What’s On: For a comprehensive list view the local ‘freebie’ magazine web-site: www.thisisblackmorevale.co.uk
Cycle Hire: Hayball’s, Salisbury: 01722 411 378 www.hayball.co.uk
|Stourhead + garden||Mere||15 miles|
|Wilton House + garden||Wilton||15 miles|
|Mompesson House||Salisbury||15 miles|
|Athelhampton + garden||Dorchester||20 miles|
|Minterne + garden||Dorchester/Yeovil||35 miles|
|Heale House + garden||Salisbury||15 miles|
|Breamore House + garden||Salisbury/Fordingbridge||20 miles|
|Kingston Lacy||Wimborne||25 miles|
|Longleat House||Warminster||25 miles|
|Homes of famous people:||Location||Distance|
|Clouds Hill (TE Lawrence)||Bovingdon||20 miles|
|Max Gate (Thomas Hardy)||Dorchester||30 miles|
|Cranborne Manor:||Fascinating with surprises (Wednesdays)||10 miles|
|Minterne House:||Sherborne (garden only)||30 miles|
|Cranborne Manor, Cranborne||Excellent/roses speciality||10 miles|
|Wolvercroft, Fordingbridge||Wide-ranging/ functional||10 miles|
|Wilton House, Wilton||Wide-ranging||12 miles|
|Home Farm, Tarrant Gunville + cafe||Extenstive; interesting||10 miles|
|Long Crichel Bakery, Crichel||Award-winning bread||10 miles|
|Udder Farm Shop, Stour Provost + cafe||Extensive||12 miles|
|Ansty, Ansty (near Shaftesbury) + café||Extensive and PYO||10 miles|
Farmers Markets: Up-to-date information
Places of Interest: (Dorset)
Hardy’s study in DorchesterMuseum.
Abbotsbury: swannery and gardens.
Springhead Trust, Fontmell.
Cerne Abbas Giant.
Places of Interest: (South west Wilts)
Duke of Monmouth’s Ash.
Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
Wiltshire Wildlife Trust www.wiltshirewildlife.org
Martin Down Reserve.
Liberty’s Owl Raptor and Reptile Centre, Ringwood.
Hawk Conservancy, Weyhill (near Andover).
Mammals: Badger Watch: www.badgerwatchdorset.co.uk
Fishing: Fly Fishing: www.famousfishing.co.uk
Something different . . . . .
Hot-air balloons: Contact Cameron Flights Southern (0845 4564202): a popular take-off spot is the LarmerTreeGardens, just round the corner from Park Farm House.
Fixed-wing experience: Just a few miles from Park Farm House is Compton Abbas airfield. You can buy an ‘experience flight’: fly over the beautiful scenery plus take the controls either in a covered Piper Warrior, an Ikarus sport-plane, or an open-cockpit Tiger Moth. For full details please see: www.comptonabbasairfield.co.uk
‘Wings & Wheels’ Day: Day starts at Compton Abbas airfield; ride motorcycle pillion with a qualified instructor for a day’s tour around the local area, including the JurassicCoast, or your location request. Lunch (included) at the airfield restaurant. In the afternoon you fly in a light aircraft around the local area to complete the day’s activities. If you would like photographs of your day this can be arranged. Full details please see: www. bikemaverick.co.uk
Motorcycling (Advanced Training): Advanced courses can take between 2 to 5 days; designed to incorporate a tour of your choice; by the end of the course you will feel more confident using your motorcycle to its full potential: www.bikemaverick.co.uk
Motorcycling (Back to Biking): Designed for anyone re-starting motorcycling after a long break. www.bikemaverick.co.uk
On Safari: ‘Off the beaten track’ in west Dorset by Land-Rover. www.jurassicsafari.co.uk
Fossicking: Where to find knick-knacks:
|Salisbury||The Antiques Centre.|
|Wincanton||The Green Dragon Antiques Centre.|
Reclamation and Auctions:
|Wilton||Smaller than some but interesting.|
|Semley (near Tisbury)||Smaller than some but interesting.|
|Bere Regis||Wide selection.|
|Wells||The ‘big daddy’, old/new: spend a day !|
|Bath||Walcot Architectural Salvage.|
Arts and Crafts ‘hotspots’:
|Warminster:||Bull Mill Arts|
The capture of the Duke of Monmouth in a ditch at Horton, on the southern edge of the Cranborne Chase near Wimborne, was one of those moments in British history that though not an obvious turning-point, were crucial nonetheless.
Even though the rebellion by Monmouth, whose group included Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, had been quickly put to the sword following a rout at the Battle of Sedgemoor, if Monmouth had managed to get to Poole and escape to Holland, who knows what trouble he could have stirred for his uncle, James II. As it was, just over one month from landing at Lyme Regis with three ships from Holland in early June 1685, Monmouth was beheaded at Tower Hill.
