Ascension Day Customs: Beating the Bounds

Beating the Bounds Dorchester 2nd July 1901 DCM © 2015

Beating the Bounds Dorchester 2nd July 1901 DCM © 2015

Dorset Folklorist, John Symonds Udal wrote about the traditions of ‘Beating the Bounds’ on Holy Thurday (Ascension Day) in Dorset in his book ‘Dorsetshire Folklore’ published in 1922:-

Beating the Bounds.— It was the general custom in olden days, and is still observed in many parishes in Dorsetshire, for certain persons to go round, or perambulate the boundaries or limits of their own particular parish in Rogation Week, or,—to be more precise,—on one of the three days before Holy Thursday or Ascension Day, though more often, I think, on Holy Thursday itself. Upon these occasions, as Brand (i, 168) tells us, ” the minister, accompanied by his churchwardens and parishioners, were wont to deprecate the vengeance of God, beg a blessing on the fruits of the earth, and preserve the rights and properties of the parish.”

In Dorsetshire the last of these objects would seem to be the one principally or solely considered at the present day. This perambulation is known as “Beating the Bounds”.
Before I proceed to the ” perambulations” of particular parishes, I would like to produce in full the most amusing account of this interesting and useful custom contributed by William Barnes to Hone’s Year Book (p. 589) as existing in Dorsetshire in his younger days. He says :—

“A Perambulation, or, as it might be more correctly called, a circumambulation, is the custom of going round the boundaries of a manor or parish, with witnesses, to determine and preserve recollection of its extent, and to see that no encroachments have been made upon it, and that the landmarks have not been taken away. It is a proceeding commonly regulated by the steward, who takes with him a few men and several boys who are required to particularly observe the boundaries traced out, and thereby qualify themselves for witnesses in the event of any dispute about the landmarks or extent of the manor at a future day. In order that they may not forget the lines and marks of separation they ‘ take pains y at almost every turning. For instance, if the boundary be a stream, one of the boys is tossed into it; if a broad ditch, the boys are offered money to jump over it, in which they, of course, fail, and pitch into the mud, where they stick as firmly as if they had been rooted there for the season ; if a hedge, a sapling is cut out of it and used in afflicting that part of their bodies upon which they rest in the posture between standing and lying; if a wall, they are to have a race on the top of it, when, in trying to pass each other, they fall over on each side, some descending, perhaps, into the still stygian waters of a ditch, and others thrusting the ‘human face divine ‘ into a bed of nettles ; if the boundary be a sunny bank, they sit down upon it and get a treat of beer and bread and cheese, and, perhaps, a glass of spirits.

When these boys grow up to be men, if it happens that one of them should be asked if a particular stream were the boundary of the manor he had perambulated, he would be sure to say, in the manner of Sancho Panza ‘ Ees, that ’tis, I’m sure o’t, by the same token that I were tossed into’t, and paddled about there lik’ a water-rot till I wor hafe dead.’ If he should be asked whether the aforesaid pleasant bank were ,a boundary : ‘ O, ees it be, ‘ he would say, ‘that’s where we squat down and tucked in a skinvull of vittles and drink.”

With regard to any boundary perambulation after that he would most likely declare, ‘ I won’t be sartin; I got zo muddled up top o’ the banks, that don’ know where we ambulated arter that.'”

Melcombe Regis. — The late Mr. H. J. Moule, sometime curator of the Dorset County Museum at Dorchester, and a learned writer upon the county’s antiquities, in his account of the ” Weymouth and Melcombe Regis Borough Records “, which he edited in 1883, gives (p. 9) several extracts from a small folio volume, chiefly of law minutes, comprising depositions taken about the middle of the seventeenth century, recording a ” perambulation ” of the parish of Melcombe Regis about that time, in which one of the deponents, an old woman of 82 years of age, speaks of having joined in a ” Procession” round the bounds of Melcombe Regis nearly three-quarters of a century previously, and deposes to an ” old elderne stubb ” (stump) at Washford as having been one of the boundaries.
Radipole.—The same deponent also testified that the minister of the adjoining parish of Radipole, with his parishioners, used to go round their bounds on the same day; and at a pound on the bounds (“in the place of which pound a dairy house was sithence builded “) he read a chapter and ” alsoe a psalm there to be sung “. After this the perambulation was continued, the villagers on the west side of some rails then standing and the townsmen on the east side.

