Tollard Royal

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Tollard Royal
The Church of St Peter ad Vincula, Tollard Royal - - 855355.jpg
St Peter ad Vincula parish church
Grid reference: ST9417
Location: 50°57’36"N, 2°4’52"W
Population: 115  (2011[1])
Post town: Salisbury
Postcode: SP5
Dialling code: 01725
Local Government
Council: Wiltshire
South West Wiltshire

Tollard Royal is a village and parish on Cranborne Chase in Wiltshire. The ancient parish extends into Dorset and includes Farnham. For civil purposes, both are separate civil parishes. Tollard Royal is six miles south-east of the Dorset town of Shaftesbury. The "Royal" in the name refers to the royal hunting lodge that was used for hunting on the Chase.

Church and chapel

The earliest known record of the parish church of St Peter ad Vincula dates from 1291.[2] Early English-style features that survive from this time include the tower arch, a doorway and several windows,[2] including two in the nave.[3] The bell tower was built after a gift of £10 for the purpose in 1412.[2]

The earliest record of the church's dedication to St Peter ad Vincula ("St Peter in Chains") dates from 1469.[2] It is one of only 15 churches in England with this dedication, which is after the Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome.

Late in the 15th and early in the 16th centuries extensive Perpendicular Gothic alterations were made to the church. The tower was rebuilt and the south porch and three-bay north aisle were added and the nave was increased in height.[2]

A west gallery was added in 1714 and later removed, probably during rebuilding work in the 1850s.[2] The works included rebuilding the north aisle, removing the chancel arch and blocking up the east window.[2] In 1966 the church was designated as Grade II* listed.[4]

In 1553 the church had three bells and a sanctus bell.[2] One was recast by William Tosier of Salisbury[5] in 1728 and another by Mears and Stainbank in 1882 but the third mediæval bell still hung in the tower in 1927.[2] Two more bells were cast by Mears and Stainbank and added to the tower in 1889.[2] In 1999 the three Mears and Stainbank bells and the mediaeval bell were replaced with a ring of six bells cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.[6] The 1728 bell has not been recast but it is no longer rung.[6] The sanctus bell has also been retained; it was cast in Salisbury in about 1400.[6]

The parish had a Methodist congregation by 1773.[2] For several decades the Methodists worshipped in private homes licensed for the purpose.[2] In 1879 a Primitive Methodist chapel was built of brick.[2] It was closed in 1957.[2]


Tollard Royal has a public house, the King John Inn.[7]

Sandroyd School, an independent junior school, is near the village. The nearest state schools are at Ludwell and Shaftesbury, the village's 19th-century National School having closed in 1962.[8]

Rotherley Downs, a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest, is partly within the parish.

Larmer Tree Gardens

Main article: Larmer Tree Gardens

Lieutenant-General Augustus Pitt Rivers, army officer and founder of modern archaeology, created a pleasure garden in 1880 at the Rushmore Estate near Tollard Royal. This was the first private garden to be opened for public enjoyment in the United Kingdom. Since 1990 the annual Larmer Tree Festival of music and arts has been held here.

Ashcombe Estate

Main article: Ashcombe House, Wiltshire

Ashcombe House and its 1,134-acre estate lies between Tollard Royal and Berwick St John, in Berwick parish. Photographer and designer Cecil Beaton lived there between 1930 and 1945; it was bought by entertainer Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie in 2002, and transferred to Ritchie in 2009 as part of their divorce settlement.



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