Here lies the Body: Dorset Tenant Farmers and their Tombs a Literary Talk by Tim Connor

Churchyard GraveTim Connor is a retired school teacher who has written several articles on Dorset architecture of the nineteenth century, including Thomas Hardy’s Master: Church building and Reputation in the Dorset Career of John Hicks, published, by Museum, last year.

This talk has a slightly different focus, concentrating on chest tombs of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in churchyards of West Dorset. These monuments have not been studied in any part of England before, and this study, shortly to be published, looks at both the design and social context of chest tombs, of which those of Dorset are turn out to be of considerable interest.

The lecture takes place at Dorset County Museum, 7.30pm on Thursday 19th February and doors are open from 7.00pm. The event is FREE of charge but a donation of £3.00 is encouraged to cover costs. For further information please see or telephone 01305 262735.

Saint Wite of Whitechurch Canonicorum

Church of Saint White, or Candida, and Holy Cross,  Whitechurch Canonicorum.

Church of Saint White, or Candida, and Holy Cross, Whitechurch Canonicorum.

From the ‘Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society’ Volume 28, 1907, an article written by the Rev. D. Holland Stubbs entitled ‘Church of Saint White, or Candida, and Holy Cross, Whitechurch Canonicorum: A Descriptive Sketch, compiled from notes made at various times by former vicars’

In the valley of the Char, near the village of Charmouth, about midway between Bridport and Lyme Regis, stands the ancient Whitechurch Canonicorum, founded by King Alfred the Great about a.d. 897. It is a building composed of various styles of architecture, and consists of nave with north and south aisles, transepts, chancel, and western tower.

The first point of interest lies in the names by which it is so honourably known. It would therefore be fitting perhaps to observe what is generally believed to be the origin of the church and its dedication. Upon good authority it is considered to have been built by King Alfred, who united a few townships of which he was presumably the owner — for it is well known that the Kings of Wessex held great estates in all this district — and built a church of stone on this his royal domain. As a rule, churches derive their names from the parishes in which they are built, but in all probability this parish derived its name from the church having been built of white stone, or possibly having been whitewashed*. (*N.B. This theory of the origin of the place-name is simple and in harmony with the well-known instance of “Candida casa ” in Galloway. Vide Article by the Rev. Charles Druitt in the Club’s Proceedings, Vol. XIX., 1898)

In his will, dated a.d. 901, King Alfred bequeathed Hwitan Cyrican to his youngest son Ethelwald. In the next century, about the year 1060, the then Rector of Withchirche, Guntard by name, who was Chaplain to William the Conqueror, “being desirous to retire into the Monastery of S. Wandragesil, prevailed upon the King to grant the two churches (Whitechurch and Sherston) to the monks of that house.” Accordingly the Rectory of Witcerce was given by William to the Benedictine Abbey of S. Wandragesil, now called S. Wandrille (near Caudebec in Normandy), and was constituted a “cell of the abbey” under the name of Album Monasterium. This connexion lasted about a hundred and forty years, during which time the monks began to rebuild King Alfred’s Church on a larger scale.

The Abbey of S. Wandrille surrendered the Rectory of Witcherch to the Church of Old Sarum in 1200. The right of presentation to the Rectory then passed to Sir Robert de Mandivel, a resident knight (whose name survives to this day in Mandivel Stoke), apparently on his undertaking to carry out the unfinished work of the abbots, and this was done in the Early English style in the early part of that century. This accounts for the different shapes of the arches and the admixture of Norman and Early English in the nave arcades. By the addition of transepts the church was now made ‘ cruciform.’ It was on Christmas Day of the year 1240 that a charter was signed by which the Rectory and rectorial revenues were assigned to the Canons of the Cathedrals of Salisbury and Wells, from which time the church became known as Whitechurch of the canons, or, in its latinised form, Canonicorum. Thus we have the earliest name of Hwitan Cyrican about a.d. 900, then in William’s charter to his Rector Guntard, Withchirche, in Domesday, Witcerce, and in later periods (1200) Whytecherche, (1228) Wittecheriche, (1240) Witcherche, or, in its latinised form, Album Monasterium, and then Whitechurch Canonicorum.

The Western Tower

The Western Tower

To make a tour of the church in systematic order it is best to proceed first to the outside of the western tower. This massive and lofty tower, in the Perpendicular style of architecture, is a conspicuous object in the landscape for miles around, and is used as a landmark by vessels at sea when making for the port of Lyme Regis. With its buttresses it is thirty-two feet square and seventy-five feet high. The fine western window with three lights is, so far as the tracery is concerned, more modern, although a copy of the original. On either side of it there are canopied niches well preserved, but from which sacrilegious hands in times of religious strife have torn down the effigies of the saints. The tower contains six bells, with inscriptions respectively as follows : —

Whitechurch-Canoncorum-bellIn the walls of the church are embedded many fragments of carved stone which have been preserved from former buildings probably on the same site. On the south side of the tower, and high up, is an interesting stone carving of an archaic ship and an axe. On a separate panel, and a little higher on the right, will be seen another axe and an ancient weapon resembling an iron socketted celt.