West Lulworth.— There is also in the same volume (C. p. 232) a reference to still earlier depositions (Elizabethan), in which an old man gives evidence as to his having often ” after he was of remembrance” gone on procession, as the custom then was, with the minister and parishioners to take ” view” of the boundaries of the parish of West Lulworth. The witness describes the route, ending at Furzeymill Pitt, ” where they had usuall Beere and Cake-bread.”

Chideock.— A very complete account of the ” perambulation ” of the bounds of a parish and manor as entered in old records is that of Chideock, in West Dorset, which took place before the steward of the manor and many inhabitants of the parish. It is given by the Rev. T. Worthington in his History of Chideock, and copied by the late H. N. Cox in his account of that parish, contributed in a series of papers to the Southern Times in 1886. Mr. Cox also, like Mr. Barnes, alludes to the various steps that were sometimes taken to impress upon the memory of the boys who accompanied the perambulation the exact situation of the boundaries.

Bridport.— Although the main incidents of these several ” perambulations ” may have been very much the same, yet occasionally they have been varied by others of a more interesting or amusing character. A modern instance of the latter, fortunately attended by no serious result, occurred on the occasion of “beating the bounds ” of the borough of Bridport in 1891, which was reported in several West Country papers. The following account, taken from the Bath Daily Chronicle of 24th October, 1891, appears in the Somerset and Dorset Notes and Queries for December, 1891 (vol. ii, p. 305) :—

“The historic function of walking the boundaries of the Borough of Bridport by the Mayor and Corporation and the principal inhabitants was the occasion of an amusing contretemps. In the course of the perambulation the city fathers came to a large millpond, which marked the boundary of the town. It was necessary to the performance of the ceremony that the pond should be crossed, and the Mayor, the Borough Surveyor, and another embarked on a large raft, on which they were to be towed across. They had not been long afloat when the raft was submerged by their weight, and the trio were standing up to their knees in water. When half-way over, to make matters worse, the rope became entangled, and, amid the laughter of the townspeople, the Mayor toppled over into the pond, and his two fellow-citizens were also precipitated into the water. They quickly regained the raft, but were as quickly thrown again into the muddy pool. The Mayor promptly described the boundary by swimming ashore, and his example was followed by one of his companions, but the Borough Surveyor remained alone on the raft, and was eventually towed to land completely drenched.”

Marnhull.— The Rev. Canon Mayo publishes in the Somerset and Dorset Notes and Queries (vol. xv, pp. 19-21 and 29-31), 1917, a long account of a perambulation held for the Manor of Marnhull on 7th and 8th June, 1808, and made by the then Lord of the Manor, John Hussey, Esq., his steward, and the principal inhabitants of the parish. A copy had been furnished to the Dorset editor of that periodical of the perambulation contained in a MS. book of Rentals and Quit Rents relating to the Manor.

As Canon Mayo says : “It has a value as being a record of local boundaries, and illustrates a custom which at one time was universal in our county.”

Beating the Bounds Weymouth 13th May 1896. The Mayor of Weymouth Claiming a Boundary Stone at Radipole Bridge DCM © 2015

Beating the Bounds Weymouth 13th May 1896. The Mayor of Weymouth Claiming a Boundary Stone at Radipole Bridge DCM © 2015

Wyke Regis.— The Bound Stone.—The following account of the annual visit paid by Portlanders to “The Bound Stone” on the Chesil Beach at the Fleet appeared in the Bridport News in May, 1893, under the heading of ” Wyke Regis : The Bound Stone ” :—

“The Portlanders seem determined to keep up their rights, which they annually maintain by an official visit to the well-known ‘ bound stone ‘ on the Chesil Beach. Holy Thursday, or Ascension Day, is, as by custom, the day on which the ceremony takes place. This year the number attending seems to have been augmented for some reason or other ; perhaps the fact of a new stone being used added importance to the affair. Be that as it may, there were many visitors, both by sea and land.

