evershot Parish Council
Parish Meeting of Frome St Quentin
Parish Meeting of Melbury Bubb
Parish Meeting of Melbury Sampford
Evershot Parochial Church Council
Evershot Gospel Hall
Evershot Brownies Group
Evershot Drama Group
Evershot Friendly Society
Evershot Mothers’ Union
Evershot Play Group
Evershot Branch of the Royal British Legion
Evershot Sports and Social Club
Evershot Women’s Institute
Evershot Young Farmers’ Club
Of the 13 Evershot organisations mentioned, only four, the Parish Council, the Parochial Church Council, the Play Group and Sticklands School, are still active today.