F. J. Harvey (Frederick Joseph Harvey) Darton.

The marches of Wessex, a chronicle of England online

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Whatever may be the landlord's difficulties over housing,
over second-rate tenants farming his soil imperfectly, over
bad seasons and capricious prices, the one thing ho has got
to do is to change his mind — his mind : to rend his heart,
and not his garments. His is the mind of the old world, and,
at that, not of the golden age of the old world. Ho is no
longer lord, whatever his legal rights. He is trustee-
administrator, and his humblest tenant is his equal as a man
and as a citizen. He can say, if he please, " this is mine " ;
but the claim is no longer admittedly valid if it is based
upon inheritance. If it is based upon purchase — well,
financiers go to the lamp-post early in revolutions.

It remains to be seen whether the new owners of to-day —
for a major part of England has changed hands in the last
few years — will learn what industry has learnt. The great


industrial employers at least respect the great industrial
leaders, as well as their men. They know now that even
well-paid workmen do not down tools and risk starvation
for themselves and their families — no bleating about
agitators and strike pay and doles really disproves that
risk — without at least some substance in their cause. The
better sort of employer knows also that behind whatever
may be the substance of a supposed injustice, there is now
a new point of view.

There is also a new point of view, probably, in the minds
of those who have freshly acquired the soil of England :
the earth that lives on English flesh and blood, hides English
bones. I do not know what they think. I could wish that
when they are, as often, men who have made money
honourably by business, they would view the culture of the
land as a business. I believe that not only a revolution of
the spirit but a revolution of financial outlook is needed. A
great deal of hard money is needed to render backward soil
fertile, to reclaim waste land, to breed scientific crops as
well as stock, to pay for agricultural education (from top
to bottom), to improve communications, to build good
houses — and, while the financier waits for the returns which
a vast outlay in industry will command when the spade
work is done, to pay good wages.

" Landlord," " farmer," " publican " : a comparison of
the derivative meaning of those words with their modern
colloquial sense is a lesson in economics. The only word
in the agricultural " Who's Who " which does not change
its true connotation much is " labourer."*

Have I found peace in demi-paradise ? For my selfish
self, yes, and infinite happiness. But for the self which loves
England, no. It seems to me that there are half a dozen
points of view which one may take about a county like
Dorset, and about the lives of those who make it a dwelling-

* " One who labours."— N.E.D.


place for humanity ; and all of them are only half-true, and
more or less contradictory. One can sit on a high empty
hill in the sun, and wonder at the simple beauty of England :
the light, the green gi-ass, the careful hedges, sheep, a brook,
an elm or oak. a vociferous magpie, a yellowhammer, the
concert of homely birds. And then a labourer comes in
sight ; labouring. It is not only of an English economic
problem that he is the emblem. He is Man, and a much
better man than many of us. He is the heir of all the ages :
he has conquered the difficult earth. Upon him, and upon
him only, in the first instance, rest our life, our civilization,
our arts, oiu- peace. Men who have become enlarged
through his labour have used their brains to give him more
efficient tools. AssociatioiLs of men, which we call towns
or cities, have been formed, through greed or necessity or
ambition, to supply him, by way of middlemen — the land-
lord, the farmer, the shopkeeper — with the means of his
arduous life. You camiot live on coal or iron ore : you can
live on the work done by the agricultural labourer — the
peasant, the pagan, the man of the country, the man who
makes and has made the world habitable. His is the most
enduring of all crafts, the most inevitable. He makes it
possible for me to write a book. He lets me hear the night-
ingale (but very rarely in Dorset). He enables me to play
cricket, to drink good Dorchester ale, to walk the field-paths
and roads, to eat Blue Vinney. He also crucifies jays, and
is often very dirty.

And is he English ? What in this county of the Western
Marches is an Englishman ? Scientists will define him by
his cranial index, his hair, his physique, his speech. You
can trace a line of Danes from Wareham to Severn Sea, by
that kind of mark. You can find in Ireland men more
" Irish " than the Celtic Irish, with not a drop of Celtic
bloofl in their veins. There is something per(liiral)le in
the associations and creative effect of place : in the climate,
may be, in the arts and crafts to which the particular soil
f(jrces its parasites, and in the accuninlatod mind of genera-


tions on the same spot. You become English by living in
England, whether you trace your descent to Athelstan or to
yesterday's alien or to a nameless Neolithic shepherd.

