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DorsetLife The Dorset Magazine

The best of Dorset in words and pictures for 50 years

Behind the scenes with the scientists of

POOLE HOSPITAL

No. 478 January 2019

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Bridport's Edwardian women wildcat strikers

COLIN VARNDELL

Dorset's January wildlife

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Ibberton in Pictures Tarrant Crawford walk A Dorset home: Mudeford Caz Scott's stunning landscapes

HIGHLAND COW IN PURBECK SNOW


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January 2019 Dorset wildlife in January 45

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The Guttridge files

Colin Varndell on the struggle for survival Why Bournemouth may be older than thought

Dorset artist: Caz Scott 47

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Marie Stopes and Portland

DORSET WILDLIFE IN JANUARY

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DORSET ARTIST: CAZ SCOTT

A new play and her driver's memories

Stunning land and seascape paintings

Dorset village: Ibberton 55

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A Dorset home

One of North Dorset's most attractive villages The former Admiralty Chart House in Mudeford

Dorset lives: Rilly Goschen 63

This month in Dorset Upcoming events in the county

A jockey and trainer with huge ambition

Poole Hospital's scientists 69

Eat, drink, stay… Food and drink listings

The less-visible, but crucial NHS professionals

The Dorset walk 70

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A Dorset recipe

Verity Hesketh on a traditional Dorset porridge

Tarrant Crawford and Spetisbury

Strike: Bridport's wildcats 73

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Weddings: the table plan

'Just who can we safely sit next to Uncle Tim?'

A century-old story of women and workers' rights

Living in Dorset 80

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The Dorset Directory Classified Dorset businesses

News from around the county

An image of Dorset 82

A lifelike doll causes problems in Dorchester

Christchurch Priory A map showing Dorset places mentioned in this month's issue

Yetminster

Pulham

Belchalwell Ibberton

Piddletrenthide

Powerstock DORCHESTER

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Joël Lacey editor@dorsetlife.co.uk Lisa Richards office@dorsetlife.co.uk Bryony O’Hara, admin@dorsetlife.co.uk John Newth www.fudgiedesign.co.uk www.pensord.co.uk

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Dorset Life – The Dorset Magazine is published on the last Thursday of each month by The Dorset Magazine Ltd, 7 The Leanne, Sandford Lane, Wareham, Dorset BH20 4DY. ISSN 0959-1079. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited without permission. All rights reserved.

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The cover image of a Highland cow in Purbeck snow is by Andy Farrer; the centre-spread image of Christchurch Priory is by Roger Holman 3


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Colin Varndell’s Dorset seasons

Winter: January in Dorset Colin looks at the struggle for survival for nature at its harshest moment

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eather is the most crucial factor for wildlife this month. January is the time when we can expect plummeting temperatures, unforgiving hard frosts, or at worst a blanket of snow. The state of the weather now can spell survival or death for many wild creatures. We are more likely to experience frost than snow, with frost forming when the air temperature falls below freezing, so that water vapour forms

ice crystals. The two types of this weather condition we most often see are hoar frost and rime frost, the former being the most likely. Hoar frost has a feathery appearance and is the frost we most often encounter on the ground and on low vegetation. Often, frost occurring on trees is incorrectly referred to as hoar frost but this is in fact rime frost. Rime frost occurs when very humid, foggy and cold conditions are coupled with

The dormouse is one of only two Dorset mammals that hibernate; the other is the hedgehog

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Winter: January in Dorset

Above Flocks of dunlin are a common sight in Poole Harbour and the Fleet lagoon this month Right Contrary to popular belief, grey squirrels do not hibernate, but are active even in the coldest conditions Opposite bottom A dusting of snow follows a bitterly cold, freezing night on this frozen lake in Netherbury Opposite bottom Green woodpeckers feed on ant eggs throughout the year, but in frozen conditions turn their attention to turning over leaf litter in search of invertebrates

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a slight breeze. The wind blowing through the mist results in ice crystals building up on vertical features like trees. Unlike hoar frost, rime frost has a solid appearance, with blades of ice forming on the side of vertical features facing the wind direction. At this time of year with short days and long, cold nights, the challenge for wildlife to survive becomes more desperate, with a scarcity of food and little time to find it. Some birds like wrens, for example, need to eat the equivalent of their own bodyweight each day to survive. In fact, apart from brief spells of bathing and preening, most small birds spend all of the daylight hours feeding. They need to find and consume enough food to keep their energy levels up to sustain them through the following night. Wild creatures adopt various strategies for coping with the difficulties that winter brings. Some hibernate, others spend winter as an egg or pupa, while others simply fly away to warmer climates. While many bird species which bred here during the summer have now flown away, other birds actually arrive to spend the winter months in Dorset. Wildfowl and wading birds have flown in from the north to take advantage of our warmer climate. Foreign cousins of more familiar birds like starlings and blackbirds join these winter visitors. In


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Winter: January in Dorset

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some years even waxwings can reach into Dorset by January. These are birds from Scandinavia and have come to Britain in search of fruit, most often found on garden shrubs. If waxwings do arrive in Dorset this month, you would most likely find them on housing estates, where they feed on berryladen garden shrubs. Most butterflies spend the winter in egg, larva or pupa form. But some over-winter as adult butterflies; these include small tortoiseshell, peacock, comma and brimstone. The latter two have wing shapes which help them to merge into leaf litter or evergreen foliage. Few of our native mammals actually hibernate: apart from all bats, it is only the hedgehog and dormouse that undertake this dangerous means of living through winter months of famine. These animals choose this way of surviving by storing extra fat reserves in autumn. In hibernation the body temperature is significantly lowered as well as heart rate and breathing, techniques which have evolved to reduce energy consumption. Shrews are insectivorous and need to feed every two hours, even in the depths of winter. Shrews are very capable of finding invertebrate food, though, and will rummage through moss, decaying wood or leaf litter to fill their stomachs. In woods and copses, wood mice leave their day nests to scuttle across the forest floor to their store cupboards, which they stocked with nuts in autumn. Patient tawny owls sit motionless on low

branches listening for this movement, as it is their only hope for food. In spite of January being a pretty lifeless time for plants, leaf buds are beginning to swell on native trees and some, like hazel, are already coming into blossom. Hazel catkins are the male flowers, dangling at the ends of twigs and releasing yellow pollen dust to pollinate the tiny crimson female flowers, which will become the hazelnuts of next autumn. At this midwinter time there are some unique sounds to be heard in the countryside. On cold, clear nights the rasping bark of a female vixen carries far across the frosty landscape. Tawny owls are especially vocal now as they pair up and search for nesting sites, which they will use in a few weeks time. The wispy contact calls of redwings or the cackling laughter of fieldfares are also familiar sounds as flocks of these winter thrushes move between feeding areas. If the weather is mild towards the end of the month, frogs will begin to stir, driven by the instinct to mate and reproduce. The earliest we have recorded frogs mating in West Dorset was on 13 January. January may be the coldest month of the year, but the challenges it sets for mammals and birds make it a great time of year for wildlife watching. The snowdrop season will begin before the end of the month to herald in a new period of growth and activity.

Above Snowfall is the biggest threat to birds in mid-winter Opposite top Rime frost forms blades of ice on vertical features in freezing, foggy conditions Opposite bottom Shrews are active throughout winter and cannot survive for more than a couple of hours without food

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Dorset artist

‘Where land meets sea’ Tim Saunders talks to Dorset landscape artist Caz Scott

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alking the well-trodden coastal path from Studland to Golden Cap provides the inspiration for Caz Scott’s distinctive paintings of the Jurassic Coast. To be able to successfully combine passions for hiking and painting and to make these generate an income is the stuff of dreams for many. It has not happened overnight though; this is the culmination of 40 years’ work. Her stylised paintings with a limited palette caught the attention of the then franchise holder, South West Trains, which commissioned her Durdle Door artwork to be applied externally to four train carriages across the network, including those running from Weymouth to London Waterloo. The aim was to cheer up depressed commuters, according to Emma Wiles from South West Trains: ‘We wanted to brighten up the dullest of winter days by bringing a burst of summer colour to stations.’ Caz’s paintings are, she says, about ‘shedding light on the landscape, its strength and structure’. She fell in love with the area during regular trips to the Isle of Purbeck to study its geology in the 1970s and has been living here for more than

twenty years: ‘Dorset is the place where the world really comes alive for me. It’s so exciting and inspirational, thanks to the rock formations and fossils,’ she says. ‘Purbeck is an amazing landscape, with so many distinctive features within such a small area. I have always been drawn to this landscape and to the coast – the light, the space, the point where land meets sea, exposing the amazing rock structures. The Jurassic Coast is hugely inspirational with its magnificent landforms and breathtaking views across this wonderful ancient landscape.’ From a geological perspective, the coastal landscape has extraordinary diversity resulting from unique rock structures that have been exposed through natural processes and are constantly being eroded and reshaped. According to Caz: ‘The coastal path constantly brings new and breathtaking views of cliffs and bays and wide soaring skies, which are irresistible to an artist. I love the geology, shape, colour and light. ‘The cliffs here are some of the most spectacular in England,’ says Caz. ‘They are of great geological interest, for both the rock types and the variety of landforms, notably Lulworth

Kimmeridge and Clavell Tower

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Right Caz at work in her studio

Below Old Harry Rocks

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Cove and Durdle Door. Each time I re-visit familiar places I feel a new frisson of excitement.’ The scenery constantly lifts her spirits and she is driven to paint to reflect the strength and harmony of this irresistible ancient landscape: ‘I marvel at how that rugged landscape has been shaped,’ she says. ‘Five hundred million years of history, such massive changes, yet the result looks and feels so permanent and unchanging. But we know it will eventually all disappear and re-form and re-shape. There at the edge I can see so clearly, the light takes on a different quality. When I look at the coast, I see everything is perfectly placed, nothing untidy, no jarring notes, great harmony. I can't improve it, I only aim to reflect. I want my

audience to look nearly as hard as I do when I'm out drawing.’ The Dorchester-based painter always has her sketchbook to hand and concentrates on specific views that catch her eye. ‘Often it can be a response to the weather, the light and shadows, the seasons, the structure of the land or the intensity of the vegetation’. Her love of walking, which has a huge impact on her work, cannot be understated. ‘I often re-visit favourite views and make new drawings for every new painting. I find this keeps my work fresh and I always find new details. I paint in oils, usually on canvas.’ Caz’s paintings are literal. The canvases are flat, with no texture. ‘I always work from a dark canvas – raw umber. Composition is vital and I draw out my image in charcoal. Then I place the paint and it immediately glows and shimmers. It's hard to change if it's not right. Minor adjustments are acceptable, but sometimes I have to abandon work, even near completion, because it's simply not right.’ Future plans include refining her palette further still, experimenting more and ‘maybe moving towards greater abstraction while also exploring new landscapes with fresh views’. Studying drawing and sculpture at Bournemouth Arts University, Caz decided to focus on painting but is beginning to work in clay once again. She exhibits widely, including at the Etches Collection Museum of Jurassic Marine Life in Kimmeridge. In May 2019 she will open her Dorchester studio. The following month Caz will show her work at Durlston in Swanage. She will then be at Eype and is planning exhibitions for 2020. www.caz-scott.co.uk


‘Where land meets sea’

Above Durdle Door Left The Pinnacles

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Dorset village

Ibberton Joël Lacey visits a charming village perched on the south-eastern edge of the Blackmore Vale

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bberton, named for a long-departed man called Ēadbeorht, is about as quintessentially Dorset a village as one could hope to find. Sitting about 3¾ miles due south of Sturminster Newton, it is a small place that seems to cover a lot of ground. At the time of the last decennial census, the population was only just on three figures (101), but the parish covers an area of 1400 acres, giving it a population density of one person per fourteen acres. Writing in their 1935 book, The Landscape of Dorset, G G Clark and W H Thompson describe the edge of the Blackmore Vale around Ibberton thus: ‘Dorset can show no fairer scene than this, removed as it is in both miles and years from the discordant notes of the twentieth century. Who can walk up the steep pathway to Ibberton Church and look out over the village roofs to the green meadows and the distant hills of Somerset without feeling a sense of timelessness, as if the years have ceased to register their numbers? No village in Dorset conveys the sense of remoteness, of endless repetition of the seasons, so fully as Ibberton, lodged so peacefully at the foot of the downs.’ Sir Frederick Treves, who is not renowned for doling out compliments, described it as ‘the beautiful old-fashioned village of Ibberton:

Top The centre of the village shot from outside the village's pub Above The fragments of stained glass in the church, which is dedicated to St Eustachius

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a jumble of thatched cottages, gardens and orchards.’ He continued: ‘Some good soul, long ago, gave an acre of land here “for the ringing of the morning bell”. To understand the graciousness of that bequest, one must picture the hamlet in the dawn of a day in May, when the mist has barely melted from over the thatched roofs, when cottage windows are being thrown open to the sun, and then at such an hour, hear floating down from the silent hill the greeting of the morning bell. 16

‘Below the church, a spring breaks out of the rock and finds a way through the thicket of fern and bramble to the village. It bears the local name of Stachy’s Well. This does not serve to keep green the memory of some worthy well-digger of forgotten times, but commemorates the fact that the spring was dedicated to Saint Eustachius. The holy man’s name being inconveniently long, the villagers amiably changed it to Stachy.’ The village is very much a community with both


Ibberton Left The view from the village hall car park Opposite bottom A thatched cottage on the lane between the pub and church Below The lane up to the church is not for the faint-hearted

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Ibberton

Above The view from the church makes the climb worthwhile Right The village hall, which is shared with neighbouring village Belchalwell Below left A thatcher's rooftop ornament on the cottage at the fingerpost junction Below right Presumably put up by an exasperated rector of the church in the past, tired of livestock entering the graveyard

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a pub and a cricket team as well as being the location of the village hall (both for Ibberton and Belchalwell), which had a different original purpose when the church fell into disrepair in the late 1800s. As the village’s excellent Millennium Book reveals: ‘During this period (1897-1909) services were held in the temporary tin building which subsequently became the village hall. The church was reopened in 1909 after extensive restoration costing approximately £1500.’ The book talks about the church in more detail: ‘The 14th-century church is sited on a plateau on the lower slopes of Ibberton Hill from where it overlooks the village. Built between 1380 and 1400, it is one of only three in England to be dedicated to St. Eustace, the others being Hoo in Suffolk and Tavistock in Devon. There are some fragments of Elizabethan stained glass in some of the windows and the font is 15th-century. Originally there was a wooden gallery at the back of the church.’ There is more tile than thatch now in the village, and the 20th and 21st centuries saw a fair level of redevelopment in the former and modifications in the latter. It still feels like an archetypal North Dorset village, though, and all one would hope for it is that the gritters get through in winter, as it feels that a bit of ice on the hilly roads in and out of Ibberton could leave one stranded here. Mind you, that wouldn’t be such a trial.


