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Wanderings in Wessex by Edric Holmes

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vestry is an interesting library where the books were once chained to
the shelves. It was instituted in the seventeenth century for the use
of the laity of Wimborne as well as for the minster clergy and may
thus claim to be one of the very earliest libraries in existence. It
contains, among other curiosities, a copy of Raleigh's _History of the
World_ with a hole burnt through its leaves, through the carelessness
of Matthew Prior, who was a resident of Wimborne. On the wall of the
western tower is a brass to this worthy.

The town has the usual pleasant and comfortable air of an English
agricultural centre, with few really old buildings, however, and a sad
amount of mean and jerry-built streets in the newer part near the
station that does not give the stranger a favourable first impression
if he comes by rail. There are some picturesque alleys and "backs"
around the Minster and the walks in the rural environs of Wimborne and
up the valley of the Stour are most charming. On the north-west of the
town is St. Margaret's Hospital, with a restored chapel that still
retains some ancient portions. This was originally a leper's hospital
and the foundation dates from about 1210.


A long mile east of Wimborne station is Canford Magna, the mother
parish of a large district. The small church still retains a goodly
portion of the original Norman structure. The fine modern stained
glass is worthy of notice, but the recent additions are in poor taste
and too florid a style. Near by is Canford Manor, an imposing pile
belonging to Lord Wimborne and once the home of the Earls of
Salisbury. The greater part of the present house was designed by Sir
Charles Barry, the architect of the Houses of Parliament. The
remainder dates from the early part of the nineteenth century, except
"John O'Gaunt's Kitchen"--the only portion left of the ancient
manor-house. Canford village is of the model variety, each house
bearing the "seal" of the lord of the manor.

From quite near Wimborne station delightful walks may be taken across
the park, which, under certain reasonable restrictions, is open to the
public. To the south stretches the wide expanse of Canford Heath,
which once upon a time extended to the sea at Canford Cliffs, now a
fashionable part of Bournemouth. Eastwards, crossed by the Ringwood
road, is another series of heaths, sparsely inhabited and known by the
various names of Hampreston, Parley Common, St. Leonard's Common and
Holt Heath. There are few parts of Southern England where is so much
idle land, apart from the New Forest, as in eastern Dorset. These
moors are beautiful for rambling and camping, but heartbreaking to any
one with the mind of a Cobbett!

The direct Salisbury road climbs for ten miles gradually upwards, and
passing Hinton Parva church on the right, and, about a mile farther,
the site of a British village close to the road on the left, takes a
lonely and rather dull course until it reaches the small hamlet of
Knowlton, where there are the remains of a church built inside a round
earthwork which has its walls _outside_ the ditch, thus indicating, in
all probability, a use religious rather than military and an unbroken
tradition into Christian times. The way continues in a north-easterly
direction until it winds past the conspicuous tumulus, said to be a
temple or place of justice, on the summit of Castle Hill, just short
of the one-time important, but now much decayed market town of
Cranborne. The church here is an imposing and beautiful Early English
erection, with some remains of an earlier Norman building. A priory of
Benedictines was founded at Cranborne in Saxon times by Aylward, but
nothing of this still earlier building can now be traced. The fine
embattled tower dates from that era of fine towers--the Perpendicular.
The west window is a memorial to the celebrated Dean of St.
Paul's--Stillingfleet, a member of a family who once lived in one of
the old cottages here. The ancient pulpit will be noticed; this bears
the initials of an abbot of Tewkesbury, who died in 1421. Some wall
paintings were discovered under a coat of distemper about twenty years
ago, and there is a fine monument with recumbent figures to Sir Edward

[Illustration: CRANBORNE MANOR.]

The little "Crane bourne" that comes down from the lonely chalk
uplands between Cranborne Chase and Pentridge Hill gives its name to
the town, which in turn gives a title to the Cecils. The manor is said
to have as long a history as that of the church, but the present
building dates mainly from about 1520. The Jacobean west wing was
built by the first Cecil to take possession. The early Stuart kings
were frequent visitors, and Charles I stayed in the house just before
the fight at Newbury in 1644. At Rushay Farm, near the lonely hamlet
of Pentridge, William Barnes, the Dorset poet, was born, and a
forefather of Robert Browning was once footman and butler to the Banks
family who lived at Woodyates. A tablet in Pentridge church
commemorates his death in 1746, but, needless to say, it has only been
erected since his great descendant became famous. A memorial to the
poet has also been placed in the church inscribed with a line from
_Pippa Passes_: "All service ranks the same with God."

Cranborne Chase, a lonely district of wooded hills that we shall
approach again in our travels, is partly in Dorset and partly in
Wilts. It is a remnant of the great deer forest that, originally in
the possession of various feudal lords, became Crown property in the
reign of the fourth Edward and remained in royal hands until the time
of James I. During that long period, and for many years afterwards, it
was a region where the scanty population, innocent as well as
lawbreaker, lived in constant fear of the barbarous laws governing the
chase. Mutilation, the dungeon or heavy fine, according to the rank of
the offender, was the punishment for taking the deer. Ferocity often
breeds ferocity, and the inhabitants of the forest were for long a
dour and difficult race. The locality seemed destined to raise
gentlemen of the road, and in the seventeenth century and during the
next, the dim recesses of the woods were utilized for storing the vast
quantities of goods landed free of duty at Poole and elsewhere.
Wiltshire people say that the original "Moonrakers" were Wiltshire
folk of Cranborne Chase, and the story goes that a party of horsemen
crossing a stream saw some yokels drawing their rakes through the
water which reflected the harvest moon. On being questioned they
confessed that they were trying to rake "that cheese out of the
river:" with a shout of laughter at the simplicity of the rustics the
travellers proceeded on their way. The humour of the joke lies in the
fact that the "moonrakers" were smugglers retrieving kegs of rum and
brandy and that the horsemen were excise officials. But the folk-lore
origin of "Moonraker" is said by the Rev. J.E. Field to belong to a
very early period, probably before the day of the Saxon and to be
contemporaneous with the "Cuckoo Penners" of Somerset, who captured a
young cuckoo and built a high hedge round it; there they fed it until
its wings had grown, when it quietly flew away, much to the astonished
chagrin of the yokels. This is a widespread legend and belongs to
other parts of England besides Somerset.

The road from Wimborne to Blandford, four miles from the former town,
passes on the right an imposing hill crowned with fir trees. This is
the famous Badbury Rings. Here the conquering West Saxon met his most
serious set-back and almost his only real defeat. The camp is
undoubtedly prehistoric and was not a permanent settlement, but rather
a military post of great strength for use in time of war. The ramparts
consist of three rings of "wall" with a ditch to each, the outer being
a mile round. The hill is noteworthy for its extensive views, reaching
in clear weather to the Isle of Wight. The Purbeck Hills appear far
away over the beautiful park of Kingston Lacy, the seat of the Bankes,
an old county family. The house contains a fine collection of pictures
not usually shown to the public.

The road it is proposed to follow leaves this demesne to the left and
in two miles reaches Sturminster Marshall on the banks of the Stour.
The old church with its pinnacled tower was restored so carefully that
its ancient character has to a large extent been retained. The church
was originally Norman, but several additions of varying dates have
been made to it. As the church is entered, two fifteenth-century
coffin lids will be noticed in the porch. Within is a brass to a
former vicar (1581) and a slab to Lady Arundel of Nevice. The memorial
to King Alfred was presented to the church a few years ago by R.C.
Jackson, the antiquary, to commemorate the supposed connexion of this
Stour Minster with the great king.

Passing Bailey Gate, which is the station for Sturminster, the Poole
road is reached in a few minutes; turning left and following this for
a mile, the pedestrian may take a rough track uphill to the right that
leads to Lytchett Matravers, an out-of-the-way village with a
Perpendicular church and an unpretending inn. Two miles to the
south-east on the Poole-Wareham road is Lytchett Minster, remarkable
for the extraordinary sign of its inn, the "St. Peter's Finger." This
has been explained by Sir Bertram Windle as a corruption of St. Peter
ad Vincula. The inn unconsciously perpetuates the name of an old
system of land tenure, Lammas-day (in the Roman calendar St. Peter ad
Vincula) being one of the days on which service was done as a
condition of holding the land. The pictured sign itself, however, is
very literal in its rendering of the name. One of the finest views
obtainable of Poole and its surroundings is from Lytchett Beacon, and
in the opposite direction, the tower in Charborough Park is a
conspicuous landmark.

The direct road from Lytchett Matravers goes by Sleeping Green (we are
approaching the land of queer names) and reaches Wareham in five miles
after passing over the lonely Holton Heath, an outlier of the Great
Heath of Dorset, that wide stretch of moorland that Mr. Hardy has made
world-famous under the general appellation of "Egdon Heath."

Wareham, pleasant and ancient, is, after the capital, the most
interesting inland town in Dorset. Its position between the rivers
Frome and Puddle, that unite just before reaching Poole Harbour, was
of value as a strategical point and from very early times, possibly
prehistoric, the town was strongly fortified by its famous "walls" or
earth embankments that enclose to-day a much greater area than the
town itself.

Roman antiquities have been found of such a character as to prove its
importance at that period. It was one of the towns where Athelstan's
coins were made. It was accounted a first-class port by Canute and
proved a place of contention between Alfred and the Danes. At one time
eight churches stood within the walls and a castle erected by the
Conqueror overawed the inhabitants until the tussle between John and
the Barons led to its destruction. The churches that remain are three
in number, and two are of much interest. St. Martin's, on a high bank
at the northern entrance to the town, is a restored Saxon building,
the traditional resting place, until his body was removed to
Tewkesbury, of Beohtric, King of Wessex, in 800. The characteristic
work of this period may be seen in the chancel arch and windows and in
the "long and short" work at the north-east angle of the church.

Our Lady St. Mary's is the large and handsome church on the banks of
the Frome, here crossed by an old stone bridge that carries the Corfe
road across the river. The first church on this site is supposed to
have occupied the space now covered by St. Edward's Chapel. Here
Edward the Martyr was brought after his murder at Corfe Castle, the
body being afterwards transferred to Shaftesbury with great pomp and
splendour. The temporary coffin of the king may be seen near the font.
It is of massive stone with a place carved out for the head. The nave
and chancel have been much altered and partially rebuilt. Over St.
Edward's chapel, which dates from the thirteenth century, and is
supposed to be built on the site of the Saxon chapel, are the remains
of another chapel with a window looking into the church. The most
interesting part of the building is the Chapel of St. Thomas a Becket
on the south side of the east end. This forms a receptacle for various
curiosities, including several brasses, a stone cresset, a Roman lamp
and a stone bearing a Scandinavian inscription, besides the piscina
and sedilia that belong to the structure itself. The chapel would
appear to have been made in the buttressed wall of the church. On the
north side of the chancel is an effigy of Sir Henry d'Estoke and on
the south a figure of Sir William of that ilk. The embossed alms dish
and old earthenware plate for the communion should be noticed. An
historian of Dorset--John Hutchings, once rector here--has a monument
to his memory. The figures in relief upon the leaden font represent
the Apostles. Antiquaries are also interested in some ancient stones
built into the old Norman doorway near the pulpit. The ancient
sculpture of the Crucifixion was once outside over the north porch.
The inscription is said to be: "Catug consecravit Deo," but it is
almost impossible to make anything of it at a cursory examination.

[Illustration: ST. MARTIN'S, WAREHAM.]

Holy Trinity Church was for a long time in a state of ruin, but it has
now been repaired and is used as a mission room. All the other old
churches of Wareham have been swept away by fire or decay and with one
or two exceptions their very sites are lost.

Wareham is built on the usual regular plan of a Roman town, though it
is not certain that the thoroughfares follow the actual lines of the
original Roman streets. Evidences of this period are too vague and
uncertain to make any pronouncement. The streets to-day have the
mellow cleanly look of the country town unspoilt by any taint of
modern industrialism, but of actual antiquity there is none. This is
due to the great fire that raged in 1762 and to all intents and
purposes wiped the town out. During the Great War the narrow pavements
were thronged with khaki. A great military encampment extended
westwards along the north side of the Dorchester road for a
considerable distance, and, judging from present appearances, part of
this wooden suburb of Wareham appears of a permanent character.