That mixture of blood may be the dim cause of our troubles
in rural England ; the old incompatibilities of race may not
yet be sufficiently softened and fused. I doubt it : all
history, with its story of common intercourse and inter-
changed, ever-changing lordship by men of each and every
stock, is against such a view. It seems to me that our
difficulties are deep-rooted in the mind of man, to be
destroyed only by that psychical change which the religious
name conversion. I do not profess and call myself a Christian
in any dogmatic sense ; but I believe that the pale Galilean
must conquer in spirit if we are to have, at long last, an
earth worthy of its human victor. We are but the paragon
of animals, so far. We can have no true peace till we become
as gods — all of us. We know quite enough (for to-day's
moment) about practical reforms, methods, applied science :
we do not know enough about one another. " This is My
commandment, that ye love one another " : is that the
answer ?




THE following notes w-ill show how by a slight trans-
position here and there and the interpolation of an
extra walk or two, the scenes described in this book
may be linked up in a continuous walking tour which will cover
the greater part of Dorset.

A word as to the inns. I have inserted their names as a matter
of convenience, not of confident recommendation. I have had
meals and in many cases slept at all those mentioned : usually
in reasonable comfort. But conditions are changing and have
changed much of late : not all have recovered from the war ;
and a new tenant may turn a good inn into a bad one, and vice
versa. For general observations on inns see Chapter XI, pages
236-238 and below. Inclusion here does not mean there are no
others as good.

This is the itinerary. References to " map " mean the one-inch
Ordnance Map.

Route L From Studland to Lulworth, as described fully
in the text of Chapter II. Before the war there was an excellent
little hotel at Sandbanks, across the harbour mouth, and a ferry
to and fro. This also would be a good starting-place. But I do
not know that either facility is yet fully re-estal)lished. Till
they are, it is best to go to Studland (" Bankes Arms ") so as to
arrive in the early afternoon, and visit Little Sea and the Heath
before starting on the longer walk next day. Swanage is the
station for Studland (walk 2 miles, drive 3-4). The total
distance from Studland to West Lulworth and Lulworth Cove
(" C<jve Hotel," " Castle ") is a good sixteen miles : rather more
if you visit most of the places mentioned in Chapter IL The last
half of Chapter II I leave till later (Kout*- 12).

At Lulworth there are alternatives : (a) to walk oi- drive a
dreary five miles to Wool and catch a train to Dorchester foi-


the night : in that event, if there is time, Wool Bridge and Manor
should be looked at and Bindon Abbey (6d.) visited : (b) to stay
at Lulworth and add an extra walk, thus :

Route 1a. Lulworth Cove to Weymouth along the coast — a
stiff ten miles of magnificent cliff scenery. Train to Dorchester
(" King's Arms," " Antelope. ")

Route 2, Dorchester to Abbotsbury, as described in Chapter
III. If it is fine the Down route is better than the road. To take
this, follow the Weymouth road to the cemetery; turn right,
past Maiden Castle. When the grass track has passed a sheep
dip and joined the Martinstown-Weymouth road, follow it a
few yards and then turn up the slope between two cottages
(gate). Near the top of the slope bear to the right, and when
you see a number of tumuli in front of you and the Hardy
monument further on, follow your nose due west. After the
Monument, if you are going on to Abbotsbury Camp, at the point
where the road curves down to Abbotsbury go through the
southernmost of several gates in a group in the corner — 7iot the
one marked " to Gorwell " — and follow the highest contour
(along the hedge at first). From the Camp turn back down the
road for Abbotsbury itself (" Ilchester Arms "). Distance in
all about twelve miles. Return to Dorchester by train or by one
of the cross-country ways that can be worked out from the
ordnance map — all good.

Route 3. Dorchester to Eggardon and Bridport as in
Chapter IV (latter part). From Eggardon you can follow the
road through Spyway on to the main road, or, more pleasantly,
turn off it (see map) to Matravers and Uploders. At the right-
angle turn in Uploders, where there is a spring, turn left up the
dark path. At one point you join something like a road for a
few hundred yards : leave this where it curves south, take a
gate on the right, and turn sharp left along the left-hand side of
the field uphill. This brings you out to Lee Lane (see Chap. IX,
page 176). Distance by this route to Bridport Town (" Grey-
hound," " Bull ") about eighteen miles ; If miles more to
Bridport Harbour (" George," " West Bay Hotel," " Bridport
Arms "). The way by the main road after Spyway takes a mile
or two off ; a fine road, but infested by motors. A much shorter
way is to end the journey just after Eggardon, and go down to
Powerstock Station and take a train {not from Powerstock
village — see map, and Chap. VI).


Route 4. To get to the Saxons, the journey described in
Chapter XII must be interpolated here — Bridport Harbour to
Weymoutli. About twenty-six miles. Train from Weymouth to
Corfe Castle (" Greyhoimd,"' " Bankes Arms.")

