Tag Archives: quirky

St Augustine’s Well……or is it!

25 May

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

We are continuing with our theme of ‘Quirky Dorset’ still and I think this is Part 19, and it is another well. It seems that a lot of wells have a lot of folklore written about them as legends and ‘Chinese whispers’ are passed down through the generations, and this one is no exception! So whose well is it? Lets look at the evidence 🙂 !

St Augustine’s Well

St Augustine's Well

St Augustine’s Well

St Augustine’s Well, as it is known, is in the lovely Dorset village of Cerne Abbas, of ‘Giant’ fame, and tradition has it that it owes its existence to St Augustine of Canterbury, hence the name. It seems that in the 7th century, St Augustine visited Dorset and he was travelling through the Cerne Valley before the current village existed and he met some shepherds. They were thirsty so the saint asked them if they would prefer water or ale to drink, and they, probably realising he was a saintly man, replied that they would prefer the former. The saint duly did what anyone would do and struck the ground with his staff, crying out Cerno El which apparently means ‘I perceive God’, whereupon water flowed from the spot.

Now this may be a correct and true story but the cynical in me thinks that might just be an invented tale, since there are others! I say ‘invented’ because people did do that sort of thing simply to attract visitors 🙂 !

St Augustine's Well

Ribbons Adorn the Tress

The second story in fact doesn’t credit it to St Augustine at all but rather another gentleman known as St Edwold. He was actually royalty, but became a hermit and settled in the area back in the 9th century, and he had a vision where he saw a silver well. He was walking through the Cerne Valley one day and being hungry, he bought bread and water from a shepherd, paying him with silver. The shepherd handed over the bread and brought him to this well to draw water, whereupon the saint immediately recognised the well he had seen in his vision.

Taking this as a sign, he built a hermitage on the site and stayed there until he died. Thus, perhaps this should be called St Edwold’s Well! Or maybe Silver Well, as it seems it was once known. Then again, some say that St Edwold’s Well is in fact a different well all together as there are a number in the area. These things are so confusing…..but that just adds to the intrigue 🙂 !

Fallen and Floating

Autumn Leaves in the Well

We will never know the truth, but we do know that this was recognised as a sacred place and that there was once a chapel built over the top of the well. This was lost in 1539 with the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

The well was until comparatively recent times used as drinking water by the villagers, although looking at my picture above, you probably wouldn’t want to try it in autumn with those rotting leaves 🙂 ! Oh, and apparently a 3 feet long eel was found in it not long ago 🙂 !

As with most wells, the water is said the have curative properties and also to aid fertility……which of course is also something that is said about the famous Giant on the hillside about which I blogged recently. It was said too to be beneficial to dip new born babies into the water! It wasn’t only fertility either, as young girls were often encouraged to come here and pray to St Catherine for a husband, turning round three times as they did so.

Oh, and there is another local legend that says if you look into the water over Easter, you will see reflected the faces of those who will die that year.

Path to the Well

The Quiet Tree Lined Path to the Well

Clearly, this is a mysterious and somewhat quirky place, and one that has been regarded for centuries as a holy place. To this day, people still tie written prayers on the surrounding trees. In fact there are 12 lime trees around the well and these are known locally as the twelve apostles.

St Augustine’s Well is a delightful place. It nestles in a hollow beside the graveyard and not far from the old abbey ruins. Peace and tranquility are words that spring to mind as you stroll down the tree lined path that leads to the well itself. This is a well that is perfect for a pilgrimage, or just to sit and meditate beside.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

 

Quirky Dorset – Part 14

13 May

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

Today we are visiting another quirky building in Dorset, but this is not a very well known one unless you happen to spot it as you pass through the village of Frampton in West Dorset. Ostensibly, this looks like a tiny church, set back from the main village street, and attached to a lovely cottage. But all is not as it seems!

The Porch

The Cottage

This tiny building looks for all the world like a toy church with a little steeple on top but in fact it is the porch of this otherwise typically Dorset thatched cottage. Not that it was designed as a porch at all but rather, it has been up cycled to use a modern term 🙂 ! This delightful little building in fact started life as a summerhouse with a dovecote on the top, and it stood in the grounds of Frampton Court, the local manor house to which much of the area and village belonged. When the court was demolished in 1932, the summerhouse was dismantled and moved to its present site to serve as this rather quirky porch.

The holes for the nesting boxes have been filled in, giving it this church like appearance but otherwise the building is as it was. This is so quirky in its incongruity that when I first saw it, I decided I would do some detective work until I managed to solve the conundrum 🙂 ! Its always pleasing to find the answer and to discover a little bit more of ‘quirky Dorset’ 🙂 ! But, happily, there’s always more to find!

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

Quirky Dorset – Part 13

11 May

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

Today, we are looking at another Dorset curiosity, and one over which several theories have been put forward. It is something which is totally incongruous with its surroundings and which seemingly cannot be totally explained, which just adds to its air of mystery. This is the Agglestone.

