Winterborne Houghton is a village and civil parish in north Dorset, England. It is situated in a winterbourne valley on the Dorset Downs, southwest of Blandford Forum. In the 2011 census the parish had 82 households and a population of 183. In 2001 the population was 195.
The name "Winterborne" derives from the River Winterborne, which has its source here. The river only flows overground during the winter, hence the name. To the east is Winterborne Stickland and the river flows on to this village, eventually joining the River Stour.
Residents of Winterborne Houghton used to be known as "Houghton Owls", in reference to the story of a villager who, when calling for help having got lost in the woods, mistook the calls of owls for answering human voices. In his book Dorset Villages Roland Gant posits the theory that Thomas Hardy used this tale as inspiration for the scene where Joseph Poorgrass gets lost in Yalbury Wood in Far From the Madding Crowd.
A sketchmap of the rural district can be viewed at Blandford Rural District.
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.