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Above The Florian Racing Team Below Rilly on Earthmover on her way to winning the 2004 Christie's Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup

‘Get up, get back on…’ Jess Miller talks to racehorse rider and trainer Rilly Goschen about her life and future plans

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illy Goschen is a Dorset woman on a mission: to be the first in history to both train and ride a winner at the Grand National. At her Pulham yard on the border of Dorset in the south of the Blackmore Vale, a black and white cat basks luxuriantly in the late morning sunshine as Rilly appears with a boisterous pair of dalmatians bounding down the drive to greet any visitors. ‘Welcome to my world,’ says Rilly. The place is remarkably pristine. As we move into the enclosed stable yard, the dormitory, four gleaming, contented horses stand in their boxes, watching as we approach: ‘The late, great trainer, John Dufosee, taught me the importance of first impressions,’ Rilly explains. ‘I do a lot of sweeping, sometimes I could be the broom stick. Some say I could fly off on it.’ She introduces her charges: by turn, Wiggins (Ballingarrow), Sam (Seero), Rossi (Little Orange), and Boru (Borugayle). So what does she look for in a horse? She fondly strokes the face of a clearly adoring Wiggins: ‘Strength, power and a good brain, with athleticism, physical correctness and a sound temperament: all are important attributes. ‘Mum and Dad weren’t horsey at all, but they bought me my first pony, Blossie, when I was three and stuck me on it. That was when we lived at Tincleton. I remember having the most horrible fall when I was four and seeing and hearing, 22


Phil Britt Photography

through my tears, my father saying “Get up, get back on, you’ll be fine.” I remember thinking, “Yes, I want to get back on!”, so I did, and he was right, it was fine. That first fall was a valuable life lesson. Pick yourself up, keep going. A motto I still live by.’ It was a lesson that stood her in good stead when her beloved father, David, drowned in a boating accident when Rilly was seven: ‘Blossie became my escape from grief. Thereafter my amazing mum, Gilly, took over the running of Florian Tiles, which had been created by my father – thus providing my sister Jessie and I with immeasurable security, and me the freedom to pursue my passion. I owe her so much.’ Rilly joined the South Dorset Pony Club, where she learnt many lessons in life, horse management, riding and etiquette. She had caught the point-to-pointing bug at the tender age of five: ‘My parents went to some local pointpoints, for the social aspect more than anything. I remember my first day at the races at Badbury Rings and being in awe of the noise, the shifting colours of the jockeys' silks, the buzz, the thunder before being offered to ride him in the Foxhunters of hooves, the roar of the crowd as the horses at Cheltenham Festival, which, alongside crossed the finish line. I was utterly captivated. I Aintree, is the ultimate; it’s the amateur jockey’s thought, “I want to do this.” I watched the racing equivalent of the Gold Cup. ‘I cruised around at legends such as Robert Alner and Mike Felton. I the back,’ Rilly remembers, ‘gradually passing studied how they rode courses and always found everyone on the outer until I was in front. We had the winner’s line.’ Her first challenging horse was a tricky chestnut a telepathic discussion about how to jump the last mare who ‘taught me patience, and how to fence. He popped it accurately and we won by four solve things in a calm manner.’ When she was lengths.’ It was, as she recalls, ‘Magic. It made fifteen, she went to work for John Dufosee, an everything worthwhile.’ established point-to-point trainer based at Nyland, In 2003 she leased Chasing the Bride from near Gillingham. It was the start of an enduring Susan Hooper, and the Florian Racing Partnership friendship, both personal and professional, and was formed, which ignited her training career and she is keen to point out how indebted she is was largely supported by friends and family. to the time she spent under his tutelage: ‘I Everything changed in 2007 when Rilly was remember meeting him for the first time. He had diagnosed with cervical cancer. The ensuing weeks a gigantic scar across his face, and this incredible of gruelling treatment, after which she was given aura. I thought, “This guy’s just like Harrison Ford.” the all clear, made her ‘realise what is important He was an expert with difficult horses and never in life. The Florian Racing Club is up and running, told me off. If I made a mistake, he’d just ask me and I want to try to win the Grand National.’ When why, and how to solve it. He helped me to learn.’ asked if she really thinks it's possible, she replies It took her five years to ride her first winner firmly: ‘It will happen.’ She rides off towards the for Dufosee, Great Uncle at Badbury Rings. His gallops in the late morning sunshine and it’s hard response? ‘Can you not let it take another five not to hope that dreams really do come true. years to ride another winner for me, please?’ Rilly was ‘more relieved than emotional’. Join Rilly in fulfilling her dream In 1998, physical problems caused by a The Florian Racing Club has been created for prolapsed disc resulted in back surgery. She people who are enthusiastic about racing but quit her job at Dufosee's. The following season, may never have the opportunity to experience she called champion National Hunt trainer Paul owning a horse due to life's other financial Nicholls and asked him if she could ride out at his commitments; the Club owns three! Rilly invites Ditcheat yard while she carried on freelance pointmembers to join social days both on and off to-point riding. the track and members get regular updates ‘Paul’s yard was full of girls all vying for rides. I and blogs from everyday life and our progress had to wait my turn. After four years, Paul watched towards racedays. Joining the club encourages me ride a double at the Blackmore Vale point-tothe passion and exhilaration that National Hunt point. He came up to me and offered me a ride racing has to offer, and gets Rilly closer to her at Ayr on Roger Penny’s Earthmover. Next thing I Grand National goal. knew, I was on EasyJet, then at Ayr, winning the Contact Rilly at rilly.florianracing@gmail.com race easily.’ She won thrice more on Earthmover https://uk.gofundme.com/Rilly-s-Collecting-Box

Above Rilly riding her 150th winner at Larkhill

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The appliance of science

A member of the pathology department's team of scientists with one of the robotic machines that prepares around 3000 samples a day for nearly ten times that number of tests

Joël Lacey goes behind the scenes with the scientists of Poole Hospital

T

he phrase ‘What’s wrong with me?’ is the often unspoken question that leads us all, at some point in our lives, into the medical world. While TV programmes like House or Grey’s Anatomy would have us believe that the right doctor can individually and magically pronounce the cause of our ills and their treatment, that is just not the case in the real world. To misquote Isaac Newton: 'If doctors can see more clearly what ails us, it is because they are standing on the shoulders of science.' Science that would be inaccessible without the help of Poole Hospital’s Healthcare scientists and engineers. This is not to denigrate the medical and surgical doctors and nurses and all allied health professionals, rather it is a fundamental acceptance that without the staggering amount of technology available to them, the frontline medical staff would find it much, much harder to diagnose and treat patients. How much harder? Well with somewhere between 80-90% of diagnoses being based on pathology (blood sciences, cellular sciences and infection sciences) the answer is very much harder. In the 2016/17 year, Poole Hospital’s pathology department conducted 11,004,603 tests. Of these, all but half a million were done in blood sciences, 132,590 were tissue and cell tests and 354,262 were microbiology and virology tests for infection. There are 250 Healthcare scientists at Poole Hospital, who all have a degree in their specialist subject. Many roles also require a masters degree and several years of training. There are equivalent to 175 full-time members of staff in pathology, where, according to Mike Trevett in Blood Sciences: ‘Tests are requested based on the

patient’s current condition, or treatment. There is a vast array of tests that we offer – around 100150 in house– and if there’s something outside of this, we can refer it to specialist labs around the country. ‘Within haematology we’re assessing full blood counts; red cells, white cells and platelets and also coagulation screens looking at clotting times . Within biochemistry they offer even more tests looking at chemical pathways, protein markers and tumour markers. We’re not just here to provide a diagnosis of what someone may have, but also to eliminate conditions that they don’t have. ‘This department serves inpatients, outpatients, GP surgeries across Poole and parts of Bournemouth and the private hospital adjacent to this one. In the mornings our main focus is processing samples from inpatients and outpatients. In the afternoon, the bulk of our workload is from GP surgeries. We have a pod system (like the pneumatic systems used in department stores to transfer cash) which connects to the wards and we have an urgent system, so everything from A&E comes into us this way. In all, we receive about 3000 samples a day (on which multiple tests will be performed). Tanya Hart, a clinical scientist in the biochemistry section of blood sciences, explains some of the machinery involved: ‘This first line [pictured at top of page] prepares the samples, removes the sample bottles’ caps, prepares the samples for whatever tests need to be performed. Then we have interfaces connected to our medical equipment that then know what tests need to be performed on that sample. It’s all electronically logged and driven. The idea is that we have a lot of big machines that do all the repetitive jobs and 25


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then the expertise and training of the scientists can be used to interpret the results of the data from those tests. ‘There are all different types of cancer and some of them have specific blood tests that can help with diagnosis. There are certain types of cancer where blood counts can be greatly affected and then we can also check the blood for certain kinds of marker. For example, ovarian cancer can release a molecule into the blood called CA125.’ It’s not just for initial diagnosis either, as Mike Trevett explains: ‘For cancer patients, anyone who has chemotherapy or surgery may require a full blood count, blood clotting check or a blood transfusion. For those undergoing chemotherapy, you want to check the full blood count, to check their haemoglobin levels are stable, their white blood cell count and their platelets are adequate; they may also have a blood group sample taken and, if necessary, they would be given the right blood products to improve their condition.’ The analyses based on blood samples normally take from 40 minutes to perform, but pathology is not the only place where tests are conducted in Poole Hospital. Bedside monitors for inpatients are constantly checking blood oxygen levels, blood pressure and heart rate and rhythm instantly in real time. At the other end of the test-length spectrum is the work conducted by Neurophysiology Healthcare Scientist Jon Flannery (and colleagues), to measure nerve and brain function in patients presenting with seizures or other neurological symptoms: ‘One of our tests may last up to 96 hours,’ he explains. ‘I monitor and record nerve function be it in the brain, eye, spine, or limbs. ‘When we do an EEG, Electro-encephalography – electro, we attach electrodes; encephalo, of or from the head; and graph, well, to graph – we’ll attach 24 transducers (electrodes) to our patient’s head to record on-going brain activity. Our patients are admitted to a room with a bed, a microphone and the video camera’. All the information goes into the EEG computer, and is analysed by the scientist and medical team. ‘It’s not a perfect analogy for how the brain works, but if you imagine taking a photograph of an orchestra, you can see what instruments are there, but it’s only when you make a recording that you find out whether they’re playing in tune or not. They may look fine, but sound terrible together. We’re trying to determine whether the brain goes ‘out of tune’ during the patient’s symptoms. ‘We’re asking “what does it our patient’s seizure physically looks like, and how it is the brain working at that time?”. You may come to the end of that 96-hour recording and say, “Well it’s not epilepsy, so let’s go down another diagnostic path; it’s not fainting so let’s go down another path, an MR scan picture may reveal something developing in the brain.”’ Claire Davies is a Medical Physicist in Diagnostic

Radiology and monitors the imaging equipment. When a brain scan of a patient is required, initially a Computed Tomography (CT) scan is performed. If further imaging is required it is done using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner. Computed Tomography scanners use X-rays, an MRI scanner uses a strong magnetic field. Around 500,000 diagnostic imaging procedures are taken across Dorset each year. Poole Medical Physics department monitors nine CT, eight MRI scanners, 150 X-ray units and fifty ultrasound imaging systems across East Dorset. Healthcare scientists do a significant amount of testing to ensure that the equipment works in accordance with national guidelines. Healthcare scientists do a significant amount of testing and optimisation of the equipment to ensure the lowest dose is given in order to obtain diagnostic images. Emma O’Shaughnessy, Principal Physicist in Nuclear Medicine, uses radioactive materials in diagnostic, curative and palliative ways. ‘Nuclear medicine is involved with radioactivity that you attach to a drug which takes pictures of different organs in your body depending on the drug the radioactivity is attached to and PET (Positron Emission Tomography – which also has the addition of a low radiation dose CT scan) is the same. So depending on what you’re trying to look at or treat in the body, you use a different

