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Saturday, 31 December 2011

Dorset's Weird and Wonderful Year of 2011

From more sightings of big cats to flying saucers, strange archaeological finds to hauntings in a North Dorset museum. 2011 has been a busy year for weird and wonderful news in Dorset.

Dark Dorset looks back with a selection of twelve stories taken from our blog scrapbook.


JANUARY - Thursday, 13th January 2011
  • News Clipping: Dorset 'beast' sighting near Batcombe sparks further mystery

The beast of Dorset has been spotted roaming the countryside again. This time the large black cat – said to be much larger than a domestic cat – was seen as it ran in front of a council roadworks lorry near Batcombe, outside Dorchester.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Thursday 13th January 2011

For more information on big cats in Dorset visit www.darkdorset.co.uk 
FEBRUARY - Thursday, 17th February 2011

  • News Clipping: Trebuchet returns to Corfe Castle - but there's not a cow in sight

During the Middle Ages this type of device was used to lay siege to ancient strongholds by hurling diseased cows over castle walls. But the good residents of Corfe Castle have no need to keep a watchful eye skyward for falling cattle, because today, thankfully, it is employed just for fun.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Thursday, 17 February 2011

MARCH - Thursday, 3rd March 2011
  •  News Clipping: UFO files: "flying saucers" over coastline sparked full scale alert

A “War of the Worlds” incident in the south which sparked off a full-scale military alert is revealed for the first time in newly-released former top secret files. The incident, contained in extra-terrestrial files released today by the Ministry of Defence, occurred during the 1960s when members of the public reported six small flying saucers positioned in a perfect line across southern England.

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Thursday 3rd March 2011


APRIL - Wednesday, 27th April 2011
  •  News Clipping: 'Wareham's monument is not Excalibur'

A civic leader has stepped in to clear up any confusion about the new sword in the stone monument at the gateway to Wareham. It seems some people have been jumping to the wrong conclusion and confusing the replica blade, which stands on one of the town’s main roundabouts, with the stuff of Arthurian legend.

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Wednesday 27th April 2011


MAY - Monday, 16th May 2011
  • News Clipping: Mystery over circles on Studland heath

These intriguing round marks in the heath at Studland are definitely not crop circles – but what they are remains a mystery. Nestling in the heath near Poole Harbour, the 80 circles with an average size of 20 metres across are obviously man-made and have 2ft high turf walls around them.

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Monday 16th May 2011

JUNE - Thursday, 2nd June 2011
  • News Clipping: Channel 4 show 'Four Rooms' in bidding for Gruesome Artifact

Next week, the dealers of the Channel 4 show 'Four Rooms'  have to decide how much to offer for a gruesome piece of tattooed skin pickled in a jar. This was reported last year in the Dorset Echo (News Clipping: Tatooed skin with Dorset connection turns up at car boot sale) when the tattooed skin of a would-be killer that was used to bind a Victorian pocket book was been discovered at a car boot sale at Shepton Mallet in Somerset by local author and historian Rodney Legg.

The show will be aired on Channel 4 Tuesday 7 June 2011 at 8pm 


JULY - Thursday, 7th July 2011
  • News Clippings: Fang-tastic! Viking remains reveal warriors filed their teeth to appear more ferocious to enemies.

An axe-swinging 'rape and pillage' fighter found in a Viking burial pit had filed his teeth to look more ferocious in battle. The pain without anaesthetic would have been excruciating - but it would have proved his status as a great warrior, archaeologists said. The warrior, found in Weymouth, Dorset, had grooves filed into his two front teeth.



Other Sources:





AUGUST - Saturday, 13th August 2011

  • Mapperton villagers pay tribute to 'Posy Tree' 

    Dark Dorset learnt of the sad news that the 'Posy Tree' of Mapperton has been removed due to health and safety fears.  Residents from Mapperton gathered last Saturday at the tree, with glasses of cider, to toast the historic landmark. 

    The Posy Tree, Mapperton
    This tree was planted to commemorate victims of the terrible pestilence that occurred at Mapperton, near Bridport, some four hundred years ago.

    Though the Black Death took the lives of twenty-five million Europeans between 1348 and 1351, outbreaks continued to occur in isolated villages, towns and cities throughout England for the next three hundred and eighteen years.  It was a common enough practice for the inhabitants of Mapperton to bury their dead at the cemetery of the neighbouring parish of Netherbury. Mapperton's cemetery was deemed unsuitable for burial because the soil was inadequate. In 1582 this routine of burial changed due to the outbreak of bubonic plague at Mapperton. Villagers of Netherbury gathered at the parish boundary refusing to let the residents of Mapperton bury the corpses of plague victims in their cemetery. This resulted in a bitter skirmish between the villagers but after some negotiations, it was agreed that the bodies should remain at the boundary, which the old Mapperton and Netherbury track crosses, now known as "Dead Man's Lane". The sycamore tree known locally as the 'Posy' or 'Cosy' Tree, marked the spot where the 80 dead of Mapperton were collected and buried a mile away in a mass grave within a small enclosure on the summit of South Warren Hill. After burial a copse of Beech trees was planted on the site to make sure the area was not disturbed.