Route 5. Corfe Castle to Shaftesbury (" Grosvenor Arms,"
where they brew their o^\^l beer), as in Chapter V. This probably
ought to be a two-day journey broken at Blandford. Tlie
pleasantest way, in my opinion, is Wareham (see Church and
walls and bridge) — Lytchett Matravers — Sturminster Marshall
(see Church) — Shapwick — the Tarrants — Blandford ; then along
the Salisbury road to the cemeter}', and left over the do\Mis ;
lonely bjToads almost all the way. If opportunity occurs, go
do\\'n to the village of Iwerne Minster (pronounced " you-ern " —
*' Talbot'')and see it and the church, of which William of Wykeham
was once vicar : it adds two miles to the distance, which is about
thirty-five miles. If you go by way of the Roman road and
Wimbome (the Minster is worth it, but to me the journey is less
attractive), a train from Wimbome to Blandford will be helpful.

Route 6. Interpolate the walk from Shaftesbury to Blandford
here (see Chap. XIV for details). Distance according to alter-
native chosen — 16 to 25 miles.

Route 7. Blandford to Dorchester along the Roman road.
Walk or train to Spettisbury (see Crawford Bridge), up over the
Rings, and by winding byroads (see map) to join the Roman
track at Bushes Bam. Route quite clear on map to Tolpiddle.
Thence main road to PiddletoN^n (" King's Arms," " Blue
Vinney ") : tum left at entrance to village, over White Hill,
round Rain barrow ; left at cross roads to Lower Bockhampton,
then footpath by stream to the main road close to Dorchester.
20-21 miles in all.

Route 8. Train to Maiden Newton (" White Horse," " Station
Hotel ") : Maiden Newton to Powerstock (see Chapter VI for
details). For Frome Vauchurch, which deserves a digression,
tum to the left as you face the " White Horse," and take the
first tuming to the right ; left across the river. Seven or eight
miles with much room for more.

Acconnnodation here may Ix; dillicult, a.s it Ls limited, though
all the little inns are friendly : it is probably best to take a train
(or walk) to Evershot (" Acorn ") or Dorchester and return to
Maiden Newton the next day.



Route 9. Maiden Newton to Bere Regis (" Royal Oak," also
a home brewer), through Sydling, Cerne, and the Piddle villages ;
see all the churches. From 16 to 22 miles according to path
chosen. The main road is alive with motors : the other roads
all lonely.

Accommodation at Bere Regis is also limited. This is the most
difficult stage of the progress. If you cannot get in at Bere you
had better walk or drive (cars on hire) either back to Dorchester
or on to Wareham (" Red Lion," " Black Bear "). The next
stage begins at Burton Bradstock (" Anchor "), near Bridport.
It is quite easy, if there is room at Bere, to devise a noble walk
over the Heath and back by train (the next day — Route 9a) ;
say, by the path up past the cemetery, by the middle track across
Bere Heath to Turner's Puddle ; so to Throop Clump and the
high ridge by which lies Culpepper's Dish — one of several strange
cup-like subsidences in this region. Thence either by Moreton
(" Frampton Arms," by station) or Tincleton to Dorchester, and
on by train or motor-bus to Bridport. A motor carrier runs on
certain days between Dorchester and Bere ; on others from Bere
to Poole. Enquire at Dorchester about this. Messrs. Ling of
Dorchester issue a useful list of such facilities.

Route 10. Walk to Burton from Bridport or West Bay
(unless you stayed the night there already — there are lodgings
as well as the inn : so also at most of the seaside villages).
Burton to Sherborne (" Digby Arms ") (see Chapter VIII)
(Puncknowle is pronounced Pimnle, and Leigh Lie) ; 20-27
miles according to route. Sandwiches are necessary.

Stay the night either at Sherborne or Yeovil (" Three Choughs,"
'■ Mermaid "). Motor-bus next day to South Perrott. Follow
the gipsies' route (see Chap. X) to Abbotsbury, and if possible
on to Dorchester (or train to Dorchester), and back by train or
motor-bus to Bridport. Distances are given in the text.

Route 11. Motor-bus Bridport (or Bridport Harbour) to
Beaminster (" White Hart "). Beaminster to Netherbury,
Whitchurch, Symondsbury, and Bridport ; see text for details
and distances. Inns at all three villages.