Above John Flannery holding a bunch of transducers that are attached to the head of patients to measure their brain activity

Below One doesn't need to be a neurophysiologist to see the point in this trace where a seizure starts, but it takes years of training to understand why it may be happening and what it signifies for the patient

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Above Charlie Martin explaining the way multi-leaf collimators channel the ionising radiation in the treatment of tumours

Below Emma O' Shaughnessy calibrating the Gamma camera, which is used to visualise Technetiumtagged deposits in cancerous cells

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earlier than you might on a CT scan. We also have a treatment called Samarium-153 therapy, which can be used for any cancer where there is pain from a cancerous bony deposit. The effects can be dramatic in terms of pain relief.’ Charlie Martin is a physicist in radiotherapy, where patients tend to arrive at the end of their diagnostic pathway, and normally with cancer: ‘radiotherapy can treat Dupuytren's contracture, where it is an alternative to surgery to alleviate the involuntary and otherwise normally irreversible bending of fingers, but by and large we deal with cancer. Radiotherapy works by breaking DNA inside the cancer cells, stopping them from multiplying isotope and chemical to which you attach it. For and killing them.. As technology has improved, a lot of the tests we do diagnostically we use targeted radiotherapy and better imaging has an isotope called Technetium-99m, which is a made it easier for us to treat. With radiotherapy really good imaging agent. It produces powerful using ionising beams, you can’t tell the radiation enough gamma radiation to come out of the body, where to stop, so if you were to put a long but not so powerful that it goes through all the exposure single beam onto a cancer you’d also instrumentation you’re trying to measure it with; be ionising the tissue before and the tissue after it’s also got a relatively low half-life (six hours) so the cancer. By using multiple beams from different even if you inject relatively large amounts on the angles, you reduce the exposure to healthy tissue day of the image, 24 hours later you don’t have to and focus it more on the cancerous tissue by worry about it. where it crosses over. We’re using X-rays in a On the treatment side, as Emma explains: ‘The Megavolt range not the kilovolt range that’s used majority of treatment we are involved with is for in imaging. We can project the beam from 360 thyroid cancers where a very simple radioactive degrees and match the shape from the angle to iodine compound will go straight to the thyroid the shape of the tumour established from the cells and kill cancer cells in the thyroid or imaging. We do CT scans on the patient before anywhere else in the body these cells may have treatment and doctors define the area they want deposited. There’s also a treatment for prostate treating. We can treat field sizes up to 40cm cancer where you can inject Radium-223 and but we’re normally treating much smaller areas that’s a very effective palliative treatment and it so we restrict the beam to a rectangular shape has also been shown to prolong life. using metal shutters and smaller ‘fingers’ called ‘For PET scanning, Fluorine-18 is attached to multi-leaf collimators that focus the beam to a sugar for most studies so wherever you may have specific shape for the angle at which the beam is a cancer in the body, as [cancer] is a growing bring directed – like dodging and burning-in in a cell, it takes sugar from the blood. With the latest photographic darkroom. scanners, if the sugar uptake is enough, you can The imaging and radiological equipment isn’t see things as small as a strawberry pip. For bone the only technology that needs support at Poole scans, we attach Technetium-99m to a phosphate Hospital, as Clinical Engineering Manager John analogue which gets taken up by the bone and we Pickett reveals: ‘We support equipment throughout can see cancerous deposits on a bone scan much the hospital from thermometers to anaesthetic machines and life support and everything in between, from the moment we have someone say “it might be an idea to get this”, to dealing with it at the end of life and safely disposing of it. We also look at incidents involving equipment to identify faults or potential improvements. We use a database to record all our assets and currently have somewhere shy of 10,000 assets for Poole, there are about 600 models of different pieces of equipment and the last time I counted up, the replacement value was £60,000,000.’ The sheer scale of the testing and the breadth of the science may be breath-taking, but the clinicians and scientists of Poole Hospital are only too well aware that, from the perspective of patients and their families, as Isaac Newton also said: ‘It is the weight, not numbers of experiments that is to be regarded.’


Dorset walk

Tarrant Crawford & Spetisbury Teresa Rabbetts goes walking where the Tarrant meets the Stour

T

hese days Tarrant Crawford is scarcely more than a small scattered community consisting of a handful of buildings, most of which are sited within half a mile of the church. However, a clue to the former importance of the settlement can be found in the name of the one farmhouse and associated barns which remain next to the church – Tarrant Abbey. Tarrant Abbey thrived and prospered under King Henry III, who maintained royal patronage after the death of his sister, Joan, endowing the Abbey with many gifts including half of the manor of Bere Regis in 1269. Prosperity continued until the dissolution under Henry VIII, when most of the nunnery buildings were destroyed. Rising as a winterborne on Cranborne Chase, the River Tarrant cuts through the valley, gaining depth and width as it travels. Originally referred to by the ancient British name Terente, which translates as ‘trespasser’ or ‘river that was liable to flood’, the lower stretches of the Tarrant certainly flow during the winter period, frequently causing floods along its course. Crawford probably meaning ‘crows’ ford’ possibly refers to a ford that was situated where Crawford Bridge now stands. Although winding merely seven and a half miles through quiet North Dorset countryside, the River Tarrant asserts its importance by providing names to eight settlements, from Tarrant Gunville to Tarrant Crawford, the last of the Tarrant villages, before merging with the River Stour just after Keyneston Mill. Ne ar the site of the former abbey in a quiet valley is the simple and beautiful St Mary’s church,

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dating back to the 12th century. There is a strong sense of atmosphere which greets you as you step into the nave – electricity never reached St Mary’s. The unlit interior is plain and unpretentious with a wagon roof, an exposed roof structure, clear glazed windows, oak pews and a sloping stone floor. Most impressive of all, though, are the faded wall paintings on the south wall. Dating from the late 14th century, the ghostly painted tales were sited to instruct early parishioners – they tell of St Michael weighing souls at the Last Judgment, St Christopher carrying the Holy Child, the scene of the Crucifixion, the life and sufferings of St Margaret of Antioch (who was said to have been swallowed by the devil, shown here in the form of a dragon) and three skeletal princes who provide a judicious morality tale about ‘the emptiness of earthly rank and wealth’. As medieval visitors travelled to and from Tarrant Abbey, they would have passed through the lanes, going by Tarrant Crawford Cross. The tradition of erecting wayside crosses dates from the 9th to 15th centuries. They served several functions: not only did they reinforce the Christian faith, (some early crosses re-used prehistoric standing stones), but they also acted as waymarkers to link settlements or indicate routes, particularly between religious settlements. As with so many structures across the country, many wayside crosses were damaged during the Reformation or the Commonwealth, but there are approximately 350 crosses remaining across the country, particularly concentrated throughout Devon and Cornwall. Tarrant Crawford Cross, at the junction between


Tarrant Crawford and Spetisbury hill fort. There is an obvious path around the Rings which leads you back to the lane where you turn right and go up the ramp just before the bridge to rejoin the Trailway route. Continue along the Trailway for just over a mile, pass through Spetisbury station and then under a bridge (there are a number of footpaths on either side of this section but ignore them). Continue until reaching Spetisbury School on the right of the path. Leave the Trailway just before a road bridge and walk down a ramp and into the lane next to the school. Walk down the lane and cross the A350, then follow the Keyneston Mill footpath which passes in front of Clapcott’s Farm. When you reach two garages, follow the left path, which passes over a long bridge through gardens, then continue over the gravel drive and bridge before turning left onto the footpath which passes Mill House. Follow the route through the trees and enter fields. Now cross two fields and walk towards a footbridge which crosses the Stour, to Keyneston Mill. Past Keyneston Mill, the path turns sharply right and is fenced for a short stretch. Follow Shapwick, Tarrant Crawford and Spetisbury, is the clearly trodden route with the river and trees thought to date from the 15th century and, on your right until reaching a lane. Cross the although the cross was raised onto new steps lane and see the post which indicates St Mary’s and the head replaced in 1914, Historic England Church – follow the route up the unmade road, believe that it is relatively well-preserved and, as eventually passing Tarrant Abbey Farm on the right it survives in its original location, it is an important before reaching the church. On leaving the church, follow the path as example. Although Tarrant Crawford now consists it rises slightly uphill. The remaining Abbey of few dwellings around the junction, there are earthworks of former house sites in adjacent fields, walls are on the left and Tarrant Abbey Farm on a reminder of the former size and importance of a the right. The path continues to the road, where you turn left and walk until reaching the Tarrant now depleted settlement Crawford Cross where you turn right (signposted to Spetisbury) and return to Crawford Bridge. THE WALK After parking, return to the A350 and cross with caution to Louse Lane opposite. Turn 4 right and up the ramp to follow the old Somerset Keynston Mill and Railway track route, the Trailway, towards Blandford. If you want to explore the nearby Crawford Castle/Spetisbury Rings, then go over the stile immediately on the left and, keeping the N hedge on the right, follow the path arrows to the

Left Tarrant Crawford Cross Far left Crawford Bridge

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3

4

5

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Park & start: Travelling north on the A350 Sturminster Marshall to Blandford road, turn right on entering Spetisbury into Mill Street. Proceed slowly as the road goes over Crawford Bridge until reaching a very small parking area on the left of the road. Terrain: Mostly easy. Following the river, much of the route will be muddy during the winter or after rainy periods. The terrain offers varying conditions – road, tracks and muddy paths across water meadows. Distance: 4 miles Maps: OS Explorer 118 Shaftesbury & Cranborne Chase, OS Landranger 195 Bournemouth & Purbeck

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Tarrant Crawford

3

Crawford Farm

½ mile

Spetisbury

1

1

path track road, lane or paved drive reference to route description

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‘We want our rights’ Teresa Rabbetts on a long-forgotten industrial action in Bridport

I

dissatisfaction and discontent formed itself into a more organised campaign, female activists undertook more radical activities. While the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) were becoming increasingly militant and pursuing headline-grabbing activities in London, there were women all round the country who were quietly involved in playing a part in the movement for reform. The West Dorset Women’s Suffrage Society (WDWSS) was an active force, although not always reported on in very favourable terms by the Bridport News; they were in fact a moderate band who advocated non-violent action. Bridport, like most other small industrial towns, was built around and dominated by one industry: rope and net. Frequently, whole families worked in the mills, factories, workshops, warehouses and offices of the different rope and net companies in the town. Despite industrialisation from the late 18th century, much of the more specialised net work was still carried out by hand and often in homes by outworkers, with different villages specialising in certain types of net. Most hand braiders were women who produced fine specialised nets and those of a more complicated design, and applied the finishing touches such as hand-sewn edges or attaching ropes, floats and sinkers. The women of Bridport worked hard to

Striking workers and supporters

Graham Burridge Collection

n February 1912, an event took place in Bridport which might be thought of as being uncharacteristically radical for the town: a group of young female workers staged a ‘wildcat’ strike action. It was an incident that was of public interest locally and nationally, but was resolved in a matter of days and then apparently overlooked for the best part of a hundred years. Nonetheless, it was a significant episode in the history of industrial and social reform in Dorset. By the early part of the 20th century, Britain was no longer the dominant capitalist economy on the world stage. Historians often refer to the years leading up to World War 1 as the ‘Great Unrest’; as the economy declined, the division of wealth grew, leading to a steady fall in the real value of wages and extreme poverty and exploitation for the British workforce. There were waves of strikes, industrial conflicts and riots across the country and a rapid growth in trade unionism. The turn of the century also saw an upsurge in the efforts of women to attain a more equitable society for themselves: both on the domestic front, against paternalistic attitudes in the home, and nationally. They formed themselves into trade unions, sought to have a respected voice in collective debates on social and economic change and demanded to be given the vote. As rumbling

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‘We want our rights’ make ends meet, not only running the household and caring for their children but also pursuing their own employment while coping with such low wages that households were invariably multigenerational by necessity – every member’s wage was essential to the survival of the family. Bridport was not a renowned venue for industrial discontent and it is tempting to think that perhaps the women of Bridport, represented by the moderate WDWSS, remote from the headline activities of the Women’s Movement in the capital and the industrial unrest around the country, were too busy working, keeping their families together and surviving their handto-mouth existence to protest about their plight. However, in February 1912, a group of female employees were seen outside Messrs Gundry and Co.’s factory in West Street, displaying a placard printed with the words ‘WE WANT OUR RIGHTS’. What brought this about was that Gundry and Co., one of the large factories in Bridport, proposed a change to the scale of wages paid to the girls. The Bridport News reported that: ‘The dissatisfaction has arisen among the girls employed on the French net machines, and on Friday afternoon they refused to resume work and came out on strike. The girls complain that the proposed readjustment of the scale will operate most unfairly upon those who are at the present time able to earn fairly good wages.’ The workers had been paid by result or ‘piece work’, which meant, as the Bridport News wrote, that ‘Some of these hands earn from 14s to 16s a week on the best kind of work, whereas others, on a different class of cotton, would not earn more than 6s or 7s’. Gundry’s did not propose to raise the rates of pay of the low-paid girls, but rather to reduce the rate of the higher-paid French net machinists.

