Dorset & Poole ‘Only Connect’ Quiz 2016

dolphin-centre-father-christmasOnce again it’s time for you to rack your brains on our Christmas quiz (but not as much as I’ve racked mine trying to compile it!). Glory, and maybe a little prize as well, awaits anyone who can come up with a correct solution, so why not have a go between the Christmas festivities? Answers will be released in January.

Connections – Can you resolve these local clues and say what connects them?

  1. Kinson 14 / Bournemouth 16 / Lytchett Matravers 10 / Bournemouth 32
  2. M. A., hunter / M. B., defender / M. L., mayor / M. S-W., artist
  3. Isle of Purbeck / Maiden Castle / Luckford Lake / Nine Barrow Down
  4. connections

Sequences – Three clues: what should come next and why?

  1. Poole Corporation 1961 / Llewellin 1901 / Doughty 1828 / ?
  2. Rawston / Rushton / Keyneston / ?
  3. 17th – Royal Oak Tavern / 18th – Port Mahon Castle Inn / 19th – Waterloo Road / ?
  4. sequences

Connecting wall – Can you sort the words into 4 groups and say what connects the words in each group?connecting-wall

Missing vowels – Identify the words or phrases by replacing the missing vowels.

  1. Mottos:     WHS FRD / DMR MVL LDPL / PLCH RTDTS LBRTS / FRF DLT    YNDF RDM
  2. Live entertainment:     THRS HW / PLP RTS / BCHPL / BBMB
  3. Reading matter:          DL YCH / GDBK / PLD VRT SR / SC LMD
  4. Poole pub crawl:         NGL / BTL RN DHPS / BRM DTRN GL / BLBR

Good luck and have a happy Christmas.  Jenny

Poole in Flames

galleyIt was a September morning, just before daybreak in the year 1405, when five war galleys, three Spanish, two French, slid silently into Poole harbour and crept forward through the darkness towards the sleeping town. In the crowded space below decks, crossbowmen and men-at-arms nervously checked their weapons. All were practised fighters, masters of the lightning terror raid and quick retreat. Their captain, Don Pero Niño, Count of Buelno, was a kinsman and subject of the King of Castile, a charismatic, bold, if sometimes rash leader and an excellent fighter. Commanding the French galleys was Messire Charles de Savoisy, a knight formally in the service of Charles VI of France but currently out of favour at court and seeking his fortune at sea. He usually provided a note of caution in their councils. Meeting at La Rochelle, the two leaders had decided to join forces and raid along the south coast of England. From Cornwall to Purbeck they had already left a trail of dead men and burnt towns behind them.

old-church-towerWord had spread and every man on board the galleys that morning knew that the town they were about to attack was the home of ‘Arripay’, the English pirate whose raids on Spanish coastal towns and attacks on shipping were notorious. The knowledge added a spice of revenge to their aggression. As the light began to come up, Poole came into view and the raiders noted the absence of defensive walls. The only building of note was ‘a fair tower with a round leaden roof shaped like a cup’. It looked like an easy target but Messire Charles warned of the shoals and sandbanks that would make it difficult for the ships to get close to shore and the many men-at-arms and bowmen that lived in the town. He refused to involve the French galleys in the attack.

Don Pero Niño had no such doubts. He ordered the ships to anchor a little distance from the town and launched the longboats to ferry men ashore. Speed was now essential. As soon as enough men were landed, they ran towards the houses, swords drawn, torches flaring. One minute, all was silent, the next, pandemonium broke out. Smoke and flames rose as the thatch roofs were fired. Men were rudely awakened and staggered to their doors to find a full-scale, deadly raid in progress. Alerted by the clamour, a messenger rode desperately away across the heath to summon help.

Rear wall of Town Cellars c. 1300

Rear wall of Town Cellars c. 1300

In the first surprise of the attack, the raiders had everything their own way. They were able to force entry to the houses, loot and burn and kill anyone who opposed them. Then the Poole men rallied and came rushing out to fight the raiders as they retired towards the boats, loaded with whatever plunder they had managed to seize. Messire Charles had been right to say that many Poole men were trained to arms. In fact some of them had probably taken part in such raids themselves. Seeing his men retreat, Pero Niño ordered more to land, led by his cousin, Fernando Niño. They took a stand just beyond the buildings and then, under orders to leave their plunder and destroy the town by fire, began to force the defenders slowly backwards. Overwhelmed, the Poole men took refuge in a large store building, which they defended fiercely until the Castilians forced an entrance and they had to escape by the back. Inside, the raiders found ‘all manner of arms, bolts, rigging, sails and all furnishings of ships-of-war’ and helped themselves to as much as they could carry, before setting the building ablaze.

As the raiders were boarding the galleys with their booty, reinforcements for the defenders arrived in the form of men-at-arms and longbowmen on foot and horseback. Setting up house doors as protection against the Castilian crossbow bolts, they quickly took a stand on higher ground near the boats and began to attack the raiders with volleys of arrows. Many were hit and some of the leather jerkins of the Castilians were ‘all stuck with arrows’. Seeing that the fight was in the balance, Pero Niño came ashore and managed to reach his standard bearer who was in some danger, as the raiders had retreated under the strong English attack.

Longbow versus crossbow (Froissart)

Longbow versus crossbow (Froissart)

It was now that Pero Niño’s leadership skills proved vital. Ordering the trumpets to be sounded, he rallied his men and advanced against the English with the shout of ‘Santiago! Santiago!’ (St. James) while the defenders also shouted for St. James, the patron saint of their church. The battle was fierce and many were killed or taken prisoner. As it raged, Messire Charles came shore with ‘many knights and gentlemen in armour’ to support the Castilians if needed. At last the English retreated a little distance, leaving the battleground so thickly strewn with arrows that it was impossible to walk without treading on them and men could pick them up in handfuls. The two sides had reached a stand off whereby the raiders broke off the fight and the defenders watched them board the boats without further attack.

Many men must have died that day but we only know the names of two of them, a Castilian of Messire Charles’ galley called Juan de Murcia, and on the English side, a brother of ‘ArriPay’ (Harry Paye), the Poole pirate. The raiders rested, treated their wounded and toasted a victory over the English before sailing on eastwards. The aftermath for the people of Poole was much more traumatic. They could say that they had acquitted themselves well but there were wounded to treat, dead men and women to mourn. The damage inflicted on their town was terrible and it would be many years before Poole would fully recover.