“It is said the rights of the Portlanders extend to the new bound stone opposite Fleet, but the public would like to be enlightened as to the nature of those rights. There is one right at all events which does not extend beyond the Portland side of the stone, that is, we are informed that the lord of the manor of Abbotsbury, or rather the Earl of Ilchester, does not interfere with or claim the foreshore. Not that such a right would be of any use whatever, seeing the difficulty of telling where it is. The shingle shifts with the weather, and with it the foreshore, if ever such existed except in fertile imagination.”

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Jurassic Coast Creatures – Build a Brickosaur! Events

Free LEGO DinosaurFrom August there are new displays and inter-actives for you to discover and enjoy in a string of museums stretching from Swanage to Sidmouth.

Why not start your own Jurassic Journey and find out more about the strange and sometimes scary forms of life that inhabited our world millions of years ago?

Dorset County Museum in Dorchester is creating a brand new display in its Jurassic Coast Gallery showcasing some remarkable 140 million year old footprints.

Skip across to Swanage Museum to play at being a palaeontologist and piece together some real dinosaur bones to produce part of an Iguanodon.

Pass over the Purbecks and head for Portland Museum to meet the mighty Megalosaurus and find out more about the island’s unique geology.

If you dip into Devon, you can dig for fossils in Sidmouth Museum’s children’s activity area and discover the new display on the remarkable story of the Red Rocks.

A short hop away is the picturesque Fairlynch Museum at Budleigh Salterton, with fresh and fun displays on mountains, rivers and the ancient reptiles that once roamed the landscape.

BUILD A BRICKOSAUR!!!!

Weird and wonderful creatures once roamed the lands and seas which now form the Jurassic Coast. Their fossil remains are displayed in museums across Dorset and Devon.

Ichthyosaur

At Lyme Regis Museum you can find the incredible Ichthyosaur, a huge and predatory “fish lizard” which cruised through the sea at a staggering 36km/h.

PlesiosaurBridport Museum is home to a super streamlined Plesiosaur which used its
serpent-like body and crocodile teeth to hunt its prey in warm Jurassic seas.

Megalosaur

The frightening footprints of the mighty meat-eating Megalosaur can be found at Dorset County Museum in Dorchester.

Rhynchosaur

 

 

 

And in the museums at Sidmouth and Budleigh Salterton there are the curious remains of the strange and ugly Rhynchosaur which thrived 240 million years ago when Devon was a desert close to the equator.

This summer you can build these dinosaurs and marine monsters from LEGO® bricks and create your own pint-sized Jurassic World by taking part in workshops being held in museums across Dorset and Devon.

The Jurassic Coast Museums Partnership have teamed up with LEGO® artists from British company Bright Bricks and the Dorset based artist Darrell Wakelam to produce a range of holiday activities guaranteed to entertain and inspire.

Choose from the lists below and be sure to book in advance to avoid disappointment.

At each workshop children should be accompanied by an adult. Suitable for children aged 7-11 years.

Every child coming to a LEGO® event gets to take home a FREE LEGO® kit – not available in the shops!

Tickets £10.00. Book in advance to secure a place by contacting the museum where the workshop is taking place.

Don’t forget to find the real thing whilst you’re visiting the museums. They’re packed with lots of fantastic fossils for you to discover including beautiful brittle stars, terrifying teeth and even dinosaur poo!

BRICKOSAUR WORKSHOP EVENTS
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– Wednesday 30 July 2014

Create a Jurassic World for a Prehistoric Plesiosaur at Bridport Museum

  • Workshop 1 : 10.00am – 12.00pm
  • Workshop 2 : 2.00pm – 4.00pm

Bridport Museum, 25 South Street, Bridport, Dorset, DT6 3NR.

From the Romans to ropemaking. Discover Bridport’s unique history in a Tudor building. Check website  for opening times – Admission: FREE

Tel: 01308 458703 – Website: www.bridportmuseum.co.uk __________________________________________________________

 – Friday 22 August 2014

Create a Jurassic World for an Ichthyosaur at Lyme Regis Museum

  • Workshop 1 : 10.00am – 12.00pm
  • Workshop 2 : 2.00pm – 4.00pm

Lyme Regis Museum, Bridge Street, Lyme Regis DT7 3QA.