The Agglestone

Agglestone - a Dorset curiosity

The Agglestone

The Agglestone is a massive lump of ferruginous sandstone, weighing some 500 tons and it stands on a flat topped conical hill in the middle of Black Heath near Studland. The mystery is caused by the fact that, apart from a much smaller neighbour known as the Puckstone, this rock is totally out of keeping with the boggy heathland which surrounds it.

Tradition has it that the rock was hurled by the devil one night when he stood at the Needles on the Isle of Wight and was intending to destroy Corfe Castle. He missed his target by some way, the stone landing harmlessly on the heath.

On the heathlands

Black Heath with The Agglestone

In truth, no one has been able to properly explain why the stone is there but there are several theories. One says that it was a remnant of the last ice age and that it was a ‘one-off’, deposited by a glacier on the heath and that it stands on a hilltop because the surrounding heathland has been eroded around it, much in the way that tors stand on their hilltops on moorlands. Another theory suggests that there was much more of this stone in this area but the rest has all been quarried away, theorising that this heath was once one massive quarry. This theory suggests it was the quarrymen who left the Agglestone deliberately as a relic as they sometimes did.

Either way, this stone is clearly natural and has not been put in place by man. However, there are suggestions that its shape has been modified by human intervention. This becomes more clear if you look at older pictures because at one time the rock stood higher and had a flat top, making it very much like an anvil. In addition, there were at one time quite a few smaller and neatly square blocks of similar stone surrounding it. These appeared to have been cut, but why were they left?

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The Agglestone Long Before its Collapse (Published by Climenson in 1906)

Some years ago, probably in the 1950’s, its base eroded and the rock tipped over on its side, leaving it sloping as we see it today.

It would seem that whether it was a large quarry or just a single massive stone,  some quarrying activity was carried out, modifying the shape of the Agglestone. Suggestions that the undercutting might have been natural and caused by sandblasting by the wind seem doubtful since there are no large areas of sand in the vicinity. It is possible though that the lower rock is perhaps softer and has just been eroded to its anvil shape by rain and frost damage. We will probably never know the truth!

Agglestone View

The View from the Base of the Agglestone

There are so many unanswered questions surrounding the Agglestone – why was it there in the first place, why was its anvil shape so neat, why was it surrounded by neatly squared blocks of stone, why does it sit on a flattened hilltop, and so on. There is a real air of intrigue about it!

I well remember my first visit here in my younger days, walking the heath in the last light of the day. Suddenly, this massive structure loomed out of the gloom. It was extremely imposing and it made a real impression on me. Now, I visit regularly just to revisit that mystery and to drink in the amazing views from its lofty perch.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

Theme for the Week – Quirky Dorset Part 3

22 Mar

– – – EXPLORING THE COUNTRYSIDE AND LANES OF DORSET – – –

So, continuing my ‘Theme for the Week’, we are looking at odd, strange, unusual, weird, puzzling things and there is none more quirky than this! It is the houseboats in a little bay known as Bramblebush Bay, a part of Poole Harbour.

Bramble Bush houseboats

Leaning Houseboats

So why is that quirky I ask you say? 🙂 Well, to start with perhaps we need to ask, ‘When is a boat not a boat?’ You see, these two so called houseboats that have been in the bay for as long as I can remember no longer float – and that is definitely odd for a boat! They happily bobbed on the water at one time but the timbers have long since rotted. In order to prevent further erosion, they have been encased in concrete and so are firmly attached to the sea bed. You might ask, ‘why bother?’ Well a few years ago I did a bit of research because that was something that puzzled me – why not just scrap it and buy another one?

The reason soon became clear because the original terms of the moorings as set out decades ago dictate that they can remain there permanently but they cannot be replaced, I believe because the owners would then only acquire temporary mooring rights under what would become a new agreement. Because of this, the boats are being shored up (no pun intended 🙂 ) almost with sticky tape and string in an effort to keep them going longer. What is particularly quirky is the fact that the boats lean at crazy angles and I did wonder how on earth people manage to sleep in there but I gather the internal floors have been levelled to make this possible.

Bramblebush Bay

Bramblebush Bay

I walk past these ‘boats’ regularly and for many years I assumed that they were just wrecks because to be honest that’s what they look like, but they are not. In the summer, these boats are occupied, and just for good measure, are joined by half a dozen more traditional houseboats (i.e. they float) for the summer months. These additional vessels are temporary visitors only unlike the two permanent residents above. I keep hoping I might meet someone living there so that I might be able to have a peep inside but I always seem to pass at the wrong time.

The Glow of Evening

A Floating Houseboat at Bramblebush Bay

I love Bramblebush Bay and I love the quirkiness of the two fixed ‘boats’. Italy might have its Leaning Tower of Pisa, but I reckon we in Dorset go one better with our leaning houseboats 🙂 ! Wonderfully quirky Dorset.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until tomorrow,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

On White Nothe (or is it Nose) again :)

6 Dec

I did say that it was a place that I love to walk…….well, I walked there again last week so I thought I would add a few more quirky and interesting facts about this remote and lovely place.

