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Downs Mead

This shows the title block of the 1782 Plan of the village, and beneath isthat part of the map that shows the start of the Lane to our neighbousing village of Shillingstone - for some reason, this is now called Shillingstone Lane.  There is a sharp right hand bend, where the road goes round a cottage that is still there, and was sold recently, and is called Downs Cottage.
Past that, on the left is a Plot labelled D310 Downs Mead.

This plot was later used as a piggery, and more recently still was a chicken farm, but that closed a few years ago, and the plot has lain empty.

However, a developer, Andrew Hurst and his son Hector, of Hurst & Hurst based n Lymington, has started to build houses on that plot.

But they have put up signs referring to the site as "Shillingstome Field", which ignores the history of the site, and this has upset many of the villagers.

The developer has been asked to change that name, and here is some of the correspondence.

Date: 1 September 2023 at 17:30:47 BST

To: office@hhestates.co.uk office@hhestates.co.uk

Dear Sirs

The Dorset County Planning Department has given me your contact details so that I can send the following directly to you.   As you can see from the old map, the millstream that fed into the former mill in Mill Lane flows (now in pipes) through Downs Mead so if you needed another name for a section of your development, might I suggest Millstream Close?   The field known as ‘Betty Hall’ was called ‘Bawte Hawe’ in 1584 if you are interested in history.   However, with loose spelling and an informant with a very broad Dorset dialect, the names have been open to interpretation over the years anyway.   The lane next to the shop leading to Betty Hall is still known as ‘Betty Hall Lane’ according to a resident aged 90

[The imags shown above were included here ]

The new housing estate off Shillingstone Lane in Okeford Fitzpaine appears to be pleasing, well-situated with tastefully constructed buildings and reasonable spacing.   It was always a popular development proposal being well within the village settlement boundary and it does not disappoint.


It has been named arbitrarily by the developers, H & H Construction Ltd “Shillingstone Fields”, with absolutely no local consultation and no reference to any historical aspect of a village with a rich and well documented history and a thriving, popular and pro-active current Local History Group which has a continually ongoing research programme.   The current naming of the site is unacceptable for three reasons.

1.        Confusion will arise as it is nowhere near Shillingstone and delivery drivers and the postal service will have problems locating it.   Shillingstone Lane, as every resident of every village in the country will tell you, is the road TO Shillingstone as an ancient direction finding tool before the days of the SatNav.

2.        There has been a development policy, for a very long time, to avoid ribbon development between villages, to maintain the integrity and nucleus of each individual and unique village.   If the name ‘Shillingstone Fields’ persists and if the Wessex Park Homes site is developed, Okeford Fitzpaine and Shillingstone will end up as a huge long straggly village.

3.        The field in which the Shillingstone Lane development is underway has always been called ‘Downs Mead’, it is close to Downs Corner and Downs Cottage, one of the oldest houses in the village, present in a survey of 1584.   Surely ‘Downs Mead’ is the obvious name for the development even to a child.

The new development in the centre of the village is called ‘The Old Dairy’ to reflect the history of the site over the past 200 years.   The new development in Castle lane is called Comerwicke to reflect the name of the field in which it is built and a past name since 1584 for Castle Lane.   Both of these development sought advice from Parish Council and our local history group.

Please please allow us to preserve our history, instead of tacking us on as an appendage to Shillingstone.

I enclose an extract from the beautiful hand-drawn Pitt-Rivers estate map of 1782 showing the field and its name.

================================================= 2

On 4 Sep 2023, at 13:19, Andrew Hurst wrote:

Thank you so much for your comprehensive email and in particular for your kind words about our ongoing development.

To be completely open with you, this issue was discussed and signed off a long time ago, with both the Parish Council and the Dorset Council.

We always consult widely when street and site naming is required and in this case we responded favourably to a number of changes that were requested, particularly by the Parish.

However, as was revisited a few months ago with Dorset Council, all the signage is agreed and all the marketing under the existing naming has been underway for more than 4-5 months now so it is too late to make further amendments.

One point of interest I will share, at another site elsewhere I tried, at the suggestion of the Parish, to incorporate the names of one or two prominent local citizens in the estate naming. However it was pointed out to me (rather firmly) that they would not permit the names of living folk to be used. I stand corrected.

Thank you again for your email.

With best wishes,


Hurst & Hurst Estates Ltd
Office: (+44)1590 671898
Mob: (+44)7775 952565

================================================= 3

Reply 4 Sep 2023, at 17:50

Dear Mr Hurst

Thank you for your cordial response to my e-mail.

All I can say is, it is a huge pity and a wasted opportunity.   I am afraid I find it difficult to believe that you consulted with anyone local because no-one I have spoken to in this village would have chosen such an inappropriate name and I am fully aware that the Parish Council did approach your company with objections to the name.   It is, in fact, ‘spoiling the ship for a ha’porth of tar’!   I would have thought someone building such a tasteful development would have had more imagination.   I suppose we must be grateful that that you did not reflect the field’s past use as a piggery when you were pulling a name in a hurry out of a hat!


================================================= 4

From: Andrew Hurst
Sent: Tuesday, September 5, 2023 1:46 PM


I do understand your comments and take them onboard.

By way of context, we have another site in Hampshire in a similar position. We agreed the proposed naming with the Parish, then it went to the Council who made observations. We then amended it at which point the Parish decided they didn’t like their own choices. We made several more changes including adding in a prominent local citizen at the request of the Parish. Then the District threw it all out.

We have finally found a compromise but without someone on the Parish constantly monitoring this – or agreeing a protocol with their district council – this will happen again and again.

Best wishes,


================================================= 5

Sent: Tuesday, September 5, 2023 6:39 PM
To: Andrew Hurst

Dear Mr Hurst

The Parish Council was not consulted by you or your agents on a name for the above development, they never changed their minds about an alternative offered by you and were never given even a say, let alone an alternative.   They have, however, made representations to you because they object, on behalf of the village, to the very silly and totally inappropriate name plucked from the ether by you.   Therefore I don’t understand your analogy at all.

I ask you once again, as a polite request, to change the name of your Okeford Fitzpaine development to Downs Mead – you can paste signs over the ones you have already put up (don’t think I wasn’t tempted!) and most marketing is done via the internet anyway – that can be changed with the click of a button.   Since no sales have been finalised yet, none of the properties on your Okeford Fitzpaine development will have been registered under your chosen name with the Land Registry yet so that is not an issue.

Have you any further specious excuses/arguments for not changing the name?    As I have already told you, it proved eminently possible to change development names, signage, marketing etc etc, on request by the Parish Council, for the most recent developments in Castle Lane and on Higher Street.    There was no argument from those two developers who decided to respect the local population’s wishes so I am at a loss to see why your policy appears to be so different.

Yours sincerely


Please write to Andrew Hurst at 


and also to the Parish Council,


and to the District Council.





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