1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Wareham

WAREHAM, a market town and municipal borough in the eastern parliamentary division of Dorsetshire, England, 1211/2 m. S.W. by W. from London by the London & South-Western railway. Pop. (1901) 2003. It lies between the rivers Frome and Piddle, 11/2 m. above their outflow into Poole harbour. The town is of high antiquity, and is partially surrounded by earthworks probably of British construction. The church of St Mary contains a chapel dedicated to St Edward, commemorating that Edward who was murdered at Corfe Castle in this neighbourhood, whose body lay here before its removal to Shaftesbury. It also possesses a remarkable Norman font of lead. Two other ancient churches remain, but are not used for worship. There are ruins of a priory dedicated to SS. Mary, Peter and Ethelwold, and the site of the old castle may be traced. The town and neighbourhood have been long noted for their lime and cement, and large quantities of potters', pipe, fire and other kinds of clay are sent to Staffordshire and to foreign countries. The borough is under a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors. Area 251 acres.

Owing to its situation as a key of Purbeck, the site of Warham (Werham, Warham) has been occupied from early times. The earthworks, of British origin, were modified in almost every successive age. That Wareham was a pre-Saxon town is evident from Assers statement that its British name was Durngueir. The early chroniclers declare that St Aldhelm founded a church near Wareham about 701, and perhaps the priory, which is mentioned as existing in 876, when the Danes retired from Cambridge to a strong position in this fort. Their occupation was not lengthy. Having made terms with Alfred, they broke the conditions and returned to Cambridge. In the following year they were again at Wareham, which they made their headquarters. Beorhtric, the immediate predecessor of Ecgbert, was buried here. Further incursions made by the Danes in 998 and in 1015 under Canute probably resulted in the destruction of the priory, on the site of which a later house was founded in the 12th century as a cell of the Norman abbey of Lysa, and in the decayed condition of Wareham in 1086, when 203 houses were mined or waste, the result of misfortune, poverty and fire. The early castle, which existed before 1086, was important during the civil wars of Stephen’s reign; in 1142 Robert, earl of Gloucester, on his departure for France, committed it to his son’s charge, Stephen, however, surprised and took it, but it surrendered to the earl in the same year on the king’s refusal to send it aid. John fortified it against Louis of France in 1216, and during the civil wars it was the scene of much fighting, being stormed by the parliamentary forces in 1644. Wareham was accounted a borough in Domesday Book, and the burgesses in 1176 paid 20 marks for a default. In 1180–1181 they rendered account of 5 marks for erecting a gild without licence. The fee-farm of the borough was obtained in 1211, on a fine of 100 marks. The constitution of Wareham underwent a change during the years 1326–1335, when the governing body of the bailiffs and commonalty were replaced by the mayor and bailiffs. In 1587 Elizabeth granted certain privileges to Wareham, but it was not incorporated until 1703, when the existing fairs for April 6 and August 23 were granted. The port was important throughout the middle ages, and was required to furnish four ships for the French war in 1334. Considerable trade was carried on with France and Spain, cloth, Purbeck stone and, later, clay being largely exported.