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Showing posts from March, 2022

Florence Nightingale & the Dorset Clergyman

While Florence Nightingale may be regarded as the pioneer of modern nursing a now almost forgotten Dorset cleric played a not insignificant role. Reverend Sydney Godolphin Osborne from Durweston travelled out to Turkey, at his own expense, to witness the appalling conditions in a British military hospital in Scutari, Constantinople. This was during the Crimean War (1853-56) when the British, French & Turks were fighting the Russians. He found soldiers wounded and dying in horrifying conditions. There were rats and lice in the hospital which was located close to a cesspit. He observed men lying in bed with dysentery or with open sores who had not had a change in linen for months. It is reckoned for every British soldier who lost his life in battle there were seven who died due to disease. He wrote: ‘I sought the truth and took my own way to arrive at it. Whether that truth would please or displease the public or the Government was to me a matter of indifference.’ Osborne spe

Blandford Station Remembered

Blandford railway station opened in 1863 when a line that previously had ended at Blandford St Mary was brought into the town. After just over 100 years of service Blandford station was closed to passengers in March 1966 and soon after for goods traffic. Blandford station is remembered by songwriters, Flanders & Swann in their eulogy to the many quaintly named stations closed by the notorious Dr Beeching’s axe. Slow Train 'No more will I go to Blandford Forum and Mortehoe, On the slow train to Midsomer  Norton and Mumby Row. No churns, no porters, no cat on a seat At Chorlton-cum-Hardy and Chester-le-Street. We won't be meeting again on the slow train.' Blandford Station was one of the largest stations on the Somerset & Dorset line and was brick built with canopies on both platforms. These platforms were connected by a subway. There was also a goods yard, a corn store, landing docks and a seven ton crane. First station to the north of the town on a single track wa

Blandford Throwback Facts XIII

In 1855 , Wimborne born Robert Eyers, a fine musician with many contacts in the musical world, took over the Crown Hotel. He would later also run the Greyhound Inn and in 1883 would become Blandford’s Mayor.         Blandford Cemetery opened. A dispute arose between the Mayor and the town’s inhabitants and the Bishop of Salisbury concerning the cemetery consecration. The Bishop insisted a communion table be placed in the cemetery to which the town objected.           Author, Charles Kingsley who was also Curate at Pimperne wrote ‘ Westward Ho’ . In 1858, Blandford Bank suspended payments with liabilities of £48,792 and assets of only £18,167. The Corn Exchange was built costing £645. In 1859, local newspaper, the Blandford Express was first published by editor, James Bartlett. It continued to appear until 1895. Tickets for the celebratory Corn Exchange opening luncheon cost three shilling & sixpence (17p) while the evening Ball & Supper cost seven shillings and sixpence (37

Blandford Street - champagne at £350 a bottle!

London’s Blandford Street can be found just off Marylebone High Street. The latter was once described as the ‘ best street in London.’ Nearby are Shroton Street, Bryanston Street and Durweston Mews. So why are there so many North Dorset street names in such a select part of the capital where a small apartment can cost several million pounds? The reason is due to the Portman family. The family acquired land in Marylebone in the 16 th century and then bought an estate in Bryanston in the 1680s. Edward Berkeley Portman was the first Viscount Portman (1799-1888) and he served as a Member of Parliament for both Dorset and Marylebone. In 1827, he married Emma Lascelles who became a Lady in Waiting and close confidante of Queen Victoria and keeper of her close secrets. The Portman family benefitted from the growth of London onto agricultural land which they owned north of Oxford Street. They also benefitted from the effects of leases coming to an end which saw the estate’s income increas

Three Blandford Highwaymen & the 'Bridport Dagger!'

When the Venerable Archdeacon Charles James Hoare was looking for a subject for his sermon in Blandford on the 13 th August 1820 his choice was obvious. Everyone was talking about the execution by hanging of the two Blandford brothers, John and Moses Blanchard. They had been found guilty of highway robbery. The day before the delivery of the clergyman’s sermon both had been hung ‘ at the new drop’ at Dorchester Jail. This was after their trials at Dorchester Assizes. Using a slang term, the two highwaymen were ‘ stabbed by the Bridport Dagger’ . The hangman would have used rope made in Bridport which was one the country’s biggest rope making centres. It is hard to believe but for many years public executions were a popular form of entertainment. Many Dorchester folk turned out to witness the ’Hang Fairs’ held just below the Jail.  By daybreak, the best places would be taken. Time spent waiting for the executions would be spent dancing and drinking. Executions would be delayed pend