    There have been several attempts made to save the tree. On 1st February 2002 it was reported in the Bridport News, "that its fate was uncertain, two years after the news was reported that is was under threat”. "But in recent years it has deteriorated, despite being severely pollarded in the vain hope that it might spring to life". But old age has taken its toll on the sycamore and safety fears meant it had to come down last weekend.

    It was reported in the Western Gazette, 11th August 2011 that Rohaise Newall, who chairs the Mapperton parish meeting, said: "It was incredibly old and completely hollow. The tree man from the council came to look and he asked us to take it down because it was really dangerous. We went through all the proper channels. "We had the whole village there to have a glass of cider and wish it well and we are going to plant another one.” It was lovely because nearly everyone walked from the village to the tree and chatted and talked about what we're going to do. We will have a ceremony when we put the new one in." 

    Source: www.darkdorset.co.uk - The Posy Tree

SEPTEMBER - Sunday, 11th September 2011
  • On this day 11th September 1685, The Bloody Assizes were opened at Lyme Regis

On this day in 1685, 'The Bloody Assizes' were opened at Lyme Regis. The next day twelve men were executed on the beach west of the Cobb and their body parts were spiked up along the railings around the church. 

Two of the men's heads were impaled on the iron gates of the great house in Broad Street, now known as Chatham House. It was here that Judge Jeffreys was said to have dined on the night before the executions. Even his ghost has been seen carrying a bloody bone in the house and gnawing upon it outside in the street.

Read More about Judge Jeffrey's www.darkdorset.co.uk/the_hanging_judge 


OCTOBER - Tuesday, 25th October 2011
  • News Clipping: Records reveal lives of Dorset's smugglers

Local Smuggler, Isaac Gulliver
The lives of Dorset's infamous smugglers have been brought to life by parish records published online for the first time. The collection of 1.5 million baptisms, marriages and burials feature on the family history website Ancestry.co.uk.
READ MORE - Source: BBC News 25th October 2011





NOVEMBER - Monday, 27th November 2011
  • News Clipping: Roman ring and Viking fragment found in North Dorset declared treasure 

A Roman ring and a silver Viking fragment found on farmland have been declared treasure and seized for the Queen. Both pieces of ancient jewellery were found last year on farmland in North Dorset.

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Sunday 27th November 2011

DECEMBER - Thursday, 1st December 2011

Monday, 26 December 2011

Events: New Year's Day Nurdling Tourney 2012

The Nurdlers will be out in force on New Year’s Day getting up to their extraordinary antics.
 
They’re gathering at the Old Ship Inn on Ridgeway, dustbin lids to the fore, dressed for the fray in a variety of somewhat strange garments ready to hurl the nurdle from 10:30am to 13:30pm

It’s noisy, energetic, unexpected and without rules one can easily decipher and by the time they’ve pounded to the top of the Ridgeway and back they’re ready for their good ale.
Potential Nurdlers and Droves seeking knowledge and wishing to participate should contact Albert The Tall at bill@beakerfolk.co.uk

Witnesses welcome, at their own risk.

For more information about this obscure sporting event visit Upwey Nurdler's Website

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Events: Frome Valley Morris Mummers Winter Solstice Tour - 22nd December 2011

Every year since 1978 the Frome Valley Morris Mummers have performed an action packed mummers play which up until 1936 was originally performed at Broadwey near Weymouth. Their bright costumes with colourful streamers hanging down over the face for disguise are based on the actual costumes worn at the time. The Frome Valley Morris based their costumes, on the ones used by the Hardy Players in their production of Thomas Hardy's 'The Return of the Native' .

The Frome Valley Morris Mummers specialise in turning up at a venue, entering and performing the play. The first the surprised audience knows is the unexpected entrance of the Announcer, followed by each character in turn introducing themselves Father Christmas, Saint George, A Turkish Knight, A Doctor, Beelzebub, Jack Vinney (A Village Idiot). This does not usually stop anyone watching joining in with the spirit of the play with interactive cheers and good humour.

In 2007 Dark Dorset followed the Frome Valley Morris Men as they performed there end of year Mummers Play at a variety of venues in Dorset. The video below was taken at The White Horse, Litton Cheney on 22nd of December 2007.   



