Beaminster CottagesLying in the folding hills of West Dorset. Beaminster (pronounced ‘Beminster’), is a prosperous little market town which once thrived from wool cloth and sailcloth, sackcloth and shoe-thread, rope and twine. Then, over a period of a century and a half, it was devastated three times by fire, first in 1644 during the Royalist occupation, then in 1684 and again in 1781.

The Square, Beaminster, DorsetAs a result, few of the finest 17th century houses survive. Even so, it contains some fine examples of Georgian buildings and picturesque 17th century cottages, and the whole of the town's historic centre is a Conservation Area featuring over 200 listed buildings.

Beaminster does, however, conceal other treasures, standing at the head of Dorset's 'Hidden Valley' - the historic Vale of the River Brit. Little has changed over the centuries in this secluded vale - rare flowers bloom, badgers ramble, mill wheels turn - and, happily, its tranquil beauty still survives for you to discover.

Beaminster's most famous son was Thomas Hine, who gave his name to Cognac Hine, long recognized as the 'connoisseurs' cognac. Thomas was born in 1775, but left 17 years later seek his fortune in France. Although it was at the time of the French Revolution, he found employment in a brandy business in Jarnac. He was no fool, married the bosses daughter, became a partner and finally owned the business. Shortly after the Napoleonic Wars, in which he suffered persecution for being British, he gave his name to the company. He died in 1822.

Around Beaminster are several notable country houses, Mapperton, Melplash and Parnham, the latter being the most interesting.

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