The name of Piddlehinton has changed over the centuries. According to "A Dictionary of English Place-Names" by A.D.Mills ( Published 1991 Oxford University Press), the name of Pidele is found in 1086 (Domesday Book) and had changed to Pidel Hineton by 1244 meaning 'Estate on the River Piddle belonging to a religious community'. (Old English c. 450-1100 AD river name Pidele = a marsh or fen, + hiwan = household or members of a religious community, + tun = estate.) Other variations on the name included Hynepuddle, Honey Puddle, Puddlehinton and more recently Piddlehinton.

The remains of hand-worked flint tools from 5-6000 years ago provide the first evidence that man settled in the area of Piddlehinton. The area also contains some burial mounds that date from around 2000BC. This was the time when flint tools were being replaced by metal ones and pottery was widely in use. Social hierarchies within tribes developed and the custom of burying the leaders in individual mounds or barrows evolved. At one time there were 9 burial chambers or barrows in the Piddlehinton area. Some were excavated in the 19th century and were found to date from around 1000BC, the late Bronze Age.

Apart from the cultural changes that took place, climatic changes also influenced the area of Piddlehinton. Around 1000BC, the climate changed from that of a Mediterranean type to something worse than we have today! At around the same time woodlands were cleared and crops cultivated. The population increased and new farming methods developed along with clearly defined field systems. Many of these field systems can be seen today on some of the higher ground around Piddlehinton.

The Romans had little effect on the Piddle Valley and life continued much as before. The population increased dramatically during the Roman occupation, although there is still no definite evidence of settlement on the exact site of Piddlehinton.

The withdrawal of the Romans in the 5th century AD gave way to invasions from the Continent and by the 7th century the Saxons had reached the Wessex area. Here some settled and the new Anglo-Saxon people cleared and cultivated the valley bottoms. More field systems developed and it is from this time that parish and manorial boundaries can be dated as they accommodated the long narrow fields.

As the Saxon pagans converted to Christianity, so monasteries were founded along with gifts of land. It is at this time that we can place Piddlehinton on the map! In 925-939 AD, King Athelstan granted one 'hide' of land at Little Puddle to the Abbot of Milton. From 959-975 AD, King Edgar established and restored many monasteries including the 10 'cassates' of land at 'Uppidlen', to the church and nuns of Shaftesbury. Edgar also granted land to Cerne Abbey. Among the lands were Muston (Mustereton) in the parish of Piddlehinton.

For 351 years (1066-1417), Piddlehinton was the property of Robert, Count of Mortain and of the collegiate church he founded. Robert was one of the 2 half-brothers of William the Conqueror. William created Robert Count of Mortain in 1055. He consulted him about his plans including the projected invasion of England. After their victory at the Battle of Hastings, William became King of England. He claimed all the land as his own and gave much of it to his Norman friends and relations. Robert was given the biggest share - 973 manors including the manor of Piddlehinton, which in 1066 was described in the Domesday Book. In total, 70 of his manors were in Dorset including Childe Okeford, Spetisbury, Hanford, Bryanston and Blandford.

In 1082 Robert and his wife Mathilde founded their collegiate church of Saint Evroult inside their castle. They took a lot of trouble to make it a first class establishment and endowed it with many of Robert's properties in England, including Piddlehinton.

Unfortunately all the records of Mortain, which since the French Revolution were kept at the provincial capital of St. Lo, were destroyed in June 1944 during the Allied invasion of Normandy. We do know, however, that the collegiate church of Mortain, by then an abbey, still owned Piddlehinton in 1417. It was in that year, after the battle of Agincourt, that King Henry V decided to confiscate the English estates of the 'alien priories' of France. This was because they were sending their revenues to France and some of this money was being used to support the French army in the war against England. It was thus that Piddlehinton became the property of the King of England. The king entrusted it to the Augustinian Priory at Christchurch. The Manorial Court, which administered it, was held in Puddletown, which was already connected with Christchurch Priory.