St Martin of Tours - Home watch - Location
Lillington the Obscure is a parish and hamlet in the north-west of Dorset situated about 3 miles south of Sherborne and 2 miles north-west of Longburton, lying just off the main road between Sherborne and Dorchester. This small community is entirely rural, with its scattered cottages and farm buildings.
There are neither a pub nor any shops, but there is a working BT red phone box and, of course, a beautifully maintained church. This is dedicated to St. Martin of Tours and dates mainly from the 13th Century. Adjacent to the church stands the old Tithe Barn, which has been tastefully converted for residential use.
Wikipedia says that Lillington used to be known as Lillington the Obscure because it is a Hamlet of a very loose structure and few residents. But is there another aspect to this name. Walter Raleigh upset Queen Elizabeth 1st by marrying one of her Hand Maidens without permission. For that they were both sent to the Tower. No doubt their position in life meant the incarceration was not all that uncomfortable. When they were released they went down to their country seat in Sherborne. They had a son in 1593 and the suggestion is that Walter thought that Queen Elizabeth 1st, being of a somewhat jealous nature, would find out if the baptism took place in Sherborne Abbey and probably send them back to the Tower. So they elected to find a nearby church that was unlikely to attract her attention (an Obscure little church). There is the story on the wall inside the church and a plate in the floor commemorating the event.
In 1871 the population was 186, and the parish extended over 1807 acres. The parish was historically in the hundred, union and division of Sherborne. In 2001 the population was 82. In 2013 the population is 56.