The road over the old and picturesque Frome bridge passes at once into
the so-called Isle of Purbeck and gradually rises toward the hills
that cut across the "island." The views ahead, which include the
striking conical peak called "Creech Barrow," are of increasing
beauty, and when we approach the break between the long range of
Knowle Hill and Branscombe Hill, the strikingly fine picture of Corfe
Castle filling the gap makes an unforgettable scene. Just before
reaching the hillock upon which the castle stands, and three and a
half miles from Wareham, a road turns left, crossing the railway, and
winds by the northern face of Nine Barrows Down to Studland.

[Illustration: THE FROME AT WAREHAM.]

The original name for Corfe was Corvesgate, or the cutting in the
hills. This is its usual alias in the Wessex novels. The position was
so obviously suited for a sentry post that it was probably entrenched
in prehistoric times. Two small streams, the Byle brook and the
Steeple brook, run northwards on each side of the mount, uniting just
below it to form the Corve River. At first sight the mound appears to
be artificial, so velvety smooth and regular are its green sides in
contrast with the pile of ruin on its crown.

King Edgar is credited with the first fortified building; this was
used as a hunting lodge by his second wife Elfrida, who perpetrated
the cruel murder of her stepson Edward while he was drinking a cup of
wine at her door. The horse he was riding, no doubt spurred
involuntarily by the dying king, galloped away, dragging the body
along the ground, until it stopped from exhaustion. The dead monarch
was, as already related, buried at Wareham, but the real ruler of
England, Archbishop Dunstan, had it exhumed and reburied with much
solemn pomp at Shaftesbury Abbey.

During the Conqueror's reign, that great era of castle building, the
keep was first erected; by the reign of Stephen it was so strong that
he failed to take it from Baldwin de Redvers, who held it for Matilda.
John kept the crown jewels here, good evidence of its solidity, also a
few Frenchmen of high rank, of whom twenty-two were starved to death,
or so tradition says. The Princess Eleanor, captive for forty years,
was imprisoned here for a great part of that time by the same "Good
King John" who, as a punishment for prophesying the king's downfall,
had bold Peter, the hermit of Pontefract, incarcerated in the deepest
dungeon and subsequently hanged.

During the de Montfort rebellion the castle was held against the king.
Edward was kept here for a time by Isabella before his murder at
Berkley. The castle then passed through several hands until the time
of Elizabeth, when it was sold to Sir Christopher Hatton. During this
long period, the fabric was added to and improved until little of the
Norman structure remained. All the new buildings seem to have been
constructed with but one purpose, that of making an impregnable
fortress. The widow of Sir Christopher sold the castle to
Attorney-General Sir John Banks, ancestor of the Bankes of Kingston
Lacy, in whose occupation, or rather in that of his wife, it was to
have its invincibility put to the test. Sir John was with the king's
forces at York in 1643 when the army of the Parliament gathered upon
the Knowle and East hills. During six weeks repeated attacks were made
by the forces of Sir Walter Earle, but without success, and eventually
the siege was raised. In 1646 treachery succeeded where honest warfare
failed. Colonel Pitman, an officer of the royal garrison, admitted a
number of Roundheads, who obtained possession of the King's and
Queen's towers. The remainder of the building became untenable by the
poorly armed defenders, who had parted with their ordnance long before
as a matter of policy.

[Illustration: PLAN OF CORFE CASTLE.]

Months were spent by the victorious Parliamentary forces in mining the
foundations and in the systematic destruction of the magnificent
defences. As we see it to-day, the actual masonry is practically in
the condition left by the explosions, so massive is the material and
so indestructible the mortar.

The sketch which accompanies these brief notes will make the plan of
the castle clear, but no description can give any adequate notion of
the strange havoc wrought by the gunpowder. It speaks well for the
good workmanship of the builders when one remembers that these leaning
towers, that appear to be in immediate danger of collapse, have been
in the same condition for nearly three centuries. The western tower
has been carried down the hill nine feet from its original position,
but is still erect and unshattered. Part of the curtain wall was
completely reversed by the force of the explosive and now shows its
inner face. Whoever superintended the work of demolition must have
been one of the chagrined and disappointed attackers who was human
enough to vent his feelings, at much expense and great risk of life
and limb, on the stubborn old walls.

[Illustration: CORFE VILLAGE.]

Corfe, small town or large village, is picturesque and pleasant enough
in itself without the added interest of the castle and the beauty of
the surrounding country. The church is dedicated to the martyred
Edward. It was rebuilt in 1860, excepting the fourteenth century
tower, with its quaint gargoyles, and the Norman south porch. From the
tower, shot made from the organ pipes of the church was hurled at the
castle during the siege. The clock was constructed while Elizabeth was
queen and curfew is still rung daily from October to March at 8 p.m.
Within the church may be seen the old altar frontal used prior to the
Reformation, and the fifteenth-century font. Of much interest are the
quotations from the churchwardens' accounts that are preserved in the
church room.

The old market cross is gone. On its stump there was erected in 1897 a
new Latin cross to commemorate the jubilee of Queen Victoria.
"Dackhams," the Elizabethan manor standing back from the Swanage road,
and now called Morton House, is a fine specimen of Tudor building. The
architecture of Corfe, as in most of the inland villages of the
"island," is most pleasing; a distinctive note being the pillared
porch with a room above.

Corfe Castle retained a mayor and eight "barons" until 1883. The last
to hold office (a Bankes) was also Lord High Admiral of Purbeck, a
picturesque title over three hundred years old. It will come as a
surprise to most readers to hear that Corfe was admitted to rank as a
Cinque Port. The town returned the usual two members in pre-reform

A pleasant route out of Corfe is to take a path between cottages on
the left of the lane leading to West Orchard, and, crossing several
meadows, to pass over the breezy Corfe common to the Kingston road.
This gives the traveller a series of beautiful views and an especially
fine retrospect of Corfe Castle. In a short two miles Kingston,
climbing up its steep hill, is reached. The church, a landmark for
many miles, was built by Lord Eldon in 1880. It was designed by Street
in Early English. With its severe and lofty tower the exterior has a
coldly conventional aspect not altogether pleasing. Inside, the large
amount of Purbeck marble employed gives a touch of colour which, to a
certain extent, relieves the austerity. Not far away is the older
church built in Perpendicular style by Lord Chancellor Eldon. The seat
of the Eldon family is at Encombe, a lovely cup-shaped hollow opening
to the sea about a mile and a half away, and not far from the lonely
Chapman's (or perhaps Shipman's) Pool, a deep and sheltered cove on
the west of St. Aldhelm's Head. A path can be taken that crosses the
fields until the open common, which extends to the edge of the great
headland, is reached. On the summit, 450 feet above the waves, is a
little Norman chapel dedicated to the first Bishop of Sherborne, whose
name the headland bears and _not_ that of St. Alban, as erroneously
given in so many school geographies and in some tourist maps. This
chantry served a double purpose, prayers being said by the priest
within and a beacon lit upon the roof without, for the succour and
guidance of sailors. A cross now takes the place of the ancient beacon
bucket. It is said that the chapel was instituted by a sorrowing
father who saw his daughter and her husband drowned in the terrible
race off the headland in or about the year 1140. It was restored by
the same Earl of Eldon who built the Kingston church, and is looked
after by the neighbouring coast-guard. The interior is lit by one
solitary window in the thick wall and in the centre is a single
massive column. Some authorities have questioned its original use as a
place of prayer, but tradition, and a good deal of direct evidence,
point to the ecclesiastical nature of the building.

[Illustration: ST. ALDHELM'S.]

The tale of wreck and disaster off this wild coast reached such a
dreadful total that in 1881 after much agitation a light was erected
on Anvil Point and declared open by Joseph Chamberlain, then President
of the Board of Trade. Between the two heads, which are about four
miles apart, is the famous "Dancing Ledge," a sloping beach of solid
rock upon which the surf plays at high tide with a curious effect,
possibly suggesting the quaint name. This section of cliff, like the
whole of the Dorset coast, is of great interest to the geologist and
the veriest amateur must feel some curiosity on the subject when it is
apparent to him that the beautiful scenery of this shore is caused
mainly by its being the meeting place of so many differing strata. The
Kimmeridge clay will be noticed at once by its sombre colour, almost
quite black when wet, and in times of scarcity actually used as fuel.
This clay rings Chapman's Pool and extends westwards to Kimmeridge
Bay. St. Aldhelm's Head is built up of differing kinds of limestone,
the fine bastions of the top being composed of the famous Portland
stone itself, the finest of all the limestones from a commercial point
of view.

To walk from St. Aldhelm's along the cliff to Anvil Point and so into
Swanage is possible but fatiguing, and perhaps not worth the labour
involved. Winspit Quarry and Seacombe Cliff would be passed on the
way; between the two are some old guns marking the spot where the East
Indiaman _Halsewell_ went down in a fearful storm in January, 1786.
This tragedy was immortalized by Charles Dickens in "The Long Voyage."
Out of 250 souls only eighty-two were saved by men employed at Winspit
Quarry. Some of the passengers are buried in the level plot between
the two cliffs.

Worth Matravers, a mile and a half from the Head and four from
Swanage, is a village at the end of a by-way that leaves the Kingston
road near Gallows Gore(!) cottages, a mile west of Langton Matravers.
The name of both these villages connects them with an old Norman
family once of much importance in south-east Dorset. It is said that
one of them was the tool of Queen Isabella and the actual murderer of

Worth is famous for its fine early Norman church, also restored by the
Earl of Eldon. The tower, of three stories, the nave, south door and
chancel arch, all belong to this period. The chancel itself is Early
English. The carved grotesques under the eaves of the roof are worthy
of notice. Not the least remarkable thing about Worth is the tombstone
of Benjamin Jesty, who is claimed thereon to be the first person to
inoculate for smallpox (1774). Langton Matravers need not keep the
stranger; its church was rebuilt nearly fifty years ago and the
village is unpicturesque.

We now approach Swanage, a delightful little town, well known and much
appreciated by those of the minority who prefer a restful and modest
resort to the glitter and crowds of Bournemouth. That it will never
attain the dimensions of its great neighbour to the north is fairly
certain. Swanage is in a comparatively inaccessible position. Barely
eight miles from Bournemouth as the crow flies, it is twenty-four
miles by rail and about the same by road. So that during the five
years of war, when the steamer service was suspended, Swanage had no
day trippers and the quietness of the town was accentuated, and the
camp on the southern slopes of Ballard Down did not interfere to any
great extent with this somnolence. But now the steamers pant across to
Swanage pier again and unload the curious crowd who make straight for
the Great Globe and Tilly Whim and pause to "rest and admire" as they
breast the steep slopes of Durlston.

[Illustration: OLD SWANAGE.]

The tutelary genius of Swanage is of stone and the two high priests of
the idol were Mowlein and Burt. Some undeserved fun has been poked at
the shade of the junior partner, who conceived the enormous open-air
kindergarten that has been formed out of the wild cliff at Durlston.
For the writer's part, while venturing to deplore certain
incongruities such as the startling inscription that faces the visitor
as he turns to survey the Tilly Whim cavern from the platform of rock
outside, a feeling of respect for the wholehearted enthusiasm and
industry of the remarkable man who was responsible for these marvels
is predominant. Every guide to Swanage enumerates in exhaustive detail
the objects which make the town a sort of "marine store" of stony odds
and ends. The best of these cast-offs is the entrance to the Town
Hall, once in Cheapside as the Wren frontage to Mercer's Hall. The
"gothic" tower at Peveril Point at one time graced the southern
approach to London Bridge as a Wellington memorial. The clock at the
Town Hall is said to be from a "scrapped" city church and the gilt
vane on the turret of Purbeck House on the other side of the way is
from Billingsgate. Not the least surprising of these relics are the
lamp-and-corner-posts bearing the names of familiar London parishes.

When Swanage was Danish Swanic (it was called Swanwick in the early
nineteenth century) it witnessed the defeat of its colonizers in a sea
fight with Alfred. The irresponsible partners commemorated this by
erecting a stone column surmounted by four _cannon balls_. A queer way
of perpetuating a pre-conquest naval victory, but possibly the
projectiles were less in the way here than at Millbank. Not far away,
attached to the wall of the Moslem Institute, is a coloured geological
map of the district, another effort at the higher education of "the
man on the beach." It is certainly a good idea, and may lead many to a
further study of a fascinating science, for nowhere may the practical
study of scenery be made to greater advantage than near Swanage.

