Melbury Osmond is a village and civil parish in the county of Dorset in southern England. It lies in the West Dorset administrative district, about south of the Somerset town of Yeovil. The underlying geology is Cornbrash limestone, with adjacent Oxford clay. Within the clay can be found deposits of stone which can take on a very high polish, earning them the name "Melbury marble". The village is mentioned in the Domesday Book as a possession of the Arundell family, and remained so until the 19th century. The parish church, St. Osmund's, was totally rebuilt in 1745 and restored in 1888, although it has registers dating back to 1550. In the 2011 census the parish had a population of 199.
The major part of Melbury Osmond village lies on a cul-de-sac lane which from the church descends past cottages to a stream and ford. The attractive appearance of the village has been noted by commentators: it has been described as "a calendarsmith's dream of thatched cottages" and in 1906 Sir Frederick Treves wrote that it was "the most charming village in these Western backwoods".
There are 34 listed buildings and structures within the parish, including the Grade II* Old Rectory and the Grade I parish church.
Thomas Hardy's mother lived in Melbury Osmond as a child, and she was married in the church. The village appears as "Little Hintock" in Hardy's novel The Woodlanders, in which the heroine's name is "Grace Melbury". Hardy also incorporated a legend about the Duke of Monmouth taking refuge in one of the village's cottages into his short story "The Duke's Reappearance".
Dorset Research Tips
One of the many maps available on the website A Vision of Britain through Time is one from the Ordnance Survey Series of 1900 illustrating the parish boundaries of Dorset at the turn of the 20th century. This map blows up to show all the parishes and many of the small villages and hamlets. The internal boundaries on this map are the rural districts which are indicated in the "See Also" box for the place concerned (unless it is an urban parish).
The following websites have pages explaining their provisions in WeRelate's Repository Section. Some provide free online databases. Some are linked to Ancestry.