Place:Swyre, Dorset, England


Alt namesSveresource: Domesday Book (1985) p 96
Coordinates50.692108°N 2.671223°W
Located inDorset, England
source: Family History Library Catalog

Swyre is a village in south west Dorset, England, situated in a valley beside Chesil Beach six miles south east of Bridport. The village has a population of 109 (2001).


Historic Descriptions

1831 - A Topographical Dictionary of England, Samuel Lewis

SWYRE, a parish in the hundred of UGGSCOMBE, Dorchester division of the county of DORSET, 5½ miles (S.E.) from Bridport, containing 210 inhabitants. The living is a discharged rectory, in the archdeaconry of Dorset, and diocese of Bristol, rated in the king's books at £7. 0. 5., and in the patronage of the Duke of Bedford. The church was dedicated to the Holy Trinity in 1503: it has a lofty tower, and north and south porches. The parish is bounded on the south by the English channel, and the village is situated about one mile from the coast. A wake is annually kept on Trinity Monday

1905 - The Dorset Coast, Charles George Harper

Swyre is a remote and tiny place of a church, one inn, and half-a-dozen cottages. The men inhabitants are fishermen by night and dreamers by day, sitting and gazing vacantly upon the vacant sea all day long, with perhaps rare intervals of planting or digging potatoes in their gardens, or with much deliberation caulking their boats. The women meanwhile are industriously occupied in making nets, as may be seen through the open cottage doors by the passing stranger.

Swyre stands high above the sea, but ensconced snugly under the yet higher point of Puncknowle Knob, rising so bold and black behind it, crowned with a ruined building that serves as a landmark to sailors going up and down channel. "Punnol" the natives style it and the village of Puncknowle, scarce more than a quarter of a mile away. In the little church of Swyre may yet be seen a few plain slips of monumental brasses to the memory of the Russell family, who resided here and at Kingston Russell, four miles inland, many centuries before, and -some little while after, their romantic rise to fame and fortune in 1502, through the courtly bearing of the then obscure young country squire, John Russell, who was kinsman to Sir Thomas Trenchard, of Wolveton, near Dorchester. The landing in that year of the Archduke of Austria, "Philip the Handsome," with his wife, at Weymouth, into whose bay their ships had been driven by stress of weather, has already been mentioned in these pages. Those distinguished visitors could speak Spanish, but not English, and Sir Thomas Trenchard, the nearest great man to Weymouth, who received them, had no Spanish; and so the party at Wolveton seemed like to become an absurd piece of pantomime, when old Sir Thomas bethought him of his relative, John Russell, who had traveled in Spain and had acquired the language. John Russell therefore repaired to Wolveton, and made himself not only an efficient interpreter, but so agreeable and courtly a gentleman, that when those distinguished foreigners left, to pay their respects in London to Henry the Seventh, he accompanied them, and was received at court as a "right goodlei gentleman, of greate parts, one fit to stand before princes, and not before meaner men."

John Russell had such a " way with him " that he rose to high offices of State, was the negotiator of treaties and royal marriages, and under Henry the Eighth became one of the most fortunate among the grantees of church lands. Elevated to the peerage by successive steps, he was at last created Earl of Bedford, and thus, as the founder of his family, he died in 1545, the progenitor of the present Dukes of Bedford, who inherit their vast wealth in landed property directly from him. The land here and in Kingston Russell, whence his race sprang, is still in the possession of the family, as may be seen from the ducally coroneted "B" prominent on the cottages and farmsteads.

Swyre, too, we should by no means forget, was the incumbency of Hutchins, author of the monumental "History of Dorsetshire."

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Dorset History Centre Holdings

Record Type From Year To Year
Parish Register - Baptisms 1587 1998
Parish Register - Marriages 1588 1926
Parish Register - Burials 1588 2001
Parish Register - Banns 1754 1915

Dorset History Centre

Other Resources

Picture Gallery

Holy Trinity Church
Holy Trinity Church