As a small boy every time I passed the sign for Shipton Gorge on the Dorchester to Bridport road I would wonder about the Gorge, no sign of which could be found even when visiting this West Dorset village tucked away in the hilly country to the East of Bridport. It was many years later that I discovered that the village was named after the de Gorge family who owned it in the 13th Century rather than some geological phenomenon.

The de Gorge family owned both Litton Cheney and Shipton Gorge having come originally from Normandy. In 1231 Thomas Gorges, Sergeant-at-Arms to King Henry III was granted the tenancy of Powerstock Castle, the hunting lodge restored by Henry's father, King John. On Thomas's death the tenancy was granted to his wife Joan together with a pension other allowances. There has been some speculation that Joan was the illegitimate daughter of King John, a frequent visitor to Dorset.

The 14th Century church of St. Martin retains its original tower with an elaborate doorway, but the remainder of the church was rebuilt in 1862 in a rather cold style. The architect at this time was John Hicks of Dorchester, for whom, one Thomas Hardy was then working. The church has a 13th century font, rather odd in that it has seven sides. Just below the church is a fine 18th century thatched stone cottage, one of several examples in the village.

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