Born in Rotterdam to Lucy Walter and her lover, Charles II (who was living in continental exile following his father’s execution), Monmouth spent his early life in Schiedam; he always claimed his parents were married, and that he possessed their marriage lines but he never produced them.
After landing Monmouth published a “Declaration for the defence and vindication of the protestant religion and of the laws, rights and privileges of England from the invasion made upon them, and for delivering the Kingdom from the usurpation and tyranny of us by the name of James Duke of York”: King James II responded by issuing an order for the publishers and distributors of the paper to be arrested, while Monmouth declared himself King at various places along the way including Axminster, Chard, and Taunton.
After Monmouth fled following defeat at Sedgemoor, where James’s forces were led by John Churchill, later 1st Duke of Marlborough and son of Winston Churchill, squire of Minterne Magna near Sherborne, rewards were posted.
At Horton Heath Monmouth, disguised as a shepherd, was spotted by an old lady, Amy Farrant, while climbing a hedge with his last companion, a German officer named Buyse, who was soon captured; a few hours later a militiaman Henry Parkin, while searching beneath an ash tree, discovered another exhausted figure and a search of his pockets disclosed the badge of the Knight of the Garter, golden guineas and recipes for cosmetics, revealing that this was no ordinary shepherd.
Many of Monmouth’s supporters were later tried at the ‘Bloody Assizes’, headed by Judge Jeffreys, that started at Winchester on 25 August 1685, after which the court proceeded to Salisbury, Dorchester, Taunton, and finally Wells.
More than 1,400 prisoners were dealt with; most were sentenced to death, with some 300 either being hanged or hung, drawn and quartered. Elisabeth Gaunt had the distinction of being the last woman burnt alive in England for political crimes while Dame Alice Lyle, who lived outside Ringwood, had her sentence commuted from burning to beheading.
One of the prisoners was Monmouth’s surgeon Henry Pitman, who later wrote a short book about his desperate escape from a Caribbean penal colony that included a spell as a castaway, and gets the nod from author, Tim Severin, in Seeking Robinson Crusoe (2002), as the real-life Robinson Crusoe-figure; there has even been a suggestion that Defoe got the name ‘Robinson Crusoe’ from a gravestone while fleeing through Horton churchyard.
Today though Monmouth’s sheltering ash-tree is long-gone the approximate location is on ‘Monmouth’s Ash Farm’ which can be accessed by Public Footpath; also there are two pubs in the New Forest named ‘The Alice Lyle’ and ‘Monmouth’s Ash’.
Though our understanding of early history has been infinitely shaped by the numerous ‘digs’ in the Cranborne Chase two names stand out, one being the Victorian, General Augustus Henry Lane Fix Pitt Rivers, and the other a local farmer, Martin Green.
‘Born into a long line of farmers it was natural for me to continue in the family tradition. However, I discovered at an early age my true vocation was in trying to unravel the mysterious past which lay all around me’, wrote Martin Green in A Landscape Revealed: 10,000 Years on a Chalkland Farm (2000) a comprehensive and fascinating overview of what he and others discovered at Down Farm, Gussage St Michael.
Writing about his passion for archaeology Martin Green acknowledges how visits to the Pitt Rivers displays in the Salisbury Museum were such a source of inspiration; and just as Martin Green was fortunate to have his own farm to feed his passion for archaeology so Pitt Rivers (1827-1900) was fortunate to have inherited at the age of 53 a vast fortune and 27,000 acres attached to Rushmore Park. On his death Pitt Rivers’ ashes were placed in an extended urn at the rear of the St Peter ad Vincula church (13th century) in Tollard Royal.
Not for Pitt Rivers the pursuit of field-sports traditional for landed gentry: ‘I determined to devote the remaining portion of my life chiefly to an examination of the antiquities on my property’, he wrote, having already conducted field-work in Denmark, Ireland and Sussex. So it is from this life’s work that Pitt Rivers has been hailed as the ‘father of modern archaeology’.
Within weeks of inheriting the Rushmore property Pitt Rivers had instigated a number of digs around the park, notably at the South Lodge, while the first full season’s work took place from October 1881- February 1882 by concentrating on the Iron Age hill-fort of Winklebury overlooking Berwick St John. Later that year Pitt Rivers became the first inspector of Ancient Monuments.
Pitt Rivers was heavily influenced by Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859), seeing his existing collection of firearms, tools and appliances as the basis for understanding how culture went forward by gentle evolution not revolution. This theory contained the idea of typology: the realisation that objects can be placed in chronological sequence on the basis of slight changes in design, a crucial concept for archaeology.
