Removals and storage in Corfe Mullen, Dorset
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Corfe Mullen: A potted history
Corfe Mullen is a village on the north-western urban fringe of the South East Dorset conurbation and is part of the rural district of East Dorset. The village has a population of 10,133 (2011) and is served by six churches, five pubs, five schools, a library, various shops and local businesses, a village hall, and many community and sports organisations. There are three electoral wards within the village (Central, North and South).
The name Corfe Mullen is derived from the Old English for a cutting or pass; ‘corf’ and the Old French for a Mill; ‘molin’. The mill referred to is the old water mill on the River Stour, mentioned in the Domesday Book, where the village originally stood.
Despite the proximity of the urban area, Corfe Mullen is surrounded by Green Belt. It lies within the Dorset Heaths.
The first evidence of people living in the area consists mainly of a number of flint axeheads that have been found within the village and which date from the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic, or the Old and Middle Stone Ages. Around 3000 BC, the first real settlers came, cleared the forests and began to farm, although even they were largely nomadic. Later settlers, during the Bronze Age, built burial mounds or barrows, examples of which may be found to the east of the village at Barrow Hill and at Naked Cross at the southern end of the village. These forms of occupation continued into the Iron Age; evidence of pottery manufactured around the 1st century BC may be found at East End. Just prior to the coming of the Romans, in around 50 BC, the area was inhabited by the Belgae.
The Roman Second Legion under Vespasian arrived in the Corfe Mullen area during the fifth decade of the 1st century AD and built a 40-acre fortress just to the north of the village at Lake Farm. The location of this fortress was important; the River Stour provided a defensive barrier to the north and the site is only three miles from the Iron Age Hill Fort at Badbury Rings.
To subjugate the local tribes and keep themselves supplied and in communication with other Roman centres, the Legion built several roads that run through or close to the area. Probably the most important of these, and the only one visible today, is the road that connected the deep water anchorage at Morionio (now Hamworthy) and Lake, and continues northwards to Badbury and Hod Hill. This road forms the eastern boundary of the village. Traces of two other roads have also been found, both of which are underneath or follow the course of modern roads; one of these linked Lake with Dorchester, and is roughly aligned with the present A31, the other ran through the spine of the village and followed the present road to Wareham.
Although the Roman occupation of Britain lasted nearly 400 years, the military presence at Corfe Mullen was very short lived, lasting only until the 1st century’s seventh decade. However the Roman influence continued in agriculture and industry even after they had left and the Celtic-speaking people that descended from the original tribes took over the area again.
The Saxons probably settled in the area around the 7th century. Christianity arrived before 700 AD and open-air services are believed to have been held on the same site as the present-day old village church. During the centuries leading up to the millennium, division of land into Hundreds and tithe took place and Manorial courts dealt with disputes. The name of Corf came into usage during this period and was located in the hundred of Cogdean, with the court being held at Cogdean Elms in the north of the present village.
A number of other land holdings dating from this period have been found around the village, the most notable being at Mountain Clump and the Knoll, where the remains of cottages may be seen.
After the Norman Conquest, Corf’s entry in the Domesday Book shows that it appears to have been a single manor under ‘Robert, son of Gerold’, but was previously held by two Saxon lords; Waga and Egelric. At some time during the next two or three centuries, the village reverted to two manors; probably Corf Molin and Corf Hubert. The latter manor was almost certainly named after a former lord, Hubert de la Vielle. By 1469 the two manors were combined into one again, although the two names were still preserved at that time. It was probably another century before the present day name came about; this merger was probably driven by the general depopulation of the country that occurred in the Middle Ages due to migration to the towns and the Black Death.
A third part of the village came to be known as Corfe Mullen St Nicholas and the origin of this appears to date back to a land acquisition by St Nicholas Hospital (a Salisbury charity) in 1279. The present day areas of Lambs Green, East End and Brog Street were still called this until the early part of the 20th century.
Construction of the original parish church, then called St Nicholas but now St Hubert’s, was commenced during the 13th century, with the tower being added a little later.
After the major changes seen after the Normans, a period of stability came to the village for about 300 years. From Elizabethan to Georgian times prosperity increased, with a number of wealthy families being the major landowners. None of these families built their homes within the parish boundaries, although the Phelipps family took over an Elizabethan Manor House (the Court House) near the church and lived there for many years. Other architectural legacies of this period are some notable farm houses, a few cottages and the original building that housed Lockyer’s Charity School, formed in 1706 by Richard Lockyer. This building is still used by the present day Lockyer’s Middle School.
During the latter half of the 18th century a toll road was constructed by private enterprise; Higher Blandford Road and Mill Street were part of a new route between Poole and Blandford which resulted in the people of Corfe Mullen having access to the major markets of these two towns.
During the reign of Queen Victoria more toll roads were constructed, including an extension to Mill Street which provided a new route from Bere Regis to Wimborne. The railways arrived by the late 19th century, with tracks first appearing within walking distance of the village at Wimborne and later with a route that went through the village, though it was well into the 20th century before a halt was provided.
In the 20th century development accelerated. Development between the wars occurred along Higher Blandford Road and Wareham Road, with the populated area gradually extending up the hill, away from the original riverside centre at Mill Street and the older cottages at Brog Street, Lambs Green and East End. In the 1950s and 1960s major new housing estates were built around Phelipps Road and Hilltop Road, and in the last forty years of the century, new housing was built on most of the area between Broadstone and the eastern boundary of the village.
During the early part of the century, the village became known for its violet and lavender cultivation, which was centred around Violet Farm. The trade diminished however and the farm was demolished in the 1960s, along with a 300-year-old tithe barn, to make way for new bungalows.
During the first decade of the 21st century, proposals were made by the South West Regional Assembly to build 800 new homes on green belt land on the edge of the village. These plans were opposed by a majority of villagers. The developments were shelved and East Dorset District Council later published more modest plans to build on the sites of the middle school or recreation ground. The adoption of any of these sites would require relocation of the school or recreational facilities.
Corfe Mullen Cricket Club runs a number of senior and junior sides catering for all abilities and is based at Corfe Mullen Recreation Ground under the auspices of the Corfe Mullen Sports Association. Other members of the association include tennis and football clubs, and most recently even a baseball team.
Notable residents include Isaac Gulliver, the famous smuggler, who lived in Highe House in East End, and William Joyce, who is better known as ‘Lord Haw-Haw’, who once lived in the Court House. Gladys Mitchell, the detective writer and creator of Mrs Bradley, lived in the village at the end of her life. And Hugh Miles, British filmmaker who specialises in wildlife films.
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