On 11 February a group of French machine hands walked off their jobs in protest. A Bridport photographer of the time, Clarence Austin, captured the event in a fascinating series of photographs which retired photographer Carlos Guarita, who researched Austin’s life and work, published as Clarence Austin the Photographer and the Bridport Wildcat Women. Amongst the collection are several photos of the striking women in posed line-up shots and in others there are groups of men and boys in the background, peacefully observing the occasion. One photo held by Bridport Local History Centre has been annotated with the names of the women; unfortunately, the provenance of the annotation cannot be verified, although the names do correspond with women listed as netters in the 1911 census. In the days that followed, the Bridport News monitored the strike in regular reports referring to the participants as ‘girls’, although not naming

Above There are reminders of Bridport's netmaking and ropemaking history wherever you go in the town

Above The Hope & Anchor, where a large group of women employees met; by the end of the evening most of the girls had joined the National Federation of Women Workers

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‘We want our rights’ The monogrammed gates of the former Gundry works

Graham Burridge Collection

Another Clarence Austin image of the striking girls. The youth of some of the workers is evident in this shot.

any individual striker. Whilst the paper had previously printed unsympathetic views on West Dorset suffrage, it is unlikely that the Bridport News references to ‘girls’ were intended to be condescending because again, a look at the 1911 census confirms that the many of them really were girls: teenagers between 14-19 years of age. It is interesting to note the camaraderie of the girls’ action, demonstrated by the fact that the lower-paid girls came out on strike together with their higher-paid colleagues. Also significant is that the Bridport News reported many men from factories around town assembled to show support, perhaps demonstrating just how essential the wages of the net workers were to the family unit. Each day the girls paraded through the town singing ‘We won’t give in’ and ‘Shoulder to shoulder’. They assembled outside the closed doors of the Gundry works, where they were cheered by the other hands. Gundry’s factory manager, Mr Macdonald, made an initial unsuccessful attempt to negotiate with the strikers, and then, on the following Wednesday, met with them again to suggest arbitration proposing as arbiter the banker and Conservative MP for West Dorset, Colonel Robert Williams. The girls rejected the proposal, anxious for someone they could trust to be an impartial negotiator, and remained out on strike. Later that day, Miss Ada Newton from the National Federation of Women Workers arrived from London and met with the striking girls. Formed in 1906, the NFWW was established to be a co-ordinated union for women frustrated at the fact that existing unions were not open to female members. That evening Miss Newton, a former silk factory-worker herself, gave a speech before a large meeting of women employees in the club room at the Hope and Anchor where she promoted trade unionism; by the end of the evening, the Bridport News reported, ‘practically all the girls joined the Federation.’ The following day Miss Newton and Mr Macdonald met and settled that the girls would return to work at six in the morning the next day.

It would seem that the strike had public support as plenty of financial donations were made to support the strikers and a week later the Bridport News published a letter from Ada Newton in which she thanked the people who had subscribed to aid the striking girls: ‘The amount collected was £9 13s 8d, which has been equally distributed amongst the girls affected.’ At today’s value this equates to approximately £760. So what did the strike actually achieve? With the action resolved and the strikers returned to work, the local union soon broke down – the union subscription was another financial burden on lowpaid workers. However, trade unionism in Bridport was re-activated a short time later and contact with the NFWW re-established after the formation of Bridport Trades and Labour Council in 1913. Two years after the strike, the union organised a concert and social event in the town in which women from the 1912 strike took part. Finally, it would be good to report that the striking girls received satisfactory wage adjustments, but this does not appear to have been the case; at best, the negotiated settlement achieved a period of notice prior to wage levels being adjusted. The Bridport News reported the settlement in the same spirit of goodwill that seems to have been the feeling of the action: ‘... Miss Newton had an interview with Mr Macdonald, with the result that the strike has been settled, on the basis that the girls return to work this (Friday) morning, at six o’clock, the firm undertaking to give four weeks’ notice of any alteration of pay such notice not to be given before the 31st May. We are glad the dispute has been settled and trust everything will work smoothly and pleasantly in the future.’ Clarence Austin Book Carlos Guarita's book, Clarence Austin: The photographer and Bridport Wildcat Women, ISBN 9781907-352072, is published at £8 by Just Press and is available in Bridport & online. www.justpress.co.uk

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Living in Dorset If you have a story you think would be suitable for Dorset Life, 's Living In pages, please contact Sue Weekes. You can reach her by email at livingindorset@dorsetlife.co.uk or you can call the Dorset Life office on: 01929 551264

Dorset icon to symbolise the National Trust When local photographer Brian Terrey arrived in Corfe Castle, he didn’t expect to capture an image that more than five million people would carry around with them. His shot of the castle taken from West Hill was chosen by the National Trust to adorn its 2019 member’s cards. Brian, who lives in Poole, had taken a photographer friend to the area for the first time. ‘On arrival the clouds were low and sweeping across the castle, each shot was different from the last,’ he says. ‘Luckily, the clouds cleared briefly and some amazing light lit the scene.’ It was chosen as part of a competition run by the Trust to find new imagery for the annual guide on the theme of ‘our space to explore’, which attracted 7500 photographs. Brian was a regular visitor to Corfe as a child. ‘Now I take my six-year-old boy,’ he says. ‘It’s somewhere I’ve grown up and somewhere I’ll always come back to.'

Words are precious A book that celebrates some of the words that are being lost in common parlance such as adder, kingfisher, newt and bramble set retired Dorset botanist Richard Bradford on a mission. The Lost Words features acrostic spell-poems by awardwinning writer Robert Macfarlane and hand-painted illustrations by Jackie Morris. Richard, along with Paul Angel of Gulliver’s Bookshop in Wimborne, and local publicist Emma Fernandez, organised a crowdfunding campaign to bring the book to Dorset schools. They raised £4000, enough to buy a book for every primary school in Dorset and two copies for secondary and special schools. Richard earned additional sponsorship money for the project by cycling 800km to deliver them. ‘The books are heavy, I can only carry six at a time,’ he says. With help from Dorset Libraries, Artsreach and Dorset Reading Partners, the book has been presented at school assemblies and the team are rolling out artist-led workshops, supported by Dorset AONB. They are also helping Stepping into Nature to take the book into memory cafés and Dorset Countryside Rangers are creating a seasonal Lost Words trail at Thorncombe Wood. ‘Trees are a wonderful way to access nature,’ says Richard. Richard presents the book to children

Everyone needs good neighbours For some people, changing light bulbs, re-tuning televisions and filling out forms presents a major challenge. A new community initiative in Corfe Mullen aims to come to the rescue of people who struggle with such tasks. Local resident Sue Reynolds is behind the East Dorset Good Neighbour Scheme which has already recruited a number of volunteers. ‘There are many people in the community who sometimes need small jobs doing,’ she says, adding that the ageing population means such services will need to grow. Similar schemes also run in Christchurch, Ferndown, Three Legged Cross, Verwood, West Moors and West Parley. ‘These small tasks are nothing to a younger, fit person but to someone who is old or vulnerable, it can make a huge difference,’ says Emma Regan from Douch Family Funeral Directors, who sits on the steering committee. The number to call to access support in these schemes is 01202 834034.

Councillor Paul Harrison, third from left, with Sue Reynolds far right, along with officials and volunteers at the launch of the scheme

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Living in Dorset

New era for Dorset village The west Dorset village of Yetminster is to have 85 new homes. Burrington Estates New Homes has been granted planning permission for one-, two-, three-, four- and five-bedroom homes on land off Thornford Road. Work will begin early this year. The developer worked with the local Ryme Intrinseca Parish Council to help shape the scheme. It says each of the new homes have been sensitively designed to complement local village architecture and the surrounding landscape. ‘Engaging with the community is an important part of what we do,’ says development director David Matthews. ‘And we are positive,’ he added, ‘that our new homes will enhance the existing village community.’

Giving children the best start Dorset is the first county in the UK to run two innovative new programmes that help prepare children for school. Home Talk, which encourages parents to talk and read more to babies and children, and Big Hopes, Big Future, which seeks to equip children with key skills, are national initiatives, but local charity Home Start West Dorset is the only organisation to combine both into a school readiness programme. ‘Research shows that children are going to school without having the core skills they need in terms of things like communication and playing and sharing with others,’ says Helen Horsley, senior organiser for the charity. She explains that a pilot programme of Home Talk, in which children wear a brightly coloured vest that records the number of words they are exposed to, has already made a difference and is encouraging more interaction. The programmes are implemented by the charity’s existing volunteers but it also hopes to recruit new people. www.homestartwestdorset.co.uk

Artist’s impression of the new homes

Helen with a teddy wearing the Home Talk vest

Bringing 18th century Portland to life

Overleaf Christchurch Priory by Roger Holman

When Sid Payne retired to Weymouth, he was taken on a visit to the ruins of St Andrews’s Church above Church Ope Cove in Portland by Lisa Gravett, manager of Portland Museum. ‘Her enthusiasm for the Isle of Portland took hold,’ says Sid, a keen fisherman and diver, ‘and I was hooked.’ It led him to dig further into the area’s history and he was eventually inspired to write a book bringing 18th-century Portland to life. ‘I picked out a Portlander, Abraham Winter, the

church sexton, and used him to create the story based on facts in the accounts and other records,’ he explains. The result is A Portland Tale, A View of Parish Life in Georgian England, England a fascinating read and cleverly illustrated by the author’s own drawings. ‘It’s the first time I have attempted drawing aside from the odd sketch in the past,’ says Sid, who used old illustrations and paintings as a guide for accuracy. Sid has already written a sequel, which follows Abraham’s son, a quarryman. www.olympiapublishers.com 41


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The house that Lewis built Roger Guttridge questions the dating of Bournemouth’s origins as a seaside resort Alwyn Ladell

R

ead any history of Bournemouth and it will give what is effectively the seaside town’s birthday as 14 July 1810. That is the date when the celebrated ‘Founder of Bournemouth’, Lewis Tregonwell, and his wife, Henrietta, are supposed to have made their inaugural visit to uninhabited ‘Bourne’ during a holiday at Mudeford. The books also tell us that the first sale of land to Captain Tregonwell was completed on 25 September 1810, that building work on his seaside mansion began in 1811 and that the house was ‘ready for occupation’ early in 1812. But at least some of these details of Bournemouth’s early history may need tweaking. For little-known diaries from the period suggest that events unfolded slightly earlier than traditionally believed. In her diary, Tregonwell family friend Harriet Grove writes of her own family’s stay at Mudeford in July 1810. Her entry for 4 July reads: ‘We all walked on the sands. The Tregonwells are here and very kind to us. We went after dinner to see a place Mr T has bought and talks of building on called Bourne. It is very barren but a pretty sea view.’ This clearly suggests that not only the Tregonwells’ historic first visit but the land purchase were done and dusted at least ten days before 14 July – and presumably a good bit before that. The two families met several more times during their July 1810 stay at Mudeford, visiting Hordle Cliff in the Tregonwell carriage on 7 July and ‘the Lookout’ on 8 July. On 9 July, Harriet wrote: ‘The Tregonwells left us, which we are very sorry [about]. Walked with Helen [the Tregonwells’ daughter] on the sands before she went.’ Helen was a lifelong friend of Harriet’s sister, Charlotte, whose own diaries repeatedly refer to her and the Tregonwells. Charlotte herself appears to suggest that the Tregonwell mansion was already standing in May 1811, a year or so before the completion date given by other sources. In her diary entry for 30 May 1811, she writes: ‘A party of pleasure to Bourne Cliff. Mr Tregonwell’s new house – dined on cold meat in the house. St Barbe [the Tregonwells’ son] walked through a brook eight times to help us over. Mrs Portman and the Miss[es] Williams met us at Bourne. The seashore there beautiful.’ The ‘brook’ was presumably the Bourne Stream that today bisects the Bournemouth Gardens. Mrs Portman was probably a relative, as Henrietta Tregonwell was a member of the Portman family from Bryanston. But Charlotte Grove’s comment about dining at ‘Mr Tregonwell’s new house’ in 1811 appears to conflict with Henrietta’s own diary entry for 24 April 1812, where she records that they ‘Went to Bourne: slept there for the first time’. Henrietta’s diary appears to be the original source for all traditional datings. Charles H. Mate and Charles Riddle quoted it in their history of early Bournemouth, published in 1910 to mark the town’s centenary. According to them, Henrietta referred to visits on 14 and 30 July 1810 and ‘further and frequent visits’ in September, October,

