The Old Police House, for sale with Chesterton Humberts, is a unique home that is not only the former village police house, but is connected to the former Methodist chapel. Both buildings were constructed during the 1850s when the village was expanding, but it is the history of the Police House that highlights a colourful history of the local Bobbies in the village of Cranborne.
In 1856, the County and Borough Police Act meant that all counties were required to organise a police force for all rural areas and boroughs. Along with this, the policemen needed new homes and across Dorset new police houses were built in a number of villages, including Beaminster, Sherborne, Blandford – and Cranborne.
A local builder, Henry Kilford was commissioned to construct the new house and police station to the designs of architect, Mr. George Evans. Records show that the new house cost £581 to build, including fixtures and fittings, as well as painting and papering. The new police house was completed by 1860 and the new policeman, Sergeant George Andrews was recorded in the house with his family by the time of the 1861 census. Also in the house were Constable Charles Bart and his wife Sarah.
In looking through the history of the Police House, it reveals some fascinating events that took place through the history of Cranborne, as well as stories of the unsung heroes that made up the early police force in rural Dorset. However, not all of the early police officers were upstanding members of the community. Sergeant William Webb was stationed at Cranborne from 1869, but the records show that in 1875 a prisoner escaped from the lock-up and Webb was demoted. Later, Webb was again demoted when he sent his PC to the pub “to fetch five pints of beer and half a pint of gin for two prisoners who were in custody at Cranborne on a charge of drunkenness and disorderly conduct, and for also releasing the prisoners from the cells and drinking with them.”
However, later policemen had more distinguished careers, including Sergeant George Roper, who was stationed at Cranborne during the 1880s. Roper had formerly been rewarded and commended for saving a life during the dramatic shipwreck of the Royal Adelaide off the coast of Weymouth in 1872. Another heroic former policeman was Sergeant Edwin Pike, who was rewarded for ‘praiseworthy conduct at a fire at Thorncombe’ in 1882.
Meanwhile, the building behind the police station continued as the Primitive Methodist Chapel, recorded in 1910 as seating approximately 100 people and included a gallery.
The chapel and the police house continued as separate buildings and to serve the local community throughout the 1900s, until the late 20th century and they were converted to become a residential home. Today, The Old Police House has been renovated to become a pleasant family home, while you can still see the high window and the substantial door with latch that used to be the former lock-up.
* More details on The Old Police House
* To read the full history visit my blog – The House Historian