Plaque Civic Centre, Poole

Plaque Civic Centre, Poole

There is no record in the town archives about the raid of 1405. The above account is taken mainly from a Spanish chronicle on the life of Don Pero Niño by his standard bearer, Gutierre Diaz de Gamez (published in English as ‘The Unconquered Knight’). The chronicle leaves many questions unanswered, such as where the battle was fought, where the reinforcements came from, how many people were killed or captured and how serious was the damage to the town. The chronicle says that the town was ‘altogether burnt’ but this is unlikely to be true. The large store building mentioned is almost certainly the Town Cellars on the Quay, the back wall of which pre-dates the time of the raid and must have survived it. The fact that the defenders were able to escape from the back of the building suggests that the raiders did not necessarily penetrate very far into the streets of the town and the worst damage was probably concentrated near the shore. The reinforcements probably came from Canford, the manorial centre and one of the few places nearby where knights and fighting men might be found.

The front wall of the Town Cellars, rebuilt after the raid

The front wall of the Town Cellars, rebuilt after the raid

During the following century Poole did recover, rebuilt its damaged and burnt out buildings, constructed town defences, was created the Port of the Staple (customs port) for Dorset and went on to more prosperous times. Harry Paye, who was not at home at the time of the raid, lived to carry out several more raids of his own.

Jenny

 

Lost castles, ancient sites and old masters

LulworthDorset is full of historic houses, towns and villages, but beneath them often lie the traces of older settlements now lost and forgotten. Researching and investigating these ancient sites is the aim of the Dorset Castles Research Group, which started by concentrating on early Norman castles and then expanded its interest to prehistoric field systems and vanished manor houses. To kick off the Poole Museum Society 2016/7 season of talks, we are delighted to welcome Roger Hills who will be telling us about the Group’s project in East Lulworth to rediscover the 17th century ornamental gardens, the 12th century castle and the lost village of East Lulworth itself. This settlement which went back to Saxon times was demolished at the end of the 18th century to make way for the parkland estate of the Weld family. ‘East Lulworth: 1000 years of history’ is on Wednesday 21st September at 7.30pm and visitors are very welcome to come along.

bronze-axe-from-hoard This autumn we also have two special Saturday afternoon events. On Saturday 1st October at 2.30pm, author David Leadbetter will be introducing us to ‘Prehistoric Times in Purbeck’, exploring ancient sites and features in an corner of Dorset which has known both rural tranquillity and intensive industry. Based on a very varied geology, Purbeck’s resources of shale, clay and stone have been exploited by man from at least the Bronze Age. It is rich in ancient settlements, traces of industrial workings, burial mounds and some prehistoric features whose purpose remains mysterious to us today. Come and find out more from a speaker with a wide knowledge and great enthusiasm for this special area. All welcome.

ElephantOur second Saturday talk highlights the vital role of drawing in artistic practice over the centuries. This autumn, Poole Museum is hosting an exceptional exhibition of drawings from the British Museum’s collection by some of the world’s most famous artists, Rembrandt, Dürer, Picasso and Michelangelo through to Cézanne, Rodin and Bridget Riley. In her talk, ‘Lines of thought: Drawing dissected’, curator Isabel Seligman from the British Museum will explain the inspiration behind the exhibition and how a programme of workshops for London art schools influenced its curation. The talk is on Saturday 15th October at 2.30 and booking is essential. Visitors are welcome and at the risk of revisiting an old advertising cliché, anyone interested is advised to book early to avoid disappointment!

All three talks will be held in the meeting room on the 5th floor of the Museum. For full details including booking, and for the rest of the season’s programme, see Forthcoming Society Events.

 

Wallace – Collector and Scientist

ARW butterfly

Golden birdwing butterfly

On 9th October 1852, the Hampshire Advertiser reported that the brig Jordeson, just docked at Deal, brought news of ‘the total destruction by fire of the English vessel Helen, bound from Para, South America.’ Captain Venables of the Jordeson had rescued the crew and single passenger of the Helen in mid Atlantic after 10 days in open boats, exposed to the fierce sun. However, their ordeal was not over. Supplies on board the Jordeson were low and the extra mouths to feed meant that food had to be severely rationed. In fact they might have starved if they had not managed to obtain supplies from a passing ship. As a final trial, the ship had to battle storms in the channel before finally docking at Deal.

Wallace as a young man

Wallace as a young man

The sole passenger from the Helen was 29 year old Alfred Russel Wallace, returning to England after four years exploring the Amazon basin, observing and collecting natural history specimens. When fire broke out he had managed to save only a few of his possessions in a tin box but had lost all of his precious specimens of the last two years, which he believed to be worth £500, including his private collection with hundreds of new species of insects and birds. He had also lost most of his notes and drawings. It was a disastrous end to the trip.

Wallace’s family were not well off and he was obliged to earn his way from a young age. His formal education at Hertford Grammar School lasted only to the age of 13 and consisted mainly of learning facts by rote. He was however a keen reader with a practical and enquiring mind. After leaving school he worked in various jobs including land surveying with his brother William, a life which suited him. He developed an interest in astronomy and botany and started a collection of plant specimens. In 1844, he took a teaching post in Leicester which gave him the opportunity to learn mathematics and to use the Leicester Library where he read some of the major scientific works of the day. He also met Walter Henry Bates, a keen entomologist, specialising in beetles, who inspired him to start his own insect collection.

ARW beetlesIn 1847, inspired by ‘A Voyage up the Amazon’ by W.H. Edwards, Wallace and Henry Bates planned a trip to South America to observe and collect the wildlife. They were assured by Edward Doubleday of the British Museum that there were many new and rare species to find and that they could cover their expenses by selling what they collected. They also found an excellent agent in Samuel Stevens, himself a keen collector. The Victorian passion for collecting was partly based on the ‘cabinet of curiosities’ fashionable in the previous century. With the spread of exploration, trade and empire, scientists and the general public alike became increasingly fascinated by foreign artefacts and exotic wildlife. Cases of stuffed birds, trays of butterflies and beetles and tableaux of animals in lifelike poses were to be found in many private houses, institutions and museums. Rare species were much in demand and could command high prices.

