|Situated at the junction of the A32 and
A35 in East Dorset and in the valley of the Bere Stream is the village
of Bere Regis and its watercress beds and Thomas Hardy wrote of it in
Tess of the d'Urbervilles' as 'a half dead hamlet' but this is unjust as
the village is a quiet and tranquil place.
The name is said to have come from the Old English word for 'a grove' of wood with the Regis coming from the fact that it was part of the Crown Estate and where King John took up residence long before the village gained fame for its connection with Hardy's novel, where the village is called Kingsbere. The fictional d'Urbervilles were based on the Turbervilles, a real life family, and Lords of the manor from the 13th century to the 18th. They lived in Wool Manor house net to Wool Bridge and jsut a few miles from Bere Regis. The church of John the Baptist also featured in his novels but the present church dates from the 15th century and there has been a church here since the days of the Saxons.
The parish also includes Shitterton or Sitterton a small hamlet, Hollow Oak, Roke or Roake, Woodbury Hill and ancient Hill Fort and Bere Heath
St Johns church is where the two roads meet up and it was rebuilt by Cardinal Morton who was Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor to Henry VII. King John also lived here and Queen Eflrida live here in a nunnery. The Turbervilles are buried here in the chapel of their name and in the porch can be found two fire hooks which were used to pull the thatch away from the local cottages to provide a fire break if a cottage caught fire which was a common enough event as the village suffered several fires in 1633,1717 and in 1788.