Whitechurch-Canoncorum-AxeOn the north side is a perfect, unweathered specimen of the same curious weapon. The ship has been supposed by some to indicate that the donor of the tower was a merchant who had obtained, by the traffic of his ships, the wealth which enabled him thus to dignify and adorn his parish church, but a more probable explanation will be found later on.

A “spoked circle,” supposed to be an old sun dial, but, more likely, a mystic symbol which had to do with solar myths, will be seen built into the south-east side of the diagonal buttress of the south transept. The most interesting fragment, however, and deserving of a paragraph all to itself, is fixed in the south wall between the tower and the porch.

The Holy Grail

The Holy Grail

It represents a two-handled cup and is supposed to be a figure of the Holy Grail. It is similar in design to the Holy Grail as seen by Bishop Arculph in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem about A.D. 680. The Holy Grail, in mediaeval legend, is the Holy Cup used by Our Lord at the Last Supper, originally the ” San Great,” or Holy Dish, in which it is said Joseph of Arimathaea collected the Sacred Blood. There is a similar representation on a cross at Sancreed in Cornwall, of a one-handled cup, but it more probably refers to the ” pot and lily,” symbolical of the Annunciation and not to the Holy Grail. (Baring-Gould).

South Porch

South Porch

Particular notice should be taken of the south porch with its striking Inner Doorway, which is really a beautiful example of Norman work. The jambs are ornamented with circular shafts, having foliated capitals, and the circular head enriched with nail-head ornaments and pointed roll. On the eastern jamb and on the inner side of it, will be seen four roughly-cut crosses, which are said to be consecration marks. These crosses, it is supposed, were first marked in holy oil by the bishop who re-consecrated the church, or some part of it, possibly after desecration by bloodshed, and were then chiselled in their present form to commemorate the event. Of special antiquarian and ecclesiastical interest also is the old sacring-bell-hut over the west gable of the chancel. In this hung the bell that was rung at the consecration prayer in the Latin Mass before the Reformation. Nearly all over the country these sacring-bells and their huts were destroyed in Puritan times.

Projecting from the four corners of the porch are grotesquely-cut figures called gargoyles, evidently of earlier date than the part into which they were built. Others may be seen on the north side of the church, and the upper portion of the tower. On the north side also may be observed traces of a foundation which may be a remnant of the old Saxon portion of the fabric.

Whitechurch-Canoncorum-InteThe Interior of the Church. — In the severely plain, yet most dignified interior, there is much more of interest than at first meets the eye of the casual observer, and much that is of great value to the student of ancient architecture. Attention is at once drawn to two arches of the south aisle, which are Norman. They date from the time of the re-building by the monks of the Benedictine Abbey of S. Wandrille. These foreign owners began to re-place the earlier church with a larger structure in the then prevalent style of architecture.

The Font

The Font

The bowl of the font is Transition Norman work. It was discovered by a former vicar, the Rev. Sir William Palmer, in a field belonging to Berne Farm, and was erected by him on a base in character with the ancient piece of work.

On the east wall of the south transept there is a painted board with tablet to the memory of Elizabeth Floyer, dated 1666, and a hatchment above showing the arms of Floyer impaling Mainwaring. The following quaint inscription sets forth the virtues of the good lady : —

Æsuœ 42.

Come, gentle reader, to bestow a teare,
Upon her sacred dust doe not forbeare,
Shee was a vertuous wife, a tender mother,
A neighbour kind, theres scarse left such another,
Though shee bee dead her memory will find
A name in her faire issue left behind
And in her pious life, which here below
With us, shee was too good to stay we know,
Who on her death bead thanked god most high
S’was not asham’d to live, nor feard to dye.

The vestry door should receive special attention, as it is considered a good example of mediaeval architecture. Originally there was a rood screen or loft across the chancel arch, the remains of the entrance to which may still be seen in the wall above.

The chancel is a very large one for a country church. It is simply, but effectively, furnished and adorned with oak stalls, the panelling being known as the ‘ linen pattern.’ The altar is well raised, and the whole appearance of the sanctuary from the west end is of an elevating and devotional character. The east window is bold and impressive, but not old. It was placed there by the Rev. Sir William Palmer, a former vicar, 1846- 1885. The altar rail is of the same date as the pulpit. One of the most striking features is the highly-decorated tomb of Sir John Jeffery, of Catherstone, with a recumbent figure of the knight, whose casque hangs overhead. Hard by is the smaller and less sumptuous tomb of John Wadham, of Catherstone, a kinsman of the founder of Wadham College, Oxford. There are remains of stones with matrices of missing brasses in the floor of the sanctuary. The old registers indicate that in this Church lie (in a nameless grave) the remains of a gallant sailor, Sir George Somers, born at Lyme Regis in 1554, the famous admiral who annexed the Bermudas in the reign of James I. No stone now marks the site, but a movement is on foot for erecting a tablet or brass to his memory.