The first thing is that name and where it came from.  Well it comes from the shape and its resemblance to a facial appendage but I have not been able to establish whether it is the profile shape of the whole headland or, as one source suggests, just the rocky outcrop shown in the picture below.  Does it matter?  Well only to me as I’m inquisitive and like things to be settled!  Actually I think the whole headland looks like a nose – all it needs is a couple of caves for nostrils…..

Just as an aside, I wonder why the name changed from Nose to Nothe – do you think someone had a cold and couldn’t pronounce his S’s properly – I have this picture in mind of someone talking to a cartographer who was drawing up a map of the area and the mispronunciation stuck ;)!

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White Nose

In fact, the outcrop in the picture is not the only one on this headland.  There is a far less well known and perhaps more impressive outcrop below.  It is a massive pillar of chalk known as The Fountain Rock and is seen by few people because it is somewhat off the beaten track, and the beach it stands on is inaccessible.  Which leads me to one of the things on my wish list – one day I want to stand on the shore at the foot of this rock :)!  Now I could get my kayak out again or I could walk the shoreline from Ringstead and take a chance on the tides :)!!  One day……

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The Fountain Rock

Moving further along the headland in an easterly direction leads us to some more interesting features of this fantastic place.  The first is a series of three shell sculptures, each in its own cupboard – I say three but sadly there are now only two because one has been damaged.  These sculptures were carved by Peter Randall in 1985 at the request of the Weld Estates as part of Common Ground’s New Milestones project.  This aimed to stimulate small scale art works to express a sense of history and the natural world and they feature in a number of places across Dorset.  It seems incongruous somehow to come across these in the middle of nowhere but what a great idea, and a very pleasant, not to mention intriguing, surprise for anyone walking these parts for the first time.

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The Wayside Carvings

Just a short distance away is something that puzzled me all my life until finally I managed to get to the bottom of what was a real conundrum.  There are two obelisks perhaps a quarter of a mile apart and nowhere was there any mention of their purpose or who erected them.  They are both identical and one is inland of the other – but why were they put there?  Clearly it wasn’t just a random thought someone had on a quiet day when they were bored, and they are far two functional in appearance to be any form of memorial, so what are they?  Answers on a postcard to…….

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The inland obelisk

Actually as mentioned before, the riddle is solved – well at least in part!  After spending a day making numerous telephone calls to various ‘authorities’, each of whom suggested another, I reached the Hydrographic Office in Taunton and they found a reference to these in a publication entitled The Channel Pilot Part 1 (I believe it is a sort of seaman’s guide to the British coast).  This dates from 1908 and the reference actually says, ‘Two white beacons, 24 feet high for the use of His Majesty’s ships when prize firing, have been erected on high land east of White Nose (now known as White Nothe)’.

So the next puzzle was, what is or was ‘prize firing’?  Well it was the test of a ship’s proficiency for battle and on Admiralty orders this was to be carried out annually.  Basically it was a yearly competition to see if the naval gunners were any good – if they were then they went into battle and if they weren’t then it was back for more training.  What I am not totally sure on is exactly how the obelisks were used apart from the fact that they obviously had to be lined up when viewed from the ship.  As the observant will have noticed, they are no longer painted white.

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The coastal obelisk

There is one final point of interest at the top of the headland and that is a memorial to the author Llewelyn Powis.  He was one of a family of eleven, many of whom were writers, and for a number of years he lived in White Nothe Cottages that I showed in my last blog.  The cottages went through a bohemian period when many noted people, including Augustus John, visited.

In my last blog entry I mentioned the Smuggler’s Path and the fact that the last 30 feet or so down to the shore involved climbing down a rather rickety looking ladder – well I have now found my pictures of this contraption which I have climbed up and down many times!  I think this is pretty quirky so I thought I should post them :)!

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The stairway to heaven – well White Nothe actually

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The view from the top

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Ringstead Bay through the ladder

Oh yes, and did I mention the old fence posts ;)!  I love them – they are almost as quirky as The Dorset Rambler!  Its amazing what you see when you walk with your eyes really open.

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Another wonderful old fence post

One pleasure I did have on my last visit is that I again bumped into my friend Sally who lives in one of the cottages and we had a long and enjoyable chat.  She did correct one thing from my last post – she does have internet!  So just a tiny bit of the 21st century has finally come to these wonderful old cottages ;)!  Apart from that, the historic features and charm have been amazingly preserved – and long may it stay that way.

Well, for the time being at least, we must leave this delightful place with the strange name of White Nothe and move on to other areas – but more of that next time.  Before we go though, stand with me once more on the cliff top and look out to the setting sun across the mist that has settled on the sea.

Sunset over White Nothe

Thanks for stopping by and reading the ramblings of The Dorset Rambler.

Until next time,
Your friend
The Dorset Rambler.

If you would like to contact me, my details are on my website which is http://www.yarrowphotography.com – comments and feedback are welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.