SIXPENNY HANDLEY is the largest village in North Dorset, and has been for several centuries. It was originally two separate Hundreds – two Saxon divisions of land that would support one hundred families each. One was called Saxpena and the other Hanlege. Saxpena comes from ‘seaxe’, being Old English for mountain or hill, and ‘pen’ translating as top. Hanlega translates as the high clearing in the wood.
All in all, this gives the extended name of ‘The Village in the Clearing at the Top of the Hill’. This, many an ageing member of the congregation will vouchsafe for! The two hundreds existed separately, as shown in the Domesday Book, until they were united in 1244. The name of the village reflects its ancient origin and despite a number of old signposts that had shortened the name to "6d Handley" it escaped being renamed "Two and a Half Pence Handley" during decimalisation!
Sixpenny Handley sits on the edge of the Rushmore, Shaftesbury and Cranborne Estates. However, despite its size and importance, the church does not have the support of any landed gentry. This explains the lack of elaborate memorials and tombs, both inside and outside the church. The village today, consists of more than five hundred households.
Click the images on the right for further historical information.