The fine carved pulpit, which is Jacobean in style, was placed here in the time of James I. It serves to mark an epoch in the history of the church. Simiiarly-carved pulpits exist at Netherbury, Lyme Regis, and at Wootton Fitzpayne.

The north transept bears the date of 11 28 on a small wooden cross built into the upper portion of the east wall. It was intended to include the shrine of S. White or Candida, around which such interest gathers. Here too stood, formerly, two altars, one under each window, lighted by two small lancets. Very good specimens of foliated capitals to the arcade are deserving of special notice, particularly that representing a leaf of the water avens, or herb bennet. The north wall, it is probable, was originally of the same design as the bays of the east wall, with a lancet window, replaced later by the three-light window.

St. Wite's ShrineBeneath this window is the recessed tomb which is the reputed resting place of S. Wita, or Candida, and locally known as ” the saint’s shrine.” The monument consists of two parts. the lower, of a 13th century base brought from some other place, and rebuilt in its present position to bear the upper part, which is of older date. The three oval openings beneath the tomb are a common feature of such monuments. In these openings, handkerchiefs and other small articles were placed, in the belief that they would become possessed of healing virtues, and could then be carried to recover the sick. This coffin was opened by the Rev. Sir William Palmer, and was said to contain a small stone box in which were a few bones, but no documentary evidence remains of his act, nor any record of what he found there. On the top stands a small stone cross much decayed, which formed the finial of the east gable of the chancel. It was placed here for its preservation by the Rev. J. R. W. Stafford, a former vicar, in 1890. A second opportunity for examining the contents of the tomb presented itself, for in March, 1900, an ominous fissure appeared in the north wall, and it was necessary to underpin the walls, which was done by the then Vicar, the Rev. Charles Druitt. The movement of the soil and consequent settlement dislocated the old shrine, re-opening an ancient fracture in the stone coffin to such an extent that it became necessary to reset the broken end. It was during the execution of this work that the re-discovery of the relics was made.* (* N.B. Vide the Eev. Charles Druitt’s paper, ” Discovery of the Kelics of S. Wita,” in the Salisbury Diocesan Gazette for Sept., 1900.)

The broken end of the coffin having been withdrawn, there was seen within the end of a leaden casket eight inches square ; and on it, cast in raised letters on the lead, was found the following inscription : —

Whitechurch Canoncorum

This proved to be the square end of an oblong, ancient, leaden reliquary of 2ft. 5ms. It was badly damaged, having been ripped open from end to end. The incrustation of oxide on the torn edges seemed to show that the damage was not recent ; apparently it had been done some centuries before. In the reliquary were a number of large bones, a good deal decayed, presumably those of a small woman. These were not disturbed in their resting place, but one of the bones which lay upper most, was measured and found to be 13⅞ins. long. The larger fragments found on the floor of the coffin were placed with the bones in the reliquary, and all the smaller fragments and dust reverently collected into a small metal box and placed within the coffin. One side of the reliquary was complete and undamaged, and on it was found cast in similar raised letters on the lead the following inscription: —St.-Wite-Inscription

(Here lie the remains of Saint Wita.)

The whole of the relics were carefully replaced in the stone coffin, the broken end being securely cemented in its place. Formerly, it is said, there was a painted inscription on the stone front of the tomb, but the only words decipherable were:
Candida…….. Candidiorque ……..

Now the great question of interest is: Who is this S. Wita, or Candida? Certain theories have been propounded from time to time, to account for her origin and the presence of her bones at Whitechurch, but none of these can so far be proved to be more than conjecture. By some it has been thought that she was a virgin-martyr saint who suffered death under Maximian at Carthage, but it would be difficult to explain what she could possibly have had to do with a Dorset village. Some think that the abbots of S. Wandrille, perceiving a desirable connexion with a saint in the Roman calendar of the name of Candida, or White and Whitechurch, had her bones conveyed here. Others, again, that it is possible that a male saint of the name of White, or S. Candidus as he might be called, who suffered martyrdom near Utrecht in A.D. 755, is intended, as he was believed to be a native of western Dorset. But the best and most probable explanation of the mystery is that recently advanced by the Rev. S. Baring-Gould, who is a recognised authority on such subjects. He has kindly written the following notes expressly for this paper :