Route 12. Bridport Harbour to Lyme Regis (" Royal Lion,"
" Three Caps ") and back : outwards, over Golden Cap (see
Chap. II, end) : return, along the main road (see Chap. IX).
Eighteen long miles in all. Whatever you do do not leave the


cliff route to form the second half of the journey. The easiest way
to take it is to miss Eype's* Mouth, and the descent to sea-level
thcro. Go up over the west cUff between the new houses, and make
for EyjK> church, jiast ClilY Cottage : then along the road to Eype
Down, round it on the far side, over a gate in the right-hand
south corner, along the left-hand edge to the back of Thorn-
combe B(\acon. The track then runs west one hundred yards
or so inland. At Sea Town (" Anchor ") observe the directions
in Chapter II. On Golden Cap get the country in front of you
well into yoiu" niuid's eye, and steer for Upcot and Frenchay
Farm : do not go aloiuj the coast edge after Stanton St. Gabriel.
On Stonebarrow Hill you can either turn to the left just above
Frenchay Farm and so to Char Mouth, or go on into Charmouth
village (" Coach and Horses ") at its east end ; and from Char
Mouth by fields without going into the village at all. There is
another obvious short cut across the fields into Lyme itself, from
the summit of the road. The very short quiet walk round Lyme
described in Chapter XI may be taken after a judicious luncheon
and rest.

Route 13. Evershot to Blandford (train up to Evershot the
night before or early in the morning) (see Chapter XV for
details). The longest route described there (by Hilton, Milton,
and Turn worth Down) is about thirty -eight miles : the shortest
direct to Sturminster (" Swan," " White Hart "), about twenty.
Sandwiches essential on this journey.

Route 14. Train from Blandford or Sturminster to Spettis-
bury : thence to Pentridge and Cranborne (" Fleur-de-Lys " —
locally kno\\Ti as Flower de Luce) (see Chapter IV for much
of the route). Crawford Bridge to Shapwick, and so to
Badbury Kings. Thence by the straight Ackling Dyke (see map
and text) up to the border of the county. Turn rather more
than a right angle by a footpath over Pentridge Hill to Cran-
borne, where the lovely manor-house can be seen at close quarters,
and the church, with curious wall-paintings, visited. About
I5-1S miles in all. Sandwiches desirable. From hero you can
easily get to the railway at Daggon's Road f)r \'('rw()()d, and so
farewell to Dorset.

I ought to mid to this Ruttier some geographical reference to
the works of Thomas Hardy, my deep love of which luis, I hojx',

• rronouiiced E«p.


become apparent. There is an exhaustive, even exhausting, book
on Hardy topography, by Mr. Hermann Lea (Macmillan), and a
less exhausting one by Sir Bertram Windle (Lane) ; and a well-
arranged " Hardy Dictionary " by Mr. F. 0. Saxelby (Routledge).
There has sprung up, inevitably, a topographical cult of his novels
which may temporarily identify one of England's most universal
writers with purely local conditions — though no writer has
transmuted more splendidly the local into the national. For
the benefit of those who regard local conditions as more interest-
ing than great literature, I append a few notes showing which
of Hardy's works deal with the chief places I mention. I do not
include small casual references.

Chapter I. Bridport Harbour (" Port Bredy "). See Wessex
Tales (" Fellow Townsmen "), Tess and The Mayor of Casterbridge.

Chapter II. Studland to Lulworth. See The Hand of
Ethelberta for Swanage (" Knollsea") and Corfe Castle ("Corves-
gate Castle ") ; Far from the Madding Crowd (references also
elsewhere) for West Lulworth (" Lulstead ").

Chapter III. Dorchester to Abbotsbury. The Mayor of
Casterbridge (and many other references, especially in the Poems),
for Dorchester (" Casterbridge "), and Fordington ('' Durnover ") ;
the Poems, passim, for Maiden Castle and Blackdown. It is
possible that the Great Barn, in Far from the Madding Crowd, is
the Abbotsbury barn, an infinitely more impressive building
than that at Cerne, which Mr. Lea suggests as the original.

Chapter IV. The Roman roads. Dorchester as above.
" Long Ash Lane," of Tess and other works, is the stretch
near Maiden Newton. Eggardon (" Eggar ") and Poundbury
(" Pummery ") come into the Poems, and Poundbury into The
Mayor of Casterbridge. A portion of the road near Milborne St.
Andrew is hinted at in Two on a Tower, and the country just east
of Dorchester is described intimately in Far from the Madding

Chapter V. Studland to Shaftesbury. For Corfe, see Chapter
II. Wareham is the "Anglebury" of The Hand of Ethelberta
(Lytchett Minster appears here) and The Return of the Native,
in which the Great Heath is described in imperishable words.
Wimborne (" War borne ") is in Two on a Tower, Blandford
(" Shottsford ") in The Woodlanders and Far from the Madding


Crowd. Shaftesbury is t lu' scene of much of Jude the Obscure : and
Tess crossed this country in her unhappy journey from MarnliuU
(•' Marlott ") to Cranborne (possibly " Chaseborough ").

