Bere Regis Village, Dorset
 
Bere Regis Village
Bere Regis Village Website Bere Regis Village website

The Ancient History of the Village

The Dark Ages & Saxon Period    AD 491 to

1066

AFTER   THE   ROMAN   forces   had   departed   Britain   was   left   completely   defenceless,   and   after   some   three   centuries   of   peace   and   security   the   native Britons   had   no   knowledge   of   defensive   techniques,   and   fell   easy   victims   to   barbaric   invaders   and   marauders   previously   kept   at   bay   by   the   Roman soldiers.   Consequently,   Britain   went   through   a   period   known   appropriately   as   the   Dark   Ages,   during   which   time   the   settlements,   towns   and   other marks   of   civilisation   built   up   under   Roman   rule   were   destroyed.   The   whole   period   is   shrouded   in   the   mists   of   obscurity,   with   the   legendary   King Arthur appearing on the scene as an uncertain national figure at some time after the Roman departure. Whatever   upheavals   may   have   taken   place   during   the   Dark   Ages,   a   renewed   and   more   settled   civilisation   had   reappeared   by   the   year   871   when England   had   become   unified   into   one   Kingdom   under   King Alfred.   The   old   hill-top   settlements   and   road   systems   had   been   abandoned   in   favour   of villages   generally   sited   in   the   valleys,   and   it   was   therefore   during   this   period   that   most   of   the   present   day   villages,   including   Bere   Regis,   were   first established.   Such   Saxon   villages   were   usually   small,   consisting   of   little   more   than   a   manor   house,   farm,   church   and   a   few   cottages,   mostly   timber built   and   thatched   including,   often,   the   church.   It   is   not   possible   to   say   exactly   when   Bere   Regis   was   first   established   as   a   village,   but   some   sort   of manor   house   is   known   to   have   been   in   existence   by   the   year   978,   and   to   have   belonged   to   the   crown,   and   we   may   therefore   suppose   that   a   small village   and   church   would   have   been   associated   with   it.   It   is   probable   that   the   Saxon   church   was   basically   a   timber   building,   but   a   part   of   it   may have   been   stone,   and   if   the   stone   portion   was   retained   and   incorporated   as   a   north   transept   into   the   subsequent   Norman   church,   it   would   account for the odd alignment at the east end of the nave and north aisle still apparent in the present building. The   first   event   in   national   history   associated   with   this   parish   to   which   an   accurate   date   can   be   assigned,   is   the   murder.   or   probably   more   correctly, the   assassination   of   King   Edward   the   Martyr   at   Corfe   Castle   on   the   18   March,   978.   The   Norman   castle   at   Corfe   had   of   course   not   then   been constructed,   but   a   Saxon   building   of   some   sort   did   exist   on   the   site,   which   like   the   manor   at   Bere   was   crown   property.   It   was   evening,   and   the young   King   Edward,   having   been   hunting   in   the   neighbourhood,   had   decided   to   visit   his   stepmother   Queen   Elfrida   who   was   at   the   time   staying   at the   Corfe   house.   As   Edward   was   a   young   king,   it   seems   Elfrida,   as   queer.   mother,   was   virtually   ruler   of   the   country   and   could   use   any   crown property as her own. Edward   was   about   to   drink   a   cup   of   wine   he   had   been   given   before   dismounting   at   the   entrance   to   the   house,   when   he   was   stabbed   and   received   a wound   from   which   he   soon   died,   and   it   is   said   that   he   was   dragged   by   the   stirrup   for   some   distance   when   his   horse   took   fright   and   fled.   His   body was   for   some   time   hidden   in   a   nearby   cottage   before   being   buried   in   a   humble   grave   at   Wareham,   but   it   was   subsequently   borne   in   great   state   to Shaftesbury Abbey where his tomb became a shrine for pilgrims. It   is   not   known   for   certain   whether   or   not   Elfrida   was   implicated   in   the   assassination,   as   Edward   is   known   to   have   been   very   hot   tempered   at   times, especially   towards   his   servants,   so   that   he   may   have   had   many   enemies.   However,   as   his   death   resulted   in   the   throne   coming   to   Elfrida's   own   son Ethelred,   Edward's   half   brother,   she   was   considered   to   have   profited   by   it,   and   consequently   suspicion   fell   heavily   on   her.   Not   surprisingly,   she sought   refuge   in   one   of   the   more   secluded   of   the   royal   houses   and   accordingly   came   to   stay   for   a   time   at   Bere.   She   is   said   to   have   eventually become a nun, and to have lived a humble life of atonement. This   Saxon   manor   house   would   have   almost   certainly   stood   in   what   is   now   Court   Green,   and   would   have   been   the   nucleus   from   which   developed the   later   buildings   of   King   John,   and   the   still   later   manor   house   of   the Turbervilles. The   pipe   rolls   of   King   John's   reign   (1199-1216)   make   no   mention of actually constructing his group of buildings at Bere, but refer only to alterations, additions and repairs, suggesting that they already existed. It   is   said   to   have   been   whilst   staying   at   Bere   that   Ethelred   received   a   beating   from   his   mother   Elfrida   when   he   let   it   be   known   that   he,   too,   believed her   guilty   of   Edward's   death.   She   used   large   wax   candles   to   administer   the   beating,   nothing   more   suitable   being   ready   to   hand,   and   the   Saxon chronicle,   recording   the   incident,   states:   "Wherefore   Ethelred   ever   hated   wax   candles,   and   would   have   none   burnt   before   him    all    the    days    of    his   life".
It may have been considered a dark age, but it was the dawning of Bere Regis village as we know it today...
© 2003, Bere Regis Village Website.
Bere Regis Village
Bere Regis Village Website