“Who was S. Candida, or S. White? No legend exists of her in England, but she has received recognition in Brittany under the Celtic name of Gwen, the Latin name of Candida, and the French name of Blanche, all of which have their equivalent in the English name of White. We can only conjecture as to her identity. Of Gwen we know a good deal. She was twice married. By her first husband she became the mother of S. Cadfan, the founder of Tywyn Church in Merionethshire, where his stone with inscription still remains. She was the daughter of Emyr Llydaw, a prince of Brittany, and her first husband was Eneas Lldewig. On his death she married Fragan, cousin of Cado, Duke of Cornwall. For some unknown reason, Fragan resolved on leaving Britain and crossing over to Brittany, in the latter part of the fifth century, and took with him his wife Gwen ‘ of the three breasts,’ and his two sons with her, Gwenthenoc and James, and he settled near where is now the city of S. Brieuc, at a place still called Ploufragan, or the Plebs or tribal residence of Fragan.

“Shortly after their arrival in Brittany, Gwen gave birth to another son who was named Winwaloe, a notable saint, who died in the year 550. Gwen received the name of ‘the three breasted’ from an expression in use among the Welsh and Irish, descriptive of a woman who was twice married and who had children by both husbands. At Ploufragan there is a modern statue of her as a queen, but at Scaer is her holy well, yielding an abundant outflow of crystal water, and there she is called Candida.

“What little that is reliable concerning her we know from the life of her son S. Winwaloe, but legend has been busy with her name and story, and Sebillot, in his collection of folk tales collected in Brittany, tells some of the traditional stories connected with her. According to them the connection with England is still present, but she is fabled to have been carried off by English pirates to London, but she escaped from the ship with the loss of two fingers cut off by an axe by one of the pirates — according to another version, the loss of her left hand — and to have walked on the water back to Brittany. There the track of foam left by the tide as it turns is still called ‘ the track of S. Blanche.’

Le Chemin de Saint Blanche.

Le Chemin de Saint Blanche.

“She must at one time have had a considerable cult in Brittany, as not only are there churches dedicated to her where she had her settlement of retainers, as at Plouguin and Pleguen, but there is also a parish of S. Gwen, and she is likewise venerated at S. Cast,

“In A.D. 919 – 921 there was a great influx of Bretons flying their country under their chief Matuedoi who came to England, as the Chronicle of Nantes says, ‘ with a great number of Britons,’ and they brought with them the bodies of their saints. By this means a large number of the relics of old Welsh and Breton saints arrived in England. Athelstan, although not yet King, received the refugees kindly and planted them, there is reason to believe, in Cornwall and Wessex, of which Dorset was a part. At Wareham, in Dorset, have been found inscribed stones that belong to these settlers. Athelstan placed the relics in various churches, and it is quite conceivable that he gave those of Gwen, or Candida, to Whitechurch which his grandfather had founded.

“Now it is remarkable that nowhere in Brittany is it held that her relics were preserved; consequently it is not at all improbable that when the migration took place to England, the refugees carried with them the bones of the mother of some of their greatest saints, S. Cadfan, S. Winwaloe, S. Gwenthenoc, and S. James. It is possible that they conveyed those of Gwen, the ‘three-breasted,’ to England, and that Athelstan gave them to Whitechurch, partly influenced by the name it bore. If that be the case, then Whitechurch may congratulate itself in possessing the remains of a notable mother of saints. Her son, S. Winwaloe had^ and has still, churches dedicated to him in Cornwall, Gunwalloe, Tresmere, etc., and in Devon, that of Portsmouth.

“There are several Candidas in Martyrologies, but none of these can be the S. Candida of Whitechurch. S. Candida, the martyr of Carthage, was a virgin, but both the history of Gwen and the legend of S. Blanche represent her as a married woman,
and do not admit of her having been a martyr. It is possible enough that the emblems of a ship, a ‘Celt,’ and an axe represented on the tower of Whitechurch may have reference to her legend, the axe that cut off her fingers, the ship in which she crossed the sea, and the ‘Celt’ to symbolise the pirates.”

In the church walk which runs along the outside of the church grounds there are many ancient stones built into the wall which at one time formed part of the historic building. There are also many other stones on which are carved texts of Scripture, the gifts of various bishops and other dignitaries of the Church.

Bodies in Trenches 2013

Archaeology National Trust SW

A good time to review some of the discoveries of the past year. Much of what we have written here is to do with work that National Trust archaeologists have carried out themselves. However, resources dictate that I usually need to a ask archaeological contractors to carry out recording work.

Here are some of the discoveries from repairs, developments and service trenches that needed excavating this year. At some places, a trench can be dug where there is a near certainty that archaeology will be affected…even when the location has been chosen to avoid it. At others, we do not have enough information to know what will be discovered. Geophysics can help… but often it is difficult to know what lies beneath the ground.

