The town was devastated three times by fire, first in 1644 during the Royalist occupation, then in 1684 and again in 1781. As a result, few of the finer 17th century houses survive. Nevertheless, there are still fine examples of Georgian buildings and picturesque 17th century cottages, and the whole of the town’s historic centre is a Conservation Area featuring over 200 listed buildings.
Beaminster stands at the head of Dorset’s ‘Hidden Valley’, the historic Vale of the River Brit, which runs through Bridport. Not much has changed over time in this secluded vale. Its beauty and tranquillity still enthrall those visiting for the first time.
Beaminster’s most famous son was Thomas Hine, who gave his name to Cognac Hine, long recognized as the ‘connoisseurs’ cognac. Thomas was born in 1775, but left 17 years later to seek his fortune in France. Although it was during the French Revolution, he found employment in a brandy business in Jarnac. He married the owner’s daughter, became a partner and finally owned the business. Shortly after the Napoleonic Wars, he gave his name to the company.