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The Hamlets of Maiden Newton

Throop, Notton, Crockway and Cruxton are not mentioned in Domesday but they all belonged to the manor of Maiden Newton.

Throop, or Thorpe from Saxon throp meaning outlying farm, lies half a mile south of Notton and consists now of a farm and two houses. In the reign of Elizabeth I a part of it was held by William Mountjoy, of the Rector of the Church at Maiden Newton by rent of a pound of pepper value 20/-. An early reference to Throop is to the ‘dairy house atte Thrope in 1333. Thereafter the spelling varies: Throupe 1348, Throp(e) 1350, Le Throp(e) 1370, La Thrope juxta Frompton 1385. In the earliest Ordnance Survey, 1811, it is written Thorpe. The famous Roman pavement was unearthed here in 1794.

Notton, meaning homestead, from Saxon tun. In 1350 it is Natton, probably meaning cattle farm, in 1370 it is Netten. The Old English derivation is Neat. Today there is one farm, the old mill cottage with remains of the mill (one of two mills frequently mentioned in the parish of Maiden Newton), a thatched cottages nearby (formerly three cottages), and another cottage with converted farm buildings on the summit of Notton Hill.

Crockway. In the Subsidy Rolls of 1333, 1350 and 1370 it is Krokwei, Crokweye, and sometimes Crokeway from the Saxon, meaning perhaps crooked way. It figures in the Feet of Fines, and the Calendar of Inquisitions, 1405, 1412, 1428. The Old English is ‘weg’ meaning way or road. In the reign of Edward VI Church lands here belonged to Cerne Abbey. There is now a pig farm with its associated cottages and houses.

Cruxton, Recorded in Domesday as Frome after the river. It was called Fromma Johannis Croc in the Pipe Rolls of Henry II 1177, Crocston 1195, Crokeston 1204, Croxton 1205, Crokeston 1227, Croukeston 1346, Crokkeston 1428. Besides the above Johannis Croc, who must have held the place in or just before 1177, we have mention of William Croc here in 1195 and 1205, and of his family in 1227 in the Pipe Rolls, etc, So no doubt the original meaning was Croc’s town. The personal name of Croc of Scandinavian origin was fairly common in medieval England and has been assumed to enter into several place names in Danelaw. We may compare the personal name Grim which is Scandinavian, combined in the name Grimstone (Grim’s town) two miles away. Croc is found in Wiltshire and Hampshire, in the Domesday Book. There is a list of the owners of Cruxton from 1205, when ‘WilliamCroc’ (William of Cruxton) gave 30 marks to have seizen of the vill of Croxton which had been recovered by him in the court of the lord, the King, whilst he was Earl of Moriton, against William Turpin by an assize of ‘mort d’ancestor’, and thence the same William was afterwards disseized by the King’s precept; and the Sheriff of Dorset was commanded to take security for the payment of 30 marks at the Exchequer and to cause to have seizen’. Later we hear of John de Crokeston holding it in the reign of Edward I, and later still of its becoming divided into Lower and Higher Crookston; the former being in the ownership of John Henning in the reign of Charles I (hence Henning’s Crookston) and the latter in the ownership of Richard Channing in 1654 (hence Channing’s Crookston). It must have been a bigger place in the old days, as must all of these hamlets, for we find Henry III granted a market and a fair here.

The Channings lived at Cruxton in 1743, but must have owned the place before that date. There was a John Channing in Dorchester in 1739 who is mentioned in a deed on leasehold in Maiden Newton. The sad story of Mary Channing (Mary Brookes of Dorchester) has been told by Sir Frederick Treves in his Highways and Byways of Dorset and also by F.T Harvey Darton in his The Marches of Wessex, and they do not agree in every detail. According to Treves, Mary Brookes of Dorchester was forced in 1705 to marry Richard Channing, a grocer of Dorchester. But according to Harvey Darton, Mary Brookes was forced by her parents to marry Thomas Channing a respectable young man of Maiden Newton. Whichever it was, the consequences were fatal for Mary’s heart was given to a nameless young gallant. After thirteen weeks of more or less riotous living with her lawful husband, she then poisoned him by giving him white mercury, first in rice-milk and then a glass of wine. She was tried, found guilty and condemned to death, but her execution was deferred to allow the birth of her child. On a spring morning in 1705 or 1706, Mary Channing, still only 19 was dragged to the arena of Maumbury Rings, clamouring forth her innocence all the way. From the centre of this arena the solitary girl faced a crowd of 10,000 people, was strangled by the public hangman and then burned.

According to this gruesome account it happened about five o’clock after the under-sherrif had had tea.

Charlotte Channing, who died at Cruxton some 80 years later, had a much happier life as well as a much longer one. ‘Charlotte Channing’s Room’ was an inscription cut by a diamond in a window (now removed) together with the words, ‘Look before you leap, Think before you speak, Consider before you promise’, April 24, 1784. Charlotte wrote in a scrap book which later came into the possession of the Browne family of Frampton (later owners of Cruxton Manor-house):

Adieu, farewell, my once loved home

Alas, how soon the fleeting years have gone which here I’ve spent.

But let me not reflect on past enjoyments, imbittered with regret;

But rather hope some future years to come

I may speed happily to Maiden Newton.

We do not know whether Charlotte’s wish came true. Cruxton Manor farmhouse is a beautiful old building, originally built in the sixteenth century, once thatched, now modernized. A house of similar age next to it, the original manor-house, was demolished in the 1960s as unsafe and a bungalow built on the site. In recent years the bungalow has been replaced by a modern large house. There are now only six or seven dwellings in Cruxton.

Alacrify Ltd. 01300 320076. jon@alacrify.co.uk