Leigh, Dorset


Leigh () is a village and
civil parish In England, a civil parish is a type of Parish (administrative division), administrative parish used for Local government in England, local government. It is a territorial designation which is the lowest tier of local government below districts ...
in the
county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers (publisher), William and Robert Chambers (publisher bo ...
Dorset Dorset (; archaically In language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed ...

in southern England, situated approximately south-southwest of
Sherborne Sherborne is a market town and civil parishes in England, civil parish in north west Dorset, in South West England. It is sited on the River Yeo (South Somerset), River Yeo, on the edge of the Blackmore Vale, east of Yeovil. The parish include ...
. It is known as the site of a former Miz Maze. In the
2011 census2011 censuses were conducted in the following countries: * Australia: Census in Australia * Austria: Demographics of Austria * Bangladesh: 2011 Bangladesh Census * Bulgaria: Demographics of Bulgaria * Canada: Canada 2011 Census * Croatia: 2011 Censu ...
the parish had a population of 480.


One mile southeast of the village is a 10-acre enclosure called 'The Castle'. The physical remnants on the ground indicate the previous existence of a castle here, although there are no historical records for the site. Leigh has a village cross with a shaft dating from the 15th century. The parish church, dedicated to St Andrew, was previously a chapel of neighbouring Yetminster. It also dates from the 15th century, though was substantially altered—including the virtual rebuilding of the
chancel File:Langhaus, Chor.svg, 300px, Plan with the broader definition of the chancel highlighted In church architecture, the chancel is the space around the altar, including the Choir (architecture), choir and the sanctuary (sometimes called the presby ...

—in 1854.

Miz Maze

In a field just south of the village are the remains of a turf labyrinth or "Miz Maze", an earthwork of uncertain origin that, centuries ago, may have been used for rituals and as a meeting place. The labyrinth was laid out on banks and in the 17th century was re-cut every year by the young men of the village. It was described in 1815 in the second edition of Hutchins' ''History of Dorset'': "On an eminence in the common, about a quarter of a mile south from the village, is a maze of circular form, surrounded by a bank and ditch, and occupying an eighth part of an acre. The banks of earth of which it is composed are set almost close together, and are somewhat more than one foot in width and about half a foot in height." Depositions from 1650–1664 state that the Miz Maze is where local
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es used to meet. In 1879 the Dorset dialect poet
William Barnes William Barnes (22 February 1801 – 7 October 1886) was an English polymath A polymath ( el, πολυμαθής, ', "having learned much"; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch ...

William Barnes
presented the Dorset Field Club with a paper in which he wrote "Many years ago I was told by a man of this neighbourhood that a corner of Leigh Common was called 'Witches Corner'; and long after that a friend gave me some old depositions on witchcraft ... one of the witches' sisterhood said that they sometimes met in Leigh Common." The last witch to be burned in England was reputed to have been arrested at a conference here in the 17th century and then executed at Maumbury Rings in Dorchester, Dorset, Dorchester. There used to be several of these labyrinths in Dorset, though this is the only one where traces still remain, and even here there is little evidence except for small disturbances in the grass surface which can be felt underfoot.


The Parish councils of England, parish council has involvement in the maintenance of parish facilities and local issues such as planning applications and conservation. It works with the local police, and Neighbourhood Watch (UK), neighbourhood watch groups on matters of crime, security, and traffic. Dorset Council (UK), Dorset Council is responsible for most of the local government services such as planning permission, planning decisions and Building regulations in the United Kingdom, building control, local roads, council housing, markets and fairs, environmental health, refuse collection and recycling, education, social services, public transport, police and fire services, Trading Standards, waste disposal and strategic planning. Leigh is in the West Dorset (UK Parliament constituency), West Dorset parliamentary constituency and is currently represented in the British House of Commons, House of Commons by Chris Loder, who succeeded Oliver Letwin in 2019. Along with other villages it falls within the Cam Vale Electoral Ward.


Leigh is situated in the Blackmore Vale, and measured directly, the village is south-southwest of Sherborne, southeast of Yeovil and north-northwest of Dorchester, Dorset, Dorchester. The surrounding landscape is gently undulating and predominantly agricultural. The underlying geology is Oxford clay which here produces good quality pasture; the village was once known for producing cheese and cider, with at one time every farm possessing an orchard. One mile to the west of the village is the small Wriggle River, which drains into the River Yeo (South Somerset), River Yeo. Approximately to the south are the chalk hills of the Dorset Downs. The nearest railway stations are on the Heart of Wessex Line at Chetnole railway station, Chetnole, to the west-southwest, and Yetminster railway station, Yetminster, to the northwest. The nearest main roads are the A37 road, A37, to the west, and the A352 road, A352, to the east.


In the 2011 census the parish had 225 dwellings, 209 households and a population of 480. The population of the parish in the censuses between 1921 and 2011 is shown in the table below: In 1861 the parish population was 465.


External links

{{Authority control Villages in Dorset