High Stoy consists of three parishes – Hermitage, Hilfield and Batcombe – located in the best part of the Blackmore Vale between Sherborne and Cerne Abbas
Total population is around 350 to 400 – mainly involved in agriculture, trout fisheries, a friary and local support businesses.
Hermitage parish includes around 50 homes, with the village centred around a green, the village hall and St Mary’s church. There are several active local groups who run a variety of events, including an annual event centred on the green, and a number of themed activities around the hall. Money raised goes to support the village facilities and charities.
Batcombe village, hidden under the northern slope of the Dorset Downs, is surrounded by mysterious legends. The church of St. Mary Magdalene, built on an ancient site, is the subject of one of these curious tales. The local squire, who dabbled in magic and was regarded with a great deal of fear and superstition, was said to have knocked off one of the pinnacles on the tower when he made his horse leap over it. The fearful villagers were afraid that they might offend the devil by repairing the damage, so for a hundred years they left it alone. When it was repaired, it was repaired crooked.
The second legend features a mystic stone on the summit of the hill above the village called the ‘Cross-in-Hand’, which is mentioned in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d'Urbervilles. This small, Grade II listed Pillar dates back before the Norman Conquest and has acquired stories about images of a ghostly hand being seen grasping a bowl at its top.
Newlands Farm was the Manor house between the 16th and 18th centuries and the front roadside wall of the farmhouse has an Ashlar Hamstone archway dating from 1622.Hilfield
is a small, scattered village with a population of about 50 situated in the beautiful Dorset Downs. Hilfield parish church, dedicated to St Nicholas, dates from the 15th century but its origins may be as early as late 13th century. Within the parish is Hilfield Friary a faith-based community centred on Franciscan brothers of the Anglican Society of St Francis. The village also has a Manor House, a nature reserve on Hilfield Hill and last and probably least it has featured on Escape to the Country !