In January, trenching for a new drainage system and fibre-optic cable line around the house at Montacute, Somerset was watched by Mike and Peter of Terrain…

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Trafalgar Hero – Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy

The Hardy Monument

The Hardy Monument on Blackdown Hill, west of Dorchester, was erected to the memory of the admiral © DCM

On the summit of Blackdown Hill, near Portesham is the Hardy Monument.  Standing 22m (72ft) high, this tower, that resembles an upright cannon, is a memorial to Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, not the novelist as most people assume. Erected in 1844 on the highest point of Blackdown, the foundation stone was laid by Hardy’s daughters on the 39th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.  During the Napoleonic war, this spot was the site of a beacon to give warning of French invasion.

Thomas was born at Kingston Russell House, Long Bredy in the heart of the beautiful Bride Valley in April, 1769. The family moved to Portesham in 1778 and this village in West Dorset was to remain close to his heart until he died. After schooling in Crewkerne he joined the navy as captain’s servant to Captain Francis Roberts on the brig Helena. His career was successful from the start and included a close friendship with Lord Nelson which lasted until the latter died on the Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar of 1805. At Trafalgar, the combined French and Spanish fleets were beaten by the smaller British fleet, but Nelson was mortally wounded.  As Nelson lay dying he said the famous words ‘Kiss me Hardy’.  At this, Hardy bent and kissed his dying friend on the forehead.

Thomas was Captain of H.M.S Victory at the time and he went on to become a full admiral, First Sea Lord and Governor of Greenwich Hospital. He died on 20th September 1839 at 70 and was laid to rest in the mausoleum of the old cemetery belonging to the hospital. His home in Portesham is still a private dwelling.

Below are extracts taken from the ‘Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society Volume 42,  1921 xxxv-xxxvii’ of an excursion to Thomas Masterman Hardy’s House at Portesham on 16th September, 1920.

“The last of the summer meetings, which was held at Portesham on Thursday, September 16th, proved most interesting, and was attended by about 80 members. By the kindness of Mr. and Mrs. W. Hardy Manfield, who now occupy Portesham House. The ancient home of Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy was thrown open for the inspection of the members, who were thus enabled to see the remarkable collection of relics of Nelson’s trusty and favourite flag captain.

In the garden is a picturesque sundial, dated 1767 and bearing the name of Joseph Hardy. A considerable amount of interest, too, was shown in the collection of fossils. With respect to these the President said that the fossil tree stumps came from beds corresponding to the Portland beds, nearly all being portions of fossilised coniferous trees. Up in the quarry at Portesham was what the men called a “fossil elephant.” In reality it was only a large tree coated with a deposit. The so called “fossil bird’s nest” was a cicad such as could be seen at Portland growing out of dirt beds.

Captain Thomas Masterman Hardy - from the painting by Robert Evans, at Greenwich Hospital. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Captain Thomas Masterman Hardy – from the painting by Robert Evans, at Greenwich Hospital.

The attendance was so large that the members of the Club had to be conducted in parties over the house, which for many years was the home of the great seaman who was flag captain to Nelson on board the Victory at the crowning battle of Trafalgar. It was immediately after the battle of the Nile that Hardy was invited by Nelson temporarily to fill the place, on the flagship Vanguard, of his flag captain who had been sent home with despatches. It was then that the long and intimate association of these two bosom friends began. Hardy served his idolised chief on no fewer than six or seven ships. He afterwards became Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy, and ended his life as Governor of Greenwich Hospital. Some number of the articles comprised in this unique and priceless collection of Nelson and Hardy relics are usually deposited for security in the strong room at the Bank, but they had been brought out in readiness for the visit of the Club, and were set on tables, or hung on the walls of the house, for convenience of inspection.

Thomas Masterman Hardy Writing Box

Writing box of Captain Thomas Masterman Hardy: inscribed “Capt.T.Hardy : H.M.S Victory : Jany 4th 1805”, The writing box has not been altered nor conserved, but has lost much of the internal furniture, pen-racks, ink bottles which may have been removed as popular souvenirs; the rod-lock to the draw and key are missing and the central brass lid-plate is not engraved.
Playing cards: two incomplete French-suited packs of English block-cut traditional design of the George III period, 1760 – 1820, by “GIBSON & GISBORNE”; found in the sea-chest of “Capt.T.M.Hardy : Portesham”. Rules for Cards were established by Edmond Hoyle, published 1742. © DCM

Perhaps earliest in date was the will of Thomas Masterman of Kingston Russell (1763). It was from him that Hardy got his two Christian names; and it was in the fine old manor house of the Bedford family at Kingston Russell that he was born in the year 1769; and not, as is so often wrongly stated, at Portesham, though his family removed there afterwards. Amongst the pictures on the walls were contemporary engravings of some of the famous engagements in which Captain Hardy took part, including three of the battle of the Nile. Amongst the most interesting objects exhibited might be noted miniature portraits of Hardy; his Nile medal; his shirts and ruffles; his buckskin breeches; his Prayer Book; pieces of old cabin furniture; printed playing cards; a ship’s lantern from the victory; some number of his letters, in one of which, dated August 18th, 1805, a little more than a month after the battle of Trafalgar, he writes “We fancy ourselves very unfortunate, after so many anxious moments, to have missed the combined squadrons.”