Wallace and Bates sailed from Liverpool in April 1848. Wallace was 25 and Bates a couple of years younger. Both largely self taught, they epitomised the enterprising amateur naturalists exploring the world in the early 19th century. In Para they were excited by the abundance and variety of the local fauna. They quickly established a routine, hunting birds in the early morning and then insects until two or three in the afternoon. In the evening they preserved their specimens. Ironically, to a modern way of thinking, Victorian naturalists spent a lot of their time killing wildlife, although they did also observe the habits of the living creatures around them.ARW Amazon

After a successful few months, the pair decided to separate to cover more ground. Wallace travelled further up the Amazon to the Rio Negro and Uaupes regions, observing the people and the wildlife and pondering ideas about the evolution or ‘transmutation’ of the different species. He also used his surveying skills to map the area. In 1849, Wallace’s brother, Herbert came out to Brazil to work with him but after a year it was clear that he was not cut out for the life, being of a more literary than scientific turn of mind. Herbert prepared to return to Para and England while Alfred set off on another trip up river. Sadly, Herbert caught yellow fever in Para and died after a few days, a fact not known to his brother for several months. In 1852, weakened by bouts of fever, Wallace finally decided to return to England and so embarked on the unfortunate Helen for what would prove to be a near fatal voyage.

Back in England, Wallace’s position seemed rather grim. The specimens sent back to England early in the trip would only cover his expenses, providing no profit, and the loss of his notes and drawings was a major blow. However, the insurance which Samuel Stevens had advised him to take out did provide £200 compensation and there were the letters which he had written home during the trip. Armed with these, his recollections and the notes that he had saved, he wrote ‘Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro’, part travel book, part naturalist’s guide. Published in 1853, it did not make much of a profit but passages were quoted quite widely in the press:

ARW Amazon 2‘Every night, while in the upper part of the river, we had a concert of frogs, which made most extraordinary noises. There are three kinds, which can frequently all be heard at once. One of these makes a noise something like what one would expect a frog to make, namely a dismal croak; but the sounds uttered by the others were like no animal noise that I ever heard before. A distant railway train approaching, and a blacksmith hammering on his anvil, are what they exactly resemble. They are such true imitations, that when lying half-dozing in the canoe I have often fancied myself at home hearing the familiar sounds of the approaching mail train, and the hammering of the boiler-makers at the iron-works.’

Wallace made some useful contacts in London. He had gone out to the Amazon an unknown, but now he was in a position to meet eminent scientists like the biologist, Thomas Huxley. He attended meetings of the Zoological Society, Entomological Society and the Linnean Society and visited the British Museum and Kew gardens for his research. He also read a paper on ‘The Rio Negro and the Head Waters of the Amazon’ at a meeting of the Royal Geographical Society and presented his map of the area. When he came to plan his next trip, he was able to ask the President of the Royal Geographical Society, Sir Roderick Murchison, if he could arrange a free passage for him to Singapore.

Sir James Brooke

Sir James Brooke

The destination that Wallace had chosen was the Malay Archipelago which he thought would be a rewarding place to study. He set off in the spring of 1854 for what was to be a trip of great significance to his own career and to the development of science. Over the next eight years, Wallace travelled to the different islands in the group, observing and collecting. In Sarawak he was welcomed by the Rajah, Sir James Brooke, a colourful British adventurer who had been appointed Rajah by the Sultan of Brunei after helping restore that monarch to his throne.

Wallace’s next objective was Sulawesi, via Lombok and Bali and from Sulawesi he took trips to the Moluccas and New Guinea. Later, he visited Java and Sumatra. Some of the smaller islands had never been visited by a European collector before and everywhere, Wallace found a wealth of new and interesting species. In each new location, he was quick to establish an efficient routine of collecting and preserving specimens but he was also interested in the lives and customs of the native people amongst whom he was living. In all, he travelled over 14,000 miles and collected around 125,660 specimens of which about 5,000 were new to European science. Several of these like the flying frog of Sarwak and the beautiful golden birdwing butterfly of the Maluku islands, would later be named after him.

ARW lineDuring his travels he began to notice that neighbouring islands contained ‘two different faunas rigidly circumscribed which differ as much as do those of Africa or South America’. He concluded that the eastern islands of the group had once been much further away from the western islands and closer to Australia. The boundary between the areas of different fauna was later to become known as Wallace’s Line. Wallace’s daily observation of different species also gave him a lot of material upon which to base his ideas about evolution. In 1855 he produced an ‘Essay on the Law which has regulated the Introduction of New Species’ which concluded that each new species to emerge required the presence of a ‘pre-existing closely-allied species’. He did not, however, attempt to explain the mechanism by which a new species was created. It was a bout of fever, leaving him too weak for the daily routine of collecting, which gave him the leisure to come up with a possible solution, as he later described:

‘At that time I was suffering from a rather severe attack of intermittent fever at Ternate in the Moluccas, and one day while lying on my bed during the cold fit, wrapped in blankets . . . the problem again presented itself to me, and something led me to think of the “positive checks” described by Malthus in his “Essay on Population”, a work I had read several years before, and which had made a deep and permanent impression on my mind. These checks – war, disease, famine and the like – must, it occurred to me, act on animals as well as on man. Then I thought of the enormously rapid multiplication of animals, causing these checks to be much more effective in them than in the case of man; and while pondering vaguely on this fact there suddenly flashed upon me the idea of the survival of the fittest – that the individuals removed by these checks must be on the whole inferior to those that survived. In the two hours that elapsed before my ague fit was over I had thought out almost the whole of the theory, and the same evening I sketched the draft of my paper, and in the two successive evenings wrote it out in full, and sent it by the next post to Mr. Darwin.’

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin

What followed is famous scientific history. When Darwin received the letter, he was dismayed to realise how closely Wallace’s ideas mirrored his own unpublished work. He consulted his friends, Sir Charles Lyall and Dr. Joseph Hooker who proposed a compromise. At a special meeting of the Linnean Society on 1st July 1858, part of Darwin’s work and a letter outlining his theory was read, followed by Wallace’s essay. Wallace did not hear about the meeting until later but his only regret was that he had not been able to correct and proof-read his work. At the time, the theory did not create much response, but the following year, Darwin produced his book ‘On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection’ which produced an increasing storm of controversy.

