The best of Dorset in words and pictures

Bridehead revisited

Ken Ayres takes his camera to Little Bredy

Few Dorset villages have a lovelier setting than Little Bredy, nestled in a fold of the West Dorset hills and enjoying the inestimable advantage of not being on the way to anywhere. Originally one word, its name is now usually written as two, although the Ordnance Survey and some other official bodies cling to the form ‘Littlebredy’. The second word is pronounced locally as ‘Briddy’.

The manor of Brydian was owned by Cerne Abbey from 987 until the Dissolution. A manor house was built on the present site by Sir Robert Mellor in 1600, but was changed out of recognition in the 19th century, mostly by Christchurch architect Benjamin Ferrey. His client was Robert Williams of the bank, Williams Deacon & Co, and the Williams family still owns Bridehead.

Benjamin Ferrey created modern Little Bredy as an estate village. With very few exceptions, therefore, the traditional-looking thatched cottages are in fact Victorian.

Ferrey also transformed the church of St Michael and All Angels, putting a spire on top of the 14th-century tower

Two of the best internal features of the parish church are the handsome font

The pretty east window

Frederic Wallis (1853-1928), whose memorial stands in the churchyard, was Dean of Caius College, Cambridge, before going out to New Zealand as Bishop of Wellington from 1895 to 1911. He returned to be Archdeacon of Sherborne.

The waterfall that overflows from the lake is the start of the River Bride, whose valley gives this part of West Dorset so much of its character and which reaches the sea at Burton Bradstock (not at Bridport: that’s the River Brit)

What was once the village’s school is now its hall. It was intentionally designed to look like a cottage.

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