Jurassic Coast fossils, Lyme’s maritime past and famous literary figures are featured in this beautiful old building overlooking the sea. Check website for admission prices and opening times

Tel: 01297 443370 – Website: www.lymeregismuseum.co.uk
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MegaLEGOsaurus

See the Megalosaurus created by Ed Diament of Bright Bricks and on display at the Dorset County Museum

– Tuesday 12 August

Make a giant Megalosaur Mosaic at the Dorset County Museum with certified LEGO® professionals, Bright Bricks and take home your very own model

  • Workshop 1 : 10.30am – 12.00pm
  • Workshop 2 : 1.30pm – 3.00pm

– Wednesday 20 August

  • Workshop 1 : 10.30am – 12.00pm
  • Workshop 2 : 1.30pm – 3.00pm

Dorset County Museum, High West Street, Dorchester, Dorset DT1 1XA.

The award winning museum of Dorset. Exciting galleries and displays explore 6000 years of Dorset’s history. Check website for admission prices and opening times

Tel: 01305 262735 – Website: www.dorsetcountymuseum.org
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– Wednesday 27 August 2014

Make a Giant Rhynchosaur Mosaic at Sidmouth Museum with LEGO® professionals, Bright Bricks, and take home yourvery own model.

  • Workshop 1 : 10.00am–11.30am
  • Workshop 2 : 2.00pm–3.30pm

Sidmouth Museum, Church Street, Sidmouth, Devon EX10 8LY.

Something for everyone from Jurassic Coast fossils to local lace. Check website for opening times – Admission: FREE

Tel: 01395 516139 – Website: www.devonmuseums.net
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– Friday 1 August 2014

Create a Jurassic World for a Monster Megalosaur at Portland Museum

  • Workshop 1 : 10am–midday
  • Workshop 2 : 2pm–4pm

Portland Museum 217 Wakeham, Portland DT5 1HS.

Museum houses many of the artifacts associated with the history and culture of the Island and Royal Manor of Portland and tells the story of local industry, the Sea, the Prisons and the People. Check website for admission prices and opening times

Tel: 01305 821804 – Website: www.portlandmuseum.co.uk
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– Friday 29 August 2014

Make a Giant Rhynchosaur Mosaic at All Hallows Museum with LEGO® professionals , Bright Bricks, and take home your very own model.

  • Workshop 1 : 10.30am – 12.00pm
  • Workshop 2 : 1.30pm – 3.00pm

All Hallows Museum, Honiton, High Street, Honiton, Devon EX14 1PG.

Discover Victorian curiosities, Honiton lace and pottery, and a truly ancient Honiton Hippo! Come and see our Jurassic heritage. Check website for opening times – Admission: FREE

Tel: 01404 449668 – Website: www.honitonmuseum.org
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– Saturday 30 August 2014

Make a Giant Megalosuar Mosaic at Wareham Town Museum with LEGO® professionals, Bright Bricks, and take home your very own model.

  • Workshop 1 : 10.00am – 11.30am
  • Workshop 2 : 2.00pm – 3.30pm

Wareham Town Museum, Town Hall, East Street, Wareham BH20 4NN. Wareham Museum tells the story of the geology, archaeology and history of the Wareham area. Check website for opening times – Admission: FREE

Tel: 01929 553448 – Website: www.wtm.org.uk
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– Thursday 28 August 2014

Make a Giant Rhynchosaur Mosaic at Fairlynch Museum with LEGO® professionals , Bright Bricks, and take home your very own model.

  • Workshop 1 : 10.00am – 11.30am
  • Workshop 2 : 2.00pm – 3.30pm

Fairlynch Museum, Budleigh Salterton, Fore Street, Budleigh Salterton, Devon EX9 6NP.

Explore the history of Budleigh Salterton and the lower Otter Valley. Check website for opening times – Admission: FREE

Tel: 01395 442666 – Website: www.devonsmuseums.net/fairlynch
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Thomas Hardy Lecture: The Isle of Portland: Housman and Hardy by Prof. Roger Ebbatson

The character of Pierston, trying to commit suicide by taking his boat into The Race off Portland Bill.

The character of Pierston, trying to commit suicide by taking his boat into The Race off Portland Bill.

