Winterborne Whitechurch is a village aptly named for its 13th Century Church – St Marys and situated on the River Winterborne, named for rising in winter, but drying and disappearing completely in summer months. The village lies between two hills, Blandford Hill on the northern end being the main A354 road to Blandford and Salisbury, while Dorchester Hill towards the south leads to Dorchester and Weymouth. The parish covers 3,436 acres (1390 ha) but before 1933 was smaller as the western part of the village including the parish church formed part of neighbouring Milton Abbas.
Many years ago the village consisted of numerous thatched cottages built chiefly of chalk and flint, with of course no sanitation as we expect today and water drawn from deep wells. Very few of the original cottages survive, having fallen into disrepair during the 50’s and 60’s. Some of those remaining are now listed. However, the modern village is very different with many new homes built during the last twenty five years. Although the village still has no mains drainage, being served by individual or group septic tanks, it does now have mains water and gas.
A large part of the village was designated a Conservation Area in January 1995.
In the 2011 census the parish of Winterborne Whitechurch had 354 dwellings, 331 households and a population of 757, a third living on Lady Bailey Residential Park. This is on the Southern edge of the village and has developed from three caravans to a thriving site with 90 Park Homes today. Also on this site is a large caravan sales and accessories shop which has also grown over the years.
Another area of the village which has changed is Chescombe Court. This was built in 1973 as a warden assisted block of flats for elderly residents. It was completely modernised early in the 21st century and now provides homes for the over 55’s and is run by Spectrum Housing.
There have also been many changes at the village school. Dunbury School was the first federated school in the country. Originally for Key Stage 1 children, it had four bases in four villages. However, when Dorset decided to move to a two tier system the building at Whitechurch was modernised and enlarged. It became the Key Stage 2 base and the younger children are now at the only other used base in Winterborne Kingston. Last year the school made another change and became an Academy under the Diocese of Salisbury Academy Trust.
The village has a thriving Village Hall with a very active committee, the Milton Arms Pub and East Farm shop and tea rooms. The Reading Room in the centre of the village has in recent years been the village shop and a kitchen showroom and is now the offices of Chichester Land Agents.
The buildings along Rook Lane leading to Lower Street near to the former Horse Engine (which is an exceptionally significant dual-designated Grade 2 listed building and Scheduled Ancient Monument ) were converted several years ago and now houses several rural businesses.