Today, inevitably Pitt Rivers’ interpretation of cultural change has come under attack with history being constantly revised: but what has never been doubted is that before Pitt Rivers the study of archaeology was amateurish and haphazard. By bringing meticulous planning, digging and recording – helped by his sizeable fortune – Pitt Rivers changed the whole approach of archaeology and in the process became a bridge-builder between anthropology and archaeology, as well as an educator.
It has been estimated that Pitt Rivers owned in excess of 50,000 separate artefacts, built up not only from his diggings but also an extensive programme of purchases, which became a source of great irritation to his penny-pinching wife, Alice, the daughter of Lord Stanley of Alderley.
Due to the seasonality of farm work Pitt Rivers’ extended diggings took place through the autumn and winter period when labourers were freed from estate work, while a small army of full-time clerks were employed recording, surveying and latterly photographing.
Like many Victorians the desire to educate was strong in Pitt Rivers who built a museum on the edge of Farnham (now split into apartments known as Elham Court) and to attract these visitors he built the Larmer Tree pleasure gardens with picnic bowers, an open-air theatre, with dances, sporting contests and other attractions which in its hey-day attracted up to 40,000 people.
Pitt Rivers was also fascinated by the inter-breeding of different species of animals. In his guide to the Larmer Tree attractions Pitt Rivers wrote: ‘to those interested in breeding and acclimatization, some of the breeds in the Park and paddocks at Rushmore may be worth seeing. The fallow deer has been crossed with the Mesopotamian deer, the Japanese deer with the red deer, and these again with the Formosa deer. The Yak has been crossed with the Pembroke, the Highland Cattle, the Kerry, and the Jersey. The Zebu (Indian humped cattle) with the Jersey, producing a very fine animal, and these again with the Jersey.’
In his life-time, Pitt Rivers donated part of his collection to OxfordUniversity which forms the core of today’s PittRiversMuseum in Oxford; there are also items from his collection in the Salisbury and SouthWiltshireMuseum.
Though Augustus and Alice Pitt Rivers had nine children there are no direct descendants today; while Rushmore Park house is Sandroyd preparatory school the public can access much of the park, where time if not standing still, feels as if it has only inched forwards in small increments: which Pitt Rivers, after all, believed was always the case, with the outline of the South Lodge excavation still standing in silent tribute to the ‘father of modern archaeology’.
Meanwhile Martin Green has developed a museum of his own (a former chicken-house), focusing on archaeology, local history and geology while also increasing the biological diversity of flora and fauna on Down Farm.
In 1935 the painter, Paul Nash, wrote and illustrated the first Shell Guide to Dorset in which he discussed Thomas Hardy: ‘no other region that I can recall has become so closely indentified with the work of a writer as this part of Wessex has with the novels and poems of Hardy’.
As well as a number of guide-books covering ‘walking in Hardy country’, quite apart from the biographies and literary appreciations, there are also maps that superimpose Hardy’s place-names (e.g: ‘Melchester’ is Salisbury) on the real places.
There is also an active Thomas Hardy Society with a very comprehensive web-site: http://www.hardysociety.org/, from which all the Hardy novels can be downloaded, while here is a small excerpt of their summary of the great writer: ‘Hardy’s literary reputation – his fame and fortune – was based entirely upon his appeal as a novelist. Widespread public acclaim came with his fourth novel Far from the Madding Crowd (1874) – sufficient to allow him to abandon his architectural career in favour of the less certain path of a writer of imaginative fiction. Over the ensuing twenty years he published a further ten novels, variably received at the time. However in his final five novels – a sequence beginning with The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886) – he found his mature voice, producing fiction which upset Mrs Grundy and in one case (Jude) was burnt by a bishop but which ensured his place in the premier league of English novelists’.
(Those keen to walk in the footsteps of the great author should access the Hardy Society web-site, click on ‘Resources’ and then clock on ‘Walks’).
On 4 September 1895, while Thomas Hardy and his wife Emma were staying with the Pitt Rivers at Rushmore an annual sports day was held at the Larmer Tree Gardens followed by a night-time dance. Hardy ‘led off’ the country dancing with Agnes Grove, Pitt Rivers’ youngest daughter and the wife of Sir Walter Grove, another old local family. Agnes later became a literary pupil of Hardy’s, and after her death in 1926 Hardy wrote the poem Concerning Agnes, reflecting on the night they first met. The first two stanzas read:
I am stopped from hoping what I have hoped before
Yes many a time!