Thomas Masterman Hardy Mourning Brooch

Mourning Brooch inscribed with the date of Thomas Masterman Hardy’s Death, with strands of his hair encased within the brooch © DCM

Then there was a beautifully executed painting in profile of Nelson as Duke of Bronte with the corresponding portrait of the King of Naples. Hardy’s portrait by R. Evans was accompanied by a richly-illuminated vellum conferring upon him the freedom of the City of London, on January 30th, 1806, and a sword of honour for which 100 guineas had been voted. This was dedicated “as a testimony to the high sense which this court entertains of his excellent behaviour on Lord Nelson’s flagship Victory on the 21st October, 1805, at the memorable defeat and capture of the combined fleets of France and Spain off Trafalgar.” On one of the tables was laid a copy of the special edition of the Times, of Friday, January 10th, 1806, which contained a full descriptive report of the funeral of Lord Nelson, in which solemn pageant Hardy bore a very prominent part. Perhaps the most touching of the exhibits was the thin lock of Nelson’s hair placed under a glass, given by Lady Hamilton to the Prince of Wales. There was also on view the patent conferring the Baronetcy upon Hardy.

Like the Duke of Wellington, Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy once fought a duel. It is thus recorded in Bells Weekly Messenger of June 18th, 1816:- “Affair of Honour. – Yesterday afternoon, in consequence of a dispute at the Opera House on Saturday night, a meeting took place between the Marquis of Buckingham and Sir Thomas Hardy. After an exchange of shots the seconds declared that enough had been done to satisfy the honour of both parties, and the affair concluded.”

When the members had reassembled on the lawn the PRESIDENT expressed the warm thanks of the Club to Mr. and Mrs. Hardy Manfield for their great kindness in allowing the members to visit their interesting home and to view their rare collection of Hardy and Nelson relics. For himself it had been a revelation, as no doubt it had been to others. He had no idea that there was such a wealth of these objects in their possession, and he heartily congratulated them upon being the possessors of such treasures.

Below are extracts taken from the Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society Volume 45, 1924 p5-11 of Notes on Exhibits in the Dorset County Museum relating to the Napoleonic era, A.D. 1793 – 1815 by Captain J. E. ACLAND, M.A., F.S.A. (Read December 13th, 1923).

“The Dorset County Museum during its life of nearly 80 years has acquired from time to time many exhibits connected with the Wars of Napoleon, and the expected invasion of England. They have been noted in the Annual Reports as they were received, but their value and interest will be more easily realized by treating them as one collection related to the same historical period.

The Naval and Military events to which they refer left a deep impression on the people of the South of England, and perhaps especially on the districts of Dorset near the coast, which, as Mr. Hardy says, “had echoed with rumours of invasion in their intensest form while the descent threatened, and was animated by memories and traditions of the desperate military preparations for that contingency”

War was declared between England and France in 1793, and in the following year a Regiment of Yeomanry was raised with the name “Volunteer Corps of Dorset Rangers” to “provide for the security of the country against any attem which might be made on the part of the enemy”

The Museum has been entrusted recently with the care a large number of original documents dealing with the formation of this Regiment, which owed its existence to the ability of Lord Milton (Earl of Dorchester). It is interesting to note that the first appointment of Officers to their respective ranks was made by ballot, the Captains being W. Churchill of Henbury; Lionel Darner, of Came; T. Weld, Lulworth Castle; J. Frampton, Moreton; R. Erie Drax Grosvenor, of Charborough; F. J. Browne, of Frampton; Richard Traver of Up-Loders.

There is a case in the Museum containing four Yeomanry helmets showing how the uniform changed from time to time the earliest being one of the original “Dorset Rangers,” date 1794. Two swords which belonged to members of the Regiment hang close by. One belonged to Sir Henry Oglander Bart., of Parnham, Dorset, dating probably about 1835, and the other, recently given by Col. E. G. Troyte Bullock, C.M.G. was the property of Mr. E. Roberts, of Silton, Dorset.

In the Library, in addition to the three volumes Record of the Dorset Yeomanry, are some interesting MS. maps of the County dated 1801 and 1803, by W. Jennings of Evershot showing in detail the preparations for defence, and for removing to places of security all stores and live-stock which might be of use to an invading force.

