Winterborne Houghton

Winterborne Houghton

St Andrew's Church, Winterborne Houghton
Winterborne Houghton
 Winterborne Houghton shown within Dorset
Population 183 
OS grid referenceST820045
DistrictNorth Dorset
Shire countyDorset
RegionSouth West
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Police Dorset
Fire Dorset and Wiltshire
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK ParliamentNorth Dorset
List of places

Coordinates: 50°50′22″N 2°15′26″W / 50.8394°N 2.2571°W / 50.8394; -2.2571

Winterborne Houghton is a village and civil parish in north Dorset, England. It is situated in a winterbourne valley on the Dorset Downs, 5 miles (8.0 km) southwest of Blandford Forum. In the 2011 census the parish had 82 households and a population of 183.[1] In 2001 the population was 195.[2]

The name "Winterborne" derives from the River Winterborne, which has its source here.[3] The river only flows overground during the winter, hence the name. To the east is Winterborne Stickland and the river flows on to this village, eventually joining the River Stour. To the southwest is Milton Abbas.[4]

The village church is named after St Andrew and is a Grade II listed building, being so designated on 14 July 1955.[5] It was designed by Thomas Henry Wyatt and built during 1861–62.[6] It is in the Perpendicular style and faced with flint with a tiled roof. It has a simple plan with nave, chancel, north aisle and south porch. The tower is on the west end and is built in two stages with a battlemented parapet. Internally, the nave has a hammer beam roof and the chancel a wagon roof. The fifteenth century font has a carved octagonal bowl on an octagonal stem, and the other fittings are nineteenth century.[5]

Residents of Winterborne Houghton used to be known as "Houghton Owls", in reference to the story of a villager who, when calling for help having got lost in the woods, mistook the calls of owls for answering human voices. In his book Dorset Villages Roland Gant posits the theory that Thomas Hardy used this tale as inspiration for the scene where Joseph Poorgrass gets lost in Yalbury Wood in Far from the Madding Crowd.[7]


  1. "Area: Winterborne Houghton (Parish).". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  2. "Winterborne Houghton Parish Profile". 2001 Census. Dorset County Council/ 2001. Archived from the original on May 19, 2006. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
  3. "Walking the River Winterborne" (PDF). Dorset AONB Partnership, UK. 2011. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
  4. "Dorchester, Weymouth and surrounding area" (Map). Landranger 194. Ordnance Survey.
  5. 1 2 "Church of St Andrew, Winterborne Houghton". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  6. Newman, John; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1972). The Buildings of England: Dorset. Penguin Books. p. 481. ISBN 0-14-071044-2.
  7. Roland Gant. Dorset Villages. Robert Hale Ltd. p. 80. ISBN 0 7091 8135 3.

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