Woolbridge

Please see my 'Contact' page re email address.

Woolbridge Manor was once owned by descendants of Sir Payne de Turberville, who arrived in England during the Norman conquest of 1066; the last member of his line died in 1780, having previously sold the Manor to Henry Drax in 1733. Wool Bridge was one of the Meets for a later Mr. Drax's Foxhounds; see: Charborough. The Manor, farm building, farm, and the adjoining cottages are still owned by the Drax family of Charborough Park, as part of the Moreton Estate. Not many years ago, the ancient Manor House was in use as a Hotel (see picture below).



Woolbridge Manor, Woolbridge, Wool, Dorset - watercolour by George W. Fasham, 1936
This house was called 'Wellbridge' in Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles.


Wool Bridge & Woolbridge Manor, Dorset, ink drawing by J.V. Malton, 1972.


Wool Bridge & Woolbridge Manor, Dorset, watercolour by Ernest W. Haslehust R.B.A., c1920

I wanted to include something here about the history of Woolbridge Manor House and found the following text by Olive Knott, which I am unable to improve upon. In 1954, she wrote, 'Woolbridge Manor House standing on the banks of the Dorset Frome, and in close proximity to the ancient bridge, which supplies part of its name, is a Jacobean building of great dignity and charm. Although in its own right this Manor is one of the most picturesque in the county, it is its association with Hardy's "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" which has made it the best known, for it was to this house that Angel Clare brought his bride on their ill-fated wedding night. Woolbridge Manor was at one time the seat of the Turberville family, their principal residence being at Bere Regis. Hardy slightly alters the names of people and places but it is obvious that he writes of the Turberville family, making Tess a humble descendant. The Turbervilles were established at Bere Regis in the reign of Edward II, but nothing now of their Manor remains. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth I a younger son, Thomas Turberville, owned Woolbridge Manor, which had been before the dissolution of the Monasteries part of Bindon Abbey. It was the son of Thomas Turberville who succeeded both to the Woolbridge and Bere estates which remained in the family until the male line became extinct. The last of the Turbervilles left twin daughters as his heirs. These two died on the same day at the same house at the age of twenty-seven. The Manor House composed of brick, tile and stone now mellowed with age, is still further beautified by moss and lichen on roof and gables. It was built in the twelfth century and restored in the seventeenth. The house is said to have been garrisoned during the Civil War whilst it was owned by Sir John Turberville, at that time Sheriff of the County. It is possible that the building was damaged at this time and restored at the date given on the stone over the porch (1653). The main front, which faces North, is seventeenth-century brickwork whilst the gables at either end are probably much older. The bricked chimneys containing pairs of arched niches which are so much a feature of this Manor, are also probably seventeenth century. According to Hutchins the Turberville Arms, impaling Howard of Bindon, were, in his day to be seen over a door in the hall. These, however, have gone but there still remain the partially obliterated portraits of the two Turberville ladies built into the walls on the upstairs landing. ......... Originally the Manor and Chapel Barn were part of the monastery of Bindon Abbey when the monks exacted toll from the bridge. The North wall of the Chapel Barn is probably a remnant of the original Saxon building for a part of the old herringbone masonry is still visible. This indicates that the barn is older than either the Manor or Bindon Abbey and in common with many other Saxon Chapel was built on a bridge to further the interests of an ancient monastery. There is said to be an underground tunnel from Woolbridge Manor to Bindon Abbey which runs under the river. This was no doubt used as a means of escape in times of religious persecution. Like most of these ancient Manors, Woolbridge is said to harbour a ghost connected with some former Lord of the Manor. .........' (Extract from More about Dorset, by Olive Knott, published by Longmans (Dorchester) Ltd., at the Friary Press, 1954, pages 28/30)

This is one of several books that Olive Knott wrote about old Dorset; they are a brilliant read, especially if your family once lived in the county. I have copies of: Down Dorset Way; More About Dorset; Dorset Again; Old Dorset; Dorset with Hardy; Witches of Dorset; Tales of Dorset; Pictorial History of Sturminster Newton; Blackmore Vale Villages; Old Town Poole; Witches of Wessex. Each of these is a very interesting read if you have any interest in Georgian, Victoria and pre-WWII Dorset.


Woolbridge Manor House, Dorset c1950

                                                                                                                         photo by Chris Drakes 2009

16th century Woolbridge Manor House, Woolbridge, near Wool, Dorset was extended with the addition of the southwest wing about 1660, but is otherwise largely unaltered outside; it has 'Grade II Listed Building' status.


16th century Woolbridge Manor House, from across the river

                                                                                                                         photo by Chris Drakes 2009

The narrow 16th century stone bridge over the river Frome near Wool, Dorset, is now closed to traffic, but still has pedestrian access. There is a stone inset halfway along stating that those who deface or damage the bridge will be Transported for the rest of their lives - look out Australia - there may be more Brits on the way!


An idilic view of Woolbridge Manor House and cottages in an old painting


Woolbridge Manor House, when it was in use as a Hotel


16th century Woolbridge Manor House, from across the river

                                                                                                                         photo by Chris Drakes 2009

16th century Woolbridge Manor House, across the river, from the far side of Wool Bridge

                                                                                                                         photo by Chris Drakes 2009

Front entrance of Woolbridge Manor House, during chimneystacks repairs in 2009

                                                                                                                         photo by Chris Drakes 2009

Repairs being undertaken to one of the chimneystacks in 2009

                                                                                                                         photo by Chris Drakes 2009

Woolbridge Manor farm outbuildings

                                                                                                                         photo by Chris Drakes 2009

Woolbridge Manor farm outbuildings

                                                                                                                         photo by Chris Drakes 2009

Woolbridge Manor farm outbuildings

                                                                                                                         photo by Chris Drakes 2009

Woolbridge Manor farm outbuildings

It is a strange coincidence that one of my maternal ancestors, William James Rickets, was born in 1810 at Wool Bridge (Woolbridge), Dorset. He was christened on 30.9.1810 at Wool, Dorset, the son of William & Mary Rickets. He was probably born in one of the three old cottages next to Woolbridge Manor (see below), the porch of which has a stone dated 1635. So, they must have been Drax tenants, and were probably employed on the Drax-owned Morden estate.

                                                                                                                         photo by Chris Drakes 2009

Two old cottages, that were originally three, next to Woolbridge Manor House, Woolbridge, Wool, Dorset

                                                                                                                         photo by Chris Drakes 2009

Two old cottages, that were originally three, next to Woolbridge Manor House, Woolbridge, Wool, Dorset

                                                                                                                         photo by Chris Drakes 2009

Two old cottages, that were originally three, next to Woolbridge Manor House, Woolbridge, Wool, Dorset

                                                                                                                         photo by Chris Drakes 2009

Two old cottages, that were originally three, next to Woolbridge Manor House, Woolbridge, Wool, Dorset

                                                                                                                         photo by Chris Drakes 2009

Two old cottages, that were originally three, next to Woolbridge Manor House, Woolbridge, Wool, Dorset