A system, or chain, of Signal Beacons was also arranged, by which news of the anticipated invasion could be speedily made known throughout the whole county, and as far east as Winchester. Readers of Mr. Thomas Hardy’s works will remember the characteristic description, both in prose and poetry, of the Beacon Watchers on “Egdon Heath.” The position of the Beacons, eleven in all, is shown on the map, besides what are called “Signal Posts.” The Beacons, taking them in order from the west of the county, were on Pilsdon, Orchard Hill (near Chideock), Shipton Gorge (east of Bridport), Blackdown, Puddletown Heath (Rain Barrow), Milton Abbey, Woolland Hill, Woodbury, Melbury Hill (near Shaftesbury), Lytchett Heath and Badbury. The Signal Posts were on Golden Cap, Abbotsbury Castle, Portland North and The Bill, White Nose, St. Aldhelm’s Head, Swanage, and Ballard Down.

An interesting document relative to those stirring times (shown in the Museum) is a facsimile reproduction of a scheme for the concentration of troops, both Cavalry and Infantry, between Weymouth and Dorchester, issued by King George III, in his own handwriting, when residing at Weymouth, in 1804. The original belonged to Mr. A. M. Broadley.

Another reminiscence of those bygone times is brought to our notice by a printed form dated 28th May, 1801, exempting persons serving in the Dorset Volunteer Rangers from the duty on hair-powder certificates. It is signed by James Frampton, commanding the 2nd troop, in favour of George Roberts.

The last exhibit to be referred to here which deals directly with the Yeomanry Cavalry is due to the fact that in 1922 the Regiment was converted into two Yeomanry Artillery Batteries, after 128 years service. It was found necessary to dispose of much of the property of the Officers’ Mess, and we were asked to accept “on loan ” a magnificent cigar-box, possessing much historic interest. It was presented to the Officers in the year 1885 by Captain Montague Guest, M.P., and measures 1ft. 10in. long, by 1ft. 2in. wide, 7½ in. high. Every portion of the box both inside and outside is ornamented with coloured sketches by D. Norie, depicting the places and scenes at different periods of its history where the Regiment had been trained, and also vignettes showing the changes of uniform and details of equipment at various dates which are given by the Artist.

In addition to the Yeomanry Cavalry, large numbers of men were enrolled as Volunteer Infantry. We possess two valuable relics of this branch of the service, which were exhibited at the Field Club Meeting in February, 1911, and presented to the Museum later by Mr. S. R. Baskett of Evershot, viz.: a fine drum, 2ft. 8in. long, with the words “Evershot Volunteers” painted on it, and a green silk flag with Union Jack at the corner, and “First Battalion Dorset Volunteers.” That the patriotic feeling was well maintained throughout the whole county may be realized by the fact that the Infantry were composed mostly of a different class from the Yeomanry, who promised on joining to find their own horses and clothing. Sir William Watts (D.F.C. Proceedings, Vol. XXXII) estimates that in 1803 there were over 3,000 men in the different Dorset Regiments, all locally enrolled; Mr. H. Symonds (Ibid, Vol. XLI) giving a total of nearly 2,000 in the three Dorset Battalions of Infantry. Evershot was appointed as the “Place of Assembly” of the 12th Company, under Captain Jennings. and was a part of the first Battalion, commanded by Earl Digby.

Turning now to exhibits connected with the Royal Navy attention may be directed to the beautiful model of the 64-gun frigate H.M.S. Lion, in which ship Henry Digby is believed to have served as a Lieutenant in the year 1790. It was given to the Museum in the year 1898 by Mrs. Graham, who was then living at Frampton Vicarage, Dorset, with her son-in-law the Rev. F. C. Salkeld, Vicar from 1897—1903. Mrs. Salkeld informed me that the model had belonged to the Graham family for many years, having been made (as she thought) by her great-grandfather, a designer and builder of ships. The model is four feet long, resting on the cradle and slips ready for launching, and was built up from the keel as a full-sized ship would be. The figure-head is a Lion, the stern being finely worked and decorated. By looking through the stern windows, a view is obtained of the lower decks. The frigate was built in 1777, and therefore must have taken part in the early sea-battles of the French war, and probably may have often sailed in company with Thomas Masterman Hardy of Portesham, who entered the Navy in 1781, and to whom our thoughts most naturally turn while dealing with the exhibits .of this period, not only for his own worth, and as a native of Dorset, but as the devoted friend of Lord Nelson.

This friendship and confidence is graphically described in the scene of Nelson’s death in the fifth act of ‘The Dynasts’ — While lying below deck, he exclaims:—

“O, where is Hardy? Will nobody bring Hardy to me? None?
He must be killed too.    Surely Hardy’s dead !”

And a little later when Hardy has come to him, he says,

“Ever ’twas your settled fault
So modestly to whittle down your worth.
But I saw stuff in you which Admirals need
When, taking thought, I chose the Victory’s keel
To do my business with these Frenchmen in.
A business finished now for me.”

