A guide to the little-known Dorset village as it is, explaining the history, countryside, people and places which make it unique.
Bishop's Caundle is a small village of 171 houses in the district of West Dorset. It lies on the A3030, connecting Sturminster Newton to Sherborne, and has a population of 369 according to the 2001 census. Just under 20% of its population is aged 0-15, and a further 20% are 65 or over. It is four miles from the historic abbey town of Sherborne, eleven miles across the border to Yeovil, and sixteen miles away from Dorchester, the county town. Bishop's Caundle sits in a hilly area with thick woodland and ploughed fields. The main livestock you will encounter are cows. Most of the estate in the area belongs to the Digby family.
Bishop's Caundle is one of a cluster of 'caundles' in the area, the others being Purse Caundle, Stourton Caundle, Caundle Marsh and Caundle Wake. Stourton and Purse got their names from being owned by the families of that name. Bishop's Caundle, which is mentioned as 'Candel' in the Domesday Book, fell into the control of the Bishop of Sarum in the 13th century, becoming 'Caundel Episcopi', and has been known in shorthand as 'Bishop's' ever since. There is consternation regarding the apostrophe in the name - Caundle purists prefer to leave it in. The Celtic word 'candel' means 'cluster of hills', one of which Bishop's Caundle is situated upon, leaving the village subject to changeable micro-climates. It does, however, mean the inhabitants enjoy stunning views over the Blackmore Vale and Bulbarrow Hill.
While Bishop's Caundle is indeed mentioned in the Domesday Book, it comes under the blanket term 'Candel', which is applied to nine different parishes, any of which could be Bishop's. In one entry however there is a reference to the Bishop of Sherborne, as well as such characters as Alvred the butler, Hugh d'Avranches, Earl of Chester, Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury, Vitalis, William, William Malbank, and Wulfraed.
Just outside the village, near that of Holwell, sits the oldest postbox still in use in Britain, a beautiful Victorian pillarbox with a vertical slot.
The church's dedication is actually unknown, but has been referred to over the years as being of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. It dates back to at least the 14th century, and was partially rebuilt in Victorian times.
The pub, the White Hart, was originally inhabited by monks who brewed beer there. A nun, who lived in the manor house opposite, was allegedly punished by death for her relationship with a holy man. The infamous Judge Jeffreys is said to have stopped off at the pub on his way to Dorchester, and may have left a little of himself behind - a strange figure wearing a black cloak has been seen near the original entrance to the pub, which is situated inside, opposite the new one. The figure has also been spotted behind the beer garden, close to the wall separating it and the garden of the grand, 18th century Bishop's Caundle House.
Upon visiting the village in 1815, Dorset poet William Barnes was so struck by the sight of its inhabitants gleefully celebrating the victory at Waterloo that he wrote a poem, an extract of which runs:
At Peace day, who but we should goo
To Caundle for an hour or two:
As gay a day as ever broke
Above the heads of Caundle volk.
Vor Peace, acome for all, did come
To them wii two new friends at hwome.
Zoo while we kept, wi nimble peace
The wold dun towir avore our feace
The air at last, begun to come
Wii drubbens of a beaten drum;
Ani then we heard the horns loud drouts
Play of a tuenis upper notes;
An I then agean a risen chearm
Vrom tongues of people in a zwarm;
Ani zoo at last, we stood among
The merry feaces oi the throng.
In Caundle, vor a day at least,
You woudden vind a scowlen feace,
Or dumpy heart in all the pleace.'
The White Hart pub boasts delicious, home-cooked local meals in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere. It often has deals and offers on, and you're always assured great quality for a very reasonable price. There is a beer garden, and children and well-behaved pets are welcome. It is undoubtedly the village's greatest asset, and has been featured in many local magazines.
The village also has its comfortable church, whose rector resides in the next village. There is also a recently refurbished and spacious village hall, with facilities to suit every kind of event. The village hall raises funds with regular whist drives, bingo and jumble sales.
All Saints' Primary School is a successful little school located in the middle of the village, with a large sports field with an idyllic panoramic view over Bulbarrow Hill. It also holds regular jumble sales.
At time of writing the post office is going under renovation; the couple who have owned it are giving it up to community volunteers who have raised funds through grants and donations to take it over. These plans will hopefully come to fruition in early summer. The village also boasts a garage with a shop selling the basics.
The Dorset Page - Bishop's Caundle
Bishop's Caundle Census Profile
Possible Bishop's Caundle Domesday Entry
All information contained in this article was correct at time of writing, 10th February 2011.