Portman Lodge, in the centre of this picture, is thought to date from 1810

November and December. Mate and Riddle continue: ‘There was much going to and fro again in March and April 1811; in June they came over from Christchurch every day for a week – a fact significant not of pleasure-taking alone, but of business. The erection of “the Mansion” had been determined upon and commenced. But apparently it was not completed till the spring of the following year, for the entry in Mrs Tregonwell’s diary under the date 24 April 1812, reads…’ They then quote Henrietta’s comment about sleeping in the house for the first time. The most significant word here is ‘apparently’. Although later writers have taken 1812 as the definitive date of occupation, Mate and Riddle clearly had their doubts. There is more than one possible explanation for the apparent contradiction. Perhaps the mansion was completed the previous year and 24 April 1812 was no more and no less than Henrietta said it was – the date that they first spent the night there. Or perhaps Charlotte Grove was referring to a different building. Before constructing his mansion, Tregonwell built a thatched cottage nearby to house his butler, Symes. This was called Portman Lodge and is thought to have been completed in 1810. Could it have been at Portman Lodge rather than the mansion that the Tregonwells and the Groves dined on 30 May 1811? In other words, the Tregonwells’ active interest in the Bourne site predated 14 July 1810. Harriet Grove’s 1810 entries make that abundantly clear. The Grove family lived at Fearne House, Berwick St John, near Shaftesbury. Harriet’s diary is actually owned by the New York Public Library and was published in 1961 in a book about the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, her cousin and first love. But the American editor of that volume misread ‘Bourn’ as ‘Cairn’ so the link with Bournemouth remained undiscovered until the late Desmond Hawkins of Blandford flew to New York in the 1990s to read the original. Harriet’s and Charlotte’s diaries are among several featured in Mr Hawkins’s book The Grove Diaries: The Rise and Fall of an English Family 1809-1925, published by Dovecote Press. The Tregonwell mansion later became known as Exeter House and survives as part of the Royal Exeter Hotel. Portman Lodge was badly damaged by fire in 1922, rebuilt but then demolished in 1930. 45


Alexandra care

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Situated near to the beautiful Weymouth coastline, Danmor Lodge features 25 comfortable rooms with en-suite facilities, two lounges and a spacious conservatory. Two 8-person passenger lifts give level access to all rooms. Residents have access to a range of facilities including Hydrotherapy baths, massage, aromatherapy and reflexology by a qualified practitioner, keep fit to music and complimentary use of the home’s mobility scooter. A full and varied programme of events for residents ranges from day trips to visits to shows. There is a choice of care options including 24-hour care for long-term or respite requirements and day-care with free transport for the elderly at home. 14 Alexandra Road, Lodmoor Hill, Weymouth DT4 7QH | Tel: 01305 775462 | View our website at www.danmorlodge.com

Careford Lodge

A relaxing atmosphere with high standards of care...

Careford Lodge is a purpose built Residential home set in 5 acres including a paddock to enable residents to enjoy the horses and the country views. The registered manager, Lorraine, has been with the home for over 10 years and has a team of loyal and trained staff. All rooms are a generous size having a full en-suite and some with complete wet rooms. The gardens and general maintenance are kept to a high standard and a qualified chef runs the kitchen with innovative menus. Regular outings are arranged and daily activities organised. Enquiries to Lorraine at the below address or Sue and Robin Hasler on 01305 775462 who will be pleased to answer any questions you have. Church Street, Merriott, Somerset, TA16 5PR | Tel: 01460 75592 | View our website at www.carefordlodge.com

The Cyder Barn

A beautifully converted former Blacksmith’s workshop, cottage and barn, The Cyder Barn is pleased to be able to offer 38 en-suite rooms with direct access into the landscape gardens and views across the orchard. The Cyder Barn offers a relaxed and homely environment and provides excellent standards of care, activities, entertainment and home cooked food for elderly clients looking for permanent care, long or short-term respite care or day care. West Pennard, Glastonbury, Somerset, BA6 8NH | Tel: 01458 834945 | View our website at www.thecyderbarn.com


Doug Smith at the wheel of a Daimler with Jane McKell as Dr Marie Stopes at the Old Higher Lighthouse

A sketch of a temperament Nick Churchill on a new play showing how Marie Stopes fitted in on Portland about mutual sexual enjoyment, Dorset-based AsOne theatre company is taking its new play about Marie Stopes on the road. Based in Portland and London, Escaping the Storm was written and directed by Peter John Cooper and produced by Jane McKell, one of AsOne's four-actor ensemble. ‘Marie Stopes was a jagged character,’ says Jane, who plays her in later life. ‘She is fascinating and formidable and fits well with other Dorset stories AsOne has told about Mary Anning and Emma Hardy.’ The multi-media production sets the story of Marie Stopes in Portland in context by explaining something of her life and the gruelling court case

Marie’s second husband Harry Rose with Marie and the baby Harry Verdon Stopes-Roe Steps in Time Project

I

t was a close-knit, somewhat isolated community, resistant to change and suspicious of outsiders. She was a firebrand advocate of female empowerment, an outspoken campaigner for contraception and sex education for all, regardless of gender and social class. On the face of it, Dr Marie Stopes and Portland were never going to see eye to eye. And yet… having bought the Old Higher Lighthouse in 1923 as a refuge from the storms in which she was embroiled on the mainland, Marie Stopes found some restorative peace and quiet, sunbathing on the Bill, swimming in the sea and forging friendships with the locals. She founded and curated Portland Museum in 1930, gifting to the community its two 17th-century cottages, one of which was used by Thomas Hardy as the home of Avice, the heroine in The Well-Beloved. For 35 years Portland was a precious refuge from the wider world for Marie Stopes until her death from breast cancer at the age of seventy in 1958. Today she is perhaps best known as the founder of the network of health clinics that, as Marie Stopes International, provide contraception and safe abortions in 37 countries, but her early embrace of eugenics and espousal of the forced sterilisation of those deemed ‘totally unfit for parenthood’ make her a controversial character to champion. A century after the publication of her landmark book, Married Love, in which she spoke frankly

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Steps in Time Project

Marie Stopes on the rocks at Lower Lighthouse Bay in the summer of 1939

her; “’er op thar” and it wouldn’t have been long before everyone had an opinion about her – it was said she sunbathed naked and took skinny dips in the sea. She was an unashamedly sensual woman and said that her son, Harry, had been conceived under the stars at the lighthouse.’ Marie doted on Harry, firmly controlling every aspect of his childhood. She knitted him kilts to wear instead of trousers so as not to overheat his reproductive organs and, after being told she could not have more children, she recruited a series of ‘healthy, intelligent and not circumcised’ companions for him from impoverished backgrounds, returning each one when they failed to meet her expectations. Years later, when Harry married Mary Eyre Wallis, the daughter of bouncing bomb engineer Barnes Wallis, Marie objected because the bride suffered from myopia. She went on to disinherit Harry and left the bulk of her estate to the Eugenics Society and the Royal Society of Literature. ‘Harry never spoke out against his mother, but there’s no doubt she was absolutely blinkered Steps in Time Project

that provided the backdrop for her move to the isle in 1923. ‘She effectively sued the Catholic Church for defamation after the publication of Married Love,’ says Jane. ‘She was absolutely vilified for her views on sex and birth control. Actually, she was against abortion, but in favour of enjoying sex, which is why she argued for contraception to be widely available. Her life was hectic, so Portland offered her an oasis of calm. ‘One of the most challenging aspects of the script is to fit in all the different aspects of her story without lecturing the audience. Marie really fought hard to study botany and geology and then became the first female professor at Manchester University. She was a recognised world expert in coal and worked in Japan and Canada before marrying her first husband, a marriage she had annulled on the grounds of non-consummation.’ The play opens on Portland Bill where Marie is with two Portlanders, Margaret and Mikey, generic characters created from the wealth of local stories. ‘What follows is a journey for all three of them with some surprising conclusions,’ Jane explains. ‘The four actors play all the parts, including Marie’s dog, Wuffles. It’s an interesting approach to the material, very modern.’ Marie’s father, Henry Stopes, was a leading amateur palaeontologist and her first visits to Portland were fossil-hunting trips as the isle is rich in the cycad fossils that were of particular interest to her. Having bought the former lighthouse, she visited for a few days, weeks, or even months at a time, entertaining stellar guests including Thomas Hardy, George Bernard Shaw, HG Wells and Noël Coward – she often said she wanted to be remembered for her poetry. ‘She was definitely a “kimberlin”, an incomer,’ says Jane. ‘Portlanders would probably have called

Marie Stopes the trailblazing young paleobotanist in her laboratory

49


A sketch of a temperament

Joan McKell as Dr Marie Stopes

The current owner of the Old Higher Lighthouse, Frances Lockyer chatting with Doug Smith in the garden

50

in her focus, she thought she was creating the perfect man,’ says Jane. ‘Marie was drawn to eugenics as were many others, including George Bernard Shaw and Bertrand Russell. She sent a book of her love poetry to Hitler, she was a skilled media manipulator and knew exactly how to attract attention.’ Marie Stopes may have been the source of much controversy in the wider world, but Doug Smith has no cause to recall with her anything other than fondness. The 94-year-old Portlander was her regular driver for eleven years. Doug’s father, Richard John Smith – ‘Dick Snappy he was known on Portland’ – ran a horse and wagonette taxi service before making the change to the motor car. In 1941, at the age of 17, Doug joined the business and drove an Armstrong Siddeley. ‘Beautiful car, Bedford cord upholstery and plush carpet, coach-built. Then in 1946 Dad told me a job had come in and I was to go to London, pick up a lady and bring her down here. She turned out to be Dr Marie Stopes and I was to take her to the Old Lighthouse. She told me for the time she was there I was to pick up four pints of milk every day and bring them to her along with gladioli and sometimes some meat. That was all she bought locally. ‘She must have been satisfied with my work or else why would she have kept me all those years?’ he reasons. ‘I found her to be very generous and thoughtful. I spoke to her just as I would speak

to anybody and she never spoke down to me or anyone else that I heard. ‘I’d drive up to Golders Green to pick her up for about 10 o’clock and her cook would make me a breakfast all cooked in butter. We’d set off with Dr Marie and her maid and stop for lunch in the New Forest. Now, a measure of how good she was. On the way back up to London we’d all sit together and when we’d finished eating, the waiter would naturally bring the bill to me as I was the man and Dr Marie would always let me pay. I’d leave half a crown tip and then once we got outside she’d ask me how much it was and give me the money. In those days it was expected the man would pay and, although she had more pounds than I had ha’pennies, I never once felt pushed down by her. She was very good like that.’ Marie Stopes and Doug Smith came from very different worlds, but they developed a respectful bond based on mutual trust. Doug is well aware of the criticisms levelled at his one-time employer, but can speak only as he found her. ‘This is how she was to me and that’s all I know,’ he says. ‘My son, Michael, was born in the Old Lighthouse on 5 May 1949. I was having a bungalow built and had terrible trouble with the planners. One day, and I don’t know why I said it, I told Dr Marie that I wished her house was nearer to Easton. She asked why and I said because we could move in and look after it while she was away. ‘Straightaway she said that as she paid me to look after the Old Lighthouse in any case, why didn’t I just move in with Audrey, my wife, and we could live there over the winter and take care of the house. So we did. Audrey said she wanted to have the baby at home and so she gave birth in the lighthouse with two doctors and a nurse present. ‘A few years ago, they made a television documentary about Dr Marie and I was interviewed for about two hours, but the film was very critical of her and I wasn’t featured in what they broadcast because I don’t think what I had to say fitted with what they wanted to show.’ Some sixty years after her death, Portland continues to remember Marie Stopes who remains as controversial as ever – at once visionary, but deeply flawed, simultaneously both a product of and ahead of her time. www.as-onetheatre.co.uk Escaping the Storm, Dorset tour dates 16 January, 7.30 Corn Exchange, Dorchester, 01305 266926 14 February, 7.30 Weymouth Pavilion, 01305 783225 Portland Museum is open 10.30 to 4.00 seven days a week.


