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Where in Dorset? June 2014 competition

PUBLISHED: 15:15 28 May 2014


Martin Warwick ploughs through a little Dorset hamlet’s literary connections

Several older Dorset guide books confuse this month’s village with William Barnes’ place of birth. The instigator of this confusion was Sir Frederick Treves in his book Highways and By Ways in Dorset (1914). He wrote: ‘Nearby is the village of ….(our village). Here, at a place called Rushay Farm, William Barnes, the Dorset poet, was born’. He then added, ‘the family soon moving to Bagber, by Sturminster Newton’. He seems to have been misled by a farm in Bagber which still bears the same name as this month’s village, and clearly believed that Barnes was born 20 miles away from Sturminster Newton.

Our village does have real literary associations, though. Here, in 1746, was buried the first known forefather of one of England’s greatest poets. He has the same

name as his famous descendant, and his memorial plaque inside the church tells us that his son, who ran a coaching inn on the nearby London-Exeter mail coach route,

was the famous poet’s great-grandfather.

The stone and flint church, with its little spire, is dedicated to an 8th Century saint and stands just off the only road in the village, whose name derives from the Celtic for ‘hill of the boars’. This road is a dead-end at both ends, and can only be reached by a single lane leading from the main road. The cottages sit well back from the road, many behind hedges, so it hardly looks like a village at all. An ancient hill-fort stands on a pine-covered knoll overlooking the village. The surrounding area is of great antiquity with frontier ditches and barrows galore and, lastly, Thomas Hardy used this place, slightly re-named of course, in both Tess of the d’Urbervillesand Jude the Obscure. So do you know which village we are in?


Send your answers to: Where in Dorset? (June), Dorset Magazine, Archant House, Babbage Road, Totnes, TQ9 5JA or enter via email The first correct answer selected at random on 30 June 2014 wins £25. April’s mystery place was Buckland Newton and the winner is Mrs Collette Stevens.

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