GUSSAGE All Saints is an attractive village and parish in the county of Dorset situated in an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). It is within the East Dorset administrative district of the county about eight miles north of Wimborne Minster and lies by the side of a small stream in a shallow valley on the lower dip slope of Cranborne Chase.
Anyone thinking All Saints has been a rural backwater over the centuries would be mistaken because the village has connections with royalty, Westminster Abbey and Lord's as well as having one of England's first 'motorways' running through it and a court house.
The earliest settlements can be traced back to the Bronze Age while a three-acre Iron Age settlement, occupied from about 300 BC to the first century AD, was excavated as recently as 1972.
The main road that sprang up was Ackling Dyke which divides All Saints from Gussage St Michael. Built by the Romans in circa 90 AD, it was an important and busy highway for some 400 years with Roman chariots and troops travelling from Old Sarum (Salisbury) to Badbury and Dorchester.
Later the road brought a bigger threat to All Saints and surrounding areas with bands of Danish marauders looting and burning as they passed through, making life a survival test for the Anglo-Saxon locals.
The regal links go back to medieval times when the village was called Gussage Regis and apparently held by the king directly.
On July 1, 1245, Henry III called at Amen Corner, site of an ancient chapel, and granted a royal licence to the "Abbess of Tarant Keynes" to hold land at Gussage free of service.
When the original timbered building fell into ruin, a new cob chapel was built at Amen Corner which was used for prayer and as a meeting place. As the last house in the village street, it is the "amen" of the village.
Edward III's wife Queen Philippa founded a college at Oxford in 1344 known as Queen's College and when the king granted her land and property at All Saints, Queen's College came to Gussage, hence College Farm and Cottages.
By the mid-19th century All Saints had long been part of Lord Shaftesbury's estate. The population was then around 500 (today it is barely 200) and a century ago nearly 50 children attended the village school which closed in 1932 and became the village hall, subsequently sold to the village for £20 in 1950.
Parts of the church date back to the 14th century with the first incumbent being Galfried de Vermonsworth in 1327. The organ was built in the 18th century for a private client but later was used at Westminster Abbey for choir practice.
The cricket connection with Lord's centres around Alec Gubbins, born in All Saints in 1891 and who lived there for most of his working life. He was the village haulier and owned the first All Saints bus.
He had already been coaching at Lord's but he so impressed some of the game's top players during the Cricket Week staged by the Earl of Shaftesbury at nearby Wimborne St Giles Park that he was invited to join the Lord's staff.
Manor Farm in Harley Lane was the venue for the courtroom with the drawing room used for discussing smallholders' rights until the 1920s.