Here is how Samuel Lewis described the village in the 1831 Topographical Dictionary of England
a parish in the hundred of Beer Regis, Blandford (southern) division of the county of Dorset, comprising the town of Beer Regis, and the hamlets of Shitterton and Beer-Heath, and containing 1080 inhabitants, of which number, 953 are in the market town of Beer Regis, 7 miles (N.W.) from Wareham, and 113 (S.W.) from London.
This place, which is supposed by Dr. Stukeley to have been the Ibernium of Ravennas, derives its name from the Saxon Byrig, and the adjunct from its having been held in royal demesne.
Elfrida, after the murder of her stepson, is said to have retired hither to avoid suspicion; and King John, who occasionally made it his residence, granted the inhabitants the privilege of a market, in the 17th year of his reign. Edward I. made this a free borough, but it does not appear to have ever returned any members to parliament.
A great part of the town was destroyed by fire in 1634: it experienced a similar calamity in 1788; and, in 1817, another destructive fire occurred, in which the parish registers were burnt.
The town is pleasantly situated on the small river Beer; the houses, in general, are modern and well built, and the inhabitants are amply supplied with water.
The market is on Wednesday: a fair is held, Sept. 18th and the four following days, on Woodbury Hill, for horses, horned cattle, sheep, cloth, and cheese.
Constables and other officers for the internal regulation of the town, are appointed at the court leet of the lord of the manor.
The living, which, in conjunction with Charmouth, formerly constituted the golden prebend in the Cathedral Church of Salisbury, and is now a peculiar belonging to the Dean of Salisbury, is a vicarage in the diocese of Bristol, rated in the king’s books at £25. 5. 0., and in the patronage of the Master and Fellows of Balliol College, Oxford.
The church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is a spacious ancient structure, with a square embattled tower crowned with pinnacles. There are places of worship for Independents and Wesleyan Methodists; and that for the Independents has an endowment of £18 per annum.
A charity school was founded and endowed by Thomas Williams Esq., and further endowed by the Rev. Thomas Williams for two additional scholars. In 1773, the Rev. Henry Fisher bequeathed £100 to this institution: the master has a salary of £10 per annum, with a house and garden. On Woodbury hill, about half a mile from the town, there is a circular camp, comprehending an area of ten acres; and to the west of it are the site of the ancient chapel of Sancta Anchoretta, and a well called Anchoret’s well.
Dr. John Moreton, Archbishop of Canterbury, and a cardinal, who also distinguished himself in the wars, and projected the union, of the houses of York and Lancaster; and Dr. Tuberville, Bishop of Exeter in 1555; were natives of this place.