The Parish of Winterborne Came

Came Village
Church and House from the north [J Purkiss 2004]

Winterborne Came is a small rural parish in south Dorset. It is 2 miles south of Dorchester and 5 miles north of Weymouth. It is bordered by the parishes of Dorchester to the north (formerly Fordington parish), West Stafford and Whitcombe to the east, Bincombe to the south and Winterborne Herringston to the west. The land slopes from Conygar Hill at the northern boundary down to the Winterborne River and rises again to a height of 148m at at Came Wood on the southern edge of the parish. A map of parish boundaries can be found here

There is a manor house and most of the other dwellings are, or were, related to the manor's estate. The A352, the Wareham Road, passes through the east part of the parish. For several years until 1999 the Dorset County Show, known at the time as the Dorchester Show, was held each September on the fields to the north of Came House and towards the Wareham Road. It has since moved to a new site at Coker's Frome to the north of the town. All of the parish south of Conygar Hill and west of the A352 is part of the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), designated in 1959.

The parish is well known for its connections with the Dorset dialect poet William Barnes, who was rector here for 24 years until his death in 1886 [Bingham 1987]

The placename evolved as follows:

The suffix Came relates to the manor being owned by the abbey of St Stephen at Caen (in Normandy) from the time of William the Conqueror [Mills 1998]. They retained ownership through the early middle ages. The College of St Stephen, Westminster owned the land at a later date, as did the Earl of Pembroke during the 16th century. The manor was purchased by the Meller or Miller family in 1561. The manor passed to the Damer family in the early 18th century. The Damer family later became the Dawson-Damers, Earls of Portarlington [Bettey 1997].

The tithe was apportioned in 1844. One copy of the schedule of apportionment and accompanying map are kept in the Dorset History Centre and at the National Archives in Kew.

Hutchins wrote in 1750 that the village was,

"now almost depopulated, consisting only of three or four houses"

It is supposed that some depopulation may have occurred at the time that Came House was built.

The Online Parish Clerk (OPC) for Winterborne Came is James Purkiss. You may contact me by e-mail if you have further queries.

Please Note: I am an unpaid volunteer willing to assist others with their genealogical research and should in no way be confused with the Parish Council or Parochial Church Council clerks.

Places within the parish

Available Genealogical Data

Parish Registers

Held at Dorset History Centre


a) Copies of the parish register entries were sent to the Bishop every year. Because the parishes are part of the Diocese of Salisbury, the Bishop's Transcripts are held at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre in Chippenham.

b) 1813 - 1837 baptism and burial entries have been indexed by the Dorset Family History Society.

c) Baptisms appear to have ceased at the church in 1986.

Gravestone Inscriptions

Have been undertaken by the Somerset & Dorset Family History Society. The inscriptions from Whitcombe are available here.


Civil Registration & Poor Law see section



Postal Directories

I have transcribed one postal directory for the parish so far. More are available courtesy of the University of Leicester

Electoral Rolls

Dorset History Centre holds the electoral roll for the years 1838-1844.

Land Tax

Land Tax returns exist for the years 1782-90, 1792-3, 1795, 1799-1800, 1802-1820, 1822-4, 1826-32. These are held at the Dorset History Centre.

Came House
Came House from the north, late summer [J Purkiss 2003]