June 2017

Visit to Wells – July 10th

The deadline for the return of booking forms for this joint outing with Cerne Abbas Society for Horticulture is 23rd June and there are still places available. We will be visiting the Bishop’s Palace and Gardens and there is also an optional guided tour of the Cathedral. Booking forms were hand- delivered to members of both Societies a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully, everybody received one, but if you were missed, my apologies. Please contact me.


Our next talk

John Charman, who most of you will know, is giving a talk on 22nd June titled: ‘The Geology of Cerne Abbas and its Influence on the Village.’ Until fairly recently, the surrounding geology influenced the character of most communities and John will give local examples in his talk. This will be followed by a walk around the village to look at specific examples on the evening of 13th July. More details will be given at John’s talk. This is a repeat of a very successful talk which John gave to the Society about nine years ago.


The 1919 Pitt-Rivers Village Sale

Most people will be aware that Cerne Abbas was largely owned by the Pitt-Rivers family until properties were sold off by auction in September 1919. Many of the properties were bought by the sitting tenants and with the freehold now being in their ownership, this helped to kick-start the many changes to the village throughout the 20th century. It is thus one of the most significant dates in village history and something we should celebrate. The Committee would like to bring together a group of people to contribute ideas and to help co-ordinate a celebration of this centenary. There are many things we could do. Possible activities include re-publishing the auction sales brochure; a re-enactment of the sale with residents currently living in properties which were part of the sale, bidding to own their house at the 1919 prices; through local newspapers and other records, looking at what was happening in the village and the wider Dorset community in this year just after World War One. Please contact any of the Committee with ideas and offers of becoming involved. It may be over two years away but we have the opportunity to plan something significant.


Frances Hodgkins

This name will probably be unknown to everybody, as it was to myself until a few weeks ago when, quite unexpectedly, a letter and brochure was delivered to me one morning. I don’t normally receive correspondence from New Zealand but an Auckland art dealer was looking for some information about this lady. Frances Hodgkins was an artist born in New Zealand but who spent most of her working life in the UK.  She stayed in the New Inn here in Cerne for three months in 1943 and painted many local scenes. She died in poverty at Herrison House in 1947. She is now the most sought-after ex-patriate New Zealand artist. Painting in an impressionist style, her works fetch up to £20K through auction houses including Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Jonathan Gooderham, a New Zealand dealer and collector, who originated from Somerset, was trying to identify the location of some of her works which were included in the brochure I received. He was asking for our help prior to his visiting Cerne as part of his annual visit to England to buy art and to visit family. George Mortimer took on the task of trying to match the paintings with Cerne locations. We needed some expert opinion on the Cerne landscape of 1943, so inevitably the go-to man was Dave Fox. Neither he nor his mates could throw any further light on identifying locations. George and myself met with Jonathan Gooderham last week, inevitably in the New Inn, for a fascinating insight into this artist and her life and work.

Mike Clark, Chair


May 2017

‘Beatrice’ Talk

On Thursday 25th May, David Smith will give a talk on ‘Beatrice, a Kingston Lacy Housemaid.’ David Smith, a former warden on the estate tells the story of a servant girl in the early 1900s. Having received more than a basic education, Beatrice’s diaries tell the story of life in a big country house at that time. David is an excellent and enthusiastic speaker who gave a talk a few years ago on the history of the Estate. This time we are moving from the broad-brush history to the personal level.

2018 Programme

We are now putting together our programme of talks for next year. Most years we manage to involve a village resident to give a talk. If anybody has researched their family history and has unearthed some curious, interesting or unexpected stories from their research that others may be interested to hear, perhaps you could let us know. If you are daunted at the prospect of being the only person on the bill for an evening, we could aim for two or three shorter presentations. Don’t be shy.

Chalke Valley History Festival

I know that a number of people have previously visited this annual celebration of history which is only about an hour’s drive away this side of Salisbury. This year’s festival runs from 26th June to 2nd July and has the usual sprinkling of famous names amongst the speakers, including Chris Patten, Andrew Marr, Dan Snow, Suzannah Lipscomb, Tom Holland, Paddy Ashdown, Bettany Hughes and Michael Wood amongst many other well-known names. Look on their website at or contact the box office on 01722 781133.

Windrose Rural Media Trust

The evening in April was attended by over 100 people. The proceedings were recorded and the conversations involving Jane Stannard, Fred Horsington and Will Best sharing recollections of life and farming in the valley will become part of our archive and available for viewing again at some future time.

Visit to Wells

Round about now, you should be receiving a hard copy of the booking form for the outing to Wells on 10th July. This is being arranged jointly with Cerne Abbas Society for Horticulture. The cost for the coach and entrance fee to the Bishop’s Palace (which includes buildings and extensive gardens) is £19 for members. There is also an optional guided tour of the Cathedral at an extra £5.70. People will have the chance to explore the City, the centre of which is quite small and centred around the Cathedral. We hope this will prove to be a popular outing and places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Mike Clark, Chair