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History

The History of Champernhayes

Wootton Fitzpaine

A village and civil parish in the county of Dorset in South West England. The village name derives from ‘Wodetone’, meaning a farm close to a wood, plus the name of the manorial family, Fitzpaine.

Champernhayes is set overlooking an area of outstanding natural beauty, a traditional English valley, comprising of green pastures, ancient hedgerows, Oaks Chestnut trees and Beech and with a view of the sea at Charnmouth, just 2 miles away. Champernhayes Farm was built on the site of an original monastery dating back to the 11th century around the time of Norman the Conqueror. The walls of which can still be found in the garden. It is thought that the monastery also farmed the area and had a water mill. Through its history the farm appears to have been prosperous having had several large stone out buildings in addition to the large farm house. Not much of the view would have changed from when Champernhayes farmhouse was built in 1462 during the reign of Henry V1.

The Farmhouse

Built from solid local stone and thatched roofing it was the main building within a small medieval farm. The original flagstones that run through the ground floor show the wear and tear of hundreds of years of family life. The farm house is still serviced by its original water well; although now benefiting from modernised filter and sanitisation equipment it is still connected to the water table several hundred feet below.

The 15th century inglenook fireplace would have originally sat in the middle of the ground floor without a chimney so filling the rooms with smoke and soot! During the winter months it was alight 24/ 7 as the only source of heating and cooking.

The original 16th century bread oven can be seen on the right hand side and formed the main part of the medieval diet; made of local grain, well fermented yeast and salt. The bread was used instead of a plate – with meat and sauce poured upon it!

The farmhouse was an operating farm for over 600 years, surviving plague, famine, political and civil unrest, world wars and battling the various storms; until the early 1990’s when it was bought by a local lottery winner, refurbished and established as luxury holiday accommodation.

 

 

 

 

 

The Barn

As medieval farming was controlled by the weather the barn was built as a later important addition to the farm. It was the centre of farming activity being mainly used to house crops and livestock during the winter months. The barn would have housed the wooden ploughs and the most valuable livestock, Oxon which were used for ploughing and other heavy manual work. Horses were also considered ‘beast of burden’ similar to an ox- but these where often bought by the community and then shared and lent out for use on special occasions or to undertake long journeys.

Lots of the original hand crafted beams from this period can still be seen throughout the property. Built by specialist carpenters the frame was crafted off site and then brought together and erected like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

Champernhayes also had a second now derelict stone barn, build around the 16th century, the part walls and mullion window frame can be seen opposite the main farmhouse. Having two barns servicing the farm shows that the farm was not only prosperous, but also highly productive.

The Cottages

The courtyard cottage accommodation was built by converting the 17th century stone barns. The cottages were originally thatched and were made up of stabling and general warehousing.

The courtyard are was originally as a major working part of the farm. The preparation of produce, horse shoeing, cow milking were daily activities.

Free range chickens geese and ducks would have roamed this area providing eggs and ultimately meat.