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Showing posts from February, 2022

Pimperne Churchyard’s Ghostly Severed Hand.

Pimperne Churchyard is said to be haunted by the severed hand of a soldier called Blandford. Despite his surname, trumpet-sergeant Blandford came from the village of Pimperne. So, when in 1780 he was posted to Blandford, soldier Blandford was delighted to renew the acquaintance of his old chums. A popular character in the village, he was well known for his dry sense of humour. Like his Pimperne mates, Blandford had a lucrative pastime and that was poaching. A local tenant farmer wrote at the time to his landlord: ‘ Poaching has got to such a thing in our parish, that almost every boy at the age of 14 years practises it, which I fear will lead to further mischief.’ Most popular location for poaching deer was Cranborne Chase, particularly around the village of Sixpenny Handley. So, trumpet-sergeant Blandford soon organised a group of Pimperne poachers to head north in the direction of the Chase. Sadly, for the villagers, there had been loose talk and a group of local gamekeepers had been

Blandford Throwback Facts XII

In 1841 , controversial and militant clergyman Sydney Godolphin Osborne was appointed as Rector of Durweston. He supported the cause of the Dorset agricultural labourer, the hospital work of Florence Nightingale during the Crimea War and took a close interest in the Great Irish Famine.  Mr C Hill from Pimperne was drinking cider from a cup with a bee in it. He swallowed the insect which stung him when he coughed. Sadly, he later died as a result of the inflammation caused by the sting. In 1844 , the last Blandford Race meeting took place on Blandford Down which is now Blandford Camp.  A night time attack on a horse drawn mail coach travelling from Bere Regis to Blandford provided two highwaymen with a haul of just £1.35p. In 1848 , award winning photographer, George Conway Nesbitt was born in Blandford. He had three brothers, Tom, Albert and Charles who all became highly respected photographers. In 1849 , it was a time of extreme hardship in North Dorset. Organised by the Blandf

Bravest Village Controversy

A Dorset village was once recognised as the bravest in England. That village was Shillingstone in North Dorset. After the outbreak of World War I, the newspaper the Weekly Dispatch inaugurated a competition for the village that sent, in the first six months of the war, the highest percentage of its population into the British Services. According to local newspaper, the Western Gazette Shillingstone sent 90 men out of a total population of 565. (Western Gazette Friday 26 th September 1919) Across the country,  365 other villages sent in their returns. However, the competition would not prove to be short of controversy. The award was made to Knowlton in Kent which with 39 inhabitants and six houses had sent 11 men. However, the Rector of Shillingstone, Dr Cooke protested that Knowlton was too small to be a village and in fact was a hamlet. The matter was referred to the Attorney General, Sir Frederick Smith who held that the original decision should stand as no minimum population ha

Great Freeze of 62/63

  There have been harsh winters since but nothing has quite compared with the Great Freeze of 1962/63. This long cold spell was reckoned to be the most severe in Dorset for two hundred years and the month of January 1963 was the coldest ever recorded. On the 29 th & 30 th December 1962, a two day continuous snow blizzard swept across the county. There were massive snow drifts and outlying villages were completely cut off. The River Stour froze over completely at Blandford and for around 15 miles of its length and it remained so for around two months. This enabled both ice skating and ice hockey to take place on the thick ice. While at Poole harbour, even the sea froze over. While roads were blocked, the Somerset & Dorset railway line and Blandford station still operated. Somehow, the line’s steam locomotives were able to push their way through the snow. At the time, there were proposals to close uneconomic lines like the ‘S & D ’. This led to some tongue in cheek ple