Is it Piddletown? Or Puddletown?
This is perhaps the most central of the villages named after the River Piddle – it is certainly the fastest growing.
In days of yore all the villages round about were Piddles but now only Piddletrenthide and Piddlehinton remain. It is said that a visit from Queen Victoria prompted the change to puddle (nearby Shitterton became Sitterton, too). Now there is Tolpuddle, Affpuddle, Briantspuddle and Turnerspuddle – and of course, Puddletown.
It was conferred town status in Victorian times, but in the last century or so has resolutely remained a village.
However here in recent years there has been a lot of new building.
Various sites have been redeveloped in the last 20 years, including one of the village’s many former pubs, a former car dealership and the local primary school – which has since been rebuilt elsewhere.
This means the population of Puddletown has grown rapidly recently. More developments are on the cards, and there is a neighbourhood plan being developed to give villagers more say in the future.
Fortunately, the infrastructure is there to support this new population. There is a decent veterinary surgery, a well-rated doctor’s surgery, a good pub and shop open till 8pm. In addition, you are only five minutes from bigger stores in the county town of Dorchester.
There’s a marvellous new playpark for the children, good primary and middle schools, a well appointed village hall and library. The rec offers playing fields which are free to use.
But this still feels like a historic village. Forest surrounds the village and in minutes you can be knee-deep in wildlife.
Puddletown’s parish church has significant architectural interest, particularly its furnishings and monuments. It has a 12th-century font and well-preserved woodwork, including 17th-century box pews.
Puddletown rose to fame in the 19th century as the fictional Weatherbury of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex novels. It was where is grandfather and great-grandfather were born, and it is nearby Higher Bockhampton where Hardy himself was born. The thatched cottage where Hardy was born in 1840 was built by his grandfather is now owned by the National Trust.
Hardy’s cousin (and some say lover), Tryphena Sparks, also lived in Puddletown. Tryphena, who died during childbirth, was the inspiration for Hardy’s poem Thoughts of Phena at her Death.
Nearby Athelhampton House, which sits about a mile from the outskirts of the village, is one of the finest examples of a 15th century manor house in the country. The privately owned house is set in 160 acres of parkland and gardens and is open to the public.
The formal gardens feature fountains, pavilions, fine topiary and an octagonal garden designed by Sir Robert Cooke.
Athelhampton is also alleged to have not one but several ghosts. These include a black monk, headless man and a grey woman!
Properties in Puddletown had an overall average price of £355,272 over the last year.
The majority of sales in Puddletown during the last year were detached properties, selling for an average price of £422,349. Terraced properties sold for an average of £260,417, with semi-detached properties fetching £381,249.
Overall, sold prices in Puddletown over the last year were 15% up on the previous year and 6% up on the 2008 peak of £335,733.
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