This year the Frome Valley Morris Mummers will be appearing tomorrow at the following venues:

Winter Solstice - Thursday 22nd December 2011

  • 7.00pm - The Elm Tree Inn, Langton Herring

  • 7.45pm - The Crown, Puncknowle




More information about the Frome Valley Morris and there performances visit:


N.B. The information above has been compiled with the best of intentions and I am afraid we cannot accept any responsibility for any of these events being cancelled or venue changed.  Always phone before you set out on your journey, especially if you are travelling long distances.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Events: Wessex Morris Men Christmas Tour

The Wessex Morris will be performing over the festive period once again, with traditional singing, dancing and mumming plays

Their Christmas programme for 2011:


Saturday 17th December
Dancing in Sherborne as part of the Sherborne at Christmas celebrations
Sunday 18th December
The Wessex Morris Men will be joining the carol singing at Halsey Arms, Pulham, near Dorchester around 8.00pm
Monday 19th December
The Wessex Morris Men present their Christmas Party at the Royal Oak, Cerne Abbas, near Dorchester from 7.30pm. They will be dancing in the street and then don a range of colourful guises to present the traditional mumming play.


Mummers' plays have been performed in England since the late 1700s and most Dorset villages would have had their own play. It is very likely that there was a play in Cerne Abbas but, unfortunately, all traces of it have been lost, so Wessex Morris Men have "imported" a play from Quidhampton, near Salisbury. Nevertheless, since their play has been performed regularly in Cerne Abbas for over 30 years it has come part of Cerne Abbas' Christmas tradition.


The evening will be rounded off with traditional songs, music and entertainment.
 Below: The Wessex Morris Men perform there mummers play in the The Royal Oak, Cerne Abbas, Dorset in 2006.




Monday 26th December
The Wessex Morris Men return to the Royal Oak, Cerne Abbas, near Dorchester to dance on Boxing Day around 12.00pm
If you like what you see at these events, come and join them to learn morris dancing and dance out next season. They practice at the Halsey Arms, Pulham, on Monday evenings from 8pm-10pm. Ask any team member for details or Telephone Mike Phelan on 01305 786754 or alternatively visit their website at www.wessexmorrismen.co.uk


N.B. The information above has been compiled with the best of intentions and I am afraid we cannot accept any responsibility for any of these events being cancelled or venue changed.  Always phone before you set out on your journey, especially if you are travelling long distances.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Events: Stourvale Mummers Yuletide Tour 2011

The Stourvale Mummers
The Stourvale Mummers was formed in 1979 by members and friends of the Bourne River Morris Men. The object of the performance is to raise funds for local needy children, as well as keeping alive a colourful local tradition. During the Christmas season they perform a traditional Mummers' play from Sixpenny Handley.

Here is their 2011 Touring Programme:

Friday 16th December
  • 8.00pm Horton Inn - Horton
  • 8.30pm Drucilla's Inn - Horton
  • 9.30pm Barley Mow - Colehill
  • 10.00pm Cross Keys - Mannington

Saturday 17th December
  • 8.00pm Roebuck Inn - Sixpenny Handley
  • 8.30pm - Inn on the Chase
  • 9.00pm The Drovers - Gussage All Saints
  • 9.30pm Grand Christmas Ceilidh the Village Hall, Tarrant Keynston, Dorset

Sunday 18th December
  • 12.30pm Red Lion - Sturminster Marshall
  • 1.00pm Botany Bay - Winterbourne Zelston
  • 1.30pm Lambs Green Inn - Corfe Mullen
  • 2.00pm Holme Bush - Corfe Mullen
 
Tuesday 20th December
  • 8.00pm Albion - Verwood
  • 8.30pm Churchill Arms - Alderholt
  • 9.15pm The Horse & Groom - Woodgreen
  • 9.45pm Elm Tree - Hightown, nr Ringwood

Wednesday 21st December
  • 8.30pm Curlew - West Parley
  • 9.00pm Kings Arms - Longham
  • 9.30pm Dudsbury - West Parley
  • 10.00pm Owl's Nest - West Parley

Thursday 22nd December 2011
  • 8.30pm The Vine - Pamphill
  • 9.00pm The Horns - Colehill
  • 9.30pm Olive Branch - Wimborne
  • 10.00pm Royal British Legion - Wimborne  

More information can be found via their website www.bournerivermorris.org.uk

N.B. The information above has been compiled with the best of intentions and I am afraid we cannot accept any responsibility for any of these events being cancelled or venue changed.  Always phone before you set out on your journey, especially if you are travelling long distances.


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Events: Anonymous Morris Mummers Play at Poole

Anonymous Morris as the PooleMummers
Anonymous Morris (Border Morris side based in Poole) double up as Poole Mummers and perform their own version of the traditional 250 year old Christmas Mummers Play.

Mumming plays last around ten minutes and historically were performed by working men in pubs and private houses in order to raise a bit of money for Christmas. They're played for laughs and involve sword fights and people being raised from the dead!

This feastive season the Anonymous Morris are going mumming around Poole's Pubs:

16th December
8:00pm - Spotted Cow 
8:30pm - Queen Mary 
9:00pm - King Charles (basement) 
9:30pm -  Portsmouth Hoy
23rd December
8:00pm - Brewhouse 
8:30pm - Lord Wimborne (Weatherspoons) 
9:00pm - Cockleshell 
9:30pm - Foundry Arms
Visit the website at www.anonymousmorris.co.uk for more information about the group and upcoming events.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Event: BBC Radio 2 'It's Got Bells On'

As part of BBC Radio 2's Dance Season, Morris Dancing will be featured on tomorrows programme (12th December 2011) at 10.00pm.
'Strictly'; 'Britain 's Got Talent'; 'So You Think You Can Dance'... there is extraordinary enthusiasm for dance in many forms. But there's one dance that never gets featured, and its England's own - the Morris.

