March Talk

Some members will recall the fascinating talk given by Brian Bates three years ago on the WW1 German Prisoner of War camp in Dorchester. Brian returns to us on 22nd March with a totally different subject: ‘An imaginary walk through 17th century Dorchester,’ which promises to be enjoyable in a different way.


Lest We Forget

One of the most moving talks we have ever had was given by George Mortimer and Duncan Fergusson when they explored the lives behind the names on the village war memorial from WW1. The content of this talk was made into a booklet which had sold out. As we approach the centenary of the end of this war, this booklet is going to be re-printed.


Water Meadows

On 16th February, two people who have been involved in the restoration of the Harnham Water Meadows in Salisbury visited Cerne to help the local working party better understand the workings of the water meadows downstream from the tithe barn to the south of the Folly. Through the construction of irrigation channels and sluices, water meadows appeared throughout Dorset from the early 1600s and extended the grazing season for animals. Together with a visit the previous day from the Dorset Wildlife Trust much was learned about the history, structure and operation of water meadows, together with how best to maximise the wildlife potential of the site.


Past Programmes

We do not have a record of our programmes for the years between when the Society was founded in 1988 until 1994. If anybody who has been a member since the beginning has any of these programmes, would they please let me know. We can copy them and return you the originals.


Cerne Abbas Stores

There will be a farewell to Andrew and Geraldine, and a welcome to Jen and Ken on Saturday 14th April, at 7pm in our Church. There will be further details in the April parish magazine with details on how to contribute towards a leaving present.

Mike Clark        

You can get in touch with Mike via the Contact Us form on this site.                                

The Society’s Archive

To underline to its membership the importance of undertaking original primary research, and to illustrate the diversity of content and scale of its collection we have a taste of the Society’s Archive in the photos below.  A significant number of artefacts is professionally conserved and stored at the Dorset History Centre, Bridport Road, Dorchester.  Those items are available to view upon request.


A taster of the kinds of archived material in the custodianship of the Cerne Historical Society.



Luke Mouland is a local genealogist living in Holnest. A few months after completing his A-Level studies (modern history, ancient history and theatre studies) at the Gryphon School in Sherborne in 2009, he set up his business as a genealogist and historical researcher.

His talk on 22nd February was intriguingly called ‘The Wicked Squire of Holnest.’ John Samuel Erle-Drax (1800-1887) was the Tory member for Wareham and also held several high offices in Dorset. Considered by many as a great eccentric, he rehearsed his own funeral in full and elaborate detail and was responsible for building a grand mausoleum for his own internment.
Pitt-Rivers Sale

Earlier this month, eleven members met with Maria Gayton Community Engagement Officer at the Dorset History Centre to discuss how our village might celebrate the sale of most of the village properties in September 1919 by the Pitt-Rivers family. We enjoyed a tour of the Centre which was a new experience for many of us and saw how old documents, maps and other historical material is stored in carefully climatically controlled conditions. Maria also explained how we can access the many records held at the Centre which are about Cerne Abbas. We also explored some ideas for marking this centenary. The same group is meeting again shortly to firm up on some projects. This will include looking at what was going on in Cerne a 100 years ago.

If you live in one of the houses that was involved in the sale, you will be able to find out who bought it and for how much. We also plan to stage some events in 1919 to involve as many of the community as possible.

We are planning to make our website the place to look for information about what is going on, so please make it a regular habit to look on:  where ‘Chairman’s Chat’ is  also posted.


Love History? Enjoy the Countryside?

Come and explore both at the Dorset History Centre. Led by Maria Gayton, on the first Monday of every month, a small group works with speech, painting, writing, photography and crafts. The group is open to anyone who would like to take part, including carers, those with mild to moderate dementia, those with mobility, sensory or a learning difficulty, or those who would just enjoy the company and stimulation. It’s all about relaxing, meeting new people and having fun. If you would like to find out more, contact Maria at the Dorset History Centre on 01305 228947


Mike Clark: Chair. February 2018 

You can get in touch with Mike via the Contact Us form on this site.




Mike Clark