Dark Dorset Online Scrapbook is an archive of current and past events relating to local history, folklore and mysteries that can be discovered in the English county of Dorset.

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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
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