Stewart Lee puts this to rights in 'It's Got Bells On' and the usual scornful jibes (such as,"There's a morris side crossing the road; which do you run over, the dancers or the accordion player? The accordionist, because you should always put business before pleasure") won't appear because though he's a comedian Stewart is an enthusiast for English traditional music and dance. This is the stand up who had the Black Swan Rappers (dancers not MCs) open for him at a gig in Yorkshire, and the Forest of Dean Morris Men at his wedding reception.

A couple of years back even The Morris Ring said the tradition would have come to an end in 20 years because no young people were joining. But Stewart discovers that the best young folk musicians, such as Jim Moray, Tim van Eyken and Laurel Swift all dance and all develop the form, that hip hop and morris merge in the work of The Demon Barbers and that contemporary choreographers are turning to the tradition. When danced by athletic young men, or women such as the Belles of London City (in their corsets) the morris becomes as sexy as salsa, as fearsome as flamenco.

Stewart hears from Ashley Hutchings and John Kirkpatrick, who gave a boost to the revival in the 1970s with classic albums 'Morris On' and 'Battle of the Field', when morris went electric. There is lots of fantastic music, including some from William Kimber, from whom Cecil Sharp collected his first morris tunes in 1899. All this, and a quick glance at rapper and clog dancing, too.
Source: BBC Radio 2 It's Got Bells On 12th December 2011 at 10.00pm.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Events: Wassail with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and New Scorpion Band - 17th December 2011

The New Scorpion Band
Following last year’s successful combining of folk and classical music at the the Lighthouse, Poole, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra will once again present ‘Wassail’ - an amazing musical experience that combines the music of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra with folk sensation ‘The New Scorpion Band’ for a lively festive concert of traditional music and carols.

The New Scorpion Band are a professional accoustic group who perform worldwide. Its five members can play more than 30 musical instruments and have worked with an impressive host of successful musicians including; Annie Lennox, Hans Zimmer, John Williams and Russell Watson.



The concert, led by guest conductor Pete Harrison, will feature a variety of combined pieces including; On Christmas Night (A Sussex Carol), Dulci Jubilo and The Holly and the Ivy, where the orchestra and the The New Scorpion band will play together to produce a fantastic unique sound. Additionally; the orchestra will perform Tomlinson’s English Folk Dances, Warlock’s Bethlehem Down and Vaughan Williams’ Folksong Suite; and The New Scorpion Band will also perform a selection of traditional pieces including A christmas Goose and The Carnal and the Crane.

The concert will take place at Lighthouse, Poole on Saturday 17th December, 7.30pm. Tickets are available in advanced from September by contacting the Lighthouse Box office on 0844 406 8666. For further information, visit www.bsolive.com

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Events: Songs & Music of the English Village Bands and Choirs with The Mellstock Band

The Mellstock Band
On Saturday 10 December 2011, a day of singing and instrumental music making, led by The Mellstock Band, followed by an evening concert in the heart of Thomas Hardy’s Dorset will be held at the Cranborne Village Hall.

West Gallery music has unique vigour and excitement, as well as being accessible to singers and musicians of all abilities. It is rhythmic, full-voiced, and has a fascinating combination of wild harmonies and unorthodox counterpoint. The choirs and their music are unforgettably portrayed by Thomas Hardy in 'Under the Greenwood Tree' and some of the pieces we will be singing and playing come from the Hardy family's own collection of manuscript books, and from other Dorset sources.

Singers and musicians will find it helpful to have a basic knowledge of written music. The intention is to do as the village bands did, and welcome whatever suitable instruments are available, whether in modern or historical forms. The only instruments not suited to this repertoire are keyboard instruments and chordal instruments such as guitar. Followed at 7:30 by a concert "The Leaves of Life".
  • Venue: Village Hall, Cranborne, Dorset, BH21 5QB
    Time: Workshop 10.30am – 4.30pm. Concert: 7:30pm
    Cost: £45.00
    book or make enquiry now!
For more information on venues and booking prices visit www.joyousisle.com or telephone 01202 885294 or 01258 840097

More information about the performers visit the Mellstock Band at  www.mellstockband.com

Friday, 2 December 2011

Events: Christmas Customs by Sue Herman

On Thursday 15th December 2011, National Trust Local Group talk given by Sue Herman on 'Christmas Customs' at 2.30pm at the St. Georges Hall, Fordington, Dorchester.  Sue is the Talks Organiser for the National Trust Golden Cap Association. Her talk will give an interesting and seasonable insight into how our ancestors celebrated Christmas, the history and origins or Christmas customs and how we continue these customs today.

