Weymouth-Dorset.co.uk Local History

 Chaldon Herring or East Chaldon

and West Chaldon

Set deep in the countryside of Dorset, yet near the sea, is Chaldon Herring, also known as East Chaldon. Bounded by the parishes of Owermoigne to the west and north, Winfrith Newburgh to the north east and West Lulworth to the east and lying east of Ringstead, it lies off the beaten track but with some spectacular views as it is approached from the main road. Set amid the chalk hills, the village of Chaldon Herring lies near some Bronze Age barrows such as the Five Marys, which are within the parish.

It is recorded in the Domesday Book as Calvedone or Chalvedon and having 500 sheep. The name Herring was added later, taken from the name of the land owning family of Harang who held land at Chaldon Herring from as early as 1166 until at least 1372. The family also held land and the manors of Langton Herring and Winterborne Herringston, thus giving them their suffix.

The parish church of Chaldon Herring stands on a hill and is dedicated to St. Nicholas. There were once two parishes, Chaldon Herring or East Chaldon and, West Chaldon formerly known as Chaldon Boys. Both parish churches were of the same dedication and lay so close to each other that in 1446 the Bishop united them.

Most of the church of St. Nicholas dates from the 15th century but the north wall and part of the west tower date from the late 14th century. Renovations and alterations took place during Victorian times including the addition of the south arcade.

At present the church is fund raising in order to carry out necessary repairs to prevent any damage being caused to the building by rainwater seeping in between the roof of the south aisle and the tower.

The Village Hall stands just before the path leading up to the church and is sideways on to the churchyard.

This building was built during Victorian times and was originally the Church School House. The school bell can still be seen at the top of it.


The Grange, Manor House of Chaldon Herring, Dorset 

The Grange, Manor House, Chaldon Herring

Church of St. Nicholas, Chaldon Herring

St. Nicholas, Chaldon Herring

Village Hall, formerly the Old School House, Chaldon Herring, Dorset

Chaldon Herring Village Hall

Lying immediately east of the church is The Grange. (The picture on the left was taken through the trees from the churchyard). The Grange is the former Manor House of Chaldon Herring and was once, along with Grange Farm part of the lands belonging to Bindon Abbey until the dissolution of the monasteries. At that time it came into the hands of Sir Thomas Poynings of East Lulworth.

The Manor House of the thirteenth century was subject to much modification in 1728 by Richard Gostelowe. Purchased by the Weld family in 1790 it remained in their hands until it was sold again during the 1970s.

The Land Tax Assessments of 1798 give a valuable insight into the two villages of East Chaldon (Chaldon Herring) and West Chaldon. They lay in the hundred of Bindon and clearly at some point the village of West Chaldon must have been superior to the other, perhaps due to the larger land holdings there. The assessment of both is given as West Chaldon. The largest landowner was the Honourable Lionel Damer whose land was assessed to be taxed at 36 "for West Chaldon", although Robert Gale occupied his property. Damer also held Grange Farm taxed at 19.13s and Chaldon field lands (10.14s), both being in the occupation of George White. T. Lyle Esq. for the Parsonage, the Reverend Mr King and the Messrs Kelleway and Collier all provided land in the occupation of George White. Mr Billett of Whittle Mead was the only one to occupy his own land, assessed at 2. The only other land mentioned is that of Andrew Bain Esq. in the occupation of Thomas Hillier and assessed at 1.

T. Taunton Esq. was the proprietor of Fossil Farm in the north of the parish, in the occupation of Robert Ingram to be taxed at 9.16s.4d. Robert Ingram also occupied all the land at Galton in the adjoining parish of Owermoigne.

The village pub is the Sailors Return and what a delight it is. Originally a pair of thatched cottages built in the old Dorset fashion of stone and rubble in truly rustic style, it began its trade as an inn in the mid nineteenth century.

The pub uncarpeted, has flagstone floors in the bar and restaurant area and retains a charm of bygone days and village life.

The Sailors Return, Chaldon Herring, Dorset

The Sailors Return, Chaldon Herring

The Sailors Return is home to a rather unusual artefact, that of a pre-reformation altar stone. It lies within the floor on the right upon entering the pub and is marked by a cross in one corner. The pub takes its name from a story of three brothers having left their village to join the Navy. Upon his return, a sailor found his wife to be in the company of another man.

The inn also gained some notoriety as the setting for the writer David Garnett's book of the same name published in 1926. Garnett used to stay at the Sailors Return when visiting Chaldon Herring.

He, along with Sylvia Townsend Warner, were friends of Theodore F Powys who also lived in Chaldon Herring. Based on life in the village and tales told to him, Theodore Powys wrote his stories that eventually led to his success as a writer. Chaldon became Folly Down in his novel "Mr Weston's Good Wine". Friends of Powys in the literary circle who came to visit him at Chaldon were Thomas Hardy and T.E.Lawrence otherwise known as Lawrence of Arabia.

Naturally, being on the coast and along the stretch known for smuggling and lying between the notorious smuggling villages of Osmington Mills and West Lulworth, Chaldon was home to at least four smugglers. The families of Stickland, Squibb and Snelling all feature in the registers of the County Gaol.


Historical Parish Information


Parish Registers begin:


Hundred or Liberty:

Winfrith (East Chaldon/Herring); Bindon (West Chaldon)

Poor Law Union & Registration District:

Wareham & Purbeck

Online Parish Clerk Project (external link):

Chaldon Herring OPC

Nearby Parishes and Places

Lulworth, East & West, and Lulworth Cove

Osmington, Osmington Mills & Ringstead



Tyneham & Worbarrow Bay

Winterborne Herringston

Herring Family


Local Attractions and Places to Visit


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