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I have had a very busy May on the site.

A large group, ‘The Wild Bunch’ came in the middle of the month and took over the whole campsite. (1) They had a whale of a time, even bringing their own barrel of beer, (2) and will be coming back at the same time in 2020. Here is a group photo, but missing a few who left earlier. (3)

Another family arrived with an interesting tepee (4) and brought with them a ‘rocket stove’. (5) This was stoked up from the side with kindling to create enough heat to cook small meals.

A keen cyclist, whose wife was on a course at Salway Ash Hall for 2 days, managed the steep climbs on all the hills in the Marshwood Vale with this nifty electric bike. (6)

Two rather sunburnt campers had collected large pebbles from the beach .(7) Sophie had named her pebble Herbert, (on the left) and Ruby had called her pebble, Billy. (8)

Continuing with the improvements in the cabin, we laid fablon adjacent to the basins because the new pink paint seemed to show up far more splashes than the previous white. (9, 10)


Last winter we had a hedge laid as part of the Pylon Project funded by the National Grid to support environmental improvements near the power lines. It’s run by Dorset Wildlife Trust and administered by the Dorset AONB. I have been saving oak tree saplings for years, growing them in pots in the garden. I felt it appropriate to plant two of them to be part of this new hedge. One frosty morning Will and Nick arrived to lever the pots out of the ground (11) and transport them up into the field. (12, 13). There was one oak tree that was impossible to dig up as its roots must have travelled some feet down into the soil so it will be left in the garden for posterity, along with a much younger one for another hedge in a few years’ time. (14)

Getting the trees out of the pots took some effort (15) and it was necessary to split the pots open with spades. Once the trees were extracted, (16) they were planted along the newly laid hedge, and protected with chicken wire. (17)


Rogation is associated with the blessing of a particular area and its crops. In some villages people ‘beat the bounds’ by walking around the boundary of their parish/village in the process of blessing the area. The people at Blackdown say they can see nearly the whole of the hamlet from the top of the hill, so there was no need to do any walking! (18)

The service was held on a beautiful Sunday morning. People either walked up to the top of Blackdown Hill or drove up in 4-wheel drive vehicles to congregate for the event. (19) The Revd Jo Neary (20) conducted the service and Andrew Boggis played the mini organ. (21) The local church, graveyard and most of the hamlet of Blackdown could be seen nestling in the valley below. with Lewesdon Hill in the background.

Young animals trying to keep cool under the trees were just along from the congregation. (22) Even a portable toilet had been transported up the hill for people’s convenience. (23)

Looking in the opposite direction, from the top of the hill, the village of Thorncombe could be seen. (24) Thorncombe being the last village in Dorset before crossing the border into Somerset.

In the foreground Causeway Farm, with its farm buildings and farm house made an attractive rural scene. (25) The farm house dates from the early 1700s and was once two cottages, the main house to the right, a smaller worker’s cottage to the left. The Doble family, who have been living at Causeway since 1985 and farm 150 acres, decided to see what was behind the renovations done on the house in the 1960s. They discovered at least three inglenook fireplaces and 6 bread ovens! The farmhouse had a thatched roof until the 1960s which was then replaced with cedar wood shingles.


The Bridport U3A group visited this beautiful garden recently. (26) The Newmans bought Braddocks in 2004. At that time here was a house but no garden – just a 3 acre paddock, sloping down to the River Brit, with some nice trees. Over the last 15 years, with hard work and dedication, the paddock has been transformed into ‘a feast of a garden at all times of the year’. When we arrived we were met by an Irish Wolfhound. (27) There was so much to see in a short space of time. The wild flower meadow was particularly interesting. (28) In the past no one would have created such a thing as it is full of ‘weeds’. Nevertheless, it was interesting to see so many familiar plants including red clover, creeping buttercups, lesser knapweed and meadows vetch.

The popla nigra (29) is very rare in England and the Newmans are lucky to have 5 in their garden. There were plenty of acers around (green and red) and the ones in pots looked remarkably healthy considering the lack of rain we have experienced recently. (30, 31) Magnolias were on show in abundance and this one was called ‘Yellow River’. (32) The name for this shrub was ‘The Judas Tree’, its Latin name being cercis siliquastrum. (33). The Latin name of this one is ulmus x hollndica dampieri aura. Its common name being Dutch Elm, which has been cultivated with yellow leaves. (34) Peonies (35) were in full bloom and the star of the show was definitely the Meconopis (blue poppy). (36)

In the middle of this photo (37) there is an apple tree that has been trained to grow flat as a hedge (espalier). It seems that nothing is wasted in this garden. When a tree was felled it was logged to make an attractive path. (38)


After 43 years at Candida House, John and Cynthia Bain (centre and left of photo) (39) are saying goodbye. They are leaving their property, which has spacious gardens (40) which included a leaping hare (41) and an unusual sundial. (42) The shrub growing up the front of the house, which was planted by the Bains 25 years ago, is a garrya elliptica, which flourishes on north facing walls.

The Bains held a garage sale in May as they had accumulated so much in their 43 years at Candida House. The items on sale made interesting viewing and had many inquisitive visitors during the afternoon. (43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48). A delicious tea was enjoyed by the ‘customers’. (49)

The Bains have been an integral part of the village for a very long time. Before moving down to Whitchurch permanently, they had strong links to the Purcell School of Music. Over the years we have been treated to concerts given by Purcell students, often using the congregation as ‘guinea pigs’ before they were due to give a concert in London, or elsewhere. The music was always excellent and very varied. More recently John has organised Choral Evensongs at the church, with a large choir gathered from all over West Dorset. Someone from the Choir has volunteered to continue with this special service now that the Bains have moved to Weymouth. The Bains were involved in so many things that their departure will leave a huge hole that will be difficult to fill.

Candida House, up until 43 years ago, was the Whitchurch Vicarage and dates back to the late Georgian period and was probably built around an existing old cottage. Church records tells us that Rev Francis Goforth was the Incumbent 1810-1839 and he was responsible for much building work during his time in the village. The 1881 census tells us that the then Vicar and his large family were living in the building, along with servants and a trainee curate. Quite different from the Bains bringing up their small family there, and then just the two of them living in the large building since their children have flown the nest!

In the days when Whitchurch had a village school, and before the school was ‘dechurched’ , the sports days were held on the Vicarage lawn. The photos show (50) the mothers’ race, (51) the start of a boat race and, the last one, (which isn’t a brilliant photo) (52) the wheelbarrow race. I presume that the second and third races would not be allowed nowadays because of health and safety!?

The funeral bier had always ‘lived’ on the premises because of its association with the church, (53) and has resided in the garage. It is made of mahogany with brass fittings and is about 240 years old. A bier is a stand on which a corpse, coffin, or casket containing a corpse is placed to lie in state or to be carried to the grave. The last time the bier was used was about 15 years ago, for Wilf Barnes. At that time it was very carefully taken into the church, as it is quite fragile, and the coffin placed on it for the duration of the funeral service. The only other time it came out of the garage was for my Char Valley Exhibition in 2009 at Whitchurch hall. The PCC is now trying to find a new home for it.

Candida House has been the venue for many of the Friends of St Candida events. This includes a tea party (54, 55) and summer party organised in the last few years. (56, 57, 58) The house has had a rich history in its time.


Thank you to all the people who have helped me with this newsletter: John and Cynthia Bain, the Hand and Postgate campers, the Wild Bunch, Roger Newton, Susanna Grant-Brooks, Carol Lee, Helen Doble, Philip Hardwill, Nick Gray and Will Dixon.

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