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Stalbridge is a small town in the Blackmore Vale area of North Dorset, near the border with Somerset in South England. In 2001 the town had a population of 2,660, and is still growing. 25% of the population are retired.

There was a setlement near Stalbridge in Roman times. The town has a 15th century church with a 19th century tower. The town has had market rights since the time of King George I, though it has not held a regular market for many years. In the town centre stands a 10-metre-tall market cross, said to be the finest in the country.

Stalbridge was home to scientist Robert Boyle (see below), and writer Douglas Adams. Adams wrote much of The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy in the town, and chipped his tooth while singing in the church choir. The town also boasts that it is home to the oldest living male twins in the world.

Artist Sir James Thornhill lived just south of the town, in Thornhill Park, which he bought in 1725. In 1727 he erected an obelisk in the park to honor the accession of King George II.

Though relatively small Stalbridge is quite independent, with its own Supermarket, Newsagents, Local Newspaper, Electronics Store etc.

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Table of contents
1 Stalbridge Manor
2 Photographs
3 External Links

Stalbridge Manor

In 1618 Mervyn, Lord Audley, Second Earl of Castlehaven, who had inherited Stalbridge Park from his father decided to build a Manor house (Mansion) in his Stalbridge estate. He enclosed an area used as common land to the northwest of the church, moving tennant farmers out, and built a Jacobean style Mansion, the fifth largest house in Dorset.

In 1631 Audley's eldest son James brought a case against Audley for "unnatural practices", and he was subsequently executed.

James sold the house to Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork. After his father's death the scientist Robert Boyle became Lord of the Manor, and the manor was his residence between 1644 and 1655. It was here that he conducted many of his experiments.

At some point during the house's history a 2 metre high stone wall was built around the boundary of Stalbridge Park. There's some argument as to when and why the wall was built. It may have been commissioned by Audley (because he could - status symbol?), as work for French Prisoners of the Napoleonic Wars, or as work for local labourers in times of high unemployment.

In 1823 the house was in poor repair, and the current owner, the Marquess of Anglesey had it demolished, and by 1827 all that remained was the raised area it had stood on. The stone was sold off and much of it is in use elsewhere in the town, including the large farm house which now stands in the park.

There are many popular local myths and ghost stories about the demise of the house, mostly involving a fire destroying the house.


External Links