Shipton Gorge Parish Council

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About Shipton

Shipton Hill and Hammiton Hill

Shipton_HillShipton Hill, north of the village itself, is an important landmark that is visible from almost everywhere in the parish. It is 588 feet in height and is a steep sided mass of upper greensand chert, isolated by landslips which have left it surrounded on all sides by an irregular tumbled surface of Fuller s Earth clay. There are some lovely footpaths that take you up to and around the hill but none actually to the summit. The land at the top is private property and there are often livestock grazing on the hill.

Hammiton Hill is similar but smaller at just 394 feet high.   It is a less dominant feature in the village but just below the hill is the only substantial wood in the parish. There is a round barrow on the top of the hill and footpaths that provide access to the hill and the wood. Walkers are reminded when walking to either hill, to treat the land with respect and to follow the Countryside Code at all times.

Neither hill is man-made but records show that Shipton Hill is likely to have been the site of an ancient village. The flint arrowheads that have frequently been found in the vicinity substantiate this.

View from Shipton Hill towards the sea

The following information comes from a number of reference books where the hills are mentioned and which can be found in Bridport Library.


Where is the Gorge?

Many visitors ask this question and indeed come to the village especially to find the gorge!

Although there are a number of old lanes in and around Shipton Gorge with high banks on both sides, which may appear like small gorges, there is in fact no geological gorge in Shipton Gorge!


Shipton in the 1940s

As a little girl, born and brought up in London, the move to Shipton Gorge was quite a culture shock. It was May 1938 and the trees and hedges were full of blossom and green grass - I had never seen anything like it! My father, in business in London, had decided to follow a dream and move to the country, which he and my mother had always loved, though he knew nothing about farming. They found Bonscombe Farm, near Shipton Gorge, a Victorian farmhouse and stable and 25 acres, and my parents, brother and I moved in after some refurbishment had been done. Trixie, a one-eyed pony, came with the property and with the onset of war my father bought cows, pigs and chickens to meet the Government's demands for more food production. He was thus able to earn enough money to support the family.


Shipton in the snow - 1963 and 1978

Shipton_in_the_SnowWe are lucky that the weather in West Dorset is generally very mild and our particular area has what is almost its own micro-climate. As a result we have very few frosts and very rarely get more than a smattering of snow. This perhaps explains why Abbotsbury Sub-tropical Garden just a few miles away is so successful for growing plants which would not normally survive here.

However, I have lived in the village long enough to remember two occasions when the snow was so heavy that many people were blocked into their houses and vehicles could not get out of the village at all. Many people say that the UK is not organised to deal with bad weather but in this part of West Dorset we rarely even think about it, let alone have any organisation or contingency plans to deal with it when it comes.


The Village School

school houseA National School was built in 1862 for 90 children but closed in 1949 when there were just 8 children on the register. It was in a thatched building opposite the village hall on the way to St Martin's Church. The house has been privately owned by the Jones family ever since its closure and is now known as the Old School.


Saunders Richardson Wood

The Woodland Trust have owned this wood since 1985 woodland_trustwhen it was bequeathed to them under the terms of the will of Mrs N Richardson of Bridport, who had once been a resident of Shipton Gorge.woodland_trust

The Woodland Trust became owners of the land when Charles Errington of Smacombe Farm, which is opposite the wood on Smacombe Lane, had wanted to purchase the land from Nicky Richardson in order to preserve it as a woodland for perpetuity. She wanted to make sure that it would never be developed and to ensure its future as an open space in the parish. He then suggested that the best option was for her to bequeath it to the Woodland Trust and that is how it came to now be in their ownership.