The current series of Thomas Hardy events at Dorset County Museum continues with a talk about how local writers have responded to Portland Bill.

On Thursday 29th May, Professor Roger Ebbatson of Lancaster University gives a talk entitled, The Isle of Portland: Some Literary Echoes. Prof Ebbatson will talk about the strange and rugged landscape surrounding Portland Bill; specifically looking at how writers like Thomas Hardy and AE Housman portrayed it in their work.

While Housman focussed on the predicament of a young convict, Hardy explored the landscape and folklore of Portland in his books and poems. In The Pursuit of the Well-Beloved, Hardy describes how one of his characters tries to commit suicide by taking a small boat out from Portland Bill into The Race. Knowing the area’s notorious reputation for strong currents and lethal sandbanks, the man expects that he will soon be drowned. However, his wishes are foiled by the brave actions of island boatmen who rescue him just in time!

The talk is FREE but donations are encouraged to cover costs. The lecture starts at 7.30pm on Thursday 29th May and the doors are open from 7.00pm. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Thomas Hardy's Master: John Hicks, Architect by T. P. Conner

Thomas Hardy’s Master: John Hicks, Architect by T. P. Conner

This lecture will be preceded by a Book Launch: Thomas Hardy’s Master: John Hicks, Architect by T. P. Conner at 6.30pm.  The Victorian architect John Hicks has always been eclipsed by the literary fame of his infinitely most distinguished pupil Thomas Hardy. This study assesses Hicks in his own right and in so doing casts light on Hardy’s years of architectural training. Hardy’s Master is the first attempt to bring the abundant documentation available, including important local newspapers, to bear o the career of an architect who had a profound impact on many Dorset churches. It includes a comprehensive list of architectural projects, both religious and secular, of Hicks’ practice in the county.

T. P. Connor was Head of History and the History of Art at Eaton for nearly twenty years. He has written on early Palladian architecture, the Grand Tour and on a library in the English Civil War in many different journals, and took the chance of retirement to study architecture of his new surroundings.

 

Exhibition in last two weeks at Dorset County Museum

Free Time Our stories of leisure then and nowThe current exhibition at Dorset County Museum, Free Time, has just two weeks left to run. This brand new exhibition shows the results of a project studying the changing nature of our leisure time over the last 60 years.

The project has captured the memories and stories of local people talking about hobbies and past times which are largely out of fashion today. The archive will be housed at the Dorset History Centre in Dorchester when the exhibition closes for future generations to study.

Scalextric

Childhood Nostalgia: Scalextric

See the games, toys and activities enjoyed by people over the past 60 years. These include dolls, railway sets, comics and board games plus toys such as hula hoops, space hoppers and skateboards. With a variety of displays, and showcases, there is plenty to see and a lot to learn. Visitors can also listen to audio recordings of people talking about their hobbies and favourite free-time activities. Two screens show how people enjoyed their leisure time from the 1950s to the present day.

With rarely-seen photographs, plenty of activities for children and a reconstructed milk bar from the 1950s, there really is something for everyone.

The exhibition runs until Saturday 17th May. Dorset County Museum is open Monday to Saturday, 10.00am to 5.00pm.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

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Half Term fun and games at Dorset County Museum

Hula Hooping

Hula Hooping – an image from the current exhibition, Free Time at the Dorset County Museum

Dorset County Museum is running a free family activity during half term week.
The theme is toys and games from the past and ties in with the new exhibition which has just opened at the Museum: Free Time.

Children and their families will be able to play with toys and games from the 50s, 60s and 70s like Flying Hats, Flips or Slam!  Learn how to work a hula hoop, do some simple juggling, or play a game of hopscotch.  There will also be a selection of traditional wooden toys, dolls and card games to try out. Come along, play some new games, learn new skills and have a lot of fun at the same time!

All family activities during 2014 are kindly sponsored by Battens Solicitors through their Charitable Trust and are FREE. The activity starts at 10.30am on Wednesday 19th February and runs for two hours. Everyone is welcome and parents and carers must stay with their children during the activities.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

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FREE TIME – Our Stories of Leisure Then and Now

Free Time Our stories of leisure then and nowFree Time is a brand new exhibition showcasing the results of a current project studying the changing nature of our leisure time over the last 60 years.

