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 Legend has it that this ancient pilgrims rest house, amongst one of a few, that have survived for in excess of 700 years who’s oldest landlord is recorded as being Johannes (john) of Shaw (shave). Who in 1332 once used to shave tonsures of the monks as a mark of respect, before going on their way to St Wite’s shrine at Whitchurch Canicorium? There are only two churches in England that have the saints remains in them and the above is one of them Westminster abbey is the other.

 The shave cross inn’s skittle alley and small round house at the end of the garden were probably the oldest structures on the site. The alley was a Saxon alley of clay floor, skittles and balls, which could date back to the 10th century. It is the only known alley in the country that is a detatched building with a thatched roof and is thought to be the oldest.

 The shave cross inn is in an area that was the centre of what was ancient forest, with the exception of the pilgrims route though it, the ground was mostly marshes and bogs which housed wild boar and deer which are still around now, At its westerly end was a dear park once used by the King the remains of the castle can still be seen. This is where the name Marsh wood would have come from.In early times flax were grown and harvested for the rope making industry, which abounded around Bridport

 Clay from the clay pits in the valley was used in the construction of most of the early buildings, made from cobb flint wattle and dorb, seen locally. The floors being mostly made from blue lias cut out from the bed of the river Char, which runs through the centre of the valley to the world heritage Jurassic coast at Charmouth with its abundance of fossils.

 Take special note of the floor of the shave cross inn, small fossils embedded in the lias can be seen, the extensive wear from people entering the main door has continued through the centuries.

The path outside the front of the inn, although uncomfortable to walk on is of the type used in Saxon times made from a red flint, also from the river char and known as chilts.

Most of the evidence for this can be seen when taking a nature conservation walk, which starts at Crabbs Bluntsey farm some 400yds from the shave cross inn and along bluntsey lane past our beautiful garden, other walks not to be missed are the hills around the Marshwood vale all the rooms in the hotel are named after them and include Pilsdon Pen the highest hill in ancient Wessex; with views of most of Dorset and the whole of this unique historic valley. 

The Shave Cross Inn by John Snook

What's in a name - that trite old cliché,
Posed as a question leads one to say,
Few names are older than "Shave Cross Inn"
Coined at its Marshwood Vale origin:
Way back in Edward the Third's long reign
During the 'Hundred Years War' campaign.

Historic ties with the Shave Cross name
Date back to Chaucer when pilgrims came,
Wending their way to the 'bald pate' sign
(Across the vale from Saint Wita's shrine)
Where monks raised tankards to bless her soul
Barely a mile from their Whitchurch goal.

 At Shave Cross, every monk calling there
Could have his head tonsure shaven hare,
On days when innkeeper Atte cropped
Monk heads with razors he honed and stropped:
And sharpened enough for scalps to shine
After a shave at the 'bald pate' sign.

Thus barbered, monks chanting requiescats
And smeared with goose grease and badger fats,
(As lotions prescribed to keep them well)
Believed the unguent would help dispel;
Desires that could lead a monk to sin ‑
Centuries ago at "Shave Cross inn".

Based on a local legend - not on historical fact!

From Jurassic Coast and Dorset Verse by John Snook

The thatched 14th Century "Shave Cross Inn" is probably one of the oldest surviving hostelries in England. At some time it had a landlord named Atte the Shaver! The name Shave could have origins in the Old English word `sceaga' meaning a copse or point where paths or trails met.


THANKS TO: Our suppliers


S J NORMAN AND SONS Home Farm Bradpole nr Bridport

R J BALSON AND SON West Allington Bridport

VIN SULLIVAN Gilchrist Thomas Gwent

GORMET GOAT Stokemill nr Whitchcurch Canonicorum  Bridport

WYLD MEADOW LAMB Monkton Wyld  Marshwood vale


SAMWAYS Gore Cross business park Bridport

DAVY’S LOCKER 28a Dreadnought trading Est Bridport

VIN SULLAVAN Gilchrist Thomas Gwent


Grangers of Dorchester, Poundbury, Dorchester.



DENHAY FARM CHEESE Broadoak nr Bridport

LONGMAN CHEESE North Cadbury Yeovil

WOOLSERY CHEESE Up Sydling  nr Dorchester

OUR Own eggs.


LEAKERS BAKERY east St Bridport





A deposit of £50 is required to reserve a booking

Rooms available from 3 PM on day of arrival, rooms may be re-let if not occupied by 6 PM unless notified in advanced of late arrival

Rooms to be vacated by 11 AM on day of departure.

If booking is cancelled more than 14 days in advance deposit will be refunded if notified in writing by the 14th day

Regretfully we must charge the full amount quoted for bookings cancelled Less than 14 days of arrival date if we can re-let the room any nights resold will be refunded to your card

We strongly urge guests to take out cancellation insurance

Children to16 yrs in a z bed, sharing in a double room will be charged £25 each per night

Dogs are charged at £15 per stay max 2 dogs per room

The Shave Cross Inn will let dogs into their bar area but not into their restaurant

Please note: The bar and the restaurant are closed on a Monday unless it is a Bank Holiday Monday

Any damage caused by your children or pets will be charged to your account

Free wireless Broadband is available in the rooms and also in The Shave Cross Inn