Talk arranged by The National Trust Local Group. No Booking Required. Tickets are £2.50 for members and £3.00 for non-members.  For more information call Pat Woodley 01305 832198 

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Dorsetarian: Folklore, Customs and Ghost Stories in Sherborne

Contributing to the Dark Dorset online journal the 'Dorsetarian' this month. Elisabeth Bletsoe of Sherborne Museum explores the folklore, customs and hauntings of this ancient Dorset market town.

Click here to read - Folklore, Customs and Ghost Stories in Sherborne

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Film: The Spirit of Portland with Gary Biltcliffe

The Spirit of Portland
by Gary Biltcliffe
Click Here
The recent screening of  The Light and Energy Channel film 'The Spirit of Portland with Gary Biltcliffe' (Events: The Spirit of Portland – Film night at the The Light and Energy Centre,Friday, 11 November 2011). Is now available to view on The Light and Energy Channel website: http://www.thelightandenergychannel.tv/the-spirit-of-portland-with-gary-biltcliffe/ It will also be screened on Edge Media TV, Sky Channel 200 in a few weeks time.

Events: The Great Fire of Wareham 1762 by Anne King

The Great Fire of Wareham plaque
Learn about the Great Fire of 1762 in Wareham at a National Trust talk.  The talk by Anne King, will be held at United Church in South street, Dorchester, tomorrow Thursday 1st December. 

Talk arranged by The National Trust Local Group. No Booking Required. Tickets are £2.50 for members and £3.00 for non-members.  For more information call Pat Woodley 01305 832198

Sunday, 27 November 2011

News Clipping: Roman ring and Viking fragment found in North Dorset declared treasure

A Roman ring and a silver Viking fragment found on farmland have been declared treasure and seized for the Queen. Both pieces of ancient jewellery were found last year on farmland in North Dorset.

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Sunday 27th November 2011

Friday, 25 November 2011

Review: Haunted Weymouth by Alex Woodward

Haunted Weymouth
by Alex Woodward

Click Here
Drawing on historical and contemporary sources, 'Haunted Weymouth' by local ghost tour guide Alex Woodward,  is sure to send a shiver down the spine of anyone daring to learn more about the haunted history of the area. Including many previously unpublished stories, this book will appeal to both serious ghost hunters and those who simply want to discover what frights lurk beneath the surface of this once royal seaside resort.

Click Here for full review by Andrew May

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Events: The Mellstock Band presents ‘Hardy Perennials’

The Mellstock Band
Celebrating 25 years of The Mellstock Band: Favourite music, songs, stories and poems, from the works of Thomas Hardy and Dorset tradition.

1986 saw the release of the album 'Under the Greenwood Tree', a selection of dance tunes and carols from the Hardy family manuscripts. Since then, The Mellstock Band has entertained audiences all over the world, released albums, and provided music for stage, screen and radio. Their varied interests in research and composition have brought forth forgotten gems and startling sounds, all rooted on English tradition, and over the past 25 years some have become firm favourites with band and audiences alike.

The Mellstock Band's new show for 2011 celebrates the most popular of their musical and spoken pieces, under the broad headings of Love & Marriage, A Soldier's Life, Rogues & Villains, Speed the Plough, Faith & Superstition and Making Merry.

Nearly all the music is from Dorset tradition, linked by poems and stories from the works of Thomas Hardy and the Dorset dialect poet William Barnes.They sing, tell tales, and play fiddle, concertina, oboe, clarinet and serpent, performing in period costume.

See 'Hardy Perennials' at the following venues this season:
For more information on venues and booking prices visit artsreach.co.uk or telephone the Box office on 01935 873555

More information about the performers visit the Mellstock Band at  www.mellstockband.com



Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Autumn Issue of 'Merry Meet' out now!

Merry Meet: Issue 46 Autumn 2011
Merry Meet Magazine is an independent quarterly journal of Folklore and Pagan Heritage, produced and edited by local musician and author Jerry Bird

In Issue 46 Autumn 2011, articles include:
  • Heedless William's Stone
  • Sylvia Townsend Warner's Lolly Willowes, or The Loving Huntsman
  • The Mother's malison by Michael Berman
  • Martinmas Fairs.
Current Stockists
  • The Candy Box, High East Street, Dorchester, Dorset DTI  IHU
For more information visit www.merrymeetmagazine.co.uk

Dorset featured on ITV's 'Ade in Britain'

Today Ade Edmondson’s quest to find British traditions and food takes him to Dorset where he treats some Dorset Horn Sheep to a manicure and hair cut, gets to grips with the traditional skill of thatching, plants and harvests watercress and goes blueberry picking, before baking a Dorset Apple cake for a local taditional dance group the 'Bourne Bumpers Ladies Morris' who perform cotswold Morris and traditional Dorset stave dances

To watch episode in full visit ITV Player, Tuesday 22nd November 2011

Source: Ade in Britain: Episode 12 - Dorset, Aired: Tuesday 22nd November 2011 on ITV1

Monday, 21 November 2011

News Clipping: Hardy Players actress Norrie Woodhall's memorial service

Norrie Woodhall
A memorial service has been held for the last surviving member of a Dorset theatre group set up by Thomas Hardy. Norrie Woodhall was among a handful of actors who performed plays based on the author's works in 1924, rehearsing at Hardy's home at Max Gate, Dorchester. Later Ms Woodhall became president of the New Hardy Players. She died on 25 October, aged 105. The United Church, Dorchester was packed for the service which took place on Monday afternoon.