The project is being funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and aims to capture and preserve the memories and stories of local people who used to, or still do, pursue hobbies that aren’t around so much nowadays. The new archive will be housed at the Dorset History Centre in Dorchester for future generations to study.

Joe Stevens, project leader, said; “When you look at old black & white photos or films it can look like a completely different age, but what we are hearing is that life today is not that different from times past.” Joe added; “We are not just interested in people’s memories from long ago, but also the recent past. We are hoping to feature a range of stories from 1945, right up to the present day.”

Working with Dorset County Museum and the Dorset History Centre, the project has enabled young people to collaborate and share with the older population in a range of activities leading up to the exhibition. Over recent weeks volunteers have been out in the community capturing local people’s leisure time memories in Bridport, Dorchester, Weymouth & Portland, and Sherborne.  As well as the archive, there will also be a website and an app for a ‘Walking Museum’ around Dorchester.

The Free Time exhibition will run at Dorset County Museum from 15th February to 17th May 2014.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

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Original Letter signed by Colonel William Sydenham & Bulstrode Whitelocke

Colonel William Sydenham’s Commission signed by William Waller

John Meade Falkner and Moonfleet

John Meade Falkner

John Meade Falkner © DCM

John Meade Falkner was born at Manningford Bruce, Wiltshire, the son of a curate. He spent his childhood in Dorchester and Weymouth. (His father later became curate at Buckland Ripers, close to the landscape of Moonfleet.)

After taking an Oxford degree, Falkner became a tutor. He was later a business man, and then an academic. He wrote poetry, guides to the counties of Oxford and Berkshire, and three novels: The Lost Stradivarius, Moonfleet and The Nebuly Coat, He lost the manuscript of a fourth novel on a train.

The Rat’s ‘Tale‘, an extract from a typescript account of his childhood by J M Falkner. The scene is the dining room of St. Mary’s Rectory, Weymouth…

“The room was by no means ill-favoured, it was warm, had always plenty of light, and in the evening found the amenities of sunset and a view of rising ground on the far side of the Backwater. But in it was enacted the first scene of a overwhelming family tragedy. We were dining one day about 1.30 (I think that was Thursday March 2nd 1871) and there was on the table a glass water-bottle cylindrical in shape with a flat under-side.

Taken in 1876, John Meade Falkner canoeing on the Backwater at Weymouth, Dorset

Taken in 1876, John Meade Falkner canoeing on the Backwater at Weymouth, Dorset © DCM

Someone noticed that there was something, like a piece of thick black sting, coiled round the bottom inside, and it was fished out.

It was fished out with one of our good old silver forks, and proved to be the tail which had dropped of a decomposed rat.”

The rat was a typhoid rat, and the disease afflicted all the family (except the father). Falkner’s mother died of typhoid ten days later.

MOONFLEET

Moonfleet is a tale of smuggling by John Meade Falkner first published in 1898.

Fleet Old Church, Moonfleet

Fleet Old Church, wrecked by the Great Storm of 1824. In the story of Moonfleet, John Trenchard is trapped in the vault underneath this church. © DCM

One frosty, moon-bright evening in 1758, John Trenchard discovers a secret passage leading from under a churchyard tomb down into the darkness of the Mohune family vault. There he finds not only coffins, but also casks of brandy, hidden by the village smugglers. John is in search of Blackbeards’s diamond, and this is the start of a cliff-hanging adventure which takes him halfway across the world. As in all Falkner’s novels, the finding of a lost object leads to terrible consequences. Heraldry, too, is a recurrent device. The Y of the Mohune’s shield is the mark with which John is branded at the hands of the Dutch – however faraway, John still remains the property of the Mohunes.

Sky1 TV adaptation of ‘Moonfleet’ starring Ray Winstone, Aneurin Barnard and Karl McCrone

Remnants of the English Civil War, Weymouth.

The Crabchurch Conspiracy

Mark Vine and Professor Ronald Hutton viewing the ‘Cannonball in the Wall’ in Maiden Street, one of hundreds fired into the Parliamentarian garrison of Melcombe during February 1645.

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