One of the main confrontations between supporters of Darwin’s (and Wallace’s) ideas and those who opposed them took place in Oxford at a meeting of the British Association on 30th June 1860, as reported in the Athenaeum:

‘The Bishop of Oxford came out strongly against a theory which holds it possible that man may be descended from an ape,—in which protest he is sustained by Prof. Owen, Sir Benjamin Brodie, Dr. Daubeny, and the most eminent naturalists assembled at Oxford. But others—conspicuous among these, Prof. Huxley—have expressed their willingness to accept, for themselves, as well as for their friends and enemies, all actual truths, even the last humiliating truth of a pedigree not registered in the Herald’s College. The dispute has at least made Oxford uncommonly lively during the week.’

Birds of Paradise

Birds of Paradise

By the time Wallace returned to England in 1862 (bringing with him two birds of paradise never before seen alive in Europe), enough time had passed for the public and the scientific community to get used to the ideas if not accept them. His return was very different from his previous return from Brazil. His name was now well known and respected in scientific circles and he had a store of notes and specimens to work upon and information to present. In December 1863, for instance, he gave a paper to the Leeds Literary and Philosophical Society ‘On the Varieties of Man in the Malay Archipelago’ in which he contrasted the Malays in the western islands with the Papuans in the east, as being very different in appearance and character. He suggested that the islands could be divided ‘by a vertical waving line through the Moluccas. . . This division was in harmony with that which had been shown to exist in the animal productions of the same region.’

ARW Malay AIn 1866, Alfred Wallace married Annie Mitten, the daughter of a keen botanist, William Mitten. They were to have three children, Herbert, Violet and William, although Herbert died as a child. After spending some time sorting out his collections, he wrote possibly his most important book ‘The Malay Archipelago’, published in 1869. The Times’ review described it as ‘a careful and deliberately composed narrative, the fruits of 60 or 70 journeys made within the Malay Archipelago, journeys which occupied nearly eight years of time, and extended over a distance of 14,000 miles.’ Mr. Wallace had delayed publication while he sorted his collection of specimens ‘and scientific readers will all agree that this judicious delay has greatly enhanced the value of his work. Every page contains matter of interest; we shall there fore only attempt such a cursory survey of the numerous topics discussed as may induce those of our readers who have not seen the book to get it for themselves.’ One can imagine that Wallace was pleased with this review.

Wallace was to go on to publish a total of 22 books and innumerable papers, articles and essays. He remained an enthusiastic supporter of Darwinism and embraced many other interests including land nationalisation, socialism, and spiritualism. In 1882 he was present at Darwin’s funeral and acted as a pall-bearer, sharing the honour with two dukes, an earl and several eminent scientists. In 1885, he went on an extended lecture tour of the United States and Canada, even meeting the American president, Grover Cleveland. It was a far cry from the circumstances of his early life. He never became a wealthy man but a Civil List pension gave him some financial security. It was a kindly, enthusiastic and enquiring man who came to spend his retirement in Poole.

Jenny

A Lucky Dip into the Archives

Effigy of William Longespee in Salisbury Cathedral

Effigy of William Longespee in Salisbury Cathedral

Sciant presentes et futuri quod ego Willemus Lungespee dedi et concessi et hac presenti carta mei confirmavi pro me et heredibus meis burgensibus meis de Pola et heredibus suis omnimodas libertates et liberas consuetudines. . . So begins one of Poole’s oldest documents, the charter granted to the borough by William Longspee, Lord of the Manor of Canford, around the year 1248. Translated into English this reads: Be it known to those present and those to come that I, William Longspee, for me and my heirs, have given and granted and have confirmed by this my present charter all manner of liberties and free customs to my burgesses of Poole and their heirs.

The charter, which marked the start of local government in Poole and cost the new borough 70 marks (£47), is a very modest document to look at, only about 11 inches by 7 and very clear to read in spite of being over 750 years old. Its timing probably had something to do with Longspee’s need for cash to equip himself to join the seventh crusade. He was killed in battle in Egypt in1250, fighting bravely against the Saracens.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are many thousands of documents in the Poole archives, some plain, some highly decorative like the later charters granted by Queen Elizabeth I and Charles II. They include court proceedings, personal letters and diaries, town accounts penned by long-dead clerks, colourful maps, property documents, estate papers, business letter books and much more. Some are amazingly well preserved while others are faded, fragile or incomplete, but there is always a thrill unfolding these crackling relics of the past because you never know what you are going to find. Once past all the difficulties of archaic language, highly individual spelling and antique handwriting, these documents are priceless because they provide us with direct voices from the past.

Medieval Quay

The Medieval Quay by Graham Smith

Here for instance are some of the arguments used by Poole merchants in a petition to King Henry VI that Poole rather than Melcombe should be made a Port of the Staple: Havynge consideration to the feblenesse and nonsufficeaute of your porte of Melcombe, nought inhabited ne of strengthe to considere the goodes and marchandizes of youre marchantz . . to withstande and resiste the malice of youre enemies . . and on the tother side . . howe youre towne and havyn of Pole is wele enhabited and manned, where your mair and burgeys bee fully purposed, your gracious license therto hadde to walle, enkennell and fortefie youre said towne and havyn sufficiently by Goddes grace, for the saufgarde of alle marchaundises and other goodes there comynge . . whereupon it like to youre seid mageste to . . anulle the seide porte of Melcombe and make youre seid towne and havyn of Pole a porte. (Parliamentary Rolls 1433)

Graham Smith's impression of Tudor Poole

Graham Smith’s impression of Tudor Poole

Sometimes there is the echo of a Dorset accent in the written words as in this confession by Elinor Spencer that her husband Gowin had been involved in the brutal double murder of Mistress Alice Green and her servant Agnes Beard in 1598: On a wednesdaie about eleven years past my husband was abroad in the Town until it was eight of the clocke. I had made a Ruggen buttered for his supper, and when he came in I asked him where he had bene so late . . . to which he answered that I shold goe to supper for he could eate nothinge. With that I looked on him and found behinde in one of his stockings a greate blacke spott, and thought it had bene a stewed prune. But I putt my hand to it and found it did clinge to my fingers and proved it to be a Clotte of thicke bloode. . . . . . Roberte Hill was with my husband on the wednesdaie and it was hee who committed the murther, but Gowin brought home with him a bodkin made of a gimlet which he had made round and sharpe. As yet I still have him and doe use him in the garden. I will fetche him unto Mr Maior. (Testimony of Elinor Spencer to Mayor Roger Mawdley 6th June 1610)

