The district was formed on 1 April 1974 by the merger of Wimborne Minster Urban District with part of the Ringwood and Fordingbridge Rural District from Hampshire and the Wimborne and Cranborne Rural District from Dorset. The district was originally known as Wimborne, and adopted its present name in 1988.
The popularity of the area, being close to the New Forest, Bournemouth and the Dorset coast, has seen a rapid expansion in housing from the 1970s with the Verwood, Ferndown, West Moors and Corfe Mullen populations more than quadrupling. There still remains a rural feel, however, especially in the north and west of the area. Wimborne Minster has retained its identity as a historic market town.