If you didn’t make the talk last month by Professor David Carpenter, then you missed a real treat. Fortunately, a summary of his main themes is available on-line via the Society website – Under the drop-down men ‘About’, go to ‘Links’ and then click on the heading ‘Cerne Abbas Copy of the Magna Carta.’ Professor Carpenter has also written a book called ‘Magna Carta’ which contains a new translation and commentary on this important document. Copies were on sale after the talk and we could have sold more than our allocation by Waterstones.

Our next Talk
On 26th May, Will Best from Godmansone, who is well known to many of us, will talk about Bushes Bottom, the curious story of a forgotten farmstead. Situated in a dry valley between the Cerne and Sydling Rivers and feeling quite remote are the remains of a settlement which was farmed until 100 years ago. Raymond Forcey who lived there as a child and left in October 1914 has written a book of his memories of life in this totally different world. He was known to Will Best who has anecdotes and stories to share with us. Some of you will have walked to Bushes Bottom three years ago with Chris Copson. Others may have attended the service of dedication, led by Johnathan Still, of a memorial erected two years ago to mark the centenary of the abandonment of the settlement. A selection of photographs by local photographer Robin Mills, will be on display and members will be able to place orders if they wish.

…And a Repeat Performance
Some people missed the talk on the restoration of their house given by Ros and Piers Rawson in February. They have kindly agreed to give a repeat performance on Thursday 15th September at 7.30 in the Village Hall Jubilee Room.

Mike Clark



We were recently approached, via the website, by a lady who wrote as follows:

“My name is Joyce Squire and I live in Bookham, Surrey. I have recently been sorting through interesting letters and documents which I have collected over many years. In the early 1990s, when dealing with the affairs of Dorothy Read, an elderly relative, I came across a letter written to her by her great friend, Jeanie Parker. They were both teachers and Jeanie, who I believe taught at Haberdashers’ Aske’s School at Acton, had been evacuated, along with 60 pupils and five staff, to Giant View at Cerne Abbas. Jeanie describes the very basic conditions , the kindness of the local people and the imminent removal of the whole group to Dorchester. Although the children were content in dormitories and enjoyed being together, Jeanie was not keen to face winter in such Spartan conditions. You will probably know Giant View – Jeanie said it had been a workhouse and had become a youth hostel before opening its doors to the evacuees.

Everyone who sees Jeanie’s letter finds it fascinating so I am sure it will be of great interest to Cerne Historical Society. Once you have seen [a copy of the letter], you may like to suggest what I might do with the original. My sister in law lives in Somerset and we often visit Dorset while staying with her. If the original letter could find a wider readership by coming to you or a local museum, I would happily arrange to deliver it in due course.”

There have been several exchanges of e-mails and we have been sent a copy of this letter, written in September 1939, which is the only one remaining from what may have been a regular correspondence. It refers to the friendliness of the Cerne community which contrasted with the grim conditions at Giant’s View. Joyce visited Cerne on 27th April and visited Casterbridge Manor. She brought the original of the letter with her. After taking copies, it will be lodged in the Dorset History Centre. Mione Fox, who was in the village at the time the letter was written, was invited to come along.



Read an account of wartime evacuation to Dorchester and Cerne online here.

April 2016

From Mike Clarke (Chairman)

  • Visit to Milton Abbas
    The fairly recently formed village Historical Society has invited us to a talk and guided tour of their village on Tuesday 17th May. This was finalised too late to appear on our printed programme for this year. We will meet in the Reading Room (middle of the Alms Houses) at 6.15 pm for an introductory talk of around 30 minutes. This will be followed by a walking tour lasting about an hour. Finally, we will return to the Reading Room for tea and biscuits. The maximum number of people they can manage is 25 so I will take people on a first come, first served basis. If you would like to come on what promises to be an interesting visit, please contact me by e-mail (preferably)
    or phone. Please let me know how many people in your group and whether you can offer a lift by car, or would require a lift. I have suggested that people would be willing to make a donation to something in their village.
  • The Yetminster History Society hosted a talk on Benjamin Jesty, the smallpox vaccination pioneer and resident of Yetminster who died on April 16th 1816. Titled ‘Bicentenary Review’ by Patrick Read the talk was held on Saturday April 16th in the Jubilee Hall, Yetminster.
  • Magna Carta talk
    On 28th April, David Carpenter, Professor of Medieval History at King’s College London and an expert on C13th England gave a talk on ‘The copy of the 1225 Magna Carta in the Cartulary of Cerne Abbey.’ This described the connection between the book of Cerne and the Magna Carta. Copies of Professor Carpenter’s 2015 book, Magna Carta, were on sale.
  • Chalke Valley History Festival
    Last year I went for the first time to this event held just this side of Salisbury and about an hour’s drive from here. I was astonished at the range and quality of speakers appearing on the programme. It is a festival of talks, exhibitions and displays, this year held between 27th June to 3rd July. The list of speakers is a Who’s Who from the worlds of history and broadcasting and includes: Professors Niall Ferguson and Sir Barry Cunliffe, Melvyn Bragg, Peter Mandelson, Ian Hislop, Dan Snow, Alice Roberts and Michael Wood. A full programme will be available on-line shortly and bookings can be made from the end of the month, so why not get together with friends and take a car load?

Mike Clark