Coming across the following case, my first reaction was to wonder what the 12 men listed had done to each earn a fine of 5 shillings (a week’s wages). In fact they had simply yielded to a very human temptation, as quickly became clear: Joseph Skinington / Christopher Rowland / Richard Williams / Henry Stone / William Hopkins / William Bremble / John Mager / Richard Vine / Abraham Toms / William Derham / Richard Newland and Mordekay Whatley. Fine Vs each. Tot. £3 – For that they and either of them beeing Jurors Sworne to try the Issue betweene our Sovaigne Lord the King and Dennes Smith Senr. of the said Towne and County Did Contrary to the ord of the Court Absent themselves from the Jury Chamber in the said Hall and went Downe to the Key and from thence to a Tipling house to Consider of their Verdict to the great delay and abuse of the Court. (Poole Quarter Sessions 1st Sept 1682)

The George Inn, now known as Scaplen's Court

The George Inn, now known as Scaplen’s Court

Some documents evoke a particular picture, like this candle-lit scene in the small hours of an October morning 300 years ago: Memorandum that on the Two and Twentieth day of October Anno Dom. 1703 about two of the Clock in the Morning, Wee, Daniel Hide of the Towne and County of Poole, Clerke, William Skutt of the Same, Merchant, Nicholas Perce of the Same, Baker and John Skutt of the Same, Labourer being in Presence of Miles Bownes of the Same Towne and County, victualler at his Chamber in the George Inn in Poole aforesaid, where he laye sicke in his bed and more likely to dye than to live but yett of sound minde and memory Being desired to settle his wordly Affayres before his Death and to Declare his will how his estate should be disposed of after his decease, Did declare in our Presence and hearing that he did give unto his brother Humfrey Bownes one Shilling to Cutt him of from being troublesome to his wife after his Death. And all the Rest of his Estate whatsoever he did give and bequeath unto his loveing wife Mary Bownes And that this was his last will & Testament In witnesse whereof wee have hereunto sett our hands the said Two and Twentieth day of October about Twelve of the Clock at noone Anno Dm. 1703 Daniel Hide Mnr Ibid: / Wm Skutt / Nicholas Perce / John Skutt his mk. (Will of Miles Bownes 1703)

The following account of a notorious 18th century smuggling incident gives the custom officers’ point of view of what happened on the fateful night: On the 24th instant about Eleven o’clock at Night, Lieutenant Down Commander of the Folkestone cutter then lying in Brownsea Road landed on the North Shore with Fourteen of his Hands & found a large Quantity of Tea on the shore, & about Twenty Men with it loading it on their Horses. Mr. Robert Wilson, Midshipman of the Cutter got on one of the Smugglers’ Horses that had no Goods on him & rode in amongst the Smugglers & the Goods (which he declar’d he seiz’d) when they immediately knock’d him off the Horse & beat him in a most cruel manner with the great End of their horse Whips about the Head and other Parts for a considerable time. 

The 'North Shore'

The ‘North Shore’

Mr. Edward Morrice, Mr. Down’s Clerk was the next that came up who they beat in the same manner & fir’d a Pistol at him, & the Ball graz’d his Breast. They then dragg’d him into the Sea, & left him there almost dead, & as he imagines with a design for the Breakers to drown him but with great difficulty he crawl’d out . . . At this Juncture Mr. Down with his other Hands came up  & got in amongst them, & he declar’d that if any one offer’d to carry away any of the Tea he would fire at them on which some that had their horses loaded endeavour’d to get off when he gave orders to his men to hamstring their Horses & cutt the Bags of Tea from them, which was done to several, but in their doing this several of the Folkestone’s Men were beat by the Smugglers with their Whips, had Two Pistols snap’d at them by the Smugglers & Eneas Atkins able Seaman shot by them thro’ the Leg. They then made use of the means in their Power to defend themselves & secure the Goods: And one Robert Trotman of, or near the Devizes, the Head of a desperate Gang of Smugglers was kill’d: but as it was very dark, Mr. Down nor any of his Men could be certain who shot him, whether they or the smugglers & Nine of their Horses died on or near the Shore of their Wounds. (Poole Custom House Letter Book 27th March 1765)

The town was also at times a disorderly place as this indictment shows: Lydia Wills, late of Parish of St. James, Poole, widow is indicted with keeping an ill-governed and disorderly house with men and women of ill repute, drinking, whoring and misbehaving to the common nuisance of the other inhabitants. Plea: Guilty. Sentence: To be imprisoned in the workhouse for six months. (Quarter Sessions Indictments 12th January 1781)

The Antelope

The Antelope

Some fifty years later, the coming of gas lighting must have transformed the streets, a fitting occasion for celebration: Gas and Coke Company: George Ledgard Esq., in the Chair. The contractor having intimated to the Directors that the works are in such a state of forwardness that gas maybe supplied to the public by 10th instant, it was resolved that the town be lighted with gas on the evening of the above day and the Directors, in order to celebrate the event, will assemble at the gas works, at half-past seven o’clock and proceed from thence in procession through the town, terminating their perambulation at the Antelope Inn at 9 o’clock where the Directors will sup together. Resolved – that the above resolution be printed and a copy sent to each of the shareholders and others promoters of the undertaking and to the several public functionaries in the town, inviting them to accompany the directors in the procession and to join them at the supper to be provided on the occasion. Tickets to be had at the bar of the Antelope Hotel or at Sydenhams Library on or before Saturday 8th instant.