Perhaps the most graceful curve of coast line in Dorset is Swanage
Bay, and to see it at its best one should stroll across the rising
ground of Peveril Point. To the right are the dark cliffs of Purbeck
marble that encircle Durlston Bay; to the left across the half-moon
stretch of water is the white chalk of Ballard Point guarded by "Old
Harry's daughter," the column of detached chalk in front. At one time
this was one of a family, but "Old Harry" and his "wife" have sunk
beneath the waves and the sole remaining member of the family may
disappear during the next great storm. Beyond, indistinct and remote
during fine weather but startlingly near when the glass is falling,
are the cliffs of Alum Bay in the Isle of Wight, and the guardian

The picturesque High Street should be followed past the Town Hall with
its alien Carolean front, and the long wall of Purbeck House that is
said to be made up from the "sweepings" of the Albert Memorial at
Kensington. Down a lane at the side of the civic building is the old
"Lock Up," with an inscription as quaint as it is direct, for it tells
us that it was erected "for the prevention of Wickedness and Vice by
the Friends of Religion and Good Order." Farther up High Street is a
cottage, creeper-clad and picturesque, where Wesley stayed while
preaching to the quarrymen. The best part of this stroll is towards
the end, where a space opens out on the right to St. Mary's Church and
the mill pond which is surrounded by as extraordinary a jumble of
queer old roofs and gables as may be seen in Dorset. The church has
been rebuilt and much altered and enlarged, but the tower is as old as
it looks and has seen several churches come and go beneath it. There
is no door lower than the second story and it must have been reached
by a ladder. It was undoubtedly built for, and used as, a fortress in
case of need.

Although there is little of beauty in the quarries that honeycomb the
hills to the west of Swanage, the industry that is carried on is of
much interest as a surviving guild or medieval trades union. One of
the laws of the "company," unbroken from immemorial time, is that no
work may be given to any but a freeman or his son who, after seven
years' apprenticeship, becomes a senior worker upon presenting to the
warden a fee of 6_s_. 8_d_., a loaf of bread and a bottle of beer. The
guild meet every Shrove Tuesday at Corfe to transact the formal
business of the year. Each quarryman and his partner, or partners,
hold the little independent working allotted to them apart from the
remainder of the quarry. This obviously prevents blasting and each
block of stone is cut out by manual labour.

[Illustration: TILLY WHIM.]

Purbeck marble is famous all over southern England, and many historic
buildings, from the Temple church in London to Salisbury and Exeter
Cathedrals, are enriched by the beautifully polished columns of this
dark-coloured limestone. The caves at Durlston, with their intriguing
name, are simply abandoned quarries, although all sorts of fanciful
legends have grown up about them. To any one familiar with the plan of
the working of a quarry, the sloping tunnel that gives access to the
cave will prove the origin to be artificial. Nevertheless, Tilly Whim
is romantic enough to please the most fastidious of the steamer
contingent and the scene from the platform of rock in front of the old
workings is as wild and natural as could well be imagined. As for the
open-air schoolroom above on Durlston Head a description is hardly
necessary. That the pedagogic master mason was not without the saving
grace of a sense of humour is proved by the once plain block of stone
provided for those who would perpetuate their own greatness, now
literally covered with names and initials. The staring red and white
"castle" that crowns the cliff is a restaurant built to accommodate
the day visitor, but if the evidence of discarded pastry bags and
ginger-beer bottles that at times litter and disfigure the cliff and
caves is to be regarded, the castle is not as well patronized as it
should be. This unseemliness is kept under by what appears to be a
daily clean up, though the writer has never met the public benefactor
who makes all tidy in the early morning hours before the steamers have
discharged their crowds. Possibly this is the same individual who
keeps the tangle of blackberry and tamarisk pruned down so that while
resting with "Sir Walter Scott" or "Shakespeare" we may duly admire
the view across Swanage Bay.

No one should omit the glorious walk northwards across the fine
expanse of Ballard Down to Studland. The coast road round the bay is
taken to a path bearing to the right in the pleasant suburb of New
Swanage. At the time of writing this leads through the before-mentioned,
partly derelict, military camp and, after passing on the right the old
Tudor farmhouse called Whitecliff, emerges on the open Down. The
rearward views gain in beauty with every step, and when the summit is
reached at the fence gate and the stone seat that seems to have
strayed from Durlston, a magnificent and unforgettable view is
obtained of Poole Harbour and the great heathland that stretches away
to the New Forest. Every intricacy of the harbour can be seen as on a
map, and its almost landlocked character is strikingly apparent as the
eye follows the bright yellow arc of sand to the cliffs of Bournemouth.
That town has most of its more glaring modernities decently hidden,
and the pier and a few spires and chimneys seem to blend into the
all-pervading golden brown of the Hampshire coast. In the near
foreground Studland looks very alluring in its bowery foliage, but
before descending the hillside the long and almost level Down should
be followed to the right past the shooting range, provided the absence
of a warning red flag gives permission. By a slight detour to the
right as the ground slopes toward that extension of Ballard Down
called Handfast Point, fearsome peeps may be had of the waves raging
round Old Harry's daughter and the submerged ruins of her parents.
Care must be taken here in misty weather, the cliffs are sheer, and
unexpected gaps occur where nothing could save the unwary explorer in
the event of an unlucky slip. Little is gained by following the cliff
top all the way to the extreme edge of the Point, and a return may be
made from hereabouts or a short cut made to the path leading to

[Illustration: THE BALLARD CLIFFS.]

Studland was until quite lately one of the most unspoilt of English
villages. An unfortunate outbreak of red brick has slightly detracted
from its former quiet beauty, but it is still a charming little place
and claims as heretofore to be the "prettiest village in England," a
claim as impossible of acceptance as some other of the challenges made
by seaside towns. But it is unfair to class Studland with the usual
run of such resorts; perhaps its best claims upon us are negative
ones. It has no railway station, no pier, no bandstand, no parade, in
fact the old village turns its back upon the sea in an unmistakable

The foundations and lower parts of the walls of the church are
probably Saxon. The building as we see it is primitive Norman without
later additions or any very apparent attempts at restoration, though a
good deal of legitimate repairing has been carried out during the last
few years. The solemn and venerable churchyard yews lend an added air
of great age to the building. Close to the church door is the
tombstone of one Sergeant Lawrence, whose epitaph is a stirring record
of military service combined with a dash of real romance, though
probably the sergeant's whole life did not have as much of the essence
of dreadful war as one twelve months in the career of a present-day
city clerk.

A long mile west, on the northern slopes of Studland Heath, is the
famous Agglestone "that the Devil while sulking in the Isle of Wight
threw at the builders of Corfe Castle" or, according to another
account, from Portland. Probably the confusion arose through the
original reporter using the term "the Island." Natives would know that
the definite article could only refer to their own locality! The stone
is an effect of denudation and is similar to other isolated sandstone
rocks scattered about the south of England, e.g., the "Toad" Rock at
Tunbridge Wells and "Great upon Little" near West Heathly in Sussex. A
short distance away is a smaller mass called the "Puckstone." The
derivation of the larger rock is probably Haligstane--Holy Stone. So
difficult is it to contemplate the ages through which gradual
weathering would bring these stones to their present shape that
scientists, as recently as the middle of the last century, were at
variance as to their natural or artificial origin.

A by-road, a little over five miles long, runs under the face of Nine
Barrows Down and Brenscombe Hill to Corfe. It is a picturesque route
and has some good views, but a much finer way, and but little longer,
is along the top of the Downs themselves culminating at Challow Hill
in a sudden sight of Corfe, backed by the imposing Knowle Hill. This
walk is even surpassed by that along the hills westwards from Corfe.
In this direction a similar by-road also runs under the long line of
the Purbeck Hills, here so called, but on the south side of the range
through Church Knowle which has an old cruciform church pulled about
by "restorers" as far back as the early eighteenth century and several
times since. The village is pleasant in itself and beautifully
situated. A short distance farther is an ancient manor house dating
from the fourteenth century. Its name--Barneston--is said to
perpetuate a Saxon landholder, Berne, so that the foundations of the
house are far older than this period. Over three miles from Corfe is
the small church hamlet of Steeple; here a road bears upward to the
right, and if the hill top has not been followed all the way from
Corfe it should certainly be gained at this point. Not far away and
nearer Church Knowle is Creech Barrow, a cone-shaped hill commanding a
most extensive and beautiful view, especially north-westwards over the
heathy flats of the Frome valley to the distant Dorset-Somerset
borderlands. The narrow Purbeck range now makes obliquely for the
coast, where it ends more than six miles from Corfe in the magnificent
bluff of Flowers' Barrow, or Ring's Hill, above Worbarrow Bay. This is
without doubt the finest portion of the Dorset coast, not only for the
striking outline of the cliffs and hills themselves but for the
beautiful colouring of the strata and the contrasting emerald of the
dells that break down to the purple-blue of the water. Neither drawing
nor photograph can give any idea of this exquisite blend of the stern
and the beautiful.

[Illustration: ARISH MEL.]

Eastwards, Gad Cliff guards the remote little village of Tyneham from
the sea; certain portions of this precipice seem in imminent danger of
falling into the water, so much do they overhang the beach. At
Kimmeridge Bay the cliff takes the sombre hue seen near Chapman's Pool
and the beach and water are discoloured by the broken shale that has
fallen from the low cliff. It is thought that a sort of jet jewellery
was made here in Roman times; quantities of perforated discs have been
found about the bay--termed "coal money" by the fishermen. The greasy
nature of this curious form of clay is remarkable. Naphtha has been
obtained from it and various commercial enterprises have been started
at Kimmeridge in connexion with the local product but all seem to have
failed miserably because of the unendurable smell that emanates when
combustion takes place.

The "Tout" forms the eastern extremity of Worbarrow Bay; this boldly
placed and precipitous little hill forms a sort of miniature Gibraltar
and is one of the outstanding features of this bewilderingly intricate
shore. On the farther or western side of the bay is the exquisite
Arish Mel Gap,[1] that, taking all points into consideration,
particularly that of colouring, is probably the finest scene of its
kind on the English coast. Picturesquely placed at the head of the
miniature valley is Lulworth Castle, grey and stern, and making an
ideal finish to the unforgettable picture. A spring in the recesses of
the dell sends a small and sparkling stream down to the gap, the sides
of which in spring and early summer are a blaze of white and gold,
challenging the cliffs in their display of colour. A path climbs
gradually by an old wind-torn wood up the landward side of Bindon
Hill, with gorgeous rearward views across the fields of Monastery Farm
to the northern escarpment of the Purbeck Hills. The path very soon
reaches the top of Bindon that seems to drop directly to Mupe Bay and
its jagged surf-covered rocks. In two miles from Arish Mel the path
ends directly above the delectable Lulworth Cove, and of all ways of
reaching that unique and lovely little place this is the most
charming. Care must be taken on the steep side of Bindon. Several
accidents have taken place here. One of them is perpetuated by an
inscription on a board placed upon the hillside. The path must be
followed until it drops into the road leading to the landward village.

[1] Correctly--_Arish Mel_. "Gap" and "Mel" are synonyms in Dorset.


Lulworth bids fair, or ill, to become a "resort" apart from the
descents from Bournemouth or Weymouth, which are only of a few hours'
duration. Before the Great War there was an extension of West Lulworth
round the foot of Bindon Hill, but the railway at Wool is still a good
five miles away and the great majority of seaside visitors seem to
fight shy of any place that has not a station on the beach.

Lulworth has been described and photographed so many times that a
description seems needless. It would want an inspired pen to do any
portion of this coast full justice. Suffice it to say that the cove is
almost circular, 500 yards across, and that the entrance is so narrow
as to make it almost invisible from the open sea. The contortions of
the cliff face within the cove would alone render the place famous.