In connection with this scene may be mentioned four small engravings framed, showing portraits of Lord Nelson, Captain Hardy, a general view of the fleets engaged in battle, and Nelson’s death in the cock-pit of the Victory. There are also two very interesting letters exhibited in the Museum written by Captain Hardy himself to his relative, Mr. Manfield of Possum. The first, dated January, 1801, was written on H.M.S. San Joseph when lying at Plymouth, and refers to Lord Nelson passing through Dorchester, and to a very serious and sudden illness he had in the carriage; the other letter written on board H.M.S. Victory only six days after the battle of Trafalgar. It is a simple, friendly letter announcing the defeat of the enemy, the death of the great Admiral, and sending kind messages to residents at Possum. It is worth quoting in full.

Victory, off Cadiz.
Oct. 27th, 1805.

Dear Manfield,

We have on the 21st inst. obtained a most glorious victory over the combined fleets, but it has cost the country a life that, no money can replace, and for whose death I shall for ever mourn, our Dear and ever to be lamented Lord fell in the action, and as it fell to our lot to lead the fleet into action our loss has been rather great—54 killed and 80 wounded. How¬ever I have come off unhurt, the weather ever since the action has been so bad that we have had some difficulty to save our shattered ship, and have had no communication with any of the Fleet. I really cannot say the exact number of ships taken, but twelve we are certain of, tho’ I much fear many of them are since lost, and one or two taken into Cadiz, as the gale for these last five days has not ceased blowing directually on that shore. Thomas Bartlett is well, and has written by this conveyance. It will also be satisfactory for Sam Clark (of Possum) to know that his son is well. The Victory is in so bad a state that she must be ordered to England, at any rate you will soon see me and I am determined to remain on shore some months. You will suppose my mind is not very easy, and I am sure you will excuse this hasty scrall. We are this moment ordered to Gibraltar by Telegraph, and I have only time to say that in hopes of seeing you soon I remain with good wishes for all

Dear Manfield
Ever yours most affectionately

The Dorset County Museum also has a copy of The Times, 7th Nov., 1805, containing Collingwood’s despatch relating to the battle.

View of the Hardy Monument

Engraving of the view of the Hardy Monument, taken from a pamphlet 12th June 1848, with regards to the expenses paid for the erection of the monument

The other exhibits relating to the Admiral are a copy of the Memorial bust by Behnes, in the Greenwich Hospital (1834), and the original sketch by the late Mr. Arthur Acland, together with all his working plans and drawings, of the Hardy Column erected in 1844 on Blackdown Hill near Dorchester. Sir Thos. Masterman Hardy died in 1839.

A brief notice of two minor exhibits, but both relating to the close of the Napoleonic Era, may fitly conclude these notes. In April, 1814, after many defeats in Spain and France, Napoleon abdicated – and retired to Elba. We may well believe that rejoicings were universal throughout England, and a broad-sheet dated July 11th, 1814, framed and placed on the wall of the Museum describes the events at Broadwindsor (Dorset) “in consequence of the late most glorious peace in this small but patriotic village, with a degree of Loyalty, Patriotism, and at the same time Humanity, as is scarce to be credited, and not to be equalled.”

The celebrations lasted for three days. The first day was spent in consuming the beef, bread, and cyder which had been freely distributed to every house, and in dancing, ringing of bells, and fireworks. On the second day the Curate (on behalf of the Rector) gave the loyal inhabitants of this little hamlet, a hogshead of stout English beer. “Then (says the broad-sheet) might an observant spectator have seen a multitude of happy, happy, mortals at once offering up their pious ejaculations to their all-bounteous Benefactor.” On the third day Buonaparte was publicly executed, which is thus described:—” Buonaparte being dressed in all the insignia of royalty, but with sword inverted, and many other marks of degradation, was placed in an open carriage, and drawn through all the streets of the parish. He was condemned to be hanged in chains till dead, and then to be burnt, for which purpose he was taken to a field adjoining the parish, where the gallows was erected and the funeral pile was reared. Meantime the fatal noose is fixed, and this fiend upon earth, this Apostate to religion, this devil’s vice-regent, was launched into the blackest eternity. Thus ends the career of a Tyrant. The inhabitants now returned to the George Inn to spend a considerable sum of money in joyous festivity, and singing ‘Buonaparte done over’ Tyrants begone,’ and many other loyal and appropriate songs.”

Close to this broad-sheet hangs a facsimile reproduction of a sketch showing Bonaparte’s final departure from the scene of his activities. It is entitled “This sketch of Napoleon was made on board the Northumberland, man-of-war, on her voyage to S. Helena (1815) by Mr. Commissary Ibbetson, who gave it to me in that Island ‘Theodore E. Hook.’”

And there, after six years as a prisoner-of-war, Napoleon died, A.D. 1821.

Sic transit gloria mundi.”

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