The following burials were among those recorded during the cholera epidemic of 1849: 30th June: Fanny Weeks, child of John Weeks, aged 41/2 from cholera. 30th June: Amy Weeks, child of John Weeks, aged 21/2, from cholera.  2nd July: Harriet Weeks, child of John Weeks, aged 6, from cholera.  3rd July: George Weeks, son of John Weeks, aged 15 from cholera.  3rd July: child of John Weeks, aged 10 from cholera.  5th July: Louisa Weeks wife of John Weeks, aged 40, from cholera (or grief?) [clerk’s note]. (Skinner Street Congregational Church Register 1849)

Later view from the pottery

Later view from the pottery

An controversial planning decision in Victorian days produced this earnest petition: To the Mayor and Councillors of Poole: We the undersigned inhabitants of the Borough of Poole request you most respectfully but yet most urgently to re-consider a resolution of the Town Council made 27th November adopting the report of the land committee recommending the offer of a portion of the Gas Quay to Messieurs. Carter and Company for a term of 75 years – for £15 a year. We respectfully urge upon you to consider and give due weight to the fact that since its first formation when it was called Pinney’s Park that it has been used by us as a Recreation Ground it is almost the only easily accessible piece of ground now by water side, where the sea breezes can be obtained by us and the children of the town. It is also in the summer time, a favourite and frequent resort of invalids much valued since two seats have been placed there by the kindness of Mr. Henry Farmer we most earnestly and respectfully entreat you to preserve this ground as a healthful recreation resort for all classes of the town and improve it by planting a double row of trees and making a gravel path along its northern edge apposite the Gas Works put seats underneath the trees, level the ground and lay down grass for the children of the town to scamper over. We ask you not to let even one square foot more of this people’s recreation ground to be built upon or enclosed. (Petition on the Gas Quay 1882/3)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe above examples are just the result of a quick lucky dip into the archives which contain 700 years of business, tragedy, comedy, celebration and everyday transactions. The Poole Borough Archive documents are kept at the Dorset History Centre in Dorchester. At the moment they are in the process of being catalogued and more and more are appearing on the catalogue at: https://www.dorsetforyou.com/dorsethistorycentre . If you have a particular interest to pursue, it’s worth checking on the catalogue under a family name, place name or topic to see what comes up. There is nothing quite like seeing the origin documents for yourself but as a preliminary, try checking in the Poole History Centre where you will find copies of quite a few documents as well as transcripts and summaries of others. There also some transcripts available via Poole History Online at: http://www.poolehistory.org.uk . Other records including parish records and census returns can be found on the commercial websites such as Ancestry. The internet of course has become a fabulous tool for local and family history research, but it can never quite replace the thrill of reading real documents from the past.

Jenny

A Walk in the Park

Lord Wimborne (centre), Lady Wimborne (right) and town officials with the fountain

right to left: Ian Andrews, Town Clerk, Mayor Ann Stribley, Lord Wimborne, Sheriff Doreen Bugo and Lady Venetia

In 1990, the late Lord Wimborne and his wife, Lady Venetia, came to Poole to unveil a Victorian style fountain which he had donated to Poole Park to mark its 100th anniversary. Lord and Lady Wimborne arrived in a horse-drawn carriage, the Mayor, Sheriff, and Town Clerk by limousine, and a ceremony with speeches took place in front of a flower bed where the fountain was to stand until it could be properly installed. Later the fountain was provided with an elegant pool, surrounded by flower planters and approached by a flight of steps guarded by lions.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALord Wimborne’s gift was all the more appropriate because it was his great- grandfather’s donation of 33 acres of land to the Borough which had made the creation of the park possible a century before. The chosen site was a stretch of rather muddy farmland near the Sloop Inn on the fringes of Parkstone Bay, conveniently located between the town centre and the growing suburbs of Longfleet and Parkstone. The local tradition that the sea had once come right up to the Sloop was probably correct as old maps show. However, when the railway was built through to Bournemouth in 1874, an embankment was built across the bay, cutting it off from the open sea. This left what was described as ‘a few marshy meadows over which a precarious footpath wound its devious way’. The Corporation acquired some more land in the area and planning began.

East lodge and entrance with fields beyond

East lodge and entrance with fields beyond

The chosen design was produced in house by the Borough Surveyor, John Elford and others in his department. One of the main features of the 109 acre park was the salt water lake, covering 58 acres. There were also two smaller fresh water lakes, a carriage drive from one end of the park to the other and a network of footpaths. The carriage entrances were provided with brick pillars decorated with terracotta plaques, eagles and lamp standards. There were two lodge houses, a single story one at the eastern entrance, (known as Holly Bush Corner) and a two storey one at the Seldown entrance with a stable, store, greenhouses and cart shed. Both lodges contained waiting rooms for ladies.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOther facilities were the cricket pavilion and pitch encircled by a bicycle track, a bandstand, six tennis courts, five urinals, two drinking fountains, benches and a shelter on the mound near the Seldown entrance. An open-air swimming pool was planned near the railway line. Trees and shrubs, including the horse chestnuts alongside the main drive, were supplied by local nurserymen, J.K. Ingram and D. Stewart. At the south east corner, a brick tunnel, the ‘keyhole bridge’ was provided under the railway line in co-operation with the railway company. The whole park was enclosed by ‘unclimbable’ iron railings.

Park boatingThe opening of the park was performed by the Prince of Wales on 18th January 1890 but due to a storm which had wrecked the special pavilion, this turned out to be rather an anti-climax. After a carriage procession through the park and the streets, the ceremony was performed in the station booking office as the Prince departed. Nevertheless, the park was now officially open and could start to play its part in the life of the town. It quickly proved its value as a resource for Sunday strolls, sports and games, boating, feeding the ducks, picnics and public celebrations. Previously, occasions of national importance had been celebrated in the cramped streets of the old town. The defeat of Napoleon, for instance, was marked with a dinner for 5,000 people in Market Street and adjoining streets. Now the park provided the perfect venue for such festivities.

The Poole Town Band

The Poole Town Band

Only seven years after the park’s opening, the nation celebrated Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee. A procession three-quarters of a mile long, described as ‘the best ever seen in Poole’, wound through the street to the park, where a gun salute was fired by the Reserve Forces and the Volunteer Band played the national anthem. A dinner was then held for 3,000 ‘aged poor’ (who had to be over 60) in a marquis on the tennis court. The children’s procession also finished up in the park where they sang ‘Victoria Our Queen’ and a verse of the national anthem before sitting down to tea and bread and butter. Seating for the 3,000 or so children was improvised from 5,000 foot of timber supplied by the Poole Baltic and Quebec Timber company. The afternoon was reserved for sports and races, including donkey, wheelbarrow, and three-legged races, tilting the bucket and climbing the greasy pole besides more regular competitions. In the evening the park was illuminated with lamps and fairy lights conveying suitably patriotic slogans. The festivities concluded with a magnificent display of fireworks representing a full scale naval battle. During the course of the day it was estimated that there were between 20,000 and 25,000 people in the park.

