The Parish of West Parley is situated in the South East of the County of Dorset, and is bounded on the East by the County of Hampshire.

It is of curious shape, six miles long from North to South, and from half a mile to two miles in breath, and contains two strikingly different types of country :- a narrow strip of flat alluvial land along the River Stour, its Southern limit, with a waste of rough heathland to the North, the bare ridges of which drain to the marshy valley of the Moors River.

Until recently, the distribution of the population was governed by the physical conditions: man settled where there was land to be tilled, and the village of West Parley, with the neighbouring hamlet of Dudsbury are both situated near the river, while the few scattered farms and cottages in the North of the Parish testified to the difficulty of winning a livelihood from the hungry soil of the Great Heath.

With the opening of the railways from Ringwood and Salisbury to Wimborne, which cross the Northern part of the Parish, a new centre of population sprang up at West Moors (so called from the once solitary farm of that name). This district was detached from the Ecclesiastical Parish of West Parley, and was first placed under Verwood. The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, which succeeded a "School Chapel" was built in 1897. West Moors became a separate ecclesiastical parish in 1920, leaving to West Parley the Southern half of the old parish up to, and including, Tricketts Cross.

The Civil Parish, however, retains its old boundaries.

The village of Ferndown arose in the latter half of the last century, on Hampshire Heath, where formerly were but two or three mud-built cottages. Its easternmost houses are now invading Parley Common in our own Parish, and Ferndown Golf Course covers a considerable extent of the Common.

From the South, too, new houses are approaching and the outskirts of the ever-growing Borough of Bournemouth are not far away. The "New Road" from Ensbury to Ferndown, while opening up communications and being a great convenience to Parley folk, is also the cause of our good green fields becoming "eligible building sites, ripe for immediate development"

Chapter 2