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The Chart House, Mudeford Helen Summer looks at the three-year struggle to restore an Admiralty Chart House to its original splendour

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hen John and Jenni Gatti started thinking of retiring from their jobs with the European Commission in Belgium, they knew two things: first, that they wanted to return to England and second, that their daughter’s family wanted them to live near the sea. After a visit to Avon Beach, Mudeford beckoned. What they didn’t know, however, was that they would end up exchanging the Belgian house they had built from scratch and lived in for more than twenty years for an historical Victorian property where modernisation and a lack of TLC had left their mark and which they would attempt to restore to its near-original state. In so doing, they resurrected a piece of Dorset history, for the house they bought and restored was the Chart House at Mudeford, a house built by the Admiralty in about 1850 to serve as officers’ quarters for the coastguard station at the end of the road. Set in its own grounds to reflect the status of its occupants, the property sits on the corner of Coastguard Way and leads down to what were originally a terrace of coastguard cottages, a boathouse and a watch house. From there, not unnaturally given the purpose of these buildings, an unencumbered view across Christchurch Harbour leads the eye directly to Hengistbury Head. For John Gatti though, it was a house he quite simply fell in love with. All he had to do then was persuade his wife to feel the same way. Fortunately, by sharing his vision of what they could turn the house into, it didn’t take long for Jenni to begin to feel an emotional pull towards the property too, and to agree that it was a project worth undertaking. With their Belgian home selling far more quickly than anticipated and that country’s property law stating that they must move out within four months of agreeing a sale, there was no time to waste. Despite still living in Belgium, Jenni took on the role of project manager and, with the help of their London-based architect son, Richard (the one person who did live in England), began drawing up plans. Surprisingly, perhaps, given its history, the Chart House is not a listed building although, since 2007, it is within a conservation area. This meant

that John and Jenni would be free to do whatever they wanted to the interior of the property, but would need planning permission for any external work. They also had to comply with a covenant barring them from keeping pigs or chickens. Undeterred by the livestock restrictions, and with Richard drawing up the plans in accordance with their wishes and local authority restrictions, John and Jenni’s plans for the property were passed and work on the house began in earnest in early 2015, with Jenni optimistically promising the

Left The kitchen during the refurbishment

Below The exterior of the Chart House

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The Chart House, Mudeford house was sold in 1927, only one half of this area existed but later, a two-storey extension was added, enlarging the downstairs and providing a master bedroom upstairs. When Jenni and John bought the house, the extended downstairs area was arranged as two separate rooms, but Jenni could envisage the grandeur that could be achieved by knocking down the dividing wall and turning it into one huge room, albeit with a square arch to suggest separation between the dining and lounge areas. Add to that the open fireplace and surround in the lounge and you have an impressive yet comfortable place for the couple to entertain family and friends. It was while they were working on the lounge floor with its original pine boards that the rotten condition of the joists was discovered. They would all need replacing. At the same time, John and Jenni decided to give a nod to at least one of the comforts of modernity. With just the one, albeit large, fireplace at the end of the lounge and radiators not being very chez Victorian, it seemed only sensible to install underfloor heating family that Christmas that year would be held at throughout the whole of the downstairs while the their home. floor was up. ‘We’re very glad we did,’ says Jenni, The first thing they did was to remove the ‘although it didn’t work for the first three months monster modern conservatory/playroom which because nobody knew how to switch it on!’ had been attached to the rear of the property by Fortunately, the second nod to modernity previous owners; it led off from the kitchen and caused no such initial problems, being simply ran virtually the entire width of the house. The removal of this brought back into external view the three wet rooms with rainforest showers. One of these wet rooms, together with John’s study and charming casement windows and, after stripping a utility room, all on the ground floor, was in fact off the plaster, red brickwork and ornate stone part of another extension which had been made surrounds. Next, all PVC downpipes and guttering to the property some time in the 1950s were removed and replaced with black cast iron equivalents, while PVC window frames and French or 1960s and which was originally used as a doctor’s surgery. doors were exchanged for hardwood ones. At the With Jenni’s promise to her family to host same time, it was discovered that the steel ties Christmas that year uppermost in her mind, she holding the walls together were so corroded as and John moved into the house the week before to be virtually ineffective. Consequently, these – even though it was still occupied by a large were exchanged for new stainless-steel ties, number of the twenty or so contractors who had which, according to John, ‘should last a few thousand years.’ Internally, while it was fortunate that some of the original Victorian shutters were still in situ, they had been painted over so many times as to render them inoperable and had to be prised carefully away from the walls to which they had become stuck, in order to become functional again. Meanwhile, the house’s main entrance, which lies to one side of the property, originally opened up onto a dark, narrow corridor with doors leading off onto a small cloakroom and the rest of the house. Down came the corridor wall, opening up the whole area to create a much bigger, light and airy entrance hall, far more fitting for a house of such generous and handsome proportions. One of the things that most appealed to John and Jenni about the Chart House initially, and something that had been high on their tick list when searching for a suitable property, were its high ceilings. Nowhere are these more magnificently displayed than in what is now the lounge-cum-formal dining room. When the

Left The dining/ living room before the floors went back down

Below The same rooms seen from the living room side after completion

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been working there. As the contractors returned to their respective homes for Christmas, so the family arrived. ‘It was chaos,’ remembers Jenni. ‘Normally, I’d have co-ordinated towels for each room and guest, but this time I just left a huge pile and told everyone to help themselves!’ At least the kitchen was completed in time. Where the old conservatory/playroom had been created from a large extension, now a smaller extension was used (negating the need for any planning permission) to increase the overall size of the kitchen. Taking account of the high, flat roof, skylights were installed, while floor-to-ceiling glass formed the rear wall and a sliding glass door was set into the side of the kitchen, leading out onto the large patio and garden. The use of so much glass has created a gloriously light-filled kitchen, while the additional floor space has ensured plenty during that period it didn’t rain once!’ But their troubles weren’t over yet. The next problem they of room for Jenni’s much-desired central island encountered was damp in the dining room. ‘It was and large pantry. And while all that glass may sound like a window-cleaning nightmare, the ever- caused by rubble bridging the cavity wall,’ explains John. ‘All the recently installed wall insulation had practical John and Jenni ensured that it was all to be removed.’ That removal brought problems self-cleaning. of its own: ‘A large quantity of the insulation The brand-new kitchen was immediately put got blown into the dining room and some even to good use: ‘The first meal we cooked in it was went up into the attic, so then that all had to be Christmas lunch for eight!’ says Jenni. Thankfully, the family Christmas was over by removed as well.’ the time the flood arrived. ‘It was the first serious However, they put their misfortunes behind storm of the year,’ recalls John. ‘Water was them and battled on. For Jenni, this meant coming in under the slates and trying to find a continuing her restoration of the staircase. It is way out; it chose the electric lights in the kitchen one of the transformations she is most proud of: ceiling. The whole roof had to come off, as the ‘It’s the original staircase,’ she explains, ‘with pine only way of fixing the problem was to replace the stairs and mahogany banisters, but there’d been waterproof membrane under the slates. Luckily, a carpet running up the middle of it. When we

Above The garden is already established and attractive

Left The windows and doors of the completed Chart House looking from the dining room

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Above The refurbished staircase and galleried split-level landing

Below The garden before it had its own makeover

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believed to be original fireplaces and all, including the landing, retain their original pine floorboards – made good thanks to hours of sanding down by John and Jenni. However, apart from installing a new bathroom/ wet room, most of the upstairs work centred on the master suite. This involved blocking up the old en-suite, which had been sited in the corner of the bedroom, then replacing it with a new one positioned off the dressing room/walk-in wardrobe at the entrance to the suite. The front bedrooms enjoy an open view of Mudeford’s large recreation ground where, in the summer months, the quintessentially English sound of leather on willow can be heard as local cricket teams battle it out, while the back bedrooms glory in an open view across the waters of Christchurch Bay, Stanpit Marsh and Hengistbury Head. Good fortune rather than good planning, perhaps, is accountable for the fact that such views have not been unduly fettered by the addition of a 1970s row of terraced houses built on what was formerly part of the Chart House’s back garden, which was sold off by a previous owner for development. Despite its reduction in size, the garden, which wraps around almost the entire house is, by today’s standards, still large and has allowed removed the carpet, the wood beneath was much keen gardener Jenni to fully flex her green fingers, darker than the wood either side, which had been although she insists it is still very much a work exposed to the light and had naturally faded.’ After in progress. Work in progress it may be, but the weeks of sanding, scraping and bleaching in an garden, which Jenni only started planting in 2016 effort to homogenise the stairs, Jenni spent many and was born of a veritable quagmire, is already more weeks staining the wood to even out the noteworthy. A large patio and verdant, perfectly varying shades until it all matched perfectly: ‘It manicured lawns sweep across the breadth of was a labour of love,’ she says. It is certainly one the house, embraced by generous, well-stocked that has paid off, as today every stair is the exact herbaceous borders whose misty hues of blue and same shade and you would never guess that it white give a gentle nod to the property’s proximity had ever been any different. to the sea and its maritime history. Meanwhile, At the top of the stairs, a galleried, split-level ‘under-gardener’ John used bricks recovered from landing leads to four double bedrooms and Jenni’s a reduction in the paved area at the front of the study. Two of the bedrooms retain what are house to add further charm to the delightfully wending pathways already laid by the contractor. He also transformed the dilapidated shed into a sumptuous summerhouse, complete with veranda. It was while they were working together in the garden that Team Gatti discovered some old tiles buried beneath the mud, which they salvaged and which Jenni then turned into plant pot coasters for inside the house: ‘They were strewn everywhere and were far too pretty to just throw out,’ she says. It is this sort of care and attention to detail that typifies John and Jenni’s attitude to their beautiful home, from the perfect uniformity of the bronze doorknobs and handles that originated from a church Richard was re-building in London to the curve of the wrought iron gates that were designed to exactly match the curve of the existing brick wall that separates the front and back gardens. This is no fickle fix, it’s not an attempt to do up, move on and make a handsome profit. This is a forever home to be lived in and loved.


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2 November 2018 – 2 June 2019 East Cliff, Bournemouth Dorset BH1 3AA www.russellcotes.com Images from Wellcome Library London

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This month in Dorset Send details of upcoming events (with two months' notice) and any suitable pictures to thismonthindorset@dorsetlife.co.uk or call the Dorset Life office on 01929 551264. Entries are free, but we cannot guarantee all events will be included. Exhibition: Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 2018 The UK’s foremost annual open exhibition for drawing, it features work by 67 established and emerging artists and makers. Until 10 January, 9.00 (not Sun) The Gallery, Arts University Bournemouth, 01202 363272, www.aub.ac.uk Exhibition: Sunrise to Sunset Bournemouth-based photographer Emily Endean shows landscapes of Dorset and Hampshire. Until 13 January, 10.00 (not Mon) Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Bournemouth, 01202 451858, www.russellcotes.com Winter Art Sale Until 23 January, 10.30 Town Mill, Lyme Regis, 01297 444042, www.townmillarts.co.uk Exhibition: Fred Cuming RA A return to West Bay for the painter who last showed there in 2012. Fred Cuming’s work is showing alongside that of Robin Rae, Alfred Stockham and ceramicist Richard Batterham. Until 20 January, 10.00 (Sun noon) Sladers Yard, West Bay, 01308 459511, www.sladersyard.wordpress.com Bournemouth and Poole Selfie Wall Trail Various artists invited by local gallery Ambassadeur Art have made a series of murals as backdrops for selfies in a trail that stretches from Sandbanks to Southbourne. Until 31 December 2019, daily Various locations, www. bournemouth.co.uk/ideas-and-inspiration/selfiewalltrail Lyme Lunge Annual New Year’s Day charity fancy dress dip in Lyme Bay for hardy souls, organised by Rotary Club of Lyme Regis. 1 January, 1.00 Sandy Beach, Lyme Regis, www.whatsoninlyme.co.uk/rotary Holocaust Memorial Day Display A reflection on the meaning of home and how we can make people feel at home in our communities. 1 January-2 February, 10.00 (not Mon) History Centre, Poole Museum, 01202 262600, www.poolemuseum.co.uk Russ Snedker: Creatureist In his latest works, the Bridport-based artist explores the fragmentation of life using geometric shapes and flowing lines over layers of translucent colours and texture. 3 January-9 February, daily Bridport Arts Centre, 01308 424204, www.bridport-arts.com Beauty and the Beast Singalong 3 January, 2.00 Corn Exchange, Dorchester, 01305 266926, www.dorchesterarts.org.uk RSPB Guided Walk: Discover Holton Lee 3 January, 10.00 Holton Lee, Holton Heath, 01929 553360, ww2.rspb.org.uk

Ballet classics

The New Year brings with it a veritable feast for ballet fans as two of Russia’s leading companies are back in Dorset. Under the expert direction of Marina Medvetskaya, Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet returns to Lighthouse with two of Tchaikovsky’s best-loved ballets, both with full orchestral accompaniment. Swan Lake is a tragic tale of love and betrayal with an instantly recognisable score, while The Sleeping Beauty is perfectly enchanting and overflows with fairy tale characters. Having established itself as one of the country’s leading companies, the Russian State Ballet of Siberia is in Bournemouth this month to perform three of the world’s most enduringly popular ballets. In arguably the most poignant of the classical repertoire, the story of the delicate Giselle and her duplicitous lover Albrecht is played out to Adolphe Adam’s beautiful score. The Nutcracker provides access to a magical fairy tale world at Christmas, while Swan Lake is quite simply the greatest romantic ballet of them all and at its heart the central role of Odette/Odile provides one of ballet’s greatest technical challenges. Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet 9-12 January, 7.30 2.30 (Thurs, Sat mat 2.30) Lighthouse, Poole, 01202 280000, www.lighthousepoole.co.uk Russian State Ballet & Orchestra of Siberia 21-23 January, 7.30 (Wed mat 2.30) Pavilion Theatre, Bournemouth, 0800 576 3000, www.bic.co.uk A-lad-in Bournefree present Bournemouth’s alternative panto as the titular hero rubs his newly discovered lamp and hopes for a happy ending. 9-13 January, Various times Shelley Theatre, Boscombe, 01202 413600, www.shelleytheatre.co.uk Exhibition: Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Some of Dorset’s most beautiful places and the stories of people who live and work there. 9 January-13 February, 10.00 Durlston Country Park, Swanage, 01929 424443, www.durlston.co.uk Aspects of History Talk: Tourists on the Tee Paul Walker reveals the enormous impact of Bournemouth’s golf courses on the town’s development. 10 January, 11.00 Bournemouth Library, 01202 454848, www.bournemouth.gov.uk/libraries 63