Poole Carnival 1914

Poole Carnival 1914

Another royal celebration was held in 1911 for the coronation of King George V. Ernest Bristowe remembered assembling with other school children ‘near to the summer house at the Seldown end of Poole Park, standing in rows in the rain to hear the mayor speak. Unfortunately, I was so far away that I had no idea what he said.’ The park had become the obvious venue for such mass public events, but it was also an established part of everyday recreation. New facilities were added such as a refreshment house near the cricket pitch and an aviary. Sports days were held there and the Poole Carnival  procession with its decorated floats ended up there after weaving its way through the streets.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter the First World War, a new dimension was added to the function of the park when the war memorial was built beside the salt water lake within a specially designed garden. After much debate about the form of memorial the final slender cross of brick and Purbeck stone was designed by J. S. Allner and unveiled on 16th October, 1927 in front of a crowd estimated at about 10,000. Annual memorial services have been held there ever since and in 2014, an event with images, prayers, poetry and music was held to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of war. It was also the chosen location for flowers following the death of Princess Diana.

Dragon's tooth

Dragon’s tooth

During the World War II, the park was selected as the site for a large air raid shelter for 1,000 people and anti-aircraft gun pits were dug there. Some damage was caused when a bomb landed near the swimming pool, failed to explode and had to be detonated where it landed. Another casualty was the rustic bridge between the fresh water lakes which was destroyed by a bomb which also killed two ducks. A few days later, Lord Haw Haw claimed that the Luftwaffe had inflicted serious damage to installations around Poole Harbour. The most dramatic change on the park produced by the war was perhaps the removal of the railings for scrap iron in 1942. Today, one of the few remaining signs of wartime is the solitary ‘dragon’s tooth’ anti-tank barrier perched on the railway embankment near the keyhole bridge, part of Poole’s defences of 1943.

Railway and Swan Lake Café

Railway and Swan Lake Café

The post-war corporation was keen to develop Poole as a tourist centre and so welcomed the offer of George Vimpany and Southern Miniature Railways Ltd. to set up a miniature railway in Poole. The park was chosen as the best location and the railway was opened on 9th April 1949 with the steam locomotive ‘Vanguard’ which George Vimpany had largely built himself. The attraction was a great success right from the start with long queues forming to take a ride. In the 1970s it converted to a motor driven locomotive in keeping with the times and is now not far off its 70th anniversary.

PageantIn 1952, the park was the venue for the Poole Pageant celebrating the town’s long history. The script was written by the historian H. P. Smith and local writer Margaret Scott and a large number of local people took part, including council members. The following year was Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, celebrated with a procession, sports, entertainments and dancing in the park culminating in a torch-light procession and firework display, a sign that life was returning to normal. As prosperity returned the Edwardian tea-rooms were replaced by the modern Swan Lake café, run initially by Anthony Forte. Fresh generations of locals and visitors flocked to the park to enjoy its attractions, natural and man-made.

Weed busting on the lake

Weed busting on the lake

The park has had problems over the years. A zoo was set up in 1963, incorporating the old aviary, attracting many visitors but also complaints. It finally closed in 1994 after a rather sad history of protest. Not surprisingly with such a marshy site the drainage in the park has always been difficult and modern planners are still trying to find a solution. The shallowness of the salt water lake seems to attract unwanted and hard to shift flora and fauna from mosquitoes to poisonous algae and clogging weed. One of the saddest events was the destruction of trees in the hurricane of 1987.

An exotic visitor

An exotic visitor

Having been fortunate to live near the park, I have visited it in all seasons for all sorts of purposes. I have tried to list all the things I have done there with friends and visitors over the years but as I keep thinking of more, the following is not a complete list: boating, children’s playground, crazy golf, eating ice cream and meals, looking at birds, flowers and trees (including a tree trail), memorial services, photography, picnicking, riding on the miniature railway, using the sports apparatus, walking (including health walks), watching Boo Bamboo, bowls, concerts (including the BSO concert for the centenary), cricket, dragon boats, fairs, fireworks, ice skating, majorettes, marathons, model yachts, tennis, zorbing . . . One of my favourite activities is ‘visiting’ different trees at different times of the year (eccentric but harmless) and some of the most memorable events I remember are the World War I commemoration at the war memorial and the BSO concert for the park’s centenary.

In the 126 years of its existence, Poole Park has been a fantastic resource to the town. I’d love to know what you like best about the park and if you have a special experience of it to share.

Jenny

Main sources: Borough of Poole Report Poole Park – The People’s Park 1989 / Ernest Bristowe, Poole Was My Oyster / Geoffrey Budworth Poole Park / Keith Guy Poole Park Railway The First Fifty years 1949-1999.

 

 

Luxury and Charity – Lady Cornelia of Canford

Lady Cornelia

Lady Cornelia

On 25th May 1868 a marriage ceremony was held in St. James’ Piccadilly in the presence of dukes, earls, marquises, viscounts and other members of Britain’s social élite. The 20-year old bride, Lady Cornelia Henrietta Maria Spencer-Churchill, wore a dress of white satin, covered with Brussels point lace and trimmed with silver, white tulips and orange blossoms and a Brussels lace veil. Her necklace, earrings, brooch and hair ornaments were set with diamonds. The eight bridesmaids were dressed in white tulle with blue satin and blue wreath head-dresses. After the ceremony, performed by the Bishop of Oxford, a party of 200 went to the St. James’ Square residence of the bride’s father, the Duke of Marlborough, for the wedding breakfast. Then the happy couple left for the Duke’s country seat Blenheim Palace where they were to spend their honeymoon.

Some of the more old-fashioned aristocratic guests may well have disapproved of the alliance because the groom Sir Ivor Bertie Guest was directly connected with trade. His mother Lady Charlotte Schreiber was the daughter of the Earl of Lindsey but his father Sir John Josiah Guest had been a successful ironmaster. What is more, the Guest family still owned and ran the vast ironworks at Dowlais near Merthyr Tyfill, at one time the largest in the world. It was a sign of the family’s wealth and rising position in society that Sir Ivor could aspire to marry a duke’s daughter.

