The very name has caused endless
discussion and conjecture as to its origin but to date there has not been
a feasible explanation. In 1956 the County Council were still making rate
demands to the people of Poorstock and they asked the inhabitants if they
wished it to be called so or the more modem spelling of Powerstock. A
resolution was sent to the Council that it was the wish of the people
of the place that the ancient name of Poorstock should be retained. With
true British bureaucracy the name became, legally, Powerstock. This particular
spelling has been said by many to have come into being with the coming
of the railway in 1857, it being the phonetical spelling of Poorstock
called out by the Railway staff. In fact it was in use some years before
that date. It has been spelt thus over the years and there can be few
places that can claim so many variations of its name:-
Domesday Book - Povrestoch - Povrestoca - Porestoke.
1157 - Pow estok 1205 - Pourstok 1255 - Purestok
1274 - Portestok 1547 - Poorstuk. 1558 - Poorstoke
1661 - Powerstoke
Hutchins - Pourestock
Purstoke, Purstock, Poorstok.
1787 - Poorstock. Powerstock.
In Domesday Book Povrestock was 720 acres. It was held by
Hugh of Roger Arundel. (Ailmar) held it in Edwards time (Ed. 1st
?) and it was taxed for six hides. There are two ploughs and a half in
the demesne and five bondmen; five villeins and nine bordars with two
ploughs and two mills pay three shillings and there are thirteen acres
of meadow; and pasture fifteen quarentens in length and two quarentens
and a half in breadth. It was worth four pounds, now six. Were these
the same mills as are in the parish today? No longer working, it is true.
In the time of Richard 1st Roger de Poles rendered account for and
paid into the treasury 66s. 8d. for a mediety of the honour of Pourstoke
and had his aquitance, as recorded in the Great Roll of the Pope.
A few years later Robert Belet paid £15 for the moiety of the honour
of Poorstock. Belet was Sheriff of Dorset and Somerset that year.
It came into the Newburg family who, according to Hutchins, either by
choice or compulsion, exchanged it with the Crown for lands in Fordingbridge.
The King holds Purstok in demense and it was exchanged with Robert
King John turned the castle
into a hunting lodge - there isa Kings Farm nearby - and is said to have
kept a mistress here. He visited it in August 1205, in March and September
1207, July 1213. In 1208 he directed that his bailiffs of Southampton
should procure waggons to carry our wine to the places underwritten...
and to Poorstock, one tun. In 1207 £155 was spent in the repair
of the Kings houses at Pourstock. A year later another £25 was spent.
In the mid 1800s a search for water at the site of the Castle brought
up stable refuse including pieces of saddiery. The incumbent at the time
is said to have wheeled away barrows of artifacts from the site.
Hutchins says that at the time of the search for water a stone effigy
of a crowned head was dug up. It was placed at the door of a certain Mr.
Palmer with a label attached bearing his name. This appears to have exasperated
him and he smashed it up and used the pieces to repair the road. If this
story is true and there is no reason for it to be otherwise, it was a
tragedy. Other pieces found were the part of a spur, a horseshoe, sheeps
bones, fragrnents of pottery and horses teeth.
Henry ifi granted the Manor of Porestock to Ralph de Gorges - there is
a tieup here with Shipton Gorge.
Walter de Wilke siezed the Manor of Porstoke into the hands of the Kings
on Ascension Day in the 56th year of the reign of King Henry. Edward III
granted the Manor of Poorstoke to John de Wroxhale. Nineteen years later
Ralph de Midelneye and his wife Elizabeth paid twenty shillings for pardon
for acquiring the Manor of Purstoke without licence and three years later
by the name of Middlenay chivaler, together with Elizabeth his wife, he
enfeoffed John, Parson of Puteneye, of the manor and hundred of Powerstoke.
Through various people it eventually came into the Sandwich family in
1772 when the Lord Sandwich married the Duke of Boltons daughter.
The Manor of Powerstock was at that time in the hands of the Duke of Bolton
- family name, Paulett. It is the Paulett Arms which appears on many of
the houses, three swords with a crown above. Much of the land was sold
off in 1926 but the remainder is still the Bolton Estates.
The Powerstock Parish boundary runs east to west across the middle of
Eggardon Hill, an ancient fort, Egon, according to Judge Udal in his book
on Dorset Folklore. How did it get its name? According to one story, from
a Norman family who lived in its shadow and whose only claim to fame was
that they were never at home when the King wanted soldiers! But Eggardon
is older than that. It was, for the Romans, a convenient distance of a
days march from Pilsdon to the north west and Maiden Castle to the
east. They ran their road over the downland towards Exeter, shooting off
to Eggardon at Two Gates a mile to the east. The road then went down the
southern side of the Hill and joined the ~5 east of Bridport. Its history
has never really been sorted out and in 1860 it was the cause of some
argument between Hutchins the Dorset Historian and Warne,
an archeologist of some local repute. The bone of contention was whether
the Romans did use the Hill as a camp or not. Warne did confirm that Izaac
Gulliver planted the trees on the Hill and that an embankment was built
to protect them.
Excavations done in the summers of the years 1963-66 produced Iron Age
pottery, Roman Pottery - both fragments, Sling Stone, Bronze Rings and
fron fragments. This was the first serious dig for over a
The road to Powerstock runs down off the Hill north westwards, past Cold
Harbour (Saxon - an unheated rest house) and on through the village to
West Milton, another Saxon Settlement. The last time the Hill became almost
important was during the Napole6nic wars when plans were made to collect
all the women and children and~cattle on the Hill, should the French invade
the coastline. Since then it has provided a site for the bonfires celebrating
coronations, jubilees and other national events.
The Normans built a castle here, at Powerstock, traditionally on the site
of Athelstans Winter Palace. They also built the church, said tobe
on the site of an earlier Saxon building. The road from Eggardon runs
deep in.a valley between the church and the castle. From what must have
been the moffe of the castle much of the village can be surveyed. The
stream from the Hill runs past the south west side of the Castle - humpty
castle to the villagers even today - and through Castle Mill, now a farm
but its origin is obvious.
The church of St. Mary, consisting of Chancel, Nave and West Tower was
built in the middle of the twelfth century. Two hundred years later aisles
were added to the Nave and the Tower was altered. It was altered the second
time and heightened in the early fifteenth century and the Victorians
with their zeal for restoration had another go at the whole building in
1859. Regrettably the Rood Loft was replaced with a pulpit.
Edward III in 1341 granted Powerstock a Charter for a market on Thursdays
and a fare on the eve, day and morrow of Saint Phillip and
Saint James and two days afterwards. It could be that the fare
was held to supply packhorses to the surrounding hilly districts as this
was in the days before roads and there is a Packhorse Cottage in the parish.
There used to be a Packhorse Inn in Bridport too, about six miles away.