|After being an early Bronze Age settlement that was
then inhabited by the Romans, Ansty is on the chalk uplands of Dorset is
divided into Higher Ansty and Lower Ansty and also Ansty Cross Pleck is
the other name for Little Ansty, the name of Ansty drives from Saxon and
was first recorded as Anstigan from Anstiga which was Saxon and meant a
narrow path on a hill, Pleck meant a plot of land but is now
obselete.. Another translation of Ansty is Anestige also Saxon meaning
"the way up" has been found and it was part of the Royal Forest of
Selwood and in AD890 it is said King Alfred used to hunt here.
According to the Domesday Survey there were two manors here the main estate being in the possession of Wateran the Hunter, in 1066 the manor was given to Payne de Turberville by King William I, and the family held possession for 145 years. Walter de Turberville gave the manor to the Knights Hopitaller in 1211 and it was while England was under an injunction between 1208 and 1214 the village would have been one of the places where the sacrements were still celebrated as the Knights were exempt as they were under the jurisdiction of the Pope.
St Jame's church was built by the Knights Hospitallers around 1230 and also a Hospice was built here by them and the pond is said to have been excavated to provide fresh fish for the Order. Ansty was held by the Knights until 1541 when the Dissolution came into force and by then the manor was sold to Sir John Zouch and his son Francis Zouch inherited the Manor in 1585, upon his fathers death, Francis is buried in Ansty.
Sir Matthew Arundell bought the manor and in 1596 his son Thomas later the first Lord Arundell rebuilt the Manor House and built the Hospice that stands here today. The manor remained as a part of the Wardour Estate and was then sold in 1946.The large building by the church is The Hospice or Old Commandery as it is sometimes referred to as. And it was used to billeted Parliamentarians during the Civil war. In 1922 a severe fire seriously damaged the building and the southeast corner was damaged through an American tank colliding with it during the Second World war.
Restoration of the Hospice was completed in 2001 and it is now used for both private and village functions, including weddings. This is one village that also has Maypole dancing though the Maypole was taken down by the Puritans during the Civil War and replaced in 1680 when the monarchy once again ruled the country.
he Revd. David Pennall the local vicar brought fame to the area when he revived the ancient ceremony of Randy Day which has for the past 60 years been obsolete. It was on Randy Day that the young men of the village armed themselves with poles about three feet long called Randy Poles decorated with streamers. It was well attended an became a great success as it mean the boys could chase the girls and if one of the girls got touched they were supposed to give themselves up to the boys amorous advance, but like a lot of village traditions it has fallen by the wayside. Revd Pennall in 1976 organised a world record attempt at Housebrick pushing and at Christmas a man who weighed 18stone and named Terry Mears pushed 298 bricks 27 feet in a standard wheelbarrow, the weight being 12cwt and 7 lbs. He also organised another record attempt whereby he got the villages and those from Hilton, Melcombe, Cheselbourne and Bingham to get in a circle the to crouch down until a complete unsupported circle of people were all sitting on each others knees.
The Fox Inn is over 250 years old and was the home of Charles Hall who in 1777 found the Ansty Brewery.