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This month in Dorset

The Ninebarrow Quartet

Counting the likes of Kate Rusby, Seth Lakeman and 6Music presenter Mark Radcliffe among their many admirers, Ninebarrow’s star has continued to rise with the warm critical and commercial reception afforded to their latest album, The Waters and the Wild. Inspired by Dorset’s history, folklore and traditions ,as well as those of places further afield, the duo – Jon Whiteley and Jay LaBouchardiere – have regularly recorded with other musicians and for their first show as a quartet will be joined at The Exchange by cellist and long-term collaborator Lee Cuff and in-demand double bassist John Parker in a set of new songs and reworked arrangements of some old favourites. 11 January, 7.30 The Exchange, Sturminster Newton, 01258 475137, www.stur-exchange.co.uk

ALAW Whether unearthing rare gems or re-imagining a wellloved melody, ALAW treat the traditional music of Wales with a deftness and sensitivity that has thoroughly absorbed critics and fans alike. 10 January, 7.30 Wootton Fitzpaine Village Hall, 01297 560948, www.artsreach.co.uk 11 January, 7.30 Langton Matravers Village Hall, 01929 423834, www.artsreach.co.uk 12 January, 7.30 Child Okeford Village Hall, 01258 861621, www.artsreach.co.uk 13 January, 4.00 Piddletrenthide Memorial Hall, 01300 348247, www.artsreach.co.uk West Country Embroiderers 14 January, 9.30 Digby Hall, Sherborne, 01963 34696, www.westcountryembroiderers.co.uk Dorset Family History Talk: Ian Fleming – The Man Who Made James Bond Broadcaster-researcher Kathy McNally reveals the 007 creator’s role in secret wartime operations. 14 January, 7.30 St John’s Church Centre, Parkstone, 01202 785623, www.dorsetfhs.org.uk Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Chief Conductor Kirill Karabits will be on the rostrum as the BSO performs Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and ‘Symphonia Domestica’ by Richard Strauss. 16 January, 7.30 Lighthouse, Poole, 01202 280000, www.lighthousepoole.co.uk Talk: The Real History of Parnham 16 January, 2.30 Beaminster Museum, 01308 863623, www.beaminstermuseum.wordpress.com Dorset Wildlife Trust Talk: It Shouldn’t Happen to a Dorset Vet 16 January, 7.30 Fontmell Magna Village Hall, 01305 264620, www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk

Studio Jazz: Scott Hamilton Quartet 18 January, 8.00 Lighthouse, Poole, 01202 280000, www.lighthousepoole.co.uk Jazz Café: Andy Williamson 18 January, 8.00 Bridport Arts Centre, 01308 424204, www.bridport-arts.com The Arts Society Poole Lecture: The Guggenheims – A Dynasty of Art Collectors 18 January, 2.15 Canford Cliffs Village Hall, www.pooledfas.org Cinderella Highcliffe Charity Players tell the ultimate rags-to-riches story. Pictured are Cinders and the Ugly Sisters – Pete Whitaker (left, Tooti), Charlotte Starr (Cinderella) and Mike Young (Frooti). 19-26 January, Various times Regent Centre, Christchurch, 01202 499199, www.regentcentre.co.uk

Bournemouth & Poole National Trust Association Talk: Spring In Japan 24 January, 2.15 West Cliff Hotel, Bournemouth, www.bournemouthandpoolenta.org.uk Dan Snow: An Evening with the History Guy The hardest working historian in showbusiness, possibly, has promised to research some fascinating facts about Wimborne and Weymouth before his visits. 24 January, 7.30 Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne, 01202 885566, www.tivoliwimborne.co.uk 25 January, 7.30 Weymouth Pavilion, 01305 783225, www.weymouthpavilion.com WÖR: Back to the 1780s Almost 300 years ago, musicians from Antwerp, Ghent Brussels and Leuven wrote down their favourite music on manuscripts. These have fallen into the hands of Belgian band WÖR, who add their own twist to the tunes. 25 January, 7.30 Morden Village Hall, 01929 459431, www.artsreach.co.uk 26 January, 7.30 Powerstock Hut, 01308 485474, www.artsreach.co.uk Exhibition: Priceless The annual show of paintings, sculptures, graphic design, photography, animation and video made by students at the Woodroffe School. 26 January-3 February, 10.30 Town Mill, Lyme Regis, 01297 444042, www.townmill.org,uk 65


This month in Dorset Mackrell Charity History Talk – Andrew Lycett: Kipling’s India 26 January, 2.30 Old School, Sturminster Marshall, 01258 857528, www.mackrellcharity.org.uk Panda Stamp & Postcard Fair 26 January, 10.00 Allendale Centre, Wimborne, 01202 887247, www.theallendale.org

A Hundred Different Words for Love

Jim Davidson: The People Fight Back 1 February, 7.30 Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne, 01202 885566, www.tivoliwimborne.co.uk

Three years ago, James met the love of his life. A year ago, they broke up. This is James’s story of falling in love and landing broken-hearted. It’s also about him being Best Man of Honour at Sarah and Emma’s wedding. And it’s the story of a quest: to find the right words to make sense of love. Winner of the 2017 Vaults Festival Best Show Award, A Hundred Different Words for Love is a funny, heart-lifting story of romance, despair, and above all, friendship. It was written by James Rowland (pictured), who describes himself as ‘a child of Richard Curtis’, as the follow-up to his widely acclaimed Team Viking. 18 January, 7.30 Broadwindsor Village Hall, 01308 867644, www.artsreach.co.uk 19 January, 7.30 West Stafford Village Hall, 07968 633834, www.artsreach.co.uk 20 January, 7.30 Tarrant Gunville Village Hall, 01258 830361, www.artsreach.co.uk

Anton & Erin… Dance Those Magical Musicals 2 February, 2.30, 7.30 Pavilion Theatre, Bournemouth, 0800 576 3000, www.bic.co.uk

Endellion String Quartet 3 February, 3.00 Kimmeridge House, Bournemouth University, 01202 721297, www.bournemouthchambermusic.co.uk

The Wombats Guitar pop innovators hit the road to play the biggest venues of their fifteen-year career. 29 January, 7.00 O2 Academy Bournemouth, Boscombe, 0844 477 2000, www.academymusicgroup/o2academybournemouth Nish Kumar: It’s in Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves Two times Edinburgh Comedy Award winner returns with a new show entitled Terminator 2. 30 January, 7.30 Weymouth Pavilion, 01305 783225, www.weymouthpavilion.com

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Where to: eat, drink, stay

Use our extensive guide to restaurants in and around Dorset to help you to find somewhere special. La Fosse Restaurant and Rooms, The Square BH21 5PR. www.la-fosse.com 01725 517604. Enjoy delicious locally sourced food in a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. Open for dinner Monday to Saturday. Try the awardwinning cheese board!

Sturminster Marshall The Red Lion, 01258 857319. www.redlioninn-dorset.co.uk. A family-run pub which offers you a warm welcome and delicious homemade food. This historic building is in the stunning village of Sturminster Marshall.

Lytchett Matravers (near Poole) Ashley Heath (near Poole) Seasons Restaurant, Moors Valley Country Park and Forest, Horton Road, Ashley Heath,Nr Ringwood, BH24 2ET. 01425 470537 info@seasonscoffeebarn. co.uk Open daily for freshly breakfasts, lunches, homemade cakes and speciality coffees with ingredients and products sourced locally in Dorset and the New Forest. Child Okeford The Saxon Inn, Gold Hill. 01258 860310. www. saxoninn.co.uk. Hidden in the village of Child Okeford, we are well worth finding. Nestling under Hambledon Hill, ideally situated for walkers in need of homecooked food. Four en-suite bed & breakfast rooms. Cranborne The Café, Cranborne Garden Centre. www. cranbornegardencentre. co.uk. 01725 517546. Fully licensed café serving breakfast, delicious lunches, homemade cakes, and cream teas, using local produce and seasonal vegetables grown in our own kitchen garden.

Rose & Crown, 178 Wareham Road, BH16 6DT. 01202 625325. www.roseandcrownlytchett. co.uk. Good beer and homemade food are served in this charming family-friendly pub. Extensive choice on the menu and specials boards. Ringwood (Hants) The Fish Inn The Bridges. 01425 473185. www.fishinnringwood.co.uk. Home cooked and prepared food in comfortable and relaxed surroundings with a variety to suit any appetite or taste.

fragrant ingredients. Wednesday-Sunday 10am-4pm. Tolpuddle The Martyrs Inn, DT2 7ES 01305 848249. www.themartyrsinn.co.uk. A delightful pub serving food all day, made with fresh local seasonal ingredients, in the centre of the historic village of Tolpuddle. Wareham

Swanage Seventhwave Durlston Castle, Lighthouse Road, Swanage, BH19 2RW 01929 421111 www.7eventhwave.com. Open from 9.30am daily. Stunning views and varied menu. Breakfast, lunches, all day treats. Local produce and lots of seafood. Symondsbury (near Bridport) Symondsbury Kitchen, Manor Yard, DT6 6HG. 01308 538309 http:// symondsburykitchen.com. Stunning café offering delicious home cooked, seasonal food. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea. Open seven days a week.

The Italian Kitchen, 37 South Street, BH20 4LR www.theitaliankitchendorset. com 01929 550990 Contemporary restaurant at Wareham Quay serving authentic Italian casual fare during the day and a la carte in the evening. The Quay Inn, The Quay, BH20 4LP. 01929 552735. www.thequayinn.com. Very popular riverside pub serving steak, seafood and breakfast. Fine selection of ales and beers. Live music at weekends. Quality bed & breakfast available. Springfield Country Hotel, Grange Road, BH20 5AL. 01929 552177. www.thespringfield.co.uk. Set in six acres at the foot of the Purbeck Hills. Bar lunches, afternoon teas and full à la carte dinner. Private function rooms available.

Tarrant Keyneston (near Blandford) The Scented Botanist, DT11 9HZ. 01258 456831, KeynestonMill.com. A range of delicious pastries, barista coffees, fine wines and light bistro meals with a botanical twist, made with fresh, 69


Dorset recipe

Frumenty Verity Hesketh cooks up a traditional Dorset porridge

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ow that the stardust of Christmas has settled, relax into the new year. While the mornings are still chilly, dark and dank, begin them the right way: with a bit of good oldfashioned comfort. Porridge or its predecessor, frumenty (also known as furmity), has been about for hundreds of years, and with good reason. As well as being tasty, filling and easy to cook, it also releases energy in the best possible way: slowly. Enjoy the winter while it lasts – oats in all shapes, sizes and forms really come into their own during the cold weather. The virtue of the relative plainness of porridge is that it can be served with a huge variety of toppings. At this time of year, I love to stew fruit that’s been left over from warmer seasons; apple with a touch of honey, cinnamon and ginger always works a treat. Toasting the oats before adding them to the water or milk also produces a gorgeous, nutty flavour, perking up the whole bowl. All oats start with the whole oat ‘groat’, which is the seed of the ripe oat grass with its inedible outer husk removed. Most porridge oats are made 70

by chopping up the groat, then steaming and rolling the pieces to make fine flakes that cook very quickly. Chunkier ‘jumbo’ oats, rolled from the whole groat, also make great porridge, although they take a bit longer to cook. Furmity or frumenty, porridge’s older, stodgier cousin, is traditionally made from boiled, cracked wheat – hence its name, which derives from the Latin word frumentum, meaning ‘grain’. Before potatoes, grain was a key carbohydrate part of a meal. As well as being an everyday store-cupboard staple, frumenty was also recognised as a celebratory dinner. For several centuries, frumenty was part of the traditional Celtic Christmas meal. In later, Christian times, it was often eaten on Mothering Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent. On that day many servants were allowed to visit their mothers and were often served frumenty to celebrate and give them a wholesome meal to prepare them for their return journey. One of the earliest recorded mentions of frumenty (served with venison at a banquet) is in the mid-14th


century North Midlands poem, ‘Wynnere and Wastoure’: ‘Venyson with the frumentee, and fesanttes full riche / Baken mete therby one the burde sett.’ Recipes using frumenty vary from savoury types, served with meat as a pottage, or as a sweet recipe, including almonds, currants, sugar, saffron and orange flower water. Frumenty was used as an accompaniment, as well as a dish in its own right. Boiling food for consumption during the medieval period would have been the most common method of cooking. A large cauldron of boiling water will steadily cook a whole meal, with a meat pudding and a sweet one, in cloths, and vegetables in nets to keep them separate. By the early 19th century, frumenty was perceived as an archaic medieval throwback, long out of fashion in cities and big towns. However, porridge as it is today was widely recognised, often under the name of ‘hasty pudding’. Frumenty even plays a key role in Thomas Hardy’s novel, The Mayor of Casterbridge, the story opening with Michael Henchard buying frumenty (or furmenty) for his family. They are at a small fair in the deep rural countryside, but even there, frumenty is already perceived as an old-fashioned food: ‘She slowly stirred the contents of the pot. The dull Ingredients 120g porridge oats 700ml water or milk/milk alternative (or half and half) Generous pinch of sea salt Method Tip the oats into a pan and toast for five minutes or so, until they smell warm and nutty. Next, stir in the water and/or milk and the salt and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Cook briskly for six minutes, stirring gently to avoid any rogue oats

scrape of her large spoon was audible throughout the tent as she thus kept from burning the mixture of corn in the grain, milk, raisins, currants, and what not that composed the antiquated slop in which she dealt … [frumenty] … was as proper a food as could be obtained within four seas, though to those not accustomed to it, the grains of wheat swollen as large as lemon pips, which floated on its surface, might have had a deterrent effect at first.’ Although Hardy himself was not actually recorded as eating frumenty (his cook left detailed accounts of his daily routine throughout the 1910s and 1920s), Mrs Caddy, his housekeeper, gave the following recipe to Paul Nash, the author of The Shell Guide to Dorset, published 1939: Half a pint of wheat Half a pound of currants Half a pound of raisins (whole, not stoned) Two quarts of milk The wheat is boiled in water until tender, and the currants and raisins boiled separately. Bring the milk almost to the boil, add the wheat and let it get thoroughly cooked. Add the raisins and the currants and let it simmer for three hours or more, then adding sugar or spice as you like. sticking to the bottom of the pan. The trick is to keep stirring constantly, with either a wooden spoon or a traditional spurtle (spurtles are designed so that they don’t break up the oats too much when cooking, leading to a fuller flavour). This is the time to add in raisins or currants if you like them juicy and plump. If you are using jumbo oats, these are pretty tasty, but will take twice the cooking time. Add a dash of hot water if the mixture is getting too gloopy for your liking. Add your topping et voilà, your comforting breakfast is ready.

