Standing tall behind the Quay of this Ancient market town of Wareham is the Parish Church of Lady Saint Mary. Its tower has dominated the surrounding skyline for many centuries acting not just as a marker for the town across the surrounding marshes but for shipping from Pool Harbour approaching the town via the River Frome.
Probably like all churches that we see today its location was probably dictated by the use of the site by early religious groups for worship. Lady St. Mary was built St. Aldhelm in 705ad the then Bishop of Sherborne in what was known as the Kingdom of Wessex. It was an Anglo Saxon construction with the tower being added later in 1500 and occasional increased in height.
The Nave looking East to the Chancel
As you enter Lady St. Mary you are struck by both the height and bright modern style of the interior. Wooden beams, solid supporting pillars and arches and a dominant East Window. It is relatively modern…. the main body of the church and roof were reconstructed in 1840’s. Not really surprising as like most religious buildings it has been involved in turmoil and war over the many centuries since it was founded back in 705. Invading Danes completely destroyed the church in 876 and Civil Wars and other incursions left there marks. (It is a wonder any of our historic churches are still standing) Despite all the rebuilding’s and repairs it is still much the Anglo Saxon Style.
The Chancel is the on its own both colourful and dominant. The East window was constructed in the 1300’s and the Coloured glazing added in 1886. The Organ Pipes add another dimension. Next to the Chancel on the south side you drop down some steps to the small St. Edwards Chapel one of the oldest parts of the Church still much as it was, dating back to 1100’s a dedicated place for quiet reflection and prayer.
The Church also has a proud boast in so much as its Church Bells have been rung to mark just about every major event in the History of the UK.
The history of Wareham matches that of Lady St. Mary’s. Looking at the Quay which is the draw for todays Tourists with its waterside Pub and Tea Rooms, river trips up and down the River Frome it conveys a very different picture than its past importance. The fact that the Quayside Pub was once a Granary is perhaps one clue. In fact the River Frome and its direct link, across the surrounding marshes, to Poole Harbour made this a major Port of Dorset, trading across the maritime world and centre of trading commerce. Wareham was strategically located on some of the only higher dry ground above the marshes and between the two rivers of Frome and Piddle that flow on each side to the town.
Today it is still a busy market town, full of interest for any tourist… and to emphasis the national importance to the country in times past, Wareham has been the home of two Royal Mints.
Next Sunday we will travel to another ancient Dorset Religious location with links to Lady St. Mary.
(C) David Oakes 2018
Many years ago when we lived in the West Country, Brian Carter was a familiar name. Often broadcasting about wildlife and the countryside…he was also a writer of some note and an accomplished artist. Unlike todays household names in Conservation broadcasting, Brian Carter didn’t have the benefits of modern technology…but what he did have was a love of everything in the countryside and a knowledge base built from childhood through patience and watching what was happening all about him and mans interaction with the wild. Add to that a ‘natural’ charm and ability to convey this love of the outdoors achieving much for the benefit of his beloved Dartmoor and all that lived upon it and around it.
” A Black Fox Running”
A Black Fox Running is one of Brian Carters early books. First published in 1981 it has just been republished by Bloomsbury with the addition of a new Foreword by Melissa Harrison*. In praise this is a book about life on Dartmoor, the country people, the wildlife and a changing society and world after WW11 over the year leading up to the horrendous winter of 1947 a winter that has still not been matched for its severity. But for the most part it tells the story based upon years of observation through the eyes of one particular Fox.
Now this is where you need a leap in faith. This is most definitely not a children’s book…yet the story is predominantly told by the animals and thru there interactions and mutual dependence upon each other…yes the animals speak to each other and have names. Yet seamlessly the story is also told by the humans in the story whose lives are bound up in country life..from land owner, farmers, to trapper.
It is a moving story, of damaged humanity and survival, and sometime death, for all. Yet by simple description through flowing words it conveys so much of the outdoors and its wildlife, much of which we either take for granted or detail we perhaps allow to go un-noticed. The seamless narrative from animals to people is an education of country life from past years with a very real relevance to today.
This is the best £14.99 I have invested in a book for a long time and much, much more than just a great holiday read….its unforgettable, engrossing, educational, stimulating, at times hard and gripping but always a flowing read.
- The Foreword will also convey much more about Brain Carter than I can here
(C) David Oakes
A Spectacular Dorset Castle
We had a lazy start to Sunday…. Coffee, a good book and some welcome shade just to sit and read…well we are on holiday. But the afternoon was for some exploration of a part of Dorset’s Heritage.
So it was the Village of Corfe Castle, and of course, its distinctive and spectacular castle of the same name, our destination. Both the Village and the Castle are built of the distinctive Purbeck Stone… always light and bright, but in this afternoons blistering sun, reflecting as if it was a true white.
Its History is long and chequered so you are best dong an internet search for comprehensive information…so here is the brief vision.
In 1086 William the Conqueror did a swap. A Church for this land on which he built Corfe Castle. It was very much a defensive castle with Outer Baily and Gatehouse then an inner Baily and Gatehouse..being situated on the hill it was a position of strength and provide extensive views over all it surrounded. It must have been a strong fortification as it withstood several sieges. It was though during two sieges in the Civil War of 1643 -1646 that Corfe Castle fell to the Parliamentary Forces…but only through an act of treachery from inside the castle. After this Castle was partially demolished by order of Parliament, stone was robbed to build elsewhere. The Castle and surrounds continued to remain in the hands of the Banks Family and did so for more than 3 more centuries. It is now in the hands of the National Trust.
So here is a mini tour…
An interesting and relaxing afternoons exploring. Then a leisurely drive back to where our caravan is currently located for yet another glorious summers evening..
Dusk over Kimmeridge Bay
(C) David Oakes 2018