Museum of East Dorset
aka “Priests House Museum”
The museum is housed in a sixteenth century building that at the start was a single story stone house. An upper story was added in the seventeenth century and from the 1680s the Bowridge family lived there - with details in a will, that a mortgage of £1600 was held on the property [that’s a little less than £200,000 today] and led to the family
selling to repay debts.
The Wimborne Community Theatre history page shows owners and occupants through to the Cole’s family taking over residence in the early 1870s [It was Hilda Coles who ran the museum of local collections from 1962 through to 1987 when it was bequeathed
to the town under the care of the Minster Governors …
“ to be used as a museum for local people” ]
It seems never to have been the house of a priest - unless the name “Priest’s House”
was given to the property for something known only to those of the time !
The attractive and secluded garden is almost 100 metres in length being originally
a ’burgage’ plot of the house. (Usually 20 rods or poles and one house oak-beam wide -
and the area contained within each burgage plot is therefore around ¼ acre)
The narrowness of such plots stems back to the Lord of the manor creating as many ‘frontages’ on a street as possible so as to increase income - unlike rural tenancies that paid for the right to live there by ‘working for the lord’ - burgage plots were rented from the Lord of the Manor for money, until 1832. In these ‘Burgage Borough’ areas, the right to vote for a member of p
arliament was attached to the occupation of particular burgage tenements
Read more on the museum’s own wensite