A WIND-LASHED coastal hamlet comes under the spotlight with some wonderful old photos this week.

Stanton St Gabriel is a hamlet and civil parish in west Dorset, situated on the western slopes of Golden Cap on the Jurassic coast between Bridport and Lyme Regis.

These old photos of this unique habitation were taken by west Dorset photographer Claud Hider from 1922 onwards.

Stanton St Gabriel was mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086) simply as 'Stantone', from the Old English for 'farm on stoney ground'.

'St Gabriel' was added later with reference to the dedication of the church.

St GabrielsSt Gabriels

Legend has it that in the 12th century a newly married couple washed up here in a dinghy after two days at sea being buffeted by storms that had forced them to abandon their ship.

The groom, Bertram, prayed to St Gabriel to save them, promising to raise a shrine to him wherever they landed.

His prayer was answered and he carried his bride ashore, but the ordeal had been too much for her and she died in his arms. Bertram was distraught, but honoured his pledge.

Originally a parish in its own right, Stanton St Gabriel became a perpetual curacy annexed to Whitchurch Canonicorum some time in the Middle Ages.

Ruins of the old churchRuins of the old church

In the 17th century a petition was launched by the inhabitants to restore the parish status of Stanton St Gabriel, because the 23 families of the hamlet had to travel more than two miles to Whitchurch, along a road exposed to such violence of wind and weather that they could seldom make the journey to church in winter.

Church at Stanton St Gabriel in more recent times Picture: Kim ParkerChurch at Stanton St Gabriel in more recent times Picture: Kim Parker

But their petition went unheeded. By the 18th century the once flourishing settlement was all but abandoned, as the inhabitants were lured away to work in the many new mills and rope-walks of Bridport, or moved to what is now the village of Morcombelake when the coach road from Dorchester to Exeter was rerouted inland.

Thanks to Neil Mattingly for sharing these Claud Hider photos and to the excellent Dorset OPC website.