Stinsford Parish Council
Today the rural parish of Stinsford occupies a large area of land in West Dorset to the north and east of Dorchester, with the River Frome creating the parish's southern boundary. It covers 1352 hectares and in 2011 the population was estimated at 334. The parish consists of agricultural land, woodland and a small portion of Puddletown Heath. Within its boundaries are the settlements and hamlets of Frome Whitfield, Cokers Frome, Waterston Ridge, Bhompston, Higher Kingston, Kingston Maurward, Higher Bockhampton, Lower Bockhampton and Stinsford. The Parish boasts five grand houses, The Elizabethan Old Manor, Stinsford House, Kingston Maurward House, the centre of a thriving land-based further education college, together with the Victorian gentlemen's residences of Birkin House and Frome House. The area within Lower Bockhampton, Kingston Maurward College, Stinsford and Higher Kingston is established as a conservation area. The River Frome water meadows are a site of special scientific interest.
The land-based college of Kingston Maurward Agricultural College is surrounded by some 750 acres and specialises in providing a wide range of full-time, part-time, apprenticeship and university level courses in subjects as varied as agriculture, blacksmithing, business, equine studies, floristry and outdoor adventure. It is a vibrant and bustling organisation employing more than 10% of the working population of the parish. The gardens provide a place of interest for the amateur and experienced horticulturalist or the ideal place for a tranquil stroll. Children can enjoy the animal park and lambing season. In addition, the College's main house provides a spectacular venue for weddings and conferences.
Visitors from around the world are drawn to the parish for its links to the famous Dorset writer, Thomas Hardy. Now a National Trust property, Hardy's Birthplace is situated at Higher Bockhampton and is popular with visitors interested in his life. Similarly, the Parish Church of St Michael's is another 'must see' destination for Hardy scholars as it is where his heart is buried in the same grave as his first wife, Emma.
The parish also provides ample opportunities for those seeking outdoor recreation with the routes through Thorncombe Woods and the footpath alongside the River Frome being particularly popular with walkers.
- Stinsford Parish