The Ancient History of the Village

The Dark Ages & Saxon Period    AD 491 to 1066
AFTER   THE   ROMAN   forces   had   departed   Britain   was   left   completely defenceless,   and   after   some   three   centuries   of   peace   and   security   the native   Britons   had   no   knowledge   of   defensive   techniques,   and   fell easy   victims   to   barbaric   invaders   and   marauders   previously   kept   at bay   by   the   Roman   soldiers.   Consequently,   Britain   went   through   a period   known   appropriately   as   the   Dark   Ages,   during   which   time   the settlements,    towns    and    other    marks    of    civilisation    built    up    under Roman   rule   were   destroyed.   The   whole   period   is   shrouded   in   the mists   of   obscurity,   with   the   legendary   King   Arthur   appearing   on   the scene   as   an   uncertain   national   figure   at   some   time   after   the   Roman departure. Whatever   upheavals   may   have   taken   place   during   the   Dark   Ages,   a renewed   and   more   settled   civilisation   had   reappeared   by   the   year   871 when    England    had    become    unified    into    one    Kingdom    under    King Alfred.    The    old    hill-top    settlements    and    road    systems    had    been abandoned   in   favour   of   villages   generally   sited   in   the   valleys,   and   it was   therefore   during   this   period   that   most   of   the   present   day   villages, including   Bere   Regis,   were   first   established.   Such   Saxon   villages   were usually   small,   consisting   of   little   more   than   a   manor   house,   farm, church   and   a   few   cottages,   mostly   timber   built   and   thatched   including, often,   the   church.   It   is   not   possible   to   say   exactly   when   Bere   Regis was   first   established   as   a   village,   but   some   sort   of   manor   house   is known    to    have    been    in    existence    by    the    year    978,    and    to    have belonged   to   the   crown,   and   we   may   therefore   suppose   that   a   small village   and   church   would   have   been   associated   with   it.   It   is   probable that   the   Saxon   church   was   basically   a   timber   building,   but   a   part   of   it may   have   been   stone,   and   if   the   stone   portion   was   retained   and incorporated   as   a   north   transept   into   the   subsequent   Norman   church, it   would   account   for   the   odd   alignment   at   the   east   end   of   the   nave   and north aisle still apparent in the present building. The   first   event   in   national   history   associated   with   this   parish   to   which an   accurate   date   can   be   assigned,   is   the   murder.   or   probably   more correctly,   the   assassination   of   King   Edward   the   Martyr   at   Corfe   Castle on   the   18   March,   978.   The   Norman   castle   at   Corfe   had   of   course   not then   been   constructed,   but   a   Saxon   building   of   some   sort   did   exist   on the   site,   which   like   the   manor   at   Bere   was   crown   property.   It   was evening,   and   the   young   King   Edward,   having   been   hunting   in   the neighbourhood,   had   decided   to   visit   his   stepmother   Queen   Elfrida   who was   at   the   time   staying   at   the   Corfe   house.   As   Edward   was   a   young king,   it   seems   Elfrida,   as   queer.   mother,   was   virtually   ruler   of   the country and could use any crown property as her own. Edward   was   about   to   drink   a   cup   of   wine   he   had   been   given   before dismounting   at   the   entrance   to   the   house,   when   he   was   stabbed   and received   a   wound   from   which   he   soon   died,   and   it   is   said   that   he   was dragged   by   the   stirrup   for   some   distance   when   his   horse   took   fright and   fled.   His   body   was   for   some   time   hidden   in   a   nearby   cottage before    being    buried    in    a    humble    grave    at    Wareham,    but    it    was subsequently   borne   in   great   state   to   Shaftesbury   Abbey   where   his tomb became a shrine for pilgrims. It   is   not   known   for   certain   whether   or   not   Elfrida   was   implicated   in   the assassination,   as   Edward   is   known   to   have   been   very   hot   tempered   at times,   especially   towards   his   servants,   so   that   he   may   have   had   many enemies.   However,   as   his   death   resulted   in   the   throne   coming   to Elfrida's   own   son   Ethelred,   Edward's   half   brother,   she   was   considered to   have   profited   by   it,   and   consequently   suspicion   fell   heavily   on   her. Not   surprisingly,   she   sought   refuge   in   one   of   the   more   secluded   of   the royal   houses   and   accordingly   came   to   stay   for   a   time   at   Bere.   She   is said   to   have   eventually   become   a   nun,   and   to   have   lived   a   humble   life of atonement. This   Saxon   manor   house   would   have   almost   certainly   stood   in   what   is now    Court    Green,    and    would    have    been    the    nucleus    from    which developed   the   later   buildings   of   King   John,   and   the   still   later   manor house   of   the   Turbervilles.   The   pipe   rolls   of   King   John's   reign   (1199- 1216)   make   no   mention   of   actually   constructing   his   group   of   buildings at   Bere,   but   refer   only   to   alterations,   additions   and   repairs,   suggesting that they already existed. It   is   said   to   have   been   whilst   staying   at   Bere   that   Ethelred   received   a beating   from   his   mother   Elfrida   when   he   let   it   be   known   that   he,   too, believed   her   guilty   of   Edward's   death.   She   used   large   wax   candles   to administer   the   beating,   nothing   more   suitable   being   ready   to   hand, and   the   Saxon   chronicle,   recording   the   incident,   states:   "Wherefor Ethelred   ever   hated   wax   candles,   and   would   have   none   burnt   before him   all   the   days   of   his   life". It   may   have   been   considered   a   dark   age,   but   it   was   the   dawning   of Bere Regis village as we know it today...