Panorama of parish


Welcome to our parish council’s website. The parish covers approximately 4,000 acres (much of it within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and includes the village of Winfrith Newburgh and the hamlets of West Burton, East Fossil, East Knighton and Portway – in which live 742 parishioners, living in 300 households. The 2021 Census data reveals:

Population is 742 (340 of whom are in employment). Population breakdown data:

  • Males: 382
  • Females: 360
  • 0-15 yrs: 101 (13.6% of local population)
  • 16-64 yrs: 398 (53.6% of local population)
  • 65+ yrs: 243 (32.7% of local population)

Of these…

  • White British: 96.7%
  • BME: 3.3%


  • Christian: 67.1%
  • No religion: 20.6%
  • Religion not stated: 11.1%
  • Non Christian religions: 1.2%


  • Owner-occupied: 70%
  • Rented (pvt): 15.3%
  • Rented (public): 11.3%
  • Other (2nd homes etc): 3.3%


We currently have a vacancy for a new Parish Councillor. Should you be interested, please read the formal notice (click on the link below) and contact our Parish Clerk, Irene Atkins (see the “COUNCILLORS” tab for details).

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High Street

Winfrith Newburgh

The village of Winfrith Newburgh was recorded as Winfrode (‘Bright Stream’) in the Domesday Book of 1086 and its name originates from that description of the river Win that flows through it and Robert de Neubourg, who acquired the village and surrounding lands in the 11th Century. Before the 18th Century, the main road from Wareham to Dorchester ran straight through the village – along what is now the footpath from the A352 up to Shilling Plot, down School Lane, past the village pound and along the track that leads to Fossil Farm. St. Christopher’s Church was founded in the 12th Century – and some small part of that original church is still incorporated within the current building, which was heavily restored in the 1850s.

You can find out all about the village on by clicking on this link here: Winfrith Newburgh & East Knighton website.

East Knighton. 1920

East Knighton

East Knighton dates from 1279. East Knighton lane, which runs from the A352 south to Shilling Plot, is apparently the UK’s only street named ‘East Knighton Lane’! This picture of the top of the hill was taken in the 1920s and was provided by the Winfrith History Group.

Historical Images of the Parish

These images were kindly provided by the Winfrith History Group.

Manor House, 1920s
High Street, 1920s
High Street, 1920s
Water Lane in 1912
Village Shop, 1938
Thornicks, 1936
Red Lion Pub, 1897

What is a Parish Council? 

A parish council is a local authority that makes decisions on behalf of the people in the parish. It’s the first tier of local government and the closest to the community, with the district authority (Dorset Council) above it in the hierarchy. A vital part of the community, the parish council is the first place residents tend to go with concerns or ideas.

What decisions do Parish Councils make? 

Decisions that affect the local community, such as: planning matters (statutory consultees), crime-prevention, managing open spaces and campaigning for and delivering better services and facilities. Powers are limited, but the parish council does have the ability to negotiate and influence other organisations that make the final decisions.

What powers do Parish Councils have? 

In essence, these are related to local matters such as maintaining community buildings, open spaces, allotments, play areas and bus shelters. The council has the power to raise money through taxation, known as the precept. This is the Parish Council’s share of the council tax. Our precept may increase annually and can be clearly seen in the relevant financial documents available to read on this website.


Our parish council comprises six elected or co-opted councillors. Councillors are either elected by the residents of the Parish of Winfrith and East Knighton, or co-opted by current councillors. Co-option occurs when either there have been insufficient candidates to fill all of the available seats at an election, or a casual vacancy (such as a sitting councillor resigning) has arisen between elections and there is no demand to hold a by-election. In addition to our allocated councillors (the number of councillors is determined by Dorset Council), we have a Parish Clerk.

The Parish Clerk, or Proper Officeris a paid employee and the only member of the council to receive any remuneration. This Proper Officer is under a statutory duty to carry out all the functions of and, in particular, to serve or issue all the notifications required by law of that post. The Clerk/Proper Officer is responsible for ensuring that the instructions of the Council, in connection with its function as a Local Authority, are carried out. His or her many responsibilities include monitoring and balancing the council’s accounts and preparing financial records for audit purposes and VAT. All of our financial documents can be viewed in the Documents Page.

Want to become a Parish Councillor? 

Councillors are able to plan for emergencies (flooding is an obvious potential emergency within our parish), influence some decisions for the benefit of the people they serve and help to make changes for the better. To be eligible for election or co-option, you must be aged at least 18, a British or eligible Commonwealth citizen and have worked, or owned land, within the parish boundary, or lived inside or within three miles of the parish boundary during the whole of the 12 months period preceding your nomination and the day of the parish council elections. There are some disqualifications – full information can be found on THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION website.