Place:Dorchester, Dorset, England

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NameDorchester
Alt namesDorecestrasource: Domesday Book (1985) p 93
Dorecestresource: Domesday Book (1985) p 93
Durnovariasource: Encyclopædia Britannica (1988) IV, 183
Durnovarialsource: Canby, Historic Places (1984) I, 250
Maiden Castlesource: ARLIS/NA: Ancient Site Names (1995)
TypeTown, Borough (municipal)
Coordinates50.717°N 2.433°W
Located inDorset, England
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Dorchester is the county town of Dorset, England. It is situated between Poole and Bridport on the A35 trunk route. A historic market town, Dorchester is on the banks of the River Frome to the south of the Dorset Downs and north of the South Dorset Ridgeway that separates the area from Weymouth, to the south.

The area around the town was first settled in prehistoric times. The Romans established a garrison there after defeating the Durotriges tribe, calling the settlement that grew up nearby Durnovaria; they built an aqueduct to supply water and an amphitheatre on an ancient British earthwork. After the departure of the Romans, the town diminished in significance, but during the medieval period became an important commercial and political centre. It was the site of the "Bloody Assizes" presided over by Judge Jeffreys after the Monmouth Rebellion, and later the trial of the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

In the 2011 census, the population of Dorchester was 19,060, with further people coming from surrounding areas to work in the town which has six industrial estates. The Brewery Square redevelopment project is taking place in phases, with other development projects planned. The town has a land-based college, Kingston Maurward College, the Thomas Hardye Upper School, three middle schools and thirteen first schools. The Dorset County Hospital offers an accident and emergency service, and the town is served by two railway stations. Through vehicular traffic is routed round the town by means of a bypass. The town has a football club and a rugby union club, several museums and the biannual Dorchester Festival. It is twinned with three towns in Europe. As well as having many listed buildings, a number of notable people have been associated with the town. It was for many years the home and inspiration of the author Thomas Hardy, whose novel The Mayor of Casterbridge uses a fictionalised version of Dorchester as its setting.

Further notes from Wikipedia

By 864, the area around Durnovaria/Durngueir was dominated by the Saxons who referred to themselves as Dorsaetas, 'People of the Dor' - Durnovaria. The town became known as Dornwaraceaster or Dornwaracester, combining the original name Dor/Dorn from the Latin and Celtic languages with cester, Old English for walled town. This changed over time to Dorncester/Dornceaster and Dorchester. The town was a thriving commercial and political centre for south Dorset with a textile trading and manufacturing industry which continued until the 17th century.

In 1613 and 1725 great fires destroyed large parts of the town, but some of its mediaeval buildings, including Judge Jeffreys' lodgings, and a Tudor almshouse survive in the town centre. Among the replacement Georgian buildings are many which are built in Portland limestone.

In the 17th century the town was at the centre of Puritan emigration to North America, and the local rector, John White, organised the settlement of Dorchester, Massachusetts. For his efforts on behalf of Puritan dissenters, White has been called the unheralded founder of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. (Some observers have attributed the oversight to the fact that White, unlike John Winthrop, never went to America.)

In 1833, the Tolpuddle Martyrs founded the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers. Trade unions were legal but because the members swore an oath of allegiance [to the union], they were arrested and tried in the Shire Hall which is preserved as it was at the time. Beneath the courtroom are cells where the prisoners were held while waiting trial. Dorchester Prison was constructed in the town during the 19th century and was used for holding convicted and remanded inmates from the local courts until it closed in December 2013.

Dorchester, Dorset in A Vision of Britain Through Time

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