Church Knowle is a small pretty village set in a valley around one mile west of Corfe Castle.
‘Cnolle’ is a Saxon word signifying the top of a hill, and so it is believed that there was once a Saxon settlement here.
However, a Roman villa has been discovered nearby and Church Knowle’s parish contains many prehistoric barrows, so there’s no doubt that human habitation goes back to the earliest times in the area.
The village was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Cnolle and in 1346 as Churchecnolle. There was a mention of a priest living in in Knoll during the time of the Domesday book.
The village is noted for Barnston Manor that dates back to the 13th century and possibly Britain’s oldest continuously occupied house. It was the home of the well known Dorset family – the Clavells before they built Smedmore (1620).
The village is also the location of the popular Margaret Green Animal Sanctuary, a wonderful place to pay a visit with the whole family.
Church Knowle’s St Peters Church dates from the 13rh century. It is also of interest as the burial place of the Pike brothers (Purbeck Ball Clay Merchants) famed for bringing the first steam locomotive to Purbeck in 1866. You can find out more about Purbeck’s Ball Clay industry at the Purbeck Mining Museum near Corfe. Also buried there is Warburton Pike who was the first person to translate Dante’s Inferno into English in 1881.
There are no shops in the village, the nearest would be Corfe or Wareham. Church Knowle does have a traditional local pub, the New Inn (which is actually hundreds of years old) and is located in the centre of the village.