READ MORE - Source: BBC News

Friday, 18 November 2011

News Clipping: Julian Fellowes made president of The Society of Dorset Men

Julian Fellows
Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes took charge of another production when he joined a historic group. The Oscar-winning writer and director presided over the annual county dinner in his new role as president of The Society of Dorset Men.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Friday 18th November 2011

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Events: 'Haunted Weymouth' by Alex Woodward book signing

Haunted Weymouth
by Alex Woodward

Click Here
Who is the unseen lady that makes her presence chillingly felt to those who fail to bid her 'Good Morning'? What was the featureless dark shadow that terrified a curious young boy exploring a disused fort? From heart-stopping encounters with a Roman soldier to the mysterious sounds of an ancient battle, this collection of ghostly goings-on and paranormal happenings is a mixture of personal accounts and well-researched local legends, with many of the stories backed up by the town's rich, and sometimes bloody, history.

Drawing on historical and contemporary sources, 'Haunted Weymouth' by local ghost tour guide Alex Woodward,  is sure to send a shiver down the spine of anyone daring to learn more about the haunted history of the area. Including many previously unpublished stories, this book will appeal to both serious ghost hunters and those who simply want to discover what frights lurk beneath the surface of this once royal seaside resort.

Alex Woodward will be signing her new book 'Haunted Weymouth' at Imagine Books, 23 St Alban, Weymouth, Dorset, this Saturday 19th November between 1.00pm and 4.00pm.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Events: Mystery Big Cats Of Britain - A talk by Merrily Harpur

Merrily Harpur
As part of the Thomas Hardye School Community Lectures series, Merrily Harpur will be giving a talk about big cats in our countryside, at Thomas Hardye School Theatre on Monday 21st November 2011 at 7.30pm

Merrily, who runs the Dorset Big Cat Register www.dorsetbigcats.org -  has researched thousands of sightings of anomalous big cats (ABCs) roaming Britain.  Sightings of these mysterious felines, described as being like pumas or panthers, are higher in Dorset than any other county in England. 

Meeting or glimpsing a Big Cat could, Merrily suggests, be the nearest we get in Britain to a ‘brush with the unknown’.   She discovers that these mystery felines have been with us for longer than we imagine, in folklore and familiar to the Neoplatonists as daimons (not demons) – intermediaries between this world and another. They may ‘at the very least change your view of a landscape that can produce such beautiful and elusive creatures’.

Merrily Harpur is a freelance cartoonist, illustrator and writer and has contributed regularly to many national newspapers and magazines.  Living between Dorset and Ireland, in 2002 she created the Dorset Big Cats Register, a gazetteer of locations and eyewitness accounts.

She has written two books on the subject, Roaring Dorset! Encounters with Big Cats (pub 2008, Roving Press) documents some of the closest and most vivid encounters.  Mystery Big Cats (pub 2006, Heart of Albion) investigated the big cat phenomena nationwide and received huge critical acclaim.
  • Free admission but by ticket only (available from school reception two weeks prior; Tel 01305 266064).

Friday, 11 November 2011

Events: The Spirit of Portland – Film night at the The Light and Energy Centre

The Spirit of Portland
by Gary Biltcliffe
Click Here
On Tuesday 15th  November at 7.00 pm at the The Light and Energy Centre, Unit 1, Jubilee Enterprise Centre, Weymouth (behind Matalan).  The Light and Energy Channel will premier their film based on the book 'The Spirit of Portland' by Gary Biltcliffe. Then have time to ask Gary any questions or discuss the book over refreshments
  • Entry to the screening £5 with refreshments. For more information Tel: 01305 839394 or visit The Light and Energy Channel website at www.lightandenergycentre.co.uk

Events: Montague Jack screening at Allendale House - 24th November 2011

Wimborne Minster Cine and Video Club screens it award-winning film, 'Montague Jack' to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of East Dorset Heritage Trust taking up residence in Allendale House.

Starring Michael Medwin as Inspector Abberline, this new movie explores the life of one of Wimborne’s most notorious characters – Montague John Druitt.

Produced by Wimborne Minster Cine and Video Club the story has been written and directed by Ray Joyce with Peter Hale as director of photography, together with a cast of talented actors from local theatre including Wimborne Drama and Canford School. Shot on location in Wimborne and Poole, it traces the life of Montague Druitt from his early days as a teenager in Wimborne through to his untimely suicide at the age of 31 in 1888. The story is told through the eyes of the retired Inspector Frederick Abberline (Michael Medwin) who headed the hunt for Jack the Ripper.


