Tagged with Dorset history

Railway Time, Owls and Bees

Here’s another glimpse of provincial life from Cecil Torr’s Small Talk At Wreyland: “After the railway came, the trains proclaimed the hours, as most people knew the timetables approximately, calling he 8.19 the 8, the 11.37 the 12, etc. – odd minutes did not count. As the trains upon this branch were ‘mixed’, partly passenger … Continue reading

Grandfather’s Time

This is another gem from Cecil Storr’s Small Talk at Wreyland. The more I read this book the more I wish I could have met Cecil. He is so wise and his sense of humour so dry: “Time seemed to be of very little value when I first knew the place. After the railway had … Continue reading

Window and Ship Tax

This is from Cecil Torr’s Small Talk at WReyland: “On many of the older houses round about here , one sees a board with the word ‘dairy’ fixed above a door or window. These boards are relics of the window-tax, as exemption could be claimed for the window if a dairy or a cheese-room, if … Continue reading

Parson Davey’s Gardening and Pixies

The 18th century was the great age of English garden design, an art form allegedly the only true English art. They often included picturesque walks with inspiring quotes to ponder whilst pausing to take in the view. But Davey of course used it as yet another form of his piety. This is more from Small … Continue reading

Maumbury Rings

Here’s another piece from Joseph Pennell’s Highways & Byways of Dorset: “Just to the south of the town, [Dorchester] on the Weymouth road, stands Maumbury Rings, a Roman amphitheater which is by far the finest work of its kind in Great Britain. It is an oval earthwork covered by grass, the enclosure of which rises … Continue reading

From Dorset to Massachusetts

This refers to the church of St Peter’s, Dorchester: “The church is well preserved, even to its south door, which dates from the late Norman period. In the porch, in front of this door, lies buried the Reverent John White, who is better known as the “Patriarch of Dorchester.” Born in 1575, he became the … Continue reading

Plouncing in Dorchester

Many people tend to think that before the Victorian police force was created, the country was riddled with crime. But to an extent, the reality is the reverse. When people lived in small communities, and knew their neighbours, there was little opportunity or reason, to commit crime, except in matters of revenge. Men of stature … Continue reading

Jeffries and the Bloody Assizes

Judge Jeffries is one of the most detested figures from British history, when, in the wake of the doomed Monmouth Rebellion, he held a series of ‘Bloody Assizes’ across the west Country. I have always had an image of the man, as some ancient, bloated degenerate, but as is often the case, the truth is … Continue reading

A Careless Smoker

We are becoming so publically health conscious that smokers are becoming oddities, but when tobacco was first introduced from the New World, some people smoked all the time, even on horseback: “There was once a vicar of this place [Nether Compton] named Thomas Naish, who was at the same time one of the Sub-Deans of … Continue reading

Sherborne Lets Its Hair Down

Every town seemed to be plagued by outbreaks of rioting and misbehavior, anecdotes of which can be found in their records: “In spite of its many and solemn responsibilities, Sherborne in the past appears to have had outbreaks of light-heartedness wich almost amounted to riotous living. A deed drawn up “in the XXI yere of … Continue reading