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The last weekend in May was very busy with some people just turning up at the gate (besides the people who had booked). All manner of units came to stay and I am amazed at how quickly some people put up their awnings (1). Also the size and variety of tents seems to gets wider every year (2). One caravanner was a keen quad coptor (drone) operator. (3) This machine does aerial video photography. (4) It picks up a satellite and locks itself into a position and then stays at a set altitude to do the filming. It is battery run. This enthusiast also had acquired 2 Shihtzu rescue dogs called Alfie and Rosie. (5) They were both 2 years old. Teenagers from an East Devon school came to stay again to do the Duke of Edinburgh Award (6). On the morning they were due to trek over to their next rendezvous point two of them were showing off their blisters (7).



The three pigs are still with us, although for not much longer. They are quite docile and allowed the children to ride them (8, 9). Himalayan Balsam continues to appear every year and I found some in the yard which I pulled up straight away before it produced 800 seeds which would pop and go everywhere to further infest the riverbanks and nearby fields (10). Recently when we opened the door to an old shed what should fall down from the inside of the roof but a wasps’ nest (11) It did initially look like a ball of wool but I realised just in time that it was alive with something. Last week the sheep were shorn by an expert sheep shearer. (12) Firstly the lambs had to be separated from their mothers (as the lambs don’t need to be shorn) (13) Two girls from the local agricultural college were keen to have a go at this job with the guidance of the expert. (14) After the sheep are shorn the fleeces are carefully rolled up and put into a bag ready for selling (15). The sheep were decidedly thinner once the job had been done (16) The shearing also gave an ideal opportunity to my campers to see the work in progress and for the children to play with a lamb. (17) A sight which harks back to the olden days it to see sheep being driven down the lanes by a shepherd (18), but nowadays instead of a man in a smock with a shepherd’s crook you get a quad bike in front of the flock and a Landrover behind.


The goslings stayed indoors for a while with the heat lamp as I tend to mollycoddle them in the early stages and when I did let them out to grass it was right next to their house in case they had to be got in again quickly in case of rain or fierce sun light (19). Today they are 55 days old and growing fast, but are still not totally feathered up so they are still vulnerable to wet weather and intense heat. I have put up shelter in the form of a tent ground sheet so that they can get out of the midday sun (20).



I never seem to be able to get completely on top of my garden, even with the help of a gardener one morning a week. There are always weeds somewhere or something to be tied up. There has been a great show of flowers over the last month or so with Gladiolus Byzantinum (Whistling Jack!) (21), Pontentilla (22), Pink Valerium (23) Herperus (Sweet Rocket) (24), Heuchera (25), Vibernum Davidii (26) (I have been told that this plant is not at its best as it is pot bound and under fed !) and an Opium Poppy (Papaver Somniferum) (27).


The Chideock Discussion Club, of which I am a member, recently visited the Town Hill Farming Partnership, near Winterbourne Abbas, Dorchester. This farm compared to some in West Dorset could be considered large consisting of 400 hectares. They grow spring barley, maize, W OSR (winter oilseed rape), grass and have 54 hectares of woodland. There is a small beef enterprise and 600 ewe lambs. There is a small logging business run from the woodland. The W OSR is grown for processing into frying fat for MacDonalds. We were transported
around the farm by a special people trailer. (28) By way of diversification there are two self catering holidayhouses which sleeps 13 and 4 respectively with the sole use of the indoor pool. These houses were converted from old barns. In high season the former is available at £4500 per week and the latter at £800. The heating for these houses is run from a wood pellet biomass boiler which was installed in 2013 (29, 30) . The company also has Hogleaze Storage whereby 220 caravans, motorhomes and boats are stored all year round. (31) They also have about 20,000 sq ft of self storage space which is accessible all the year round. This is let month bymonth (32).


The Bopper Bus is a leisure bus for children between 8 and 16 years which runs once a week in term time collecting children who live in villages and outlying communities along the A35 and within the Marshwood Vale to the Bridport Leisure Centre (33). The children have two hours of sporting activities led by tutors, (34, 35) which is followed by swimming. They then enjoy some time sharing snacks before the bus takes them home. The Bopper Bus was started in 2003 by some Chideock Parish Councillors as part of the Village Plan and is organised and run entirely by volunteers. The escorts (helpers) are all police checked, and have Child Protection and FirstAid training. Funding come from Parish Councils, and grants from Local Authorities. Also the dedicated management committee of 5 people raise money from many different events, sponsored walks and fetes etc. The Bopper Bus celebrated its 12th birthday earlier this year at the Charmouth Library (36). The scheme has had many unexpected outcomes. In the 12 years it has been operating over 40 local people have been trained as escorts, children have made friends with others from different primary schools so they have contacts when they move up to secondary school, and many have been introduced to a sport which they can continue with at the Bridport Leisure Centre.


