Two derivations are suggested for the name of Evershot; either from Eafor’s Holt, the wood of the wild boar, or from the Saxon word Shot meaning a brook and being a brook of the Varia or Froome. Whichever is correct, both have relevance to the history of the village.
William Clements, who was born in Evershot in 1805 and who wrote his memoirs in 1880, gave the existence of a spring at Saint John’s well with its consistent source of clear clean water and the shelter from south-west winds as the reasons why the settlement grew up starting some 1100 years ago. It is the second highest village in Dorset.
The church, now Saint Osmund’s, but originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary had the first Rector appointed in 1115. Christopher Stickland founded the school in 1628 “”…for reading, writing and grammar… 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.”and the existing building was built in 1874.
Through the 18th century and into the 19th a thriving chartered town with a market developed. Bark from oak trees which was ground at a mill near the lower end of the village, as well as the abundant water, would have been essential for the tanning industry which grew up. Timber was necessary for the successful cooperage which existed in Evershot at the same time also for the hollow turnery businesses making cheese vats, bowls and ladles, all of which were sold as far away as Bristol. The tanned hides were also sent to Bristol for sale and used by Evershot shoemakers or cordwainers. Many occupations are recorded including thatchers, butchers, carpenters and tailors, thus a picture is established of interconnected trades and shops to support the 600 people living in the village when the 1851 census was taken.
The Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, Restuarant and Spa situated in the centre of the village was originally built in 1798 as dower house by Henry Fox-Strangways, 2nd Earl of Ilchester. It was enlarged in 1893 and with the second floor designed by local author Thomas Hardy.
Disruption occurred in 1865 when a fire started at the house of a carpenter in Summer Lane. Thatch caught alight and 20 houses at the lower end of Fore Street were burned down, rendering 100 people homeless. Had the river not been nearby it is likely that the whole village would have been destroyed. Not a single person was killed during the “Great Fire of Evershot” and a considerable amount was raised to help the homeless (£70 the equivalent of over £3000 today).
The Village Hall was originally a hut used by the military in the First World War and was developed into by Evershot Parish Council to serve as a peace memorial. It was once again used by the army in the Second World War.
Now, early in the 21st century, less than 200 people live in Evershot and whilst many do work in the village, the majority of those who work do so outside the village. The focus is no longer on rural industries, nor even agriculture which was the driving force within living memory. There are people in the village who remember three separate herds of dairy cattle walking through Fore Street on a daily basis. Evershot is a small village with a history of self-sufficiency. It was featured as a typical English village for which the country was fighting in World War 2 propaganda.