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MARKET TOWNS OF DORSET (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Wimborne Minster in 1843

WIMBORNE MINSTER, a very ancient market-town in the eastern part of Dorsetshire, on the road from Salisbury to Poole, seven miles north of Poole, and 100 miles from London. It is supposed to have been a Roman station called Vindogladia ; by the Saxons it was called Vinburnam.

A nunnery was established here in the beginning of the eighth century by the sister of Ina, king of the West Saxons, upon the site of which the present minster or collegiate church was built; and the word Minster has been added to the town to distinguish it from Wimborne St. Giles’s, in another part of the county.

Wimborne Minster is pleasantly situated on the Stour, near its confluence with the Allen. There is a weekly market, a cattle market every alternate week, and two annual fairs. The town has little trade. With the exception of the minster there is nothing to indicate its former importance. The nunnery was destroyed by the Danes, when the establishment was converted into a college of secular canons, consisting of a dean, prebendaries, vicars, and other officers, which continued to exist until the dissolution, when the revenues were vested in the crown. Some of the lands were set apart by Queen Elizabeth towards the support of the grammar-school, originally founded by the countess of Richmond, mother of Henry VII, in 1497, though now called after Queen Elizabeth.

In the reign of Charles I the possessions of the school and church were vested in governors, who were to provide for the service of the collegiate church and the maintenance of the school. Parts of the minster were built soon after the Conquest. It is a cruciform structure, 108 feet in length, and consists of a chancel, nave, choir, and side-aisles, a transept, and three porches. The minster once contained ten altars of alabaster and other costly materials, and the high altar was particularly splendid. There are two quadrangular towers, one at the west end, and the other, once surmounted by a very lofty spire, at the intersection of the cross : the whole edifice is particularly deserving of notice. The cathedral service, on Saturday evenings and holidays, has not been discontinued many years.

The minster is a royal free chapel, and a peculiar in the diocese of Salisbury. The duties are performed by three incumbents appointed by the corporate body above mentioned. Several royal and noble persons have been interred here ; among others King Ethelred, who was slain by the Danes in 872 ; also the duke and duchess of Somerset, the maternal grandfather and grandmother of Henry VII There are two ancient hospitals for poor aged persons. The entire parish contains 11,880 acres, and there were 4,326 inhabitants in 1841. The parish comprises Wimborne Minster (pop. 1,687), tything of Holt (1,313), tything of Leigh (574), and manor of Kingston Lacey , (752). There are several hamlets in the parish.