A fashion show entitled Vintage Fashion and Flowers took place at the end of April in the Bridport Town Hall. The proceeds for this went to Barnardo’s. There were mannequins located around the hall which depicted wedding gowns over the decades: World War One (37), 1920’s (38), 1930’s (39), 1940’s (40), 1950’s (41), 1960’s [designed by Mary Quant] (42). The models who paraded up and down the “catwalk” exhibited outfits from the same eras: a flapper from after WW1 (43), Charleston dancers (44), a mother and daughter going their separate ways because of evacuation in the 1940s (45), a bride and groom from the 1960’s (46) and their best man and bridesmaids (47) and lastly a bridal couple with a huge bouquet of red flowers (48). I am really not sure whether they date from the 1950’s or 1960’s. A Barnado’s spokesperson told us that they are helping to make a difference to the lives of more than 200,000 vulnerable children across the UK. They have 8,000 employees, 15,000 volunteers and over 500 shops. Of every £1 they spend 92p goes on their work, 3p goes on governance and pension costs and 5p goes on raising the next £1.


Today our local MP, Oliver Letwin, attended a meeting that the Char Valley Parish Council had set up to discuss local communication. Parish councillors and members of the public were present. (49)


The church at Whitchurch Canonicorum, locally know as the “Cathedral of the Vale”, is unique in that it houses the bones of its patron saint St Wite. (50) The only other church that can boast of this is Westminster Abbey. St Wite was a Saxon holy hermitess who was murdered in the 800s by marauding Danes who regularly used to ransack villages and kill the population. She was so highly thought of that they built a small wooden church in her name. This was later replaced by a stone building. Pilgrims travelled from the ancient ridgeways to visit the relics at the church encased in the Shrine of St Wite (51). The oval openings in the lower part are supposed to have healing powers. Before the 12th century much of the Marshwood Vale was thick forest with bogs and marshy land. A causeway was built above this difficult terrain so that pilgrims could travel to the church in groups, for protection from wolves and wild boar which roamed the area in those days. One such causeway was the road from the 13th century Shave Cross pub, down Bluntshay Lane, to the church. (52, 53). Pilgrims used to stop at the Shave Cross as their last watering place and have their heads shaved as a sign of humility before reaching the holy relics. There is supposed to be the ghost of the barber monk still floating around in the Shave Cross garden. The name Shave comes from an old English word “shaw” which means “a small wood, a copse”.


It can be expected, of course, that place names change over the centuries. A charter granted to Whitchurch in 1240 listed many place names in the local district. It is interesting to see that the modern version of these names can be traced:

Rihall Ryall
Manescombe Manscombe
Mortescombe Morcombe
Cochulle Cockwell
La Butt Butts Farm (Butts usually marked where archers practised their skills.)
Casimull – Casemill Cards Mill (Farm)
La Putte Pitt Farm
La Bere Berehayes
La Burne Berne Farm
Charteray ie Charterasyston Catherston
Gillewardsleghe Griddleshay
Hundelhulle or Hunnehull Hardown
Rokelshege Revelshay
Henry de ‘Cruce’ Henry of Crooch (Farm)
Capellae de Stantone et Cidioc Chapels of Stanton St Gabriel and Chideock
Capellae Willielmi de Charteray et Capella de Cernemue Chapels of Catherston and Charmouth
Capella de Mersewode Chapel of Marshwood
Wodeton Abbatis Abbots Wootton
Capella Woditune Wootton Fitzpaine

Bluntshay – originally Blundeleshay which is from the old English ‘Blundel’s haeg’,(hundred) the enclosure of Blundel, a former owner. The first mention I can find of this is in the 1330s.

Thank you to the people who helped me with research for this newsletter: Carol Lee, Susanna Grant-Brooks, Hugo James, Mandy Harvey and Kate Geraghty.

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