This movie throws a fascinating light on one of the great unsolved mysteries of the 19th Century.



  • Held at Allendale House on 24th November at 2.30pm. This is a FREE event but donations to the Trust would be most welcome. For more details about the screening contact 01202 889992 or visit the East Dorset Heritage Trust website at www.edht.org

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Dorsetarian: Well Dressing and Sacred Water

Contributing to the Dark Dorset online journal the 'Dorsetarian' this month. Dorset Archaeologist Chris Tripp, looks at the folk customs and traditions associated with water and how these ancient rituals still remain with us to this day.

Click here to read - Well Dressing and Sacred Water

Friday, 4 November 2011

Events: Christmas Customs and Folklore

On Saturday 19th November 2011, Sue Herman will be teaching a course on 'Christmas Customs and Folklore' at the at Trouville Hotel, Bournemouth.  Folklore, customs and superstitions are woven deep into the the mists of time and have greater meaning than we often perceive.  To understand them we will need to consider how our ancestors lived.

The fee for this adult course costs £22.50 and will be held at Trouville Hotel, 5-7 Priory Road, Bournemouth, BH2 5DH from 10.00am to 4.00pm.  This course is organised by the WEA, whose local branches of this organisation offer education in communities.
  • Alternatively, enrolments for 'Christmas Customs and Folklore' Ref: C3522418 can be made online at www.wea.org.uk or Tel: 0845 458 2758     

Events: Fortean Times: Unconvention 2011 - 12-13th November

12-13th November 2011
Camden Centre, Bidborough Street,
London, WC1H 9AU
The Fortean Times UnConvention is back in 2011 to bring you a wonderful weekend of high strangeness and full-on fortean fun.

Once again, the Uncon will be presenting a wide-ranging, two-day programme of talks and events devoted to the odd, the intriguing and the inexplicable. We’ll be bringing you the world’s most exciting speakers and scholars from every realm of forteana, from cryptozoology and conspiracy to parapsychology and ufology – not to mention dog philosophers, cursed stones and a certain talking mongoose called Gef…

The conference will be held at the Camden Centre, a central London location opposite King’s Cross station.