More often sketched than Lulworth; perhaps because it is easier to
draw, is Durdle Door or Barn Door, the romantic natural arch that juts
out at the end of Barndoor Cove. The outline has all the appearance of
stage scenery of the goblin cavern sort. So lofty is the opening that
a sailing boat can pass through with ease. Behind it is the soaring
Swyre Head, 670 feet high, and the third of that name in Dorset.
Between this point and Nelson Fort on the west of Lulworth Cove is
Stair Hole, a gloomy roofless cavern into which the tide pours with a
terrifying sound, especially when a strong sou-wester is blowing.

[Illustration: DURDLE DOOR.]

East Lulworth is a charming old village, three miles from the cove and
two from West Lulworth. Close to it is the castle that completes the
picture at Arish Mel. The church, much altered and rebuilt, is
Perpendicular, and in it are interesting memorials of the Welds to
whom the castle has belonged since 1641. This family are members of
the Roman church, and a fine chapel for adherents of that communion
was built in the park at the end of the eighteenth century. It is said
to be the first erected in England since the Reformation. The ex-king
Charles X of France sought and found sanctuary at Lulworth Castle in
August, 1830, as Duke of Milan. He was accompanied by his heir, the
Duke of Angouleme, and the Duke of Bordeaux.




The railway from Wareham to Dorchester runs through the heart of that
great wild tract that under the general name of Egdon Heath forms a
picturesque and often gloomy background to many of Mr. Hardy's
romances. These heath-lands are a marked characteristic of the scenery
of this part of the county. Repellent at first, their dark beauty,
more often than not, will capture the interest and perhaps awe of the
stranger. Much more than a mere relic of the great forest that
stretched for many miles west of Southampton Water and that in its
stubborn wildness bade fair to break up the Saxon advance, the heaths
of Dorset extend over a quarter of the area of the county.

Wool is five miles from Wareham and is the station for Bindon Abbey,
half a mile to the east. The pleasant site of the abbey buildings on
the banks of the Frome is now a resort of holiday-makers, adventurers
from Bournemouth and Swanage, who may have al-fresco teas through the
goodwill of the gatekeeper, though it would appear that they must
bring all but the cups and hot water with them. The outline of the
walls and a few interesting relics may be seen, but there is nothing
apart from the natural surroundings to detain us. The old red brick
Manor House, close to the station, and in plain view from the train,
was a residence of the Turbervilles, immortalized by Hardy. Of much
interest also is the old Tudor bridge that here crosses the Frome.

[Illustration: PUDDLETOWN.]

At Wool the rail parts company with the Dorchester turnpike and soon
after leaves the valley of the Frome, traversing a sparsely populated
district served by one small station in the ten miles to Dorchester,
at Moreton. Here a road runs northwards in four miles to the "Puddles"
of which there are several dotted about the valley of that quaintly
named river. Puddletown, the Weatherbury of the Wessex woods, is the
largest and has an interesting church, practically unrestored. The
Athelhampton chapel here contains ancient effigies of the Martin
family, the oldest dating from 1250. The curiously shaped Norman font,
like nothing else but a giant tumbler, will be admired for its fine
vine and trellis ornament. The old oak gallery that dates from the
early seventeenth century has happily been untouched. Athelhampton
Manor occupies the site of an ancient palace of King Athelstan. Though
certain portions of the present buildings are said to date from the
time of Edward III the greater part is Tudor and very beautiful.
Affpuddle, the nearest of the villages to Moreton Station, has a
perpendicular church with a fine pinnacled tower. The chief object of
interest within is the Renaissance pulpit with curious carvings of the
Evangelists in sixteenth-century dress. Scattered about the
heath-lands in this neighbourhood are a number of "swallow holes" with
various quaint names such as "Culpepper's Dish" and "Hell Pit." At one
time supposed to be prehistoric dwellings, they are undoubtedly of
natural formation.

Bere Regis, rather farther away to the north-east, is the Roman
Ibernium. This was a royal residence in Saxon days and a hunting lodge
of that King John of many houses; very scanty remains of the buildings
are pointed out in a meadow near the town. Part of the manor came to
the Turbervilles, or d'Urbervilles, of Mr. Hardy's romance. The
church, restored in 1875 by Street, is a fine building, mostly
Perpendicular with some Norman remains. Particularly noteworthy is the
grand old roof of the nave with its gorgeously coloured and gilt
figures, also the ancient pews and Transitional font. There are
canopied tombs of the Turbervilles in a chapel and some modern stained
glass in which the family arms figure. Bere Regis is the "Kingsbere"
of Thomas Hardy, and Woodbury Hill, close by, is the scene of
Greenhill Fair in _Far from the Madding Crowd_. Here, in the oval camp
on the summit, a sheep fair has been held since before written records
commence. These fairs, several of which take place in similar
situations in Wessex, are of great antiquity. Some are held in the
vicinity of certain "blue" stones, mysterious megaliths of unknown

It is doubtful if any town in England has so many remains of the
remote past in its vicinity as Dorchester. Probably the Roman
settlement of Durnovaria was a parvenu town to the Celts, whose
closely adjacent Dwrinwyr was also an upstart in comparison with the
fortified stronghold two miles away to the south; the "place by the
black water" being an initial attempt to establish a trading centre by
a people rather timidly learning from their Phoenician visitors. The
great citadel at Maiden Castle belonged to a still earlier time, when
men lived in a way which rendered trade a very superfluous thing.

Modern Dorchester is a delightful, one might almost say a lovable,
town, so bright and cheery are its streets, so countrified its air.
But it is probably true that nearly every one is disappointed with it
at their first visit. Historical towns are written of, and written up,
until the stranger's mind pictures a sort of Nuremburg. Dorchester is
a placid Georgian agricultural centre. In fact there is very little
that antedates the seventeenth century and yet, for all that, it is
one of the most interesting towns in the south. Its loss of the
antique is due to more than one disastrous fire that swept nearly
everything away. It is when the foundations of a new house are being
dug that the past of Dorchester comes to light and another addition is
made to the rich store in the museum. Describing "Casterbridge" Hardy
says: "It is impossible to dig more than a foot or two deep about the
town fields or gardens without coming upon some tall soldier or other
of the Empire who had lain there in his silent unobtrusive rest for a
space of fifteen hundred years." It is needless to say that
"Casterbridge" and the town here briefly described are identical. To
the limits laid down by the Roman, Dorchester has kept true through
the ages, and until quite lately the town terminated with a pleasant
abruptness at the famous "Walks" that mark the positions of the Roman
Walls. The so-called Roman road, the "Via Iceniana," Roman only in the
improvement and straightening of a far older track, passed through the
town. This was once the highway between that mysterious and wonderful
district in Wiltshire, of which Stonehenge is the most outstanding
monument, and the largest prehistoric stronghold in England--the Mai
dun--"the strong hill," south of Dorchester.

The South Western station is close to another fine relic of the past,
though this cannot claim to have any Celtic or pre-Celtic foundation.
The great circle of Maumbury Rings was the original stadium or
coliseum of the Roman town; the tiers of seats when filled are
estimated to have held over twelve thousand spectators. The gaps at
each end are the obvious ways for entering and leaving the arena. In
digging the foundations of the brewery near by, a subway was found
leading toward the circus, which may have been used by the wild beasts
and their keepers in passing from and to their quarters. Maumbury was
the scene of a dreadful execution in 1705, when one Mary Channing was
first strangled and then burnt for the murder of her husband by
poison, though she loudly declared her innocence to the last. On this
occasion ten thousand persons are said to have lined the banks. It is
difficult at first to appreciate the size of the Rings. If two or more
persons are together it is a good plan to leave one alone in the
centre while the others climb to the summit of the bank. By this means
a true idea of the vast size of the enclosure may be gained.

[Illustration: DORCHESTER.]

The "Walks" are the pleasantest feature of modern Dorchester and run
completely round three sides of the town, the fourth being bounded by
the "dark waters" of the Frome. They are lined with fine trees planted
about two hundred years ago; the West Walk, with its section of Roman
Wall, is perhaps the best, though the South Walk with its gnarled old
trees is much admired. They all give the town an uncommon aspect, and
there is nothing quite like them elsewhere in England. The contrast on
turning eastwards from the quiet West Walk into bustling High West
Street is striking and bears out the claim that Dorchester still keeps
more or less within its ancient bounds, for turning in the other
direction we are soon in a different and "suburban" atmosphere. High
West Street is lined with pleasant eighteenth century houses, the
residences or offices of professional men intermixed with some
first-class shops. Once these houses were the mansions of county
families who "came to town" for a season when London was for several
reasons impracticable. The chief buildings are congregated round the
town centre; here is the Perpendicular St. Peter's church, a building
saved during the great fire in 1613 when nearly everything else of
antiquity perished. Outside is the statue of William Barnes, the
Dorset poet, whose writings in his native dialect are only now gaining
a popularity no more than their due. The bronze figure represents the
poet in his old fashioned country clergyman's dress, knee-breeches and
buckled shoes, a satchel on his back and a sturdy staff in his hand.
Underneath the simple inscription are these quaint and touching lines
from one of his poems ("Culver Dell and the Squire"):

"Zoo now I hope his kindly feaece
Is gone to vind a better pleaece;
But still wi' v'ok a-left behind
He'll always be a-kept in mind."

The speech of the older Dorset folk is the ancient speech of Wessex.
It is not an illiterate corruption but a true dialect with its own
grammatical rules. But alas! fifty years of the council school and its
immediate predecessor has done more to destroy this ancient form of
English than ten centuries of intercourse between the Anglo-Celtic

[2] A good example of the Dorset dialect is contained in the message
sent to the King by the Society of Dorset Men at their annual banquet
in London.


Sire--Dree hunderd loyal men vrom Darset, voregather'd at th'
Connaught Rooms, Kingsway, on this their Yearly Veaest Day, be
mindvul o' yer Grashus Majesty, an' wi' vull hearts do zend ee
the dootivul an' loyal affecshuns o' th' Society o' Darset Men
in Lon'on. In starm or zunsheen thee ca'st allus rely on our
vull-heart'd zympathy an' suppwort. Zoo wi'out any mwore ham-chammy
we ageen raise our cyder cups to ee, wi' th' pious pray'r on our
lips that Heaven ull prosper ee, an' we assure ee that Darset Men
ull ever sheen as oone o' th' bright jools in yer Crown. I d' bide,
az avoretime, an' vor all time, Thy Vaithful Sarvint,

SHAFTESBURY (President o' Darset Men in Lon'on)."

In the porch of the church lies the "Patriarch of Dorchester," John
White, Rector of Holy Trinity, who died in 1648 and who seems to have
kept the town pretty well under his own control. A Puritan, he
incurred the hatred of Prince Rupert's followers, who plundered his
house and carried away his papers and books. He escaped to London and
was for a time Rector of Lambeth, afterwards returning to Dorchester.
He raised money for the equipment of emigrants from Dorchester to
Massachusetts and thus became one of the founders of New England.
Inside the church the Hardy tablet to the left of the door is in
memory of the ancestor of both that Admiral Hardy who was the friend
of Nelson and the great novelist whose writings have been the means of
making "Dear Do'set" known to all the world. The monument of Lord
Holles is remarkable for a comic cherub who is engaged in wiping his
tears away with a wisp of garment; the naivete of the idea is amusing
in more ways than one. Another curious monument, badly placed for
inspection, is that of Sir John Williams. The so-called "crusaders"
effigies are thought to be of a later date than the last crusade; no
inscriptions remain, so that they cannot be identified. The curfew
that still rings from St. Peter's tower is an elaborate business.
Besides telling the day of the month by so many strokes after the ten
minutes curfew is rung, a bell is tolled at six o'clock on summer
mornings and an hour later in the winter. Also at one o'clock midday
to release the workers of the town for dinner.

Holy Trinity Church was destroyed in the great fire. Another
conflagration in 1824 removed its successor. The present building only
dates from 1875 and is a fairly good Victorian copy of Early English.
All Saints' was rebuilt in 1845. It retains the canopied altar tomb of
Matthew Chubb (1625) under the tower. The organ here was presented by
the people of Dorchester, Massachusetts, for the founding of which
town John White, the rector of Holy Trinity, was mainly responsible.

[Illustration: NAPPER'S MITE.]

