Weymouth-Dorset.co.uk Local History


The Church of St. Mary, Puncknowle, Dorset

Church of St. Mary, Puncknowle, Dorset

At the time of the Domesday book Puncknowle (pronounced Punnel) is written Pomacanole and was held by William of the wife of Hugh Fitz-Grip. Its succession of holders is quite long, reverting to the Crown and being passed down through marriage to several different family names. The manor was granted to George, Duke of Clarence during the reign of King Edward IV, but when the Duke died he was seized of it. It is then said to have passed to the Cheney family of Litton Cheney and also to the Holman and Stevens families, followed by the Napier or Napper family. The Napiers held land at Bexington, which had become part of the parish of Puncknowle when it ceased to be a parish in its own right.

The Napier family continued to hold both the manor of Puncknowle and that of West Bexington until at least the mid seventeenth century at which time Sir Charles Napier sold both to William Clutterbuck, esq. A complicated line descended from William Clutterbuck in the passing of the manor estate until it came down to the Rector of Puncknowle, the Rev. George Clutterbuck Frome. He married Mary Sophia the daughter of Edmund Morton Pleydell, esq of Whatcombe House. Again, the successors to the manorial estate were daughters and so it came into the family by descent and purchase, of the Mansels of Smedmore as sole owners by 1859.

A fire occurred at Puncknowle on 29th September 1802 and consumed twelve houses of poor families. One such person was George Walbreg (Walbridge?) who had been bed-ridden for some nine years. Terrified, the poor man was suddenly able to walk, but as he mingled with his fellow villagers nobody recognised him because he hadn't been seen for so long.

The church of St. Mary at Puncknowle stands in the main street of the village next to the Manor House and conveniently opposite the local pub, The Crown. In 1451 Bexington was united with Puncknowle, and sometime later, a small aisle was added for the people of Bexington. Monuments to the Napier or Napper family are in the church along with other Lords of the Manor and rectors.

The Crown at Puncknowle, Dorset

The Crown, Puncknowle


Historical Parish Information


Parish Registers begin:


Hundred or Liberty:


Poor Law Union & Registration District:


Online Parish Clerk Project - Puncknowle (external link)

Nearby Parishes and Places:


Bexington (East and West)

Kingston Russell

Langton Herring

Little Bredy or Littlebredy

Portesham and Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy



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