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Make your day not just special, but unique. Are you looking for somewhere beautiful, inviting and affordable to get married? The Town Hall is located in the heart of Wareham's ancient Saxon walled town and stands on the site of the medieval church of St Peter. The Council Chamber has a splendid carved stone fireplace and the names of past Mayors all the way back to the 14th Century adorn the walls. The Council Chamber is a formal room and is ideal for wedding parties with up to 60 guests. The Corn Exchange is a more informal setting and can be decorated to your requirements. This room is able to accommodate up to 120 guests and is perfect for a champagne reception following the ceremony. Holding your wedding ceremony here will cost from as little as £250. Wareham Town Hall has ample car parking and is conveniently located in the centre of town, which has easy rail links. Please contact us for further information or to arrange a viewing.

Wareham Town Hall, East Street, Wareham, BH20 4NS |01929 553006 |office@wareham-tc.gov.uk 72


Wedding table plans The calm before the storm: tables laid out for a wedding reception

'Who's sitting with Uncle Tim?' Katie Carpenter looks at table planning, a part of wedding organising with so many hidden dangers that it can make Game of Thrones look like musical chairs

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amily politics, actual politics, perceived prestige or lack of it, engendering romance, accommodating over-familiar uncles, people with children, vegans and carnivores, drinkers and teetotallers, smokers and vehement anti-smokers, the young-at-heart and the elderly and infirm: these are just some of the issues that you have to decide who will be sitting next to whom at your wedding. Creating a table plan makes you examine the people you may have coming to your wedding reception in an entirely new light. It is worth stating at the outset that shockingly, after the reception is over, you may well find out that you know a lot less about many people – including some of your closest relatives – than you thought you did. At my wedding, we decided to group people according to what we thought their joint behaviour or common characteristics or shared interests might be. We had the 'quiet' table, the 'noisy' table, the 'polyglot' table, the 'religious' table, the 'Philistine' table, the 'mature children's' table and the 'singles club' table amongst others. Now this didn't seem to be an unreasonable idea when we were trying to think about how to spread the 110 invited guests around the hotel/ restaurant's ten round tables and the top table. Where the groom's or bride's parents have split up, ensure they are on speaking terms if you are When we were woken at 2.50am by the hotel intending to put them on the same table or sitting near one another 73


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Wedding table plans management to see if one or both of us wanted to quell the mini-riot about to break out downstairs because the members of the 'quiet' table (who had been told that the bar was definitively shut, and were taking the news quite badly), we took an alternative view. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves, let us begin with the most important table of all: the top table. It is not unusual these days for one or both of the couple's parents to have been divorced. This makes the question as to who gets to sit at the top table a bit more complicated than saying: 'Bride, groom, bride's father and mother, groom's father and mother, best man and chief bridesmaid,' not least as it is possible that one or more of them may not even be on speaking terms with one another. Now you will certainly by this stage have decided who you want to come, and for the important ones, found out whether they are coming or not. Assuming it is the case that they are on speaking terms, the usual, practical arrangement is that the eight normal occupants of the top table (chief bridesmaid, groom's father, bride's mother, groom, bride, bride's father, groom's mother, best man) are flanked on the left by the bride's stepfather and groom's stepmother and on the right by the bride's stepmother and groom's stepfather. The age at which the bride's or groom's parents divorced may change this. A longabsent father or mother might be switched with

the respective stepfather/stepmother if the latter has played a much greater role in the upbringing of the bride or groom. So much for the top table. What about grouping together the friends and what you might call the lesser family? It's worth taking account of age and physical infirmities at this stage. If you have older relatives who are hard of hearing, placing them directly in front of the top table will make it that bit easier for them to be able to hear what's going on, rather than having a constant echo of: 'what's he saying? I can't hear', while a friendly guest repeats

Unless you want people tripping over kids, it's an idea to put any table with children on it close to a safe place for them to play

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Wedding table plans the various speakers' speeches at top volume, five seconds after the speakers. Consider having tables with children positioned near a door that gives the children access to a safe place to run around; your guests will thank you for it. As far as those who need wheelchair access, walk with sticks or who are on crutches or indeed just not terribly mobile, having their tables near to the way in and/or the loos is also a thoughtful idea. So having separated some groups by age or infirmity, how do you then go about fitting everyone else together? It is a given that family members who have not seen each other for a while will want to catch up. Whether you want them to do that at family only tables, or assume they'll be able to mingle a bit later under their own steam. With this it is a bit of an all or nothing case. Putting eight family members on a table with two complete strangers may not be the kindest thing for the two nonfamily members. Likewise putting a couple of older family members on a table with a load of thirtysomethings who all know each other from work is probably not a brilliant idea either. Whether you choose to group a bunch of people who share the same political views, but not necessarily yours, together, so at least they won't annoy anyone else, or whether you want to sprinkle those people around so they feel uncomfortable expressing them is up to you.

Rather like the SchrÜdinger's Cat experiment, it's only at the point of opening the box (having the wedding) that you find out what the result of the experiment is. Depending on how you group people – and assuming you are having an afternoon reception that goes into a nighttime do – then you may wish to consider whether all of them will be up and dancing or whether most people will and only a couple won't. Again, it is a thoughtful touch to ensure that people wont just be left on their own later on, although once the formal part of the

The younger folk may be the first to get up and dance. Try to ensure they don't leave a couple of individual oldies in splendid isolation

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Wedding table plans

Don't be afraid to ask the venue to impose certain restrictions on the amount of free booze you allow to be delivered to different tables

reception is over, they can, if they know other people at the wedding, go and find those people. Now we come to two delicate, but utterly crucial factors: both to do with human frailty. Consider your guest list and anyone to whom you can ascribe either of the following phrases and place them in a special pile: 'He can't help himself'/'She can't help herself'. Almost every family has a uncle or an aunt who,

given the right (or wrong) circumstances can make their, or indeed many other people's, evening a memorable if not particularly enjoyable one. Think carefully where you might place such a person, and indeed with whom. If you have a relative of such proximity that you cannot not invite them, but are concerned with wandering hands/over-flirtatious behaviour/a weakness for the grape or grain, or just an unfortunate manner, it's time for your team of ushers and bridesmaids/matrons to step-up. Your friends will be getting a free nosh-up so don't feel guilty about appointing a 'table captain' for each table. Each person about whom you have concerns should be seated next to that table captain. You may also wish to toy with the notion of only granting free bottles of wine via the table captains, should a group of people on a table start to get a little too cheerful, too early. As a friend of mine once said, dispiritedly: 'It wasn't my fault; it's table wine. If you keep putting more if it on the table, I'm going to keep drinking it.' Some people will inevitably drink too much at your wedding: making sure that they do it on their own dime will absolve you of not only the responsibility for their later actions, but it will save you a few quid at the same time. I should say that my wedding was the happiest day of my life to that point and I'm pretty sure everyone enjoyed themselves. They may have enjoyed the following day a little less, though.

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By Jessica Miller; the illustration is by Becky Blake

F

or her ninth birthday, Lily’s only request was for a ‘Real Life Baby’. A Real Life Baby is a startlingly realistic replica of a nine-month-old baby, complete with downy blonde hair, tiny fingernails and a face moulded from cutting edge technology latex. Lily had seen it advertised in the back of one of the many dubious Sunday supplement magazines when we breakfasted at a greasy spoon café while holidaying in Cornwall. Initially, Jasper and I were unanimous in our vehement refusal of her request, on the grounds that as well as the exorbitant cost of the doll, she already has so many baby dolls that her bedroom resembles a Romanian orphanage, with dozens of them arranged in cribs in various poses, sporadically emitting realistically eerie gurgling noises and shrill cries, sometimes simultaneously, like a bunch of profoundly distressed peacocks. Our refusal prompted an Oscar-winning performance of a distraught child railing against the unbearable unjustness of her parents’ cruelty. She looked up at us through copious tears and sobbed. ‘But you said I could have anything I want within reason. ANYTHING! So you’ve lied to me!’ There was a brief pause, broken only by pitiful snivelling, before she delivered her trump card with a defiant glare. ‘Fine, I’ll have a puppy then!’ I should point out at this juncture that we already have five dogs. ‘Bet you’d prefer I had this doll instead. It wouldn’t poo in the kitchen or dig up the vegetable garden,’ she wheedled, sensing victory. Jasper and I exchanged a grim glance, realising that we had been played, and that despite the Machiavellian methods deployed to get her own way, one couldn’t fault her logic. And so, a little over a week later, on the morning of her birthday, she unwrapped her Real Life Doll in a rapture of almost hysterical excitement. ‘Do you think that’s real hair?!’ asked Jasper, leaning gingerly closer to examine the soft blonde curls. ‘Probably cut from peasant children and sold for a penny a kilo,’ I countered. ‘Don’t be so rude, Mummy. Would you like to hold her, Daddy?’ asked Lily, stroking the doll’s peachy cheeks and admiring the sweep of her faint eyelashes. Jasper recoiled. ‘No thank you, I’m not very good with babies.’ ‘But she’s not real, Daddy! DUH!’ In fairness, the Real Life Baby has been cherished with a slavish devotion verging on idolatry, with Lily tucking her into her cradle every night and lovingly changing her into a variety of outfits. ‘Annabel’ goes everywhere with Lily. She comes with us on holiday, strapped into her 82

very own car seat beside Lily. I have to angle the rear-view mirror so I don’t catch sight of her as I’m driving along. The passage of time has failed to change the fact that I still find her ineluctably creepy. Jasper and I were having breakfast in the kitchen one Saturday morning recently when Lily came charging downstairs, breathless with excitement. ‘There’s a pram in the attic. Please can I take Annabel to Dorchester in it today when we go and pick up the new wardrobe? It will fit in the trailer!’ she begged. There was indeed a Silver Cross pram in the attic, in excellent condition, that had once been used to convey an infant Jasper and his sister after him. ‘No way,’ I said flatly. Thirty minutes later, one half of the trailer was loaded up with the Silver Cross pram and we were en route to Dorchester. ‘I don’t like this at all,’ I told Jasper as we trundled out of Fifehead St Quintin. ‘It’s just a pram, what could possibly go wrong? Just chill out,’ he replied as he flicked through the parish magazine. Having wrestled the pram from the trailer, we made our way to High West Street, where we bumped into Lily’s school friend, Emily, and her mother, Joules, who promptly invited Lily to the skate park. Lily abandoned the pram and baby and scampered off. ‘Don’t look at me,’ I told Jasper. ‘I’ll meet you in Hardye Arcade at 2 o’ clock,’ said Jasper miserably, and skulked off down the street pushing the pram. Half an hour late, I walked into Hardye Arcade to find Jasper remonstrating with a man outside the army surplus store, while a group of mothers with pushchairs looked on, chuntering in disapproval. ‘Disgraceful. You abandoned that poor baby for half an hour! I was about to call the police!’ bellowed the man, gesturing to the Silver Cross pram and the mop of blonde curls just visible beneath the knitted blanket. ‘It’s only my daughter’s Real Life Baby,’ Jasper replied. ‘So he’s the grandfather! Shocking!’ gasped one of the mothers. ‘He should be arrested!’ hissed another, sparking a chorus of frenzied agreement. ‘I just wanted to do some shopping,’ said Jasper reasonably, prompting gasps of outrage, at which point he pulled off the blanket. I covered my eyes, but heard the collective shrieks of horror as he picked up Annabel by a leg and dangled her upside down over the concrete. ‘See, it’s just a doll!’ ‘You’re not stitched up right!’ hissed one of the mothers, comforting her friend who looked as though she were about to expire with shock. The man retreated into his shop, muttering darkly, while I emerged from the doorway I had been skulking in, watching the drama unfold. ‘What could possibly go wrong, eh?’


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