Welcome to The Orchards and Margaret Marsh Parish Council

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The Villages Country Show 2016

It raised - £13,197.00. To be divided between Forest Holme Hospice, Fortuneswell Cancer Trust and the 3 Parish Churches. 

Country Fayre East Orchard

Country Fayre East Orchard

Country Fayre East Orchard

The Orchards and Margaret Marsh Group Parish Council area comprises of the three small rural parishes of East Orchard, Margaret Marsh and West Orchard. The three adjoining parishes are located in a low lying part of the Blackmore Vale midway between Shaftesbury and Sturminster Newton. The Manston Brook, made up of the combined waters of the Key and Sturkell brooks, forms the parish boundary between East and West Orchard. The soil is predominately heavy clay, with the pasture land providing summer grazing and winter fodder for dairy cattle. 

The population of the civil parish of East Orchard, which includes the hamlet of Hartgrove located on higher ground overlooking the Blackmore Vale, is about 100. The land area of 860 acres was originally under the control of the Abbey of Shaftesbury. Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, in 1539, ownership of the Manor of Melbury Abbas passed from Shaftesbury Abbey to Sir Thomas Arundell of Wardour Castle, a descendant from a Cornish aristocratic family. He was married to Margaret Howard, the sister of Katherine, who married King Henry VIII. In the 1770s, as the result of financial problems following the building of a new castle at Wardour, the Arundells sold the Manor of Melbury to Francis Seward, who was a bachelor and a carpet manufacturer based at Wilton. On his death, his nephews sold the Manor to Sir Richard Carr Glyn a City of London banker and from 1773 a partner in Halifax Mills Glyn and Mitton in 1807. His son Sir Richard Plumptre Glyn did not marry and on his death ownership of the manor passed to his nephew Sir Richard George Glyn, who was succeeded by his son Sir Richard Fitzgerald Glyn in 1918. He was to be the last Lord of the Manor as most of the estate-owned land and property was sold in 1926, predominately to sitting tenants. 

East Orchard is documented in 1650 as being one of the five chapels belonging to the mother church of Iwerne Minster. The church of St Thomas was built at the end of the 18th century and comprises chancel, nave, south porch and bell turret with 1 bell, and has an organ and will seat 150 people. The register dates from the year 1785. There was a National school, a Primitive Methodist chapel, built in 1890 at Hartgrove, and a Wesleyan chapel in the parish. 

In 1855, Job Rose, immortalised in the William Barnes poem 'John Bloom in London', to take over the running of Woodbridge Mill at Bedchester the mill where he resided with his wife and eight children. Job Rose was a larger than life character, epitomised by his weight reputed to be in excess of 31 stones. Job Rose died in 1871 and is buried at Hartgrove Methodist Chapel. The graveyard has now been de-consecrated and the railings and memorial stones removed, leaving no indication that here is the final resting place of a well-known Blackmore Vale character in the 19th Century. A memorial tablet was removed from the interior of the chapel prior to its conversion to a private residence and fixed on the interior of the rear wall at Fontmell Magna chapel. 

West Orchard, with a land area of 617 acres, also transferred to the Arundell family after 1539 and is documented in 1650 as being the chapel of ease to the mother church of the parish of Fontmell. West Orchard registers date from 1653. St Luke,s Church was extensively rebuilt in 1878, with the exception of the chancel. Ownership of the former call box, located opposite Vale Farm, has recently transferred to the Parish Council. The box will now be restored and repainted. Alongside the former call box stands a sapling oak tree with a commemorative plaque. The tree was planted in memory of the late Derek Stranger and Stephen Harris, both former members of the Parish Council. 

Margaret Marsh parish registers, dating from 1682, are held at the Dorchester History Centre. The land area of the parish is only 460 acres. There has never been a shop, post office or school in the parish. The church of St Margaret is a stone built structure in the Early English style and comprises a chancel nave, south porch and square embattled western tower containing five bells and a clock. The four original bells, installed in 1874, were refurbished and rehung in 2016, with the addition of a fifth bell due to the generosity of the Keltek Trust. The refurbishment was carried out by Mathew and Higby Co Ltd of Radstock, made possible by grants from the Llewellyn Edwards Bell Restoration Fund, Erskine Muton Charitable