To dance with that fair woman yet once more
As in the prime
Of August, when the wide-faced moon looked through
The boughs at the faery lamps of the Larmer Avenue
I could not, though I should wish, have over again
That old romance,
And sit apart in the shade as we sat then
After the dance
The while I held her hand, and, to the booms
Of contrabassos, feet still pulsed from the distant rooms
We have some fantastic places to eat and drink on our doorstep, please find below a small selection of our personal favorites in the vicinity of Park Farm House Bed and Breakfast:
|Tollard Royal||King John||Gastro pub||1/2 mile|
|Farnham||The Museum||Gastro pub||2 miles|
|Berwick St John||The Talbot||Old pub/eating||5 miles|
|Chettle||The Castleman||Hotel/eating||3 miles|
|Donhead St Andrew||The Forester||Gastro pub||7 miles|
|Ebbesbourne Wake||The Horseshoe||Old pub/eating||10 miles|
|Tisbury||Beckford Arms||Gastro pub||10 miles|
. . . . and further afield, something different!
|Corscombe||The Fox||Old pub/eating||35 miles|
|Cattistock||Fox and Hounds Inn||Old pub/eating||30 miles|
|Powerstock||Three Horsehoes Inn||Old pub/eating||30 miles|
|Sandbanks||ShellBay Café||Fish speciality||25 miles|
|West Bay/Bridport||HiveBeach Café||Fish speciality||30 miles|
|West Bay/Bridport||Riverside Restaurant||Fish speciality||30 miles|
|Portland||Crab House Café||Oysters, crabs||30 miles|
|Portland||Bluefish Café||Modern fusion||30 miles|
|Weymouth||Crab House Café||Fish speciality||30 miles|
|Brockenhurst||The Pig||Casual/chic in||30 miles|
|Queens Arms||Corton Denham||Gastro pub||30 miles|
|Stapleton Arms||Buckhorn Weston||Gastro pub||25 miles|
Guided Walks:As a keen historian Jasper has researched the area in some depth; he has combined this historical knowledge with places where this is meaningfully combined with walks: not only around the Cranborne Chase and surrounding downland, but also slightly further afield such as to the Martin Down Nature Reserve, or the ‘Two Giants Footsteps’ walk that explores the country around Bowerchalke that inspired Nobel Literature prize winner, William Golding, and his neighbour, Professor James Lovelock, the founder of the Gaia movement.
Those keen to walk in the footsteps of Thomas Hardy should access the Hardy Society web-site (www.hardysociety.org), then click on ‘Resources’, then click on ‘Walks’.
Bed and Breakfast: £85.00 for the use of the double-bed only.
Bed and Breakfast: £20.00 for the additional use of the divan.
Telephone: 01725 553134
Mobile: 07779171851 (Sarah)
Address: Park Farm House, Tollard Royal, Wiltshire. SP5 5PU.
From Salisbury: Take the A354 to Blandford and after approximately 10 miles take a right-hand turn at a round-about signed ‘Shaftesbury’ and ‘Sixpenny Handley’. Drive through Sixpenny Handley (approximately a mile from the round-about) continue for three miles until you come the Tollard Royal sign. Keep going until you come to the village pond on the right; immediately turn sharp left and up a steep hill (with a war memorial on the right). Over the brow of the hill the road flattens out and continues round a right-hand bend; continue for another 100 yards and Park Farm House is on the left – the only house so you cannot miss it, with the name on a five-bar gate.
Coming from the A303 (in the Exeter direction): Turn off and take the A350 to Shaftesbury; here you follow signs to Salisbury and the A30, including at a large roundabout (with The Chase Hotel on the left); take first left off the roundabout, signed to Salisbury/A30. Drive for approximately three miles until you come to a village called Ludwell. Drive down into the village and up the other side: three-quarters of the way up you see a sign ‘Tollard Royal’ to the right – take it.
After about half a mile the road goes up a steep hill and the road flattens after which you come to a junction. Take the left-hand turn signed to ‘Tollard Royal’ and drive along for a mile and half when you will see a fork to the right saying ‘Tollard Green’ – take it, taking care to watch for oncoming traffic as the bend is semi-blind. Proceed for a mile and a half until you come to the first road sign, which says ‘Tollard Green’ to the left: take that and proceed down lane for a mile until you come to the Tollard Park Livery Yard on the right: go past and proceed for 100 yards and Park Farm House is on the right.
Coming from Salisbury (via Wilton): Take the A30 to Shaftesbury. After approximately ten miles you arrive at the village of Ludwell. With the road starting to go down, take the sign left to ‘Tollard Royal’: then as per the instructions in 2 (above).
Being animal-lovers we welcome dogs: for the benefit of everyone dogs must be confined to the bedroom during sleeping hours, and under the supervision of their owners at all times (no puppies please; and it would be appreciated if you would bring a cage if your dog is unreliable). There is a £10 charge.