Puncknowle (pronounced 'punnel') is a village in south west Dorset, England, situated at in a steep valley beside Chesil Beach five miles east of Bridport. The village had a population of 429 in 2001.
1831 Samuel Lewis
PUNCKNOWLE, a parish in the hundred of UGGSCOMBE, Dorchester division of the county of DORSET, 6½ miles (S.E. by E.) from Bridport, containing 300 inhabitants. The living is a rectory, with West Bexington, in the archdeaconry of Dorset, and diocese of Bristol, rated in the king's books at £14. The Rev. Robert Frome was patron in 1825. The church is dedicated to St. Mary. This parish is bounded on the south by the English channel. A school is supported by subscription.
A Topographical Dictionary of England, Samuel Lewis, London 1831, Volume 3, Page 574
1906 Frederick Treves
A little inland is the picturesque village of Puncknowle, where are many pretty cottages of stone, roofed with tiles or thatch. Here once lived that Colonel Shrapnel who was the inventor of the shell which bears his name. Puncknowle at the time of the Domesday Book was held by " Hugh the son of Grip." It later became possessed for many generations by the family of the Nappers or Napiers. Those who are imaginative have here a favourable spot for a story of hidden treasure. The story would be based upon the fact that in 1791 a farm labourer turned up with his plough a jar which contained no fewer than 1,200 coins. They are described as being "almost entirely decayed by time." The money can hardly have represented the hoard of a miser, and if it had been buried in troublous times by the great family of the village, it is scarcely to be believed that the place of hiding was not known to some. There would at least have been some legend of hidden gold to be handed down from father to son. It is probable therefore that this was the booty of some sea rover who beached his boat at Swyre, and, going off to seek further adventure, was either murdered for the secret or was wrecked on the Chesil Beach on a less fortunate venture.
The church of Puncknowle is curious and interesting. It has a small, low tower, a Norman chancel arch, and a peculiar font, shaped like a kettledrum and decorated by knotted ropes and very archaic heads. The place is full of monuments to many generations of Napiers. One old stone records the death of a Napier in 1597; while over the door hang the gauntlets and spurs of another member of the family. As a protest against the extravagant laudations common to epitaphs of the time, one ancient stone bears the following curt inscription: —
Hidden in a garden behind the church is one of the daintiest and most beautiful of the manor houses in the county, a marvel of ancient dignity and peace. It is trim, symmetrical, and very old. A steep and lofty roof of stone slabs surmounts it; quaint stone-mullioned windows with tiny panes look into the garden, upon which opens also a porch with an arched doorway and a chamber over. This ancient homestead is far away from beaten tracks, but any who follow the coast road should turn aside to see it, so as to learn what an English home was like before the days when the small house mimicked the mansion, and when the flaunting villa was not.
Highways & Byways in Dorset, Frederick Treves, 1906
Dorset History Centre Holdings