The County Museum, close to St. Peter's Church, should on no account
be missed. Here is stored a most interesting collection of British and
Roman antiquities found in and around Dorchester, and also of fossils
from the Dorset coast and elsewhere, together with many out-of-the-way
curiosities. "Napper's Mite" is the name given to the old almshouse in
South 1615 with money left for the Robert Napper. It has a queer open
gallery or stone verandah along the street front. Next door to it is
the Grammar School, which owes its inception to the Thomas Hardy who
is commemorated in St. Peter's, and whose benefactions to the town
were many and great. Of equal interest, perhaps, is a house on the
other side of the street that was once a school kept by William
Barnes, surely the most serene and kindly schoolmaster that ever
taught unruly youth. Barnes, in addition to his other literary work,
was secretary of the Dorset Museum, but his incumbency at Whitcombe
and the small addition to his income obtained in other ways did not
amount altogether to a "living" and he was forced to take up schooling
to make both ends meet. The poems were never a financial success,
though they always received a chorus of praise and appreciation and
led many literary lions to meet the author. After years full of sordid
cares Barnes was granted a civil list pension and the rectory of Came.
Here, in the midst of the peasantry he loved so well, this gentle
spirit passed away in 1886.

The lodging occupied by Judge Jeffreys during the Monmouth Rebellion
trials or "Bloody Assize" (1685), when seventy-four were sentenced to
death on Gallows Hill of dreadful memory, and 175 to transportation to
carry westward with them the bitter seeds that bore glorious fruit a
century later, was in a house still standing nearly opposite the
museum. This almost brings the list of historical buildings in
Dorchester to a close. The County Hall, Town Hall and Corn Exchange,
all unpretentious and quietly dignified, represent both shire and
town. The few buildings left by the seventeenth-century fire seem to
have included a highly picturesque group near the old Pump (now marked
by an obelisk) and at the commencement of High East Street, where a
dwelling-house went right across the highway. This was pulled down by
a corporation filled with zeal for the public convenience. The
improvement, regrettable on the score of picturesqueness, has given us
the noble view down the London road. The other great highways that
approach the town from the west and south do so through fine avenues
of trees which give a distinctive note to the environs of Dorchester.

Fordington is usually described as a suburb of Dorchester; this is not
strictly correct. It had always been a dependent village and was not
simply an extension of the town. Its church is a fine one, with tall
battlemented tower and a goodly amount of Norman work. A quaint old
carving over the Norman south door is of much interest. It represents
St. George as taking part in the battle of Antioch in 1098. Some of
the Saracens are being mercilessly dispatched while others are
pleading for quarter. The stone pulpit bears the date 1592 and the
initials E.R. The late Bishop of Durham, Dr. Moule, was born at
Fordington Vicarage.

Stainsford, about a mile from the Frome bridge, is the original of the
scene in _Under the Greenwood Tree_. Several members of the Hardy
family lie in the churchyard here, and the novelist was born at Higher
Bockhampton, not far away. The carving of St. Michael on the face of
the church tower should be noticed. Within the building are memorials
of the Pitt family.

Above the short tunnel through which the Great Western line runs to
the north, and about half a mile along the Bradford Peverell road, is
Poundbury Camp. "Pummery" is an oblong entrenchment enclosing about
twenty acres, variously ascribed to Celts, Romans and Danes, but
almost certainly Celtic, with Roman improvements and developments.
There is a fine view of the surroundings of Dorchester from the bank.
It is only by the most strenuous exertions that the railway engineers
were prevented from burrowing right through the camp. The cutting of
this line brought to light many relics of the past, a great number of
which are in the Dorchester Museum.

[Illustration: MAIDEN CASTLE.]

On the south-west side of the town, two miles away near the Weymouth
road, is the greatest of these prehistoric entrenchments; Mai-dun or
"Maiden Castle" is the largest British earthwork in existence. It is
best reached by a footpath continuation of a by-way that leaves the
Weymouth road on the right, soon after it crosses the Great Western
Railway. The highest point of the hill that has been converted into
this huge fort is 432 feet; the apex being on the east. The marvellous
defences, which follow the lines of the hill, are two miles round and
the whole space occupies about 120 acres. From east to west the camp
is 3,000 feet long and about half that measurement in breadth. On the
south side there are no less than five lines of ditch and wall. On the
north the steepness of the hill only allows of three. Over the
entrance to the west ten ramparts overlap and double so that attackers
were in a perfect maze of walls and enfiladed so effectually that it
is difficult to imagine any storming party being successful. On the
east the opening, without being quite so elaborate owing to the
steepness of the hill, is equally well defended. The steep walls on
the north are no less than sixty feet deep and to storm them would be
a sheer impossibility. What makes this splendid monument so
interesting is the assertion made by nearly all authorities on the
subject that these enormous works must have been excavated without
spade or tool other than the puny implement called a "celt." Probably
wall and ditch were elaborated and improved by the Romans, and while
in their occupation the name of the hill became Dunium. Blocks of
stone from Purbeck, used at certain points of the defence, were no
doubt additions during this period.

A pleasant journey may be taken through the Winterbourne villages that
are strung along the line of that rivulet, which, as its name
proclaims, flows only in the winter months. It is on the south side of
Maiden Castle. The first village with the name of the river as a
prefix is Came, two miles from Dorchester. Here Barnes was rector for
the last twenty-five years of his life. His grave is in the quiet
churchyard quite close to the diminutive tower. Within the church is a
fine carved screen and several effigies. Proceeding westwards we come
to Herringstone where there is an old house once the seat of the
Herrings and, since early Jacobean days, of the Williams family. Then
comes Monkton, close to Maiden Castle. The church is Norman, much
restored. St. Martin follows; a picturesque hamlet with a fine church,
the last in the west of England to dispense with clarionet, flute and
bass-viol in the village choir. On sign-posts as well as colloquially
this hamlet is known as "Martinstown." Steepleton boasts a stone
spire, rare for Dorset, and a curious and very ancient figure of an
angel on the outside wall declared by most authorities to be Saxon.
The last of the villages is Winterbourne Abbas, seven miles from
Winterbourne Came. The whole of the low hillsides around the hamlets
of the bourne are covered with barrows, some of which have been
explored with good results, though indiscriminate ravishing of these
old graves is to be deplored.

Another short excursion from Dorchester is up the valley of the Cerne.
About a mile and a half from St. Peter's Church, proceeding by North
Street, is Charminster, a pretty little place in itself and well
situated in the opening valley of the sparkling Cerne. Here is a
church with a noble Perpendicular tower, built by Sir Thomas Trenchard
about 1510. The knight's monogram is to be seen on the tower. Within
the partly Norman church are several monuments of the family, which
lived at Wolfeton House, a fine Tudor mansion on the site of a still
older building. Its embattled towers, beautiful windows and ivy-clad
walls make up an ideal picture of a "stately home of England."
Wolfeton was the scene of the reception in 1506 of Philip of Austria
and Joanna of Spain, who were driven into Weymouth by a storm. (The
incident is referred to in the next chapter.) This occurrence may be
said to have founded the fortunes of the ducal house of Bedford. Young
John Russell, of Bridport, a relative of the Trenchards, happened to
be a good linguist, which the host was not. He was sent for, and so
well impressed the royal couple that they took him with them to
Windsor. Henry VII was quite as much interested, and young Russell's
fortune was made. He stayed with the court until the next reign, and
at the Dissolution got Woburn Abbey, a property still in the hands of
his great family.

Continuing up the Cerne valley, Godmanstone, a village of picturesque
gables and colourful roofs, is about four and a half miles from
Dorchester. Here the valley narrows between Cowden Hill and Crete
Hill. The Perpendicular church has been restored, and is of little
interest. Nether Cerne, a mile further along and two miles short of
Cerne Abbas, also calls for little comment, but "Abbas" (or, according
to Hardy, "Abbots Cernel") is of much historic interest.

Cerne Abbey was founded in 987 by Aethelmar, Earl of Devon and
Cornwall. Legend has it that the monastery originated in the days of
St. Augustine, but of this there is no proof, though it is certain
that a religious house nourished here for nearly a century before the
Benedictine abbey was established. The first Abbot Aelfric was famous
for his learning, and his Homilies in Latin and English are of much
value to students of Anglo-Saxon. Canute was the first despoiler of
Cerne, though he made good his plunderings tenfold when peace, on his
terms, came to Wessex. Queen Margaret sought sanctuary here in 1471
with her son, the heir to the English throne. At the Abbey, or on the
way thither from Weymouth, the courageous Queen learned of the defeat
of the Lancastrian army at Barnet. From Cerne she went to lead a force
against the Yorkists at Tewkesbury. There she was defeated, her son
brutally murdered and all hope lost for the cause of her imprisoned
husband, the feeble and half-witted Henry VI.

A most beautiful relic of the Abbey is the Gatehouse, a fine stone
building that has weathered to the most exquisite tint. The grand
oriel window and panelled and groined entrance are justly admired. The
remaining ruins, however, are almost negligible. The Perpendicular
church is remarkable for its splendid tower, on which is a niche and
canopy enshrining an old statue of the Virgin and Child. Within is a
good stone screen and a fine oaken pulpit dating from 1640. Cerne town
seems never to have recovered its importance after the loss of the
Abbey. For its size, it is the sleepiest place in Dorset and its
streets are literally grass grown. The surroundings are beautiful in a
quiet way, and the town and neighbourhood generally provide an ideal
spot for a rest cure. North-east of the town is a chalk bluff called
Giant's Hill, with the figure of the famous "Cerne Giant," 180 feet in
height, cut on its side. "Vulgar tradition makes this figure
commemorate the destruction of a giant, who, having feasted on some
sheep in Blackmore and laid himself down to sleep, was pinioned down
like another Gulliver, and killed by the enraged peasants on the spot,
who immediately traced his dimensions for the information of
posterity" (Criswick). An encampment on the top of the hill and the
figure itself are probably the work of early Celts. The "Giant" is
reminiscent of the "Long Man of Wilmington" on the South Downs near
Eastbourne. An interesting experiment in the communal life was started
in 1913 near the town. After struggling along for five years it
finally "petered out" in 1918, helped to its death, no doubt, by the
exigencies of the last year of war.

A return may be made by way of Maiden Newton, about six miles
south-west of Cerne, passing through Sydling St. Nicholas, where there
is a Perpendicular church noted for its fine tower with elaborate
gargoyles. The old Norman font and north porch are also noteworthy.
Close to the church is an ancient Manor-house with a fine tithe barn.
This belonged in 1590 to the famous Elizabethan, Sir Francis
Walsingham. Maiden Newton is a junction on the Great Western with a
branch line to Bridport.

The beautiful churchyard is the best thing about Maiden Newton. The
village had seen, prior to the late war, a good deal of rebuilding;
relative unattractiveness is the consequence. This seems to be the
almost inevitable result of the establishment of a railway junction.
The church stands on the site of a Wrest Saxon building, and is partly
Norman with much Perpendicular work. Cattistock, a long mile north, is
unspoilt and pretty both in itself and its situation. It has a fine
church, much rebuilt and gaudily decorated, with a tower containing no
less than thirty-five bells and a clock face so enormous that it
occupies a goodly portion of the wall.

If the railway is not taken one may return by the eight miles of high
road that follows the Frome through Vanchurch and Frampton to
Charminster and Dorchester. The first named village though pleasant
enough, calls for little comment, but Frampton (or Frome town) is not
only picturesquely placed between the soft hills that drop to the
wooded banks of the river, but has also other claims to notice. The
church, though it has been cruelly pulled about, has an interesting
old stone pulpit with carvings of monks bearing vessels. A number of
memorials may be seen of the Brownes, once a renowned local family,
and of their successors and connexions, among whom were certain of the
Sheridan family, of which the famous Richard Brinsley Sheridan was a
member. Near Frampton in the closing years of the eighteenth century a
Roman pavement was discovered, bearing in its mosaic indications of
Christian designs and forms.

The straight and tree-lined Roman road that runs west from Dorchester
is, except for fast motor traffic and a few farm waggons bringing
produce to the great emporium of Dorset, usually deserted, for it has
no villages of importance on the fourteen miles to Bridport.
Winterbourne Abbas is more than four miles away and Kingston Russell,
exactly half-way to Bridport, is the only other village on the road.
This was once the home of the Russells who became Dukes of Bedford.
Here was born Sir T.M. Hardy and here died J.L. Motley, author of the
_History of the Dutch Republic_. The poor remnants of the old manor
house are to be seen in the farm near the hamlet.

