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Showing posts from June, 2021

Blandford Throwback Facts III

In 1698 , there were 500 lace makers recorded in Blandford. In 1706 , villagers of Shapwick were terrified by a large crab that had fallen from a fishmonger’s barrel believing it to be a monster. In 1712 , Nathaniel Seagar a brewer was attacked and robbed while travelling between Shaftesbury and Blandford. Upon hearing what had happened Joseph Reader, a stocky built miller, pursued the highwayman and felled him with his cudgel. Summarily concluding the highwayman was guilty of assault, Reader proceeded to hang the highwayman from a nearby tree. In 1713 , East Street was burnt down, allegedly by a malicious person. In 1723 , Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders, visited Dorset. He described lace made in Blandford as ‘so exquisitely fine as I think I never saw better in Flanders.’ In 1724 , a troop of Hussars was stationed on Blandford Down, now Blandford Camp, engaged on anti-smuggling duties. In 1728 , Blandford’s Overseers of the Poor accounts show five shillings

HMS Blandford

In the history of the British Navy, it appears there were three HMS Blandfords. The first HMS Blandford, launched at Woolwich in 1711, was lost at sea with all hands. The second, launched in 1720 was a trend setter but also had a dark secret. She was involved in the slave trade. While the third HMS Blandford (1741), featured in frequent skirmishes with the French but more recently had a replica built which featured in a television series. HMS Blandford (1711) served the Royal Navy in the Baltic, North Sea and in the Mediterranean. Sadly, she was lost with all hands including her captain, Erasmus Phillips during a fierce storm in the Bay of Biscay in March 1719. HMS Blandford (1720) was one of the first of a class of 22 vessels to be built to a common standard. This resulted in cost savings in both the building and maintenance of the vessels. It also provided greater certainty as to how they performed at sea. Her first captain was William Martin who eventually became an admiral. A

Shapwick Sea Monster

On a Tuesday in October 1706, a travelling Poole fishmonger was wheeling his cart on the outskirts of the village of Shapwick. Unknown to him, a large crab fell from his barrow. This was to cause panic and alarm among the Shapwick villagers. Living inland, and perhaps in the 18 th century not having travelled beyond Blandford, the Shapwick villagers had never before seen a crab. Trudging home and exhausted by his day’s labour, a Shapwick farm worker discovered this crawling creature by stepping on it. So strange was its appearance, he believed it was the devil himself. Running on to the village, he told everyone excitingly of his horrid find. Fearing it was the work of the devil, the villagers armed themselves with pitchforks, sticks and stones. Knowing not what to do, they decided to consult the shepherd Rowe considered by many to be the local wise man. Sadly, the aging oracle was now past his prime and for the last six years had been confined to his bed. The old man was as infirm as

Wilts, Dorset & East Devon Railway

Not a lot of people know this but in the 1890s, there were plans to make Blandford Station into a railway junction. Connecting Bath with Poole and Bournemouth, the Somerset & Dorset Railway had already opened stations in Blandford and Shillingstone. The Wilts, Dorset & East Devon Railway was an ambitious plan to construct a new and additional route from Salisbury to Exeter via Blandford. The first section of 21 miles would leave the existing Salisbury to Yeovil line at Wilton and open new stations at Broadchalke, Sixpenny Handley and Pimperne before joining the Somerset & Dorset line in Blandford. The second section of 11 miles would run through Blandford St Mary, Winterborne Whitechurch & Bere Regis and then join the London & South Western, Poole to Dorchester line at Moreton Station. The final 50 mile section would be built via Shipton Gorge, Bridport, Charmouth, Lyme Regis, Seaton & Sidmouth and would then join the London & South Western Line at Topsh

Blandford Races

It might not have been Ascot, Epsom or Aintree but Blandford Races was once quite an important event in the county’s social calendar. Blandford Races date back to 1603 and were held on the downs which today would be part of Blandford Camp. Meetings continued until the middle of the 19 th  century with few breaks in between. The longest interruption was when Oliver Cromwell was Head of State and Government. As Lord Protector he was not amused by such events. Apart from horse racing, there were other entertainments. These included wrestling matches, cock fighting and dancing. Much feasting took place which was highly lucrative for the town. In 1780, cudgel playing was advertised and resulted in a Shaftebury man losing his left eye. This was then replaced by a sword and dagger contest between the gentlemen of Dorset and Somerset. One of the race patrons was Lord Palmerston who was later to be Prime Minister. In 1824, he had had a winner, Luzborough in the Dorsetshire Gold Cup. Normally he

Blandford Throwback Facts II

In 1669 , to meet a shortage of small change, Blandford issued its own farthing coinage. To celebrate the Duke of Tuscany, Cosmo III passing through the town, the church bells were rung. In 1673 , Blandford called in all tokens to the value of a farthing amounting to two pounds and eighteen shillings (£2.90p). In 1674 , thirty four pounds and ten pence (£34.4p) was spent laying out a bowling green. In 1680 , Edward Wake died at Charlton Marshall. He ‘ suffered greatly’ in the service of the King. He was shot in the head by the Governor of Wareham, poisoned in another garrison, imprisoned about twenty times and was also sentenced to death two or three times. In 1688 , hundreds of pounds changed hands when members of the local gentry met up regularly for Saturday lunch and gambling sessions in a Blandford Inn. In 1 690 , Thomas Cox, the son of a Blandford gentleman, after a long history of crime was executed at Tyburn in London. On his way to the gallows he kicked both the h