Ivor Bertie Guest, Lord Wimborne

Ivor Bertie, Lord Wimborne

In 1846, Sir John Josiah and Lady Charlotte had bought the Canford manor estate near Poole for £335,000, remodelling the house at considerable expense as a fitting family home. When Sir John Josiah died in 1852, Ivor, the eldest son, was only seventeen and it was the formidable Lady Charlotte who took over the direction of the ironworks, the management of the estate and the care of her ten children, the youngest being only five years old. In 1855, at the age of 42, she caused a minor scandal by marrying her son’s tutor, Charles Schreiber, who was fourteen years her junior. After Ivor’s coming of age, celebrated with a lavish party at Canford, he took over the management of the business and the estates but his life style was still more that of a wealthy gentleman than of an ironmaster. Besides the properties in Wales and Dorset, he also owned the 65,000 acre Achnashellach Lodge estate in Ross-shire described as the finest deer forest in Scotland. The year before his marriage he bought No. 22 Arlington Street, St. James’s, London, the former home of two prime ministers and several dukes and earls. This he renamed Wimborne House and renovated with the addition of a splendid ball room with elaborate gilded mouldings.

The iron works at Dowlais

The iron works at Dowlais

Visiting their estates after the wedding, the couple were given a reception which today would only be accorded to royalty. In Wales they travelled to Troedyrhiw station by special train from where their carriage was pulled the five miles to Dowlais by the ironworkers, past thousands of cheering onlookers with flags, banners and welcome messages in English and Welsh. It would be interesting to know what Lady Cornelia thought of Dowlais House, large and comfortable but unnervingly close to the ironworks with its eighteen blast furnaces producing around 1,600 tons of iron a week.

Canford Manor

Canford Manor

Ivor’s new bride was beautiful, petite, charming and spirited, with decided ideas of her own. The newly married couple enjoyed a luxurious life style, dividing their time between the social scene in London, Dorset, Scotland, Wales and the continent. The first of their nine children was born in 1869 and they acquired a villa at Branksome Dene, ideal for family summers. At Canford Manor they entertained leading members of society, politicians, aristocrats and royalty in a round of house parties, shooting parties, political fetes and horticultural shows. The house was equipped with every convenience and luxury including a billiard room and a real tennis court.

Cottages, Wimborne Road

Cottages, Wimborne Road

There was also a philanthropic side to their lives. Like many Victorians, Lady Cornelia believed in charitable social improvement and continued projects started by her mother-in-law besides initiating many of her own. Lady Charlotte had decided to improve the living conditions of Canford tenants by building a number of cottages in a rustic gothic design to the very latest standards. Around 111 of these ‘Lady Wimborne cottages’ were eventually built, mainly during Lady Cornelia’s regime, and many of them can still be seen today all over the former estate.

The School House, Broadstone

The School House, Broadstone

From 1874, Sir Ivor tried unsuccessfully for election as a Conservative in Glamorgan, Poole and then Bristol, eventually leaving the Conservative group and entering the House of Lords as a Liberal. In 1880, he was created a baron by Disraeli. Given her husband’s political preoccupations, it was probably Lady Cornelia who was most active in local schemes. Following the Education Act of 1870, which required the provision of primary education for all, the Guests sponsored the building of schools at Hampreston, Hamworthy and Broadstone in the same distinctive gothic style as the cottages. They also gave generously towards the founding of churches in Parkstone and Broadstone and played a big part in the development of the estate by offering land for sale at low prices. Speculation was discouraged by the estate retaining first refusal on any houses offered for sale.

Poole Park, West Lodge

Poole Park, West Lodge

Another important development for Poole was Lord and Lady Wimborne’s donation of 26 acres of land on the shores of Parkstone Bay for the creation of Poole Park. As the Prince of Wales was to visit Canford in January 1890, Lord Wimborne suggested that his royal guest would be willing to formally open the park. In the event, the visit was slightly marred by absence of the Princess of Wales and her daughters who were suffering from severe colds. Lord Wimborne was also afflicted and had to take to his bed. At Canford, every luxury was laid on and a congenial house party provided for the prince. Unfortunately, the actual opening did not go according to plan because a storm of wind and rain wrecked the decorations in the park. The ceremony was successfully performed in the station booking office before the prince set off on his journey home!

The mayor that year was the outspoken solicitor, Philip Budge who once said of Lady Cornelia that ‘she had an irresistible means of getting her own way which should cause any man that did not agree with her to fly to the uttermost ends of the earth’. She also was a great public speaker, said to never speak at less than 150 words a minute; in fact she was a pocket whirlwind hard to deflect when she was pursuing one of her charitable projects.

Sir Peter Thompson House

Sir Peter Thompson House

The same year as the opening of the park, Lady Cornelia persuaded her husband to buy the old mansion house of Sir Peter Thompson in Market Street, Poole. Here she set up a 30 bed hospital to replace the small surgery she had started in West Street. Cornelia Hospital as it became known, served the community for many years before it was transferred to a purpose-built premises in Longfleet Road on land donated by Lord Wimborne. It was also Lord and Lady Wimborne who laid out the golf courses at Broadstone and Parkstone, in the first instance for the use of their family and friends, but later opening them to others.

Lady Cornelia - miniature portrait by Mabel Lee Hankey 1905

Lady Cornelia – miniature portrait by Mabel Lee Hankey 1905

The death of Lord Wimborne in 1914, marked the end of a period of unprecedented philanthropy at Canford. Lady Cornelia stayed on at the manor until 1922 when she moved into Merley House and then the unprofitable parts of the estate were sold, including the manor house which became a school. Lady Cornelia died in 1927 in London at the age of 79. In her obituary she was described as ‘one of the most influencial of late Victorian hostesses’. ‘Her Ladyship was possessed of great force of character. Had she been of the opposite sex or had she been born 20 years later, she would probably have figured as prominently in politics as her brother, Lord Randolph Churchill, or her nephew, Mr. Winston Churchill.’ Locally she is remembered for a great number of charitable projects which had a lasting impact on the town of Poole and as a representative of almost unimaginable wealth and privilege from an era now vanished.

Jenny

Selected sources: Lady Wimborne Cottages by Pat Clark / A History of Poole by Cecil Cullingford / A Portfolio of Old Poole by John Hillier.