[Illustration: WEYMOUTH HARBOUR.]



The fashionable Weymouth of to-day is the Melcombe Regis of the past,
and quite a proportion of visitors to Melcombe never go into the real
Weymouth at all. The tarry, fishy and beery (in a manufacturing sense
only) old town is on the south side of the harbour bridge and has
little in common with the busy and popular watering place on the north
and east. Once separate boroughs, the towns are now under one
government, and Melcombe Regis has dropped its name almost entirely in
favour of that of the older partner.

How many towns on the coast claim their particular semicircle of bay
to be "the English Naples"? Douglas, Sandown and even Swanage have at
some time or other, through their local guides, plumed themselves on
the supposed resemblance. It is as inapplicable to these as it is to
Weymouth, though the latter seems to insist upon it more than the
rest. Apart from the bay, which is one of the most beautiful on the
coast, boarding-house Weymouth is more like Bloomsbury than anywhere
else on earth, and a very pleasant, mellow, comfortable old
Bloomsbury, reminiscent of good solid comfortable times, even if they
were rather dowdy and dull. Not that Weymouth is dull. In the far-off
days of half-day excursions from London at a fare that now would only
take them as far as Windsor, the crowds of holiday-makers were wont to
make the front almost too lively. But away from such times there are
few towns of the size that make such a pleasant impression upon the
chance tourist, who can spend some days here with profit if he will
but make it the headquarters for short explorations into the
surrounding country and along the coast east and west, but especially

The first mention of Weymouth in West Saxon times is in a charter of
King Ethelred, still existing, that makes a grant of land "in Weymouth
or Wyke Regis" to Atsere, one of the King's councillors. Edward
Confessor gave the manor to Winchester, and afterwards it became the
property of Eleanor, the consort of Edward I. The large village slowly
grew into a small town and port.

[Illustration: WYKE REGIS.]

Wool became its staple trade, and in 1347 the port was rich enough to
find twenty ships for the fleet besieging Calais. At this time
Melcombe Regis began to assume as much importance as its neighbour
across the harbour. The only communication between the two was then a
ferry boat worked hand over hand by a rope. Henry VIII built Sandsfoot
Castle for the protection of the ports, and while Elizabeth was Queen
the harbour was bridged and the jealousy between the towns brought to
an end by an Act passed to consolidate their interests. Soon after
this the inhabitants had the satisfaction of seeing the great galleon
of a Spanish admiral brought in as a prize of war, the towns having
furnished six large ships toward the fleet that met the Armada.

During the reign of the seventh Henry a violent storm obliged Philip
of Castile and his consort Joanna to claim, much against their will,
the hospitality of the town. The Spanish sovereigns, who were not on
the best terms with England, were very ill, and dry land on any terms
was, to them, the only desirable thing. They were met on landing by
Sir Thomas Trenchard of Wolveton with a hastily summoned force of
militia. King Philip was informed that he would not be allowed to
return to his ship until Henry had seen him, and in due course the
Earl of Arundel arrived to conduct the unwilling visitors to the
presence of the king. As we saw while at Charminster, this incident
led to the founding of a great ducal family.

It is to George III that Weymouth owes its successful career as a
watering place, although a beginning had been made over twenty years
before the King's visit by a native of Bath named Ralph Allen, who
actually forsook that "shrine of Hygeia," to come to Melcombe, where
"to the great wonder of his friends he immersed his bare person in the
open sea." Allen seems to have been familiar with the Duke of Gloucester,
whom he induced to accompany him. So pleased was the Duke with Melcombe,
that he decided to build a house on the front--Gloucester Lodge, now
the hotel of that name--and here to the huge delight of the inhabitants,
George, his Queen and three daughters came in 1789. An amusing account
of the royal visit is given by Fanny Burney. The King was so pleased
with the place that he stayed eleven weeks, and by his unaffected
buorgeois manner and approachableness quickly gained the enthusiastic
loyalty of his Dorset subjects. Miss Burney's most entertaining
reminiscence of the visit is the oft-repeated account of the King's
first dip in the sea. Immediately the royal person "became immersed
beneath the waves" a band, concealed in a bathing machine struck up
"God save Great George our King." Weymouth is in possession of a
keepsake of these stirring times in the statue of His Hanoverian
Majesty that graces(?) the centre of the Esplanade. It is to be hoped
that the town will never be inveigled into scrapping this memorial,
which for quaintness and unconscious humour is almost unsurpassed. A
subject of derisive merriment to the tripper and of shuddering aversion
for those with any aesthetic sense, it is nevertheless an interesting
link with another age and is not very much worse than some other
specimens of the memorial type of a more recent date. It has lately
received a coat of paint of an intense black and the cross-headed wand
that the monarch holds is tipped with gold. The contrast with the
enormous expanse of white base, out of all proportion to the little
black figure of the King, is strangely startling.

Not much can be said for St. Mary's, an eighteenth-century church in
St. Mary's Street which carries the Bloomsbury-by-Sea idea to excess.
The church has a tablet, the epitaph upon which seems quite unique in
the contradictory character it gives to the deceased:


The artist was unfortunate in his choice of abbreviations and
strangers are sometimes sorely puzzled; some, indeed, never guess that
"worst" has any connexion with "worthiest." The altar piece, difficult
to see on a dull day, was painted by Sir James Thornhill, a former
representative of the borough in Parliament. Sir Christopher Wren was
also for a time member for Weymouth, and portraits of both, together
with the Duke of Wellington and George III, adorn the Guildhall, a
good building at the west end of St. Mary's Street. The twin towns
were unique in their choice of members; in addition to the great
architect and famous painter, a poet--Richard Glover, author of
_Leonidas_--of no mean repute in his own day, was chosen and the
_original_ Winston Churchill, father of the great Duke of Marlborough,
also sat for Weymouth.

[Illustration: OLD WEYMOUTH.]

Within the Guildhall is to be seen a chest from the captured Armada
galleon and an old chair from Melcombe Friary, of which some poor
remnants existed in Maiden Street almost within living memory. On the
other side of the harbour is Holy Trinity Church, built in 1836. This
has another fine altar painting of the Crucifixion, thought by some
authorities to be by Vandyck.

Certain portions of old Weymouth are very picturesque, with steep
streets and comfortable old bow-windowed lodging-houses patronized
almost exclusively by the better class of seafarer; merchant captains,
pilots and the like. A few of the lanes at the upper end of the
harbour may be termed "slums" by the more fastidious, but it is only
to their outward appearance that the word is applicable. Some of these
cottages are of great age and a number have been allowed to fall to
ruin. In Melcombe Regis at the corner of Edmund and Maiden Streets may
be seen, still embedded in the wall high above the pavement, a cannon
ball shot at the unfortunate town during the Civil War, in which
unhappy period much damage was done, the contending parties
successively occupying the wretched port to the great discomfort of
the burgesses.

Radipole Lake is the name given to the large sheet of water at the
back of Melcombe, formed by the mouth of the Wey before it becomes
Weymouth Harbour. The name is actually "Reedy Pool," so that "lake" is
a tautology reminding one of a similar blunder, often made by folks
who should know better, in speaking of "Lake" Winder_mere_. Radipole
is spoilt by an ugly railway bridge and some sidings belonging to the
joint railways that lie along the eastern bank for some distance. The
water is enlivened by a large colony of swans and also in the summer
by boating parties, who prefer the quietude of the pool to the
possible discomforts of the bay. But the bay is the reason for holiday
Weymouth, not only for the beauty of its wide sweep and the remarkable
colouring of the water, but for the firm sands with occasional patches
of shingle that lie between shore and sea from the harbour mouth
almost to Redcliff Point.

The chief excursion from Weymouth is to Portland, and of course every
one must take it, but there are other and finer ways out of the town,
most of which show the "island" at its best--as an imposing mass of
rock in the middle distance.

[Illustration: PORTLAND.]

A ferry plies between the steamer quay, just beyond Alexandra Gardens
and the Nothe, the headland extremity of the peninsula upon which old
Weymouth is built. This is one of the best points from which to view
the bay. Portland is also well seen "lying on the sea like a great
crouching anumal" (Hardy). The commanding parts of the Nothe are
heavily fortified and the permanent barracks are always occupied by a
strong force. On the south are Portland Roads, usually interesting for
the number of warships congregated there. There are exceedingly
powerful defences at the ends of the breakwaters and the openings can
be protected from under-water attack by enormous booms. The first wall
took twenty-three years to build by convict labour and it explains the
origin of the prison at Portland, which was not established as some
think, because of the difficulty of escape, but solely for the
convenience of "free labour." It is said that the amount of stone used
in the oldest of the breakwaters was five million tons.

If the road is taken into Portland the village of Rodwell, at which
there is a station, is at the parting of the ways, that to the left
leading to the shore at Sandsfoot Castle, one of Henry's block houses
that played a part in the Civil War. It is not a particularly
picturesque ruin, though its purchase by the Weymouth corporation will
prevent any more of the wanton damage it has suffered in the past. The
other route goes direct to Wyke Regis, upon the hill above East Fleet
and the Chesil Bank. Wyke is the mother church of Weymouth and is a
fine Perpendicular structure in a magnificent position. Its list of
rectors starts in 1302, so that the church must be on the site of an
earlier building. The churchyard is the resting place of a large
number of shipwrecked sailors who have met their death in the dread
"Deadman's Bay," as this end of the great West Bay is termed.

The road into Portland is across a bridge built in 1839, the first to
connect the island-peninsula with the mainland. Then follows a long
two miles of monotony along the eastern end of Chesil Beach, and the
most ardent pedestrian will prefer to take to the railway at least as
far as Portland station if not to the terminus at Easton. The lonely
stretch of West Bay, in sharp contrast to the animation of the Roads,
cannot be seen unless the high bank of shingle on the right is
ascended. Portland Castle is on the nearest point of the island to the
mainland. This also was built by Henry VIII and is in good repair and
inhabited by one of the officers of the garrison.

The road ascends to Fortune's Well, as uninteresting a "capital" as
could well be imagined and for the sheer ugliness of its buildings and
church probably unsurpassed. Its only claim to notice is the
extraordinary way in which its houses are built on the hillside, one
row of doorsteps and diminutive gardens being on a level with the next
row of roofs, so steep is the lie of the land. Above the village is
the great Verne Fort occupying fifty acres on the highest point of the
island and commanding all the approaches to the Roads.

[Illustration: ON THE WAY TO CHURCH OPE.]

The route now bears right and soon reaches a high and desolate plateau
littered with the debris of many years quarrying. The only saving
grace in the scenery is the magnificent rearward view along the vast
and slightly curving Chesil Bank which stretches away to Abbotsbury
and the highlands of the beautiful West Dorset coast. The prison is
still farther ahead to the left. There would be fewer visitors to
Portland were it not for a morbid desire to see the convicts. Parties
are often made up to arrive in time to watch the men as they leave the
quarries in the late afternoon. Soldiers and warders mount guard along
the walls and the depressing sight should be shunned as much for one's
own sake as for that of the prisoners. Good taste, however, is a
virtue that usually has to give way before curiosity.

The road now descends to Easton, a place of remarkably wide streets
and a number of well-built churches, not all of the Establishment,
however. The solid old houses, consisting entirely of the local stone,
are not uninteresting and are in keeping with the dour and bleak
scenery of the island. The mistake of importing alien red bricks of a
most aggressive hue has not been made here. Those that flame from the
hill slope above Portland station only succeed in emphasizing the
general bleakness of their surroundings. At Easton clock tower a
street called "Straits" turns left and east and presently a broad road
leads downhill to the right to the gates of Pennsylvania Castle,
built, it is said, at the suggestion of George III by John Penn,
Governor of Portland, and a descendant of the great Penn in whose
honour it was named. A narrow passage by the castle wall brings us to
Rufus, or "Bow and Arrow" Castle, to which the third name of "Red
King's Castle" has been given by Hardy in _The Well Beloved_. Its
picturesque ivy-clad shell is perched on a crag at the head of Church
Hope Cove, really "Church Ope" or opening. In the grounds of
Pennsylvania Castle, shown on application, are the ruins of an ancient
church, destroyed by a landslip. The disaster brought to light the
foundations of a far older building. Near the ruins is a gravestone
with the following mysterious epitaph:


Gravestones of the twelfth century, thought to be the oldest
headstones in England, were brought to light in excavations consequent
on the landslip.

