House Histories

Development of Housing in Cerne Abbas

Cerne Abbas is notable for the survival of many historical buildings.  These include an unusually high concentration of late medieval buildings listed as Grade 1, some Grade 2* houses and many more houses listed as Grade 2.  The buildings make a vital contribution to the historical character of the village and include the 14th century parish church of St Mary’s, former Abbey tenements and buildings, several large ‘gentry’ houses and farmhouses, and many smaller cottages and public buildings.



The central street pattern of Cerne Abbas was formed in medieval times by the presence of the Abbey.  That original street pattern survives to the present day, despite the influx of new housing developments following the end of the Second World War.

The Cerne Abbas Historical Society has conducted a ‘house history’ project of many of the historical houses in the village, always with the cooperation of the present owners.  Many interesting and hitherto unknown facts have emerged, but many owners have also made their own personal observations or anecdotes.  The histories are arranged by the ancient street names, but space has also been made to include the histories of the more modern housing developments.

Many houses in Cerne Abbas are on the ‘Statutory List of Buildings of Special Historic Interest’. Details of these properties can be viewed on the British Listed Buildings website. Simply click on any address to read the full survey. These surveys rarely looked behind the front facade of the houses, nor was it their role to consider who might have lived in them.

The Society has taken the first steps to build on these surveys, by researching in more detail the built and social histories of a selection of the more interesting houses in the village. The aim is to achieve a better appreciation of the development of the village from earliest times. A summary of the results of these researches has been produced. In addition, an initiative has been launched to provide an anecdotal history of many of the other houses in Cerne Abbas and these  (5mb) are available here.