This week for Looking Back, we will be looking at the history of one of Charmouth's most ancient houses.

The present owners of Little Lodge, Dorothy and Helen Parker, have a set of deeds which reveal its fascinating history which stretches back to times in the middle ages when the village was owned by the Abbot of Forde.

The building was known then as Yandover (Yendover) and formed part of the larger estate leased by the Limbry family and by the 19th century was a private school and then a shop.

Neil Mattingly has kindly provided the information for this piece ahead of the Little Lodge opening its doors for the community on Sunday, August 12.

In 1549 there were a series of court cases between the Limbry's and Edwards' families, with a lease granted by John Petre to Edward Limbry in 1575.

William and Andrew Limbry, his grandsons, each inherited half (moiety) of Yandovers.

Edward Edwards, a wealthy citizen of Lyme Regis, bought William's share and sought to obtain the other half from Andrew.

Initially, he provided him with a mortgage against the property, the deeds dated April, 1667, which included a 2000 year tenement in Charmouth and of Yandover, as well as the 16 acres there.

The house was to retain the 16 acres of fields until they were sold separately to Richard Craze in 1815, and still referred to as Yandover.

The deeds showed that a Henry Samways was holding a mortgage on Yandover, and lived in the village up until his death in 1706.

Joan, widow of Henry Samways and her son in law, Giles Merefield of Beaminster, sold their share of Yandover in Charmouth to William Hutchins alias Chappel in 1718.

A deed in the Dorset Record Office relates to a surrender of Yandover Meadow by Ann Crabb to Robert Merefield of Beaminster, who later owned it.

Both the Samways and Merefields were sail cloth makers.

Agnes and William Chappell were to have a daughter, Mary, who was born in 1716.

In 1743, a year after the death of her husband, the deeds show that Agnes Hutchings alias Chappell and Sarah Clapcott sell Yandover to Jacob Kitt, who is also described as a sail maker.

The earliest poor rates list for the village describe Mr Kitt of 'Yandovers' and in the same year William Gale is listed as apprentice to Kitt.

Kitt married Mary Ruttley and they were to have two children, William and Jacob Ridley Kitt.

Jacob Kitt died in 1770 at the age of 50, but in 1776, his wife Mary remarried, to John Randall.

Randall was named on a detailed lease as landlord of the Yandover estate in 1779.

The deeds for Yandover in the 1793 listed that Jacob Kitt's sons, William and Jacob Ridley, shared areas of of Yandover, with the 1793 land tax return confirm that the fields known as Yandover were owned by William, but rented by Jacob Ridley, who also owned and lived in the house.

After 1815, it would appear that Jacob lost his business, with Richard Craze, who lent him money, taking over the ownership of Yandover fields, with James and Stephen Atkinson owning most of the buildings, and Jacob's daughter, Ann, provided for with the family house (Little Lodge) and garden on the site

It was Stephen Atkinson who combined the two adjourning warehouses into the neighbouring house now known as 'Charmouth Lodge'.

Ann Kitt opened a shop at the side of Little Lodge in 1816, where she remained for a few years, until she sold the premises to James Welsh, who in due course sold it in 1822 to William Stephens.

After changing hands a few more times, which included the property being used by the national school briefly, the property ended up in the ownership of Canon Richard Whittington in 1900.

Canon Richard descended from the brother of Dick Whittington, Lord Mayor of London and famous in pantomime.

He had retired to Charmouth from previously being rector of Orsett in Essex.

Moving in with Richard was his seven children, two boys and five girls.

Richard Junior went on to become a canon and retired towards the end of his life to Hillside in Charmouth.

Four of his daughters, Dolly, Winnie, Beryl and Joan were later to open a school in the adjourning building now known as "Little Lodge" whilst living in The Limes.

Whittington's fifth daughter, Alice, was not involved in the school.

They were well known in the village for nearly 70 years after their involvement in church matters, the tennis club and their exclusive private school.

None of the daughters married, and the longest surviving, Winnie, died in 1974 aged 95.

Joan died in 1976, aged 91, Beryl died in 1963 and Alice in 1953.

Joan drove an ambulance for the LCC during the war, and later accepted to play at Wimbledon, but was not allowed to play as she declared winning money for a tournament in Cairo.

At least two of the sisters played tennis for Dorset.

The house will be open on Sunday, August 12 for a school reunion and to allow for people to see the history inside.

Former pupils of The Limes Day School, as well as those with links are invited to attend and share their memories with others.

Inside will also be a display on the history of the building, with those wishing to attend invited to bring photographs.

Light refreshments will be available.

For more details, you can contact Helen or Dorothy Parker through or call 01297 561580.