The Cove will possibly be considered the only pleasant place in
Portland. It is well wooded, of perfect outline, and with a miniature
beach where shingle, rocks and greenery mingle in picturesque
confusion and a remarkably crystalline sea laves the milk-white stones
and gravel. Cave Hole, near by, is a fine sight in rough weather.

[Illustration: BOW AND ARROW CASTLE.]

The road continues to the small hamlet of Southwell and paths lead
onward amid rather tame surroundings to the flattened headland known
to the world as Portland Bill, but to all Portlanders as the "Beal."
This headland is crowned by a lighthouse which has replaced two older
and discarded buildings. In wild weather the scene at the Beal is
magnificent, in spite of the low altitude of the cliff. Pulpit Rock is
the quite appropriate name given to the curiously shaped block of
limestone which stands close to the water. The "Shambles" lightship,
about three miles from the Beal, warns the mariner off the long and
dangerous sandbank known by that ominous name on which so many good
ships have perished. Around the bank, in February, 1653, the Dutch and
English fleets under van Tromp and Blake, circled and fought for three
days until the Hollanders had lost eleven ships of war and thirty

To return on foot to Portland station or the mainland, the best way is
to keep along the edge of the western cliffs for the sake of the grand
forward views. The tall tower in the centre of the island in sight
from the higher parts of the roads is Reforne, the chief parish
church, built in 1706. Near the prison is St. Peter's Church crowned
by a dome and built by convict labour. The fine mosaics in the chancel
were worked by a female convict. As a rule the domestic architecture
is as dour as the huge rock upon which the cottages are built, though
a few of the older dwellings are picturesque with their heavy stone
roofs clothed in gold and green moss, but as the quarries have grown
in size and importance most of them have been swept away. As
uncompromising as their island are the Baleares--the Slingers--who
kept invaders, Roman, Saxon and Dane, for long at a respectful
distance with the ammunition that lay close at their feet. Underground
habitations of the British period were found about forty years ago and
ancient trackways of prehistoric time were to be seen in those days
when the island was merely a great sheep-walk and before gunpowder and
chisel obliterated them. The Romans named the island Vindilis. Many
traces of their occupation have been found, including several

Insular customs and prejudices among the islanders are various and
strange. Intermarrying until quite lately was the rule, and it must be
annoying to eugenists to find that the natives are such a hardy and
vigorous race. The "Kimberlin," as all foreigners from the mainland
are called, is still looked upon with a certain amount of suspicion,
and oftener than not advances are met with a surliness that must be
understood and so forgiven. Heredity is stronger in remote and insular
districts than in those where the channels of communication are free,
but the long story of brave and self-sacrificing endeavour to save
life on their inhospitable shores more than counterbalances any lack
of manners in this ancient race, which is probably very nearly
identical with that of the old men who lived in the rock chambers
under Verne. That stain on the honour of so many dwellers on the
coast--a strange and unaccountable throwback--the crime of wrecking,
has never been charged against the Portlander.

One of the most fearful storms ever recorded on this shore was that of
November, 1824, when Weymouth esplanade was practically destroyed, and
cutters and fishing boats were tossed into the main streets, one of 95
tons being washed right over the Chesil Bank. On Portland Beach in
November, 1795, several transports, with troops for the West Indies on
board, were stranded, and two hundred and thirty-four men drowned.

Dissent is strong in the island as the several squarely plain
meeting-houses testify. The constant repetition of three names on the
stones in the burying grounds--Attwooll, Pearce and Stone--will bring
home to the stranger the insularity of the "Isle of Slingers."

The royal manor of Portland antedates the Conquest. It then included
Wyke, Weymouth and Melcombe. It is semi-independent of Dorset, being
governed by a Reeve, who is appointed by male and female crown tenants
from among themselves. The "Reeve-Staff" is an archaic method of
recording the payments of rates, and is similar to the old Exchequer
tallies, to the burning of the many years' stores of which, and
consequent conflagration, we owe our present Houses of Parliament. The
Reeve Court is still held at the old "George Inn" in Reforne. Among
the old customs to be mentioned is that of the "Church-gift," in which
the parties to a sale of property meet in the church and in the
presence of two witnesses hand over deeds and purchase money. The
transaction is then as complete as it is legal.

Inigo Jones first discovered the virtues of Portland stone and built
Whitehall with it. Sir Christopher Wren was so struck with its good
qualities that he decided to use it for the new St. Paul's and many of
the city churches and public buildings. It is now the most widely used
building stone in this country, and though it lacks the beautiful
colouring of West of England sandstone, to "Bath" stone and the rest
it is immeasurably superior in wearing qualities. Apart from the crown
quarries, where convict labour is employed, the stone is worked by a
kind of guild, very similar to that in operation near Swanage; the
employment being handed down from father to son.

To make a brief exploration of the country east of Weymouth the road
should be taken that keeps close to the shore until the coastguard
station at Furzy Cliff is reached. Here a path, much broken in places,
ascends the cliff, and continues to Osmington Mills, the usual goal of
the summer visitor in this direction. Not far away is the great fort
on Upton Cliff, built to command the Eastern approaches to Portland
Roads. Holworth Cliff was, in the twenties of the last century, the
scene of a curious outbreak of fire. The inflammable nature of the
strata caused the miniature Vesuvius to smoulder for a long time, with
dire effect upon the atmosphere for many miles around. It is possible
for the pedestrian to proceed to the beautiful coast that culminates
in the lovely region about Lulworth Cove. About eight miles from
Weymouth the path reaches one of the several Swyre Heads in Dorset.
This commands wide views over a remote and seemingly deserted
countryside. From this point one may penetrate inland by bridle-ways,
in two miles, to the village of Chaldon Herring, situated in a
pleasant combe to the North of Chaldon Down. The church is remarkable
for the new fittings, all designed by and for the most part the work
of, a former incumbent. The Saxon font and Norman chancel arch are
also of much interest.

The highroad from Wareham to Dorchester makes a wide loop southwards
from the railway at Wool and approaches Chaldon a mile away to the
north. Between the village and the turnpike is a ridge upon which are
the remarkable tumuli called "The Five Maries." From this spot is
another wide and beautiful view embracing the greater part of Dorset,
and in its absence of habitations emphasizing the loneliness of the
central portion of the county. The highroad may now be taken by
Overmoigne to Warmwell Cross on the return to Weymouth, but a better
way, covering about nine miles in all, is, for those who can sustain
the fatigue of "give and take" roads with rather indifferent surface,
to take the hill top to near Poxwell. This is a delightful village
with a very beautiful Manor House dating from 1654. The situation of
this house, backed by the smooth Down, is exquisite, and the building
reminds one of many fine old houses that stand just below the
escarpment of the Sussex Downs. On the hill beyond the village is a
small prehistoric circle of fifteen stones within a miniature wall and
ditch; from this point there is a good marine view toward Weymouth and
Portland. The direct road to these places now passes through
Osmington, rapidly becoming suburban, although three miles from the
town centre. The rebuilt church is of little interest, but its
immediate surroundings are very pleasant. In the churchyard is a small
portion of the wall of the old Manor House. An inscription on the
church wall should be noticed, it runs thus:


Beyond the village, a startling apparition breaks upon the view to the
right. This is the hero of Weymouth on his white Hanoverian horse.
"Although the length is 280 feet and its heighth 323 feet, yet the
likeness of the King is well preserved and the symmetry of the horse
is complete." The fact that the horse is galloping away from Weymouth
has often been remarked; this was a blunder on the part of "Mr. Wood,
bookseller, who carried the great work to a successful conclusion."

Sutton Poyntz, in a charming situation between spurs of the hills, has
been spoilt by the erection of the Weymouth Waterworks. This is the
"Overcombe" of Hardy's _Trumpet Major_. Chalbury Camp, to the west of
the village, is a prehistoric hill fort with traces of pit-dwellings
within the entrenchment. To the south-east of the camp, on a spur of
the hill and in the direction of Preston, is a remarkable and
extensive British cemetery, from which numbers of cinerary urns and
other relics have been excavated. It is to be hoped that this sort of
curiosity has now exhausted itself and that these resting places of
dead and gone chieftains will be allowed to remain unmolested in the
peaceful solitudes which their mourners chose for them.

Preston is a little over two miles from Weymouth. There are still a
number of old thatched cottages here and a Perpendicular church with a
Norman door. The visitor will notice the ancient font; also a
hagioscope and holy water stoup. At the foot of the village is an old
one-arched bridge over the brook that comes down from Sutton Poyntz.
It is said to be of Norman date and was even supposed at one time to
be Roman. Not far from the church is a Roman villa with a fine
pavement, unearthed in 1842. Breston is supposed to be on or near the
site of Clavinium.

The monotonous line of the Chesil Beach that has been seen from
Portland is, in its extreme length, from Chesil Bay under Fortune's
Well to near Burton Bradstock, where it may be said to end, more than
eighteen miles long and the greatest stretch of pebbles in Europe,
ranging from large and irregular lumps at Portland to small polished
stones at the western extremity. It is said that a local seafarer
landing on the beach in a fog can tell his whereabouts to a nicety by
handling the shingle. For about half the distance, that is to
Abbotsbury, the Fleet makes a brackish ditch on the landward side.
Behind this barrier is a country of low hills and quite
out-of-the-world hamlets seldom visited or visiting. Chickerell, the
nearest of them to Weymouth, has a manufactory of stoneware and a
golf-course, so that it is not so quiet and remote as Fleet, Langton
Herring and the rest, which depend almost entirely on the harvest of
the sea for a livelihood.

The first place of any importance west of Weymouth is Abbotsbury. The
best method of getting there is by the branch railway from Upwey
Junction, which for some occult reason is at Broadwey, leaving Upwey
itself a mile away to the north. Here is the "Wishing Well" beloved of
the younger members of the char-a-banc fraternity who come in crowds
from Weymouth to drink part of a glass of very ordinary water and
throw the remainder, at the instance of the well keeper, over the left
shoulder. As far as the writer is aware there is no particular history
attached to this spring. The arch and seats have been erected for the
benefit of the visitor. But there are less harmless ways of spending a
summer afternoon, and for those who have no "wish" to make, a visit to
the sixteenth-century church will be appreciated. Here is some ancient
woodwork, a pulpit dating from the early seventeenth century, and
three carved figures of the apostles in quaint medieval costumes.

Nottington, a mile to the south of Broadwey, was once a spa, first
resorted to as far back as the reign of George I. The well house,
visited by the third George, is now a residence and the pleasant
surroundings are made picturesque by an old water mill.

The railway penetrates a lonely stretch of country with one wayside
"halt" on the way to Portesham (indifferently "Porsham" or "Posam").
This is a convenient station from which to visit the Blackdown
district. The large village was the birthplace of Admiral Hardy, whose
ugly monument upon the hill does not improve the landscape. The Norman
and Early English church has a fine tower with a bell turret. A good
Jacobean pulpit and panelled ceiling are among the details of the
interior. The brook that runs down the street gives a pleasant
individuality to a village otherwise uninteresting.

[Illustration: PORTESHAM.]

Blackdown is 789 feet above the sea, and the Hardy column, 70 feet
high, is a conspicuous landmark over a wide circumference. This hill
and its outliers are a museum of stone circles and dolmens, the best
known of which is the "Helstone," or Stone of the Dead. On Ridge Hill,
north of Abbotsbury, are the five large stones, almost lost in a
tangle of nettles and undergrowth, called the "Grey Mare and her

Abbotsbury is famous for its Abbey, St. Catherine's Chantry, and the
Swannery. The latter is probably the most attractive of the sights to
the majority of visitors, and it is certainly worth seeing.
Application must be made, during the afternoon as a rule, to the
keeper. On a board near the gate is a record of the great sea flood
during the storm of 1824, when the country around was inundated to a
depth of 22 feet. Besides the sight of the long lines of white swans
on the Fleet, there is an interesting decoy for trapping wild duck,
the procedure being explained by the courteous attendant. The history
of the Swannery takes us back to Elizabeth's days, when one John
Strangeways was in possession not only of the swans but of the abbey
and much else besides. It is still in the possession of his
descendant, Lord Ilchester, to whom the new Abbotsbury Castle belongs.
This was destroyed by fire about nine years ago and has since been
rebuilt. The original "Castle" is a small prehistoric entrenchment
west of St. Catherine's Chapel. The grounds of Lord Ilchester's
mansion are very fine, the sub-tropical garden being of especial
interest, and contains many rare plants and trees. Admission is
granted at certain times, and advantage should, if possible, be taken
of the permission.

