Friday, June 21, 2013

Drifting round Dorset

Drifting round Dorset.

Dorset is a small county (1,024 square miles) in SW England, squashed in between Devon to the West, Somerset to the North West, Wiltshire to the North East and Hampshire to the East.
Some years ago we thought it was worth exploring and were not disappointed.

The first Viking raid occurred in Dorset in the eighth century and the Black Death
entered England at Melcombe Regis in 1348.  During the English Civil War Cromwell crushed a band of vigilantes near Shaftesbury; the Duke of Monmouth’s doomed rebellion began at Lyme Regis, and a group of farm labourers from Tolpuddle were instrumental in forming the Trade Union Movement.

During WW2 Dorset was involved in preparations for D- Day and the harbours of Poole and Portland were two main embarkation points.  Lyme Regis featured in both The French Lieutenant’s Woman and Jane Austen.

#1 -#4 Compton Acres – ten acres of historic gardens created in 1924.

#5 Chesil Beach is a pebble beach 18 miles long and runs North West from Portland to West Bay.  It is separated from the mainland by an area of saline water named Fleet Lagoon.  When the children were toddlers we stayed with my BIL when he was Harbour Master. The house was next door to a Borstal and my boys were fascinated to see the Borstal boys marching out every morning.  You could see from their faces what a hard life they must have had.

#6 Abbotsbury is a swannery – quite pungent - and the only place in the world where you can walk through the heart of a colony of nesting Mute Swans.

#7 Thomas Hardy’s cottage of cob and thatch built by his grandfather.  Here it was that he wrote The Greenwood Tree and Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray; 
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.'

Thomas Gray


#8 The beautiful Dorset coast.

#9 Clouds Hill was the former home of TE Laurence.  It is now a museum.  He rented it when he was in the Tank Corps in 1923 and bought it in 1925.
He wrote:

 Nothing in clouds Hill is to be a care upon the world.  While I have it there shall be nothing exquisite or unique in it.  Nothing to anchor me.
In 1935 he left the RAF to live there.  A few weeks later, aged 46 he came off his bike on a slope near the cottage, suffered severe head injuries and was killed.

 The cottage reflects his personality and his connections with the Middle East
Somewhat spartan he slept on the floor in a sleeping bag marked MEUM – mine.  His guest would sleep in one marked TUUM – his.  His guests included George Bernard Shaw, Robert Graves and EM Forster.

In 1965 the guest sleeping bag was stolen - around the time of the film Laurence of Arabia.  Thirty six years later it was returned – from Belgium with a note that simply said This is yours.

# 10 The grave of TE Laurence


Guyana-Gyal said...

Thomas Hardy wrote about such sad but beautiful stories. Look at his cottage, wow! It's even better when I click on the pic. and make it bigger, I swear, I can smell the perfume from those flowers. someone finally felt guilty about stealing the sleeping bag.

Vagabonde said...

I loved looking at your pictures. The cottage is darling but I would not have liked to sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag – did that long ago, and I prefer a mattress! Summer is starting today – I hope your summer will be pleasant.

Gadjo Dilo said...

It's hard to image that Hardy wrote with such pessimism when he grew up in (to us) such idyllic surroundings!

Anonymous said...

Hope to do a Dorset tour later this summer ... LOML's family came from a Dorset village where there were only 3 or 4 families and we want to visit it - it would be great to walk into the pub and for someone to say 'ooh, you must be from round here, you look just like the H******s!'

My best friend at school had an aunt who lived in Hardy's cottage ... this was in the 1960s and sadly my friend is long since dead so I don't know the how and why ....

Pat said...

GG: it is a strange story. I think Laurence would have enjoyed it.

Vagabonde: thank you. One is always hopeful.

Gadjo: maybe its the thatch but I do feel three is something quite brooding there,

Roseneath: how interesting. You must go and give it a try:)


how wonderful visits to your world there, pat - your stories are matched only by the beautiful photos you post - both of which take us all along on a tour of things beautiful historical and meaningful - thanks so much for your generosity in sharing - i'm so sorry to be so remiss in visiting but it seems that for some time i've just been - i don't even know what - but the word i keep using is "distracted" - but then, when i'm here, i can't imagine why i've not been here every day as i used to be - in the meantime, today's visit was wonderful and i thank you!

Pat said...

Jenean: I do understand the distraction and regret I don't visit my friends blogs as often as I would like to.

Kim Ayres said...

Thought I recognised Chesil Beach - years back I had some friends who lived in a cottage just a stone's throw from it. I stayed with them one weekend and loved the sound of the sea as it crashed and moved over the millions of pebbles.

Pat said...

Kim: I had forgotten that. It was quite spectacular.