The village derives its name from the River Sem which meets the River Nadder near the village. It is a tranquil village largely untouched by time with immense charm. Associated with dairy farming, most villagers at one time or other kept cows-even the vicar and pub landlord! The village even had own railway station and milk depot which distributed an endless supply of milk on a daily basis to the London market. The station closed in 1966 after just over 100 years of operation but some of the former buildings and Dairies Depot (now an Antique Shop) can be found along Station Road which has now become an antiques hub with its antique shops and auction house. It also has over a mile of common land, one of the last remaining areas in the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
There is an excellent community stores and café serving home made produce, and a pub, the grade II listed Benett Arms.
Semley Common. Over 300 acres in size, Semley Common stretches for the best part of 1 mile in most directions from the Church. The land was gifted by Queen Elizabeth I to the Arundell family in 1572 who were major landowners and their descendents still retain the freehold over it. Over the Centuries, commoners have grazed an assortment of animals including cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, even geese! There were once numerous gates on the common’s lanes and roads to prevent the animals from straying, however all were removed by the Army during WWII to improve access. By the 1950s, the sight of livestock on Semley Common was a becoming a thing of the past. Today, it can be enjoyed by people for recreation and by wildlife such as great spotted woodpecker, bullfinch and the nationally rare willow tit.
The Church of St. Leonard in Semley. Built to 19th Century designs by Thomas Wyatt, a highly acclaimed Irish/British architect. In the Lady Chapel, there is a beautiful stained glass window in remembrance to a local girl WPC Yvonne Fletcher who was shot and killed in the Libyan Siege in London in 1984. In the churchyard, is an impressive bronze soldier on horse-back. It is a touching memorial to Lieutenant George Dewrance Irving who died in the first World War aged 36.