The sixteenth-century church with its sturdy embattled tower is
interesting. In the doorway will be noticed the lid of a sarcophagus
that has the presentment of an abbot carved upon it, but nothing to
show who the one-time occupant was. Some old stained glass still
remains in the windows and an archaic carving of the Trinity may be
seen upon the wall of the tower. It is conjectured that this was
removed from the abbey at the time of the Dissolution.

A skirmish took place within the church during the Civil War and marks
are pointed out in the Jacobean woodwork of the pulpit as those of
bullets fired during the fight. Doubts have been thrown upon this, and
the damage placed to the account of amateur decorators at the time of
harvest festivals! The writer prefers the more romantic explanation,
but is open to correction. The sounding board over the pulpit is
contemporary with the base and is a fine piece of work.

Close to the churchyard is Abbey Farm. Portions of the buildings
include remains of the once famous Benedictine Abbey of St. Peter,
founded about 1040 by Orc, a one-time steward of Canute and afterwards
in the service of Edward the Confessor. At the Dissolution the abbey
came into the possession of an ancestor of the Strangeways who owned
the Swannery when that first became known to history. The abbey, like
many others, is said to have been built on the site of an older
religious house, dating from very ancient days. There is a gatehouse,
with an arch of later date, remaining, besides the fragmentary
portions in the farmhouse. Many houses in Abbotsbury have pieces of
ecclesiastical stonework or carving built into their heavy walls, and
arched windows seem to have been transplanted bodily from the
dismantled abbey to the dwellings in the village.

By far the most notable building in Abbotsbury is the
fifteenth-century Monastic Barn, a fine structure 276 feet long. Its
plan is as perfect as its simple but imposing architecture; the
ecclesiastical appearance is heightened by the lancet windows between
the heavy buttresses and the slight transeptal extensions that give
the structure the form of a cross. The abbey fish pond, fed by the
stream that runs through Portesham street, till remains below the
tithe barn, and though its farmyard surroundings are very different to
those it had when the brethren gathered around the banks on Thursdays
of old, it is still, with its island centre of old trees, a
picturesque finish to the scene.

St. Catherine's Chapel on the hill above the sea is an erection in a
situation similar to that of the far older building on St. Aldhelm's
Head. Its appearance, however, is quite different, and it is
Perpendicular in style. The turret at the north-west corner, the two
porches and clerestory, are very evidently of another age to the heavy
Norman of St. Aldhelm's, though St. Catherine is solidly built and has
weathered many a fierce storm without suffering any apparent damage.
The walls are nearly four feet thick and the buttresses are sturdy in
proportion. The fine stone roof is greatly admired and is a wonderful
piece of work. The turret was probably used as a beacon, and the
chapel seems to be identical in everything but style with St.
Aldhelm's. On the east side of the south door are three curious
depressions in the stonework said to be "wishing holes," one for the
knee and the higher ones for the hands.

[Illustration: ST. CATHERINE'S CHAPEL.]

The views of the Dorset seaboard during the climb to this exposed
eminence are as fine as one would imagine. The contrast between the
hilly country to the west and the long sweep of the Chesil Beach
backed by the "fleets" is very striking. From our vantage point the
stretch of coast immediately to the west is shown to be quite bare of
hamlet or settlement of any kind beyond a few isolated houses.
Puncknoll, which we shall reach in the next chapter, is the nearest
village, fully four miles from St. Catherine's and nearly half that
distance from the sea.

Winding lanes, solitary also of human kind and delightful to wander in
for the sake of their treasures of flower and insect life, meander
across White Hill and its sister ridge. One of them passes within a
short distance of the "Grey Mare" and her children and, farther on,
another group of mysterious stones. This way would take us to Little
Bredy, a village which, of no interest in itself, has been made a
scene of much beauty by the artificial widening of the little Bride
just below its source as it passes through the grounds of Bridehead.
The last resting places of our Neolithic ancestors are scattered in
great numbers about the heights that enfold the narrow cleft of the
infant stream.

[Illustration: THE CHARMOUTH ROAD.]



The branch line of the Great Western from Maiden Newton makes a wide
detour northwards to reach Bridport, passing through a very charming
and unspoilt countryside where old "Do'set" ways still hold out
against that drab uniformity that seems to be creeping over rustic
England. In this out-of-the-way region are small old stone-built
villages lying forgotten between the folds of the hills and rejoicing
in names that makes one want to visit them if only for the sake of
their quaint nomenclature.

The first station is laconically called Toller. It serves the two
villages Toller Fratrum and Toller Porcorum. The Toller of the
Brothers is charmingly situated on the side of a low hill. It once
belonged to the Knights of St. John, whence its name. The Early
English church has an old font sculptured with the heads of what may
be saints, a possible relic of Saxon times; some antiquaries have
declared the work to be British of the later days of the Roman
occupation. In the church wall is a curious tablet representing Mary
Magdalene wiping our Lord's feet. The manor house was built by Sir
James Fulford, the great opponent of the Puritans. It is a delightful
house in an equally delightful situation and the beautiful tints of
the old walls will be admired as well as the admirable setting of the

Toller of the Pigs may only mean the place where hogs were kept in
herds. The village is of little interest and has not the fine site of
the other. In the church is a font that is supposed to have once
served as a Roman altar.

Over the hills to the south-east is the little village of Wynford
Eagle, so called from the fact that it once belonged to that powerful
Norman family, the de Aquila, who held Pevensey Castle in Sussex after
the Conquest. The church is an exceedingly poor erection of 1842, but
preserves a Norman tympanum from the former building. The carving
represents two griffins or wyverns facing each other in an attitude of
defiance. Wynford Manor House is a beautiful building of the early
seventeenth century. Under the stone eagle that surmounts the centre
gable is the date 1630. This was the home of the great Thomas
Sydenham, the founder of modern medicine. He was wounded while serving
in the army of the Parliament at the battle of Worcester and, probably
in consequence of the ill success that followed the bungling treatment
he received, determined to practise himself and adopt rational methods
for the treatment of disease and injury. He died in London in 1689,
aged 65, and lies in the churchyard of St. James', Piccadilly.

Three miles or more to the north of Toller are the villages of Wraxall
and Rampisham (pronounced "Ramsom"). The former has near it two
interesting old houses--the Elizabethan manor of Wraxall and an old
farmhouse that was a manor in the reign of King John, though the
present building was not erected until 1620. Rampisham is in a lovely
situation at the bottom of a wooded and watered dingle. Here is
another picturesque old mansion and an interesting stone cross in the
churchyard with a platform for open-air preaching. The base of the
cross is carved with representations of the martyrdoms of St. Stephen,
St. Edmund and St. Thomas a Becket, though they are so worn that one
must accept the identification on trust. Another carving is of St.
Peter and the cock, with figures of monks, knights and fools. Within
the church are some brasses worthy of inspection.

Hidden away among the hills of Western Dorset is Beaminster, a little
town so placed that it may be visited from several different railway
stations without much to choose in mileage or roads; possibly
Crewkerne on the main line of the South Western Railway is that most
used. It is about six miles from Toller, Bridport and Crewkerne, and
therefore as quiet as one would expect it to be. But "Bemmister" is
not by any means a dead town and is, for all its want of direct
railway transport, of some importance as the centre of a rich dairy
country. The situation at the bottom of a wooded amphitheatre is

"Sweet Be'mi'ster that bist abound
By green and woody hills all round,
Wi' hedges reachen up between
A thousan' vields o' zummer green
Where clems lofty heads do show
Their sheades vor hay-meakers below
An' wild hedge-flowers do charm the souls
O' maidens in their evenin' strolls."


The Perpendicular church has a remarkably handsome tower of
yellow-brown stone with sculptured figures showing the chief events in
the life of our Lord. Part of the interior is Early English. Monuments
of the Strodes, a great local family, will be noticed, and also some
good stained glass. The church, and the old "Mort House" attached to
it, were fortunately spared in the several disasters by fire that, as
in Dorchester, have removed almost everything ancient. The present
smart and modern appearance of the main street is the consequence of
the last conflagration in 1781, though this was not so serious as two
others in the seventeenth century. The first of these started during
the fighting between the forces of King and Parliament.

[Illustration: BEAMINSTER.]

Charles II stayed at the "George" in his groom's disguise during the
flight after Worcester. This inn was rebuilt during the last century.
About a quarter of a mile out of the town to the south-west is the
Tudor Manor of the Strodes, standing in Parnham Park. Certain portions
of the house are older than the sixteenth century, and a window bears
the name and date "John Strode 1449." Mapperton House is another fine
old mansion. It stands two miles to the southeast in a secluded dingle
lined with closely-growing trees and the beautiful colour of the early
sixteenth-century stone building is a delightful contrast to the
greenery around. The finely designed entrance gateway is surmounted by
two eagles in the act of rising from the posts. The old house forms
two sides of a picturesque quadrangle, Mapperton church being on the

Three miles north-westwards of Beaminster is Broadwindsor, amidst
scenery pleasant enough from the farmers' point of view, for these are
"fat lands," but more tame than that seen between Toller and the
former town. Not far away, however, are the finely-shaped summits of
Pilsdon Pen and Lewsdon Hill, nearly of the same height and remarkable
alike from certain aspects. "Pilsdon Pen," says an old writer, "is no
less than 909 feet above the sea, and therefore 91 feet short of being
a mountain!" Who gave the 1,000 feet contour line that arbitrary
nomenclature is unknown. Usually in Britain double that height is
taken as the limit, but it is perhaps more fair to allow each
countryside its own standard. Pilsdon is much more imposing than some
of the "lumps" that are double its altitude on the table-land of
central Wales, where the bed of the Upper Wye is not many feet below
the height of the "Pen." That, by the way, is a Celtic suffix; it
would be interesting to know if the word has continued in constant use
since British times.

The chief claim to fame on the part of Broadwindsor is that the famous
Thomas Fuller, witty writer and wise divine, was its royalist parson
and that he preached from the old Jacobean pulpit in the parish
church. This building has been well restored by the son of a former
vicar. The usual Perpendicular tower surmounts a medley of Norman and
Early English in the body of the church.

But this is a long way from the Tollers, and the road must now be
taken by Mapperton, back to the train that provokingly burrows through
cuttings, with an occasional flying glimpse of lovely wooded dell and
tree-crowned hill, on the way to Powerstock or, according to
Dorset--"_Poor_ stock."

The well-restored church here is interesting. There is a very early
Norman arch in the chancel with beautifully sculptured pillars and
capitals. Upon the hill top above the village is the site of
Powerstock Castle that was built within the ramparts of an ancient
earthwork by King Athelstan. A short distance to the south-east is
Eggardon Hill (820 feet) with a great series of entrenchments upon its
summit which deserve to rank with those of Maiden Castle and Old
Sarum. The fortifications have a strong resemblance, on a smaller
scale, to the first-named stronghold.

[Illustration: EGGARDON HILL.]

Our present goal--Bridport--is one of those pleasant old English
towns, cheerful and bright, and to outward seeming entirely
prosperous, which make the average Londoner who has to earn his living
long for the chance to try his fortune there. For the traveller on his
first visit a great surprise is in store; with a name such as this one
pictures in advance a place of quays on a sluggish river, fairly wide
and very muddy, opening to the sea, with the conventional loungers,
tarry and fishy scents and a fringe of lodging houses. But nothing
could be farther from the truth. Here is no evidence of the sea at
all, and although West Bay, the real "quay" of Bridport, is less than
two miles from the High Street, the town seems to be surrounded by
hills and to be solely concerned with the neighbouring farmers and
their interests. The only direct relation with marine affairs is the
important manufacture of fishing nets and "lines" for which Bridport
has been noted for many years. To say "he was stabbed with a Bridport

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