April 2017

Our Project with WINDROSE Rural Media Trust

Here is an update on this event. As previously mentioned, to give this evening a local focus, we have invited Will Best and Fred Horsington, who have long experience of farming in the valley, along with Jane Stannard, who has lived in Godmanstone for 70 years, to share some of their recollections of life in times gone by. The audience will have the opportunity to ask questions and to share their own memories. Tickets have been on sale at £7 (to include a glass of wine or soft drink) from Cerne Stores for a week and are already selling.

In more detail the films being shown are:

On the farming theme:

Winter on the Farm

A professionally made film showing winter work on a farm near Loders in West Dorset during the Second World War.

Wimborne Market in 1945

This captures a morning at a small livestock market during the dying days of the war. It also reflects the fading of tradition in rural communities.

Last Day at Sturminster Newton Market

By way of contrast, this film shows what was happening to Dorset’s markets in the 1990s. It shows the very last day of Sturminster Market and encapsulates the feelings of some of its long-term users.

The Binder

Retired farmer Jack Dimond talks about some home movies he had of an old binder that he and his father used in the 1950s. He still had the binder and so Windrose set out to film him explaining how it worked to provide some footage to go with the original films. It quickly turned out that Jack was also a natural story teller.

Village Life

Blandford Coronation Celebrations 1937

In common with many towns, Blandford staged its own celebrations around the coronation of George V1. The local cinema commissioned a film of those events.

Symondsbury Village 1930s

The result of someone taking a camera into their village and filming everyday life as it goes on. The film features local trades, school, village cricket, a shoot and a section titled ‘tea and politics.

Bridport Railway

A journey along the Bridport to Maiden Newton branch line just before it closed in the 1970s.

Compton Martin 1940s

To Somerset for another village portrait. This film has been included because it captures everyday village life in a particularly atmospheric and touching way.

Charlie Wills

Filmed in the 1960s, this features one of Dorset’s most renowned traditional singers in his 94th year.

Our Next Talk – 27th April

Jeremy Pope will talk on ‘Dorchester and it Brewery: The Life and Times of Eldridge Pope. He spent 40 years with the family firm, rising to become chief executive before his retirement. A Dorset man, Jeremy Pope has lived and worked in the county all his life, except for his time at university.

Joint Visit With CASH to Wells

The Historical and Horticultural Societies are joining forces to arrange a combined visit to Wells on 10th July. There will be the opportunity to enjoy the extensive grounds at the Bishop’s Palace, to take a tour of the Palace and the Cathedral and to explore this small city and its history. Booking forms will be available in due course so please book the date.


Mike Clark, Chair


March 2017

Committee News

For family reasons, Alison de Candole is stepping down as Treasurer of the Society after several years fulfilling this role with efficiency and dedication. She will remain on the Committee and the role of Treasurer has been taken on by John Charman who joined the Committee at the AGM in January.


This edition of my chat will go to all on the circulation list, whether you have re-enrolled for this year or not. However, by next month we will amend the list so that only members who have signed up for this year should receive it. You can join at any of our evening talks, or by paying the £7.50 membership by cash or cheque (payable to Cerne Historical Society) and posting to John Charman at 32 Long Street. Don’t forget to leave an address and if you are a new member, it would be useful to have an e-mail address if you have one, so we can more easily send you this newsletter.

Our Next Talk – 23rd March

John Smith will give us a flavour of life as a Roman soldier based in Dorset. He will bring replica equipment and clothing for what he describes as a ‘living history’ presentation under the title of ‘The Roman Army in Dorset: Finds, Facts and Fiction.