Chapter VI. Maiden Xewt on to Powerstock. Maiden Newton
is " Chalk Newton " of ir(»-c.c Taks : in which my sm-name haa
the honour of appearing ; but I am afraid I do not own a farm
there like my namesake. So far as I know, the other places are
not mentioned by Hardy.

Chapter VII. Maiden Newton to Bere Regis. Maiden Ne^^'t on
as above. Piddletowi is " Weatherbury " of Far from the
Madding Crowd : the " Vale of Great Dairies " of Tess also lies
in this region. Bt^re Regis (" Kingsbere "") is likewise in Tess.
On Woodbury Hill close by is held the wasp-haunted fair de-
scribed in Far from the Maddimj Crowd.

Chapter VIII. Burton to Sherborne. Sherborne is the
" Sherton Abbas '' of The Woodlanders, which describes the Black-
more Vale country generally (as Tess also does). Other places
are not mentioned.

Chapters IX and X. The only Hardy " site " is Bcaminster
(" Emminster," of Tess).

Chapters XI and XII deal with the scene of Tlie Trumpet
Major ; '" Budmouth,"" of course, is Weymouth, and most of the
sites can be very easily identified. Chapter XIII covers the
Blackmore Vale country already mentioned.

Chapter XIV starts at " Evershead " (Evershot, of Tess).
The Cross-in-Hand is the subject of one of the poems, Tlie Lost
Pyx, and appears in Tess. High Stoy appears in a jirefaco
quoted in the text — that of TJie Woodlamlers, which also con-
tains other places (Okeford Fitzpaine — "Oakbury Fitzpiers ")
mentioned here and where.

Hardy is, of course, the great name in Dorset liUratinc. I
have siviken of other Dorset writers in the course of this book,
aiul works of local application are abundant . M(Klern fiction about
the county is represented by a numlM-r of novels by Mrs. M. E.
Franci.s, Mr. Orme Agnus, and Miss (J. MacFadden.

Sixteen walks, seventeen days ; say, three weeks, h is worth
it, even if you do not find all the inns comfortable ; p().sHil)ly not
all immaculately clean. You must not expect too nnuh. Vou


may expect civility and kindness in abundant measure : lonely
roads, empty footpaths, adorably varied and unforbidden

The one-inch ordnance maps are essential ; five cover virtually
the whole county. Any smaller scale is useless in a county like
Dorset. The road standard is not (thank God) that of motorists.
Many alleged third-class roads on the one -inch map are not
roads at all, but a couple of ruts in turf : many paths marked
are very indistinct. There are only three main roads which
motorists use virulently, and they are often not good (I gather
that the local stone is too friable for road sm'faces) — from Poole
and Wareham to Dorchester, from Poole, Wimborne and Bland-
ford to Dorchester, all uniting in the Dorchcster-Bridport-
Axminster-Exeter road ; and from Shaftesbury to Sherborne,
Yeovil and Axrainster to the same end : the Dorchester to
Weymouth branch is also contagious. Many motor-bus and
motor carrier services (more than I can keep pace with) are
growing up on the chief minor roads. They are badly needed for
agricultural transport. But even when they are fully developed,
there will still be a thousand lanes and footpaths " the world
forgetting, by the world forgot." I would only say to those who
use them, use them decently and reasonably. Trespass is a small
thing in itself : few good farmers or landowners in an open
country really mind it : abused, it is a great evil, the enemy of
society as well as of sound farming.

I hesitate to add any practical advice to walkers. But for
those who have yet to learn by experience I would say this.
Have a bag or trunk with plenty of clean clothes sent on by
rail every two or three days to one of your calling-places. Carry
with you, if you use a rucksack, whatever else it contains, a
clean exti'a pair of thick socks (undarned if possible), which put
on immediately the walk is ended, and a pair of comfortable
slippers. Let all your clothing be loose enough for ease but not
so loose as to sag and catch dust and rain. Use a sound ointment
like lanoline or vaseline for your feet before and after walking,
whether you feel tired or not. Wear thick boots (the use of
rubber pads is a matter of taste : I like them). If you can
manage it, carry with you in your rucksack the smallest possible
tongue in a glass, some biscuits or a roll, and a flask of some
cordial : you may get lost, and Dorset is a desolate county in
places. I recommend brown sherry a little diluted (T know it
is a vile suggestion, but I have tried most things). If you use

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Online LibraryF. J. Harvey (Frederick Joseph Harvey) DartonThe marches of Wessex, a chronicle of England → online text (page 26 of 28)