 This years talks and speakers include:
  • A Popular History of the Mummy - Gail-Nina Anderson
Just what does the Egyptian mummy mean to you? There’s the archaeological way of looking at them, of course, involving factual evidence and historical contextualisation – or there’s the way that popular culture has been teaching us for the last couple of centuries. This illustrated talk explores the modern mythology of the mummy, a bizarre journey involving autopsies, femmes fatales, fashion jewellery, brown paint, comic books, deeply amusing toys and Abbott and Costello. Oh yes – and the lingering curse (which seems quite a reasonable response to the way we’ve treated these relics of the long-dead.)  Western thought has (with the help of such luminaries as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker, not to mention Universal and Hammer film studios) re-invented the mummy to suit its own desires and fears, managing to forge links with Spiritualism, reincarnation and even Vampirism. They’re the original Undead – if you enjoy tracking changing fashions in mouldering bandages, this is the talk for you.
  • Talking Canaries and Voices of the Dead - Sarah Angliss
In December 1877, a journalist writing in Scientific American noted there was now “a startling possibility of recording voices of the dead”. He had just witnessed Edison recording sound on his new invention: the phonograph. In this live demonstration, I’ll explore some of the stranger obsessions of the early adopters of audio recording, as I immortalise a voice from the audience by recording it on wax, using an original Edison Standard Phonograph. Delving into the archives, I’ll also examine a little-known curiosity from the 18th century, one which may have been used to record short segments of sound 150 years before the phonograph. This event will include some short, musical interludes incorporating a few of my own inventions. As I use the theremin to conjure up ‘music from the aether’, I’ll reveal how the first ‘electric servants’ were also seen as tools for paranormal investigation.
  • Talking Dogs and Canine Intellectuals - Jan Bondeson
Jan Bondeson reveals how an early-20th century German obsession with the supposedly superior intelligence of horses and dogs gave birth to a ‘new animal psychology’ and created a host of doggie celebrities noted for their philosophical thought, ardent patriotism and ability to communicate with humans. These canine luminaries included Rolf, the philosophical Airedale Terrier, who kept up a lively correspondence with scientists and thinkers, and Don, the incredible talking Pointer, who enjoyed a spectacular career and spawned a host of imitators around the world.
  • Scared to Death - David Clarke
1855 is best known to Forteans as the year in which the mysterious Devil’s Footprints appeared overnight during a heavy snowfall in Devon. But were supernatural forces also at work in Yorkshire – with fatal consequences? This talk tells the story of a Sheffield woman who died “from fright” following an encounter with a ghost, and the bizarre story that unfolded in the wake of the inquest – a story involving spiritualists, messages from a murder victim, buried treasure and a mysterious young woman with wild talents. Taking a story that would have perplexed the Victorian detective Inspector Jack Whicher, David Clarke follows the clues and asks: was this truly a case of death by supernatural causes?
  • Cursed Stones - David Clarke and Andy Roberts
Stone has exerted a fascination on humankind since the first stone tools were created. Stones were regarded as the bones of the Earth and all cultures attributed to both natural and carved stones the qualities of gods, goddesses, elemental and paranormal forces. Such stones often acquired names and required ritual and propitiation. They were special, sacred, or in some other way significant to their community. People who tampered with such stones, those who moved, damaged or stole them often found themselves the victims of supernatural retribution, to the point where stones that had been stolen were immediately returned. Andy and Dave have been investigating cursed stones for 25 years and present an audiovisual examination of some of the weirdest cases. You will hear tales of werewolves, fairies, stone heads, terrified stone thieves and even have the chance to touch a cursed stone – if you dare!
  • All Ape-men Great and Small - Richard Freeman
The search for unknown hominids continues – from the 10-foot-tall Yeti to the rather les imposing Orang Pendek. In November 2010, the Centre for Fortean Zoology took an expedition into the Garo Hills of Northern India in search of the yeti, or mande burung as it is know locally. They uncovered not only eyewitness reports and tracks but also stories of a monster snake unknown to science. In September of 2011, the CFZ mounted their fourth expedition to Sumatra in search of the Orang Pendek, building on the 2009 trip, where the creature was sighted and hair found. Richard Freeman will be giving full accounts of the results of these latest expeditions.
  • Apocalypse When? - Ted Harrison
The world should have ended on 21 May this year, according to American radio preacher Harold Camping; or has the Apocalypse been postponed to 2012 as the Mayan Calendar is supposed to suggest? Over history, hundreds of dates have been set for Doomsday and, so far, every prediction has fallen flat on its face. So why do prophets keep prophesying? Why do their followers believe them? And how do failed prophets and disillusioned followers cope with the inevitable ‘disappointment’ of waking up on Judgement Day to find everything as normal? And how is the world supposed to end when it does? Will a wrathful God take to the skies with his angels? Will we be hit by a meteorite or rogue planet? Will the human-race score an own-goal and cause irreversible climate change or blow itself up with nuclear weapons? Ted Harrison explores the history, mythology and psychology of End-time rumours.
  • Gef the Talking Mongoose - Christopher Josiffe
In the early 1930s a family living in a remote farmhouse on the Isle of Man was plagued by a bizarre entity that called itself ‘Gef’. The ‘Dalby Spook’ became one of the media sensations of the decade, but although many investigators, including famous ghost hunter Harry Price, attempted to solve the mystery, it remains one of the most puzzling cases in fortean history. Now, Christopher Josiffe reopens the files on Gef the Talking Mongoose. But what was this hymn-singing, stone-throwing ‘man-weasel’? A poltergeist? A hoax? An uncannily talented animal? Or something stranger yet?
  • The Forbidden Universe - Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince
Were the first scientists hermetic philosophers? What do these occult origins of modern science tell us about the universe today? This talk reveals the secret brotherhood that defined the world, and perhaps discovered the mind of God. All the pioneers of science, from Copernicus to Newton via Galileo, were inspired by Hermeticism. Men such as Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Leibniz, Bacon, Kepler and Tycho Brahe owed much of their achievements to basically occult beliefs. Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince go in search of the Hermetic origins of modern science and prove that not everything is as it seems and that over the past 400 years there has been a secret agenda behind our search for truth. From the age of Leonardo da Vinci, the influence of hermetic thinking upon the greatest minds in history has been hidden, a secret held by a forbidden brotherhood in search of the mind of God.
  • Science and Sasquatch: the life of Grover Krantz - Brian Regal
Physical anthropologist Grover Krantz (1931-2002) was the most well known scientist to publicly champion the existence of the North American cryptid called Sasquatch—also known as Bigfoot. While he did not originate it, he actively promoted the idea that this creature was an evolutionary descendent of Gigantopithecus. For his efforts, he was dismissed or ignored by academics who viewed the Sasquatch as at best a relic of folklore and at worst a hoax, and also received a negative reaction from amateur Bigfoot researchers, some of whom threatened and abused him.
  • The Psychopath Test - Jon Ronson
When Jon is contacted by a leading neurologist who has recently received a cryptically puzzling book in the mail he is challenged to solve the mystery behind it. As he searches for the answer, Jon soon finds himself, unexpectedly, on an utterly compelling and often unbelievable adventure into the world of madness. Jon meets a Broadmoor inmate who swears he faked a mental disorder to get a lighter sentence but is now stuck there, with nobody believing he's sane. He meets some of the people who catalogue mental illness, and those who vehemently oppose them. He meets the influential psychologist who developed the industry standard Psychopath Test and who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are in fact psychopaths. Jon learns from him how to ferret out these high-flying psychopaths and, armed with his new psychopath-spotting abilities, heads into the corridors of power.
Source: Fortean Times

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