Windrose Rural Media Trust – 22rd April

As previously mentioned, this west-country based charity has been collecting oral histories for over 30 years and has an extensive collection of audio and film recordings. Windrose has organised many film shows from their archive, including to us back in 2001. We are jointly putting on an evening of archive film and live discussion along the themes of changes in farming practices and in village life over the last 50 or more years. This will involve Fred Horsington and Will Best on farming and Betty Marsh (born in Cerne) and one other to be confirmed, on village life. At the time of going to press in the parish newsletter, we were also hoping to involve Tommy Dunn but he is no longer available on the date. There will be the opportunity for the audience to join in the discussions and the whole event will be filmed. Although Windrose has obtained Lottery Funding to go towards the running of these events, we are also having to make a financial contribution towards their costs. Partly this helps towards their project of digitising their large collection of material. Tickets will be on sale from the beginning of April in Cerne Abbas Stores at £7 which will include a glass of wine or soft drink. Top ups will be available at our usual bar price of £2 for wine or 50p for a soft drink. This takes place on Saturday 22nd April in the village hall, starting at 7pm.This promises to be a fascinating evening when we can compare the dramatic changes in rural life since the end of World War 2. I hope long-term residents and relative newcomers will be interested to come along.

Society archives

The Society was formed in January 1988 after the success of the varied celebrations in 1987 to mark the centenary of the foundation of Cerne Abbey. One of the main events from that year was an exhibition of photographs and other memorabilia illustrating the history of the village. Much of this was donated by villagers and forms the core of an archive of material which is forever expanding. This archive is currently held in what is known as the Old Pottery, near the tithe barn on the other side of Kettle Bridge by the village hall. This is the home of Jane Newdick and Michael Parker who for some time now, have kindly donated the use of a room in their house, for which we are extremely grateful. This has suited our purpose and we are under no pressure to move, but as our collection grows, we do need to find somewhere in the village which would be a more permanent home and is also more easily accessed. We have recently explored a couple of of possible alternatives which have turned out not to be suitable. There may be somewhere in the village which is staring us in the face but we are not seeing it. Alternatively, you may have an out-building which might suit our purpose. The main criteria are that a possible location must be reasonably accessible, able to be made secure and is clean and dry. Please let myself or any of the Committee know if you have a sudden light-bulb moment.

2018 Programme

The Committee will shortly be thinking about the programme of talks for 2018. Each year we have eight talks and considerable effort goes into finding speakers and topics which we hope will be of interest to members. Most or our topics have a Dorset focus. If you know of a speaker, or would like to suggest a topic which you think would be relevant, do please let us know. The Committee doesn’t have a monopoly on ideas.

Mike Clark, Chair


February 2017


At the moment, we are working from last year’s membership list for sending out this newsletter, so you may receive this even if you haven’t yet re-joined the Society for this year, at the very good value of £7.50. Talks this year include the Roman army in Dorset, the history of the Eldridge Pope Brewery, the geology of Cerne Abbas and its influence on the character of the village and a joint visit in July with the Horticultural Society to the Bishop’s Palace in Wells. If you are not re-enrolling, please let me know at my e-mail address at the bottom of this message so we can stop sending you these messages. Please don’t reply to Gill Dillistone who holds our distribution list and sends this out on my behalf. Also, please note that I have changed my e-mail address. Please ask at a meeting if you need it.

Tyneham – the Last Chapter, February 23rd

A talk by Paul Fancy who first visited Tyneham in 1973 and has been a regular visitor ever since. In 2001 he became a Range Warden and has helped in restoration work to maintain the fabric of the remaining buildings. With there only being a handful of people alive who lived in the Tyneham area prior to 1943, Paul talked about the history, the present and what might lie in the future for this evocative former settlement. These are good opportunities to re-enrol for 2017 if you have not yet done so.

Windrose, 22nd April

Members of some years residence in Cerne may recall a couple of evenings of archive film shown by a local charity formerly known as Trilith Films, who collect old films, audio recordings and other material on rural and folk history. Now known as Windrose, this group of enthusiasts have mostly worked for the BBC at some stage. Together, we are planning an evening on 22nd April, at 7pm in Cerne Village Hall where some short films of older farming practices will introduce a discussion involving Will Best and Fred Horsington on changes they have experienced in farming during their working lives. We are also planning to look at aspects of village life over the last 70 to 80 years. The audience will have the opportunity to join in with their recollections and the whole evening will be filmed. Details are still being worked out and more information will be coming soon. There is a fee we pay to Windrose, so we will be selling tickets for this event.

Giant Booklet

This new booklet written by our own Prof Tom Shippey summarises all that is currently known about the Giant and will be on sale at meetings and through Cerne Abbas Stores throughout the year.

Mike Clark – Chair