Representing the villages of
Worth Matravers and Harmans Cross
in the heart of the Purbecks
History and Geography of the Parish
St. Aldhelms Chapel
Over the next few hundred years farms and estates were developed at Renscombe, Weston Eastington, Quarr, Downshay and Woodyhyde. In 1220 Alice De Buerre gave Purbeck marble and stone to build Salisbury Cathedral from the grounds of the manor of Worth at Downshay. Over the next two centuries, hundreds worked the marble and stone beds for the churches and cathedrals of England. At about the same time a chapel was built at St. Aldhelms Head where there had previously been a lookout post.
The St. Nicholas of Myra church in Worth was first built in about 1100 and over the next few hundred years it was changed and added to before being completely restored in 1869. The Parish of Worth included Swanage until 1487 when Swanage became a parish in its own right.
In the 13th century the open field system and strip lynchets were set up on East and West Man. The villagers had rights to work these lands for the next 500 years. However, these rights were lost at the end of the 18th century which led to great hardship. At the end of the 14th century ownership of the manor changed and Worth, 'worth' meaning an enclosure (of land), became known officially as Worth Matravers after William Matravers, constable of Corfe Castle - In the 17th century large dwellings were built at the farms at Renscombe, Eastington, Downshay and Quarr using local stone. The 18th and 19th century saw a new stone age. Scores of quarries were worked at the Portland stone beds at Seacombe and Winspit.
The St. Nicholas of Myra church in Worth
A large amount of building took place in the village of Worth Matravers, so much so that in 1861 there were 75 dwellings in the Parish of which 55 were in the village. These included a school and school house (now the village hall) and a public house named The Sloop (built in 1752) later (1830) to become The Square and Compass which still thrives, hardly changed, today. By 1838 two thirds of the present village was already in place.Building continued to the east of the village and down the road to Winspit. Today, because it is such a beautiful village, many properties in Worth Matravers have been bought as second homes which are only occupied at weekends and certain times of the year. The village shop has now closed but there are still Post Office facilities available three mornings a week.
Worth Village Pond
Copyright © Worth Matravers Parish Council
After the First World War, building began in Harmans Cross. Until then the only buildings were at Quarr and Old Caplestone. Houses were built in Haycrafts Lane and many wooden army huts and asbestos buildings were transported and erected along the new road. Later more substantial properties were built at North Instow, and then South Instow. A village hall was erected in Haycrafts Lane and the development had a small shop, a small chapel and very thriving garage. Harmans Cross continues to grow and today, it has a thriving shop incorporated into the garage and a new village hall. In 1955, there were 362 people on the Worth Matravers electoral roll; today there are 250. In Harmans Cross the electoral roll has increased from 163 in 1955 to 354 today (2012).
The new Village Hall at Harmans Cross opened in July 2010