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Showing posts from January, 2024

Greyhound Inn

In the 1700s, the Greyhound Inn was one of the three great coaching inns of Blandford and was both stylish and substantial. The other two great inns were the Crown and the Red Lion. In fact, the Greyhound dates back to the early 1600s. This inn was a regular stopping point for horse drawn coaches travelling between London and the West of England. The Greyhound was destroyed in the 1731 Great Fire of Blandford. It was then rebuilt with an impressive Market Place facing frontage together with sizeable back buildings which included stables, a tap room, workshops and a brewery. The front part covered 3,150 sq ft and the back buildings a further 3,100 sq ft. In 1779, the Inn was advertising it had an excellent and much used billiard table. On Bonfire Night in 1805, the Greyhound Inn was one of the many stopping points to change his horses for Lieutenant John Richards Lapenotiere of the Royal Navy. He was taking the news of victory at the Battle of Trafalgar and of Horatio Nelson’s death to

Damory Oak

At one time Blandford could boast of one of the largest oak trees in the country. Known as the ‘ Damory Oak’ , it is reckoned to date back to the 10 th or 11 th centuries. It was said to be 75 ft high and to have a circumference of 68 ft at ground level. As the tree decayed, it became hollow forming a great cavity which could house 20 men. This was 15 ft wide and 17 ft high. During the English Civil War an old man ran the cavity as an ale house. Appropriately, some three centuries later there was a pub nearby at the bottom of Damory Court Street, now closed, that was called the ‘ Damory Oak’ . In 1703, the ‘ Damory Oak’ suffered greatly in a violent storm when several of its largest branches were torn off. After the Great Fire of Blandford in 1731, the hollow trunk provided shelter to two homeless families. Sadly, by 1755 the great ‘ Damory Oak’ was in a sorry state and was sold for firewood for just fourteen pounds.

Thomas Wedgwood - Gunville Photography Pioneer

Although he was born in Staffordshire, photographic pioneer, Thomas Wedgwood   spent five years, from 1800 to 1805, living at Eastbury House in Tarrant Gunville. Regarded by many as ‘ the first photographer’ , he was a member of the famous Stoke-on-Trent potteries family, the Wedgwoods. Throughout his life he suffered from poor health which is probably the reason he moved to the Dorset countryside. He used paper and white leather coated with silver nitrate to make his first images. However, he did not know how to ‘fix’ the images and they would continue to darken on exposure to light. They could only be preserved if kept in darkness and he would show his work to friends in the light of a candle. Thomas Wedgwood suffered from a mysterious illness and spent much of his lifetime searching for a cure. Sadly he died in 1805, aged just 34, and his will is held by the National Archives in London. Another Dorset born man, Henry Fox Talbot , who was born at Melbury, would take the develo