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Cranborne is a village in East Dorset, England. In 2001 the village had a population of 779 people. The town is situated on chalk downland called Cranborne Chasemarker, part of a large expanse of chalk in southern England which includes the nearby Salisbury Plainmarker and Dorset Downsmarker.

The village dates from Saxon times and was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Creneburne, meaning stream (bourne) of cranes. The village has a Norman parish church. In the 13th century King John visited the downs for the hunt and the town hosted several subsequent kings, notably Henry VIII who founded the hunting lodge in the village. The medieval hunting lodge was modified by Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, between 1607 and 1611 to create the manor house, a mixture of medieval walls and Renaissance architecture, for King James I who also came to the downs for the hunt. Since 1605, "Viscount Cranborne" has been the courtesy title of the heir of the Earl of Salisbury.

The village was a market town in times when it was frequented by royalty, and housed a garrison of soldiers to protect the king. The town's population was at one time comparably large, but its importance and power has dwindled as other more accessible towns have overtaken it in size.

Cranborne was for many centuries the centre of the hundredmarker of the same name.

In the 1980s there was a reproduction Iron-Age Round House built at the back of Cranborne Middle School. It is now the Cranborne Ancient Technology Centre.

External links


  • Pitt-Rivers, Michael, 1968. Dorset. London: Faber & Faber.

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