Friday, 9 March 2018

Exploring Osmington Drove

On 16 July 1811 the Inclosure Act for Broadmayne was sworn before Thomas Frampton, Esquire and the Justices at Shaftesbury court. Mr Thomas Davis had been appointed Commissioner to deliberate over the unowned parcels of land in the parish of Broadmayne and divide them into parcels of land for ownership.

The Rector, The Reverend David Urquhart was awarded the largest section of land, which included the ancient public track of Osmington Drove.

As a result Osmington Drove was recognised in law giving a right of access to owners and occupiers as a common way for use as a path or for driving cattle. This was reaffirmed in 1968 after the County Council and Rural district council reviewed the usage of the Drove.

It is believed this route was part of an ancient way linking the South Dorset Ridgeway with the hinterland.

Today Osmington Drove is not the easiest path to find but is well worth a visit as it covers some lovely areas of the South Dorset Ridgeway. We suggest the route from Sutton Poyntz at the top of Plaisters Lane.  There is a fantastic view from the path of Chalbury Hill fort and you pass over the top of the White Horse. There is also some great downhill sections for runners and mountain bikers.

For recreational users

It is perfectly passable for runners or walkers, more tricky for mountain bikers but not impossible. Horse riders should be able to use it without too much difficulty.

Where is it

If you have not been able to locate Osmington Drove it is still a well signposted bridleway although it is in desperate need of maintenance due to deep rutted tracks in parts. It is marked clearly on Google maps and is parallel to Chalky road.

See map and photos for route.

Follow the finger post sign towards Broadmayne from the Ridgeway.
This part of the bridleway is very heavily eroded and muddy

Watch out for branches laying on the track if on bike.

At this junction go straight on not left

Turn left and through the wooden gate

You are met by a fantastic view and if on MTB this will make you smile a lot!

The path starts to widen as you approach Broadmayne

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Osmington Light Railway

In November 1899 Reginald Joseph Weld of Lulworth castle proposed the creation of a railway from Lulworth to Osmington under the 1896 Light Railways Act.

The intention was for the railway to travel between Arne, East Holme, East Stoke, Tyneham, East Lulworth, West Lulworth, Chaldon Herring, Owermoigne and Osmington.
The railway was a gauge of 4ft 8.5 inches for trains powered by steam, electric or other mechanical power.

The quantity of land required for the project was 120 acres and would cost £124,194.
The Osmington section of land to be purchased belonged to:

Colonel Jocelyn Pickard-Cambridge
Robert Jayne
Colonel Jefferson Serrell Wood
Weymouth Rural District Council
Joseph Brutton
Charles Lillington Hall
The County Council of Dorset
Henry Hurdle

The proposed railway route meandered up from Osmington Mills to the east of the road, crossing over just before Grove House and terminating next to Craig's dairy.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

WW1 Dedication Service - Sunday 10 September 2017


Photos from the WW1 dedication service held on Sunday 10 September at St Osmund's church, Osmington. The standards are originals so some are 100 years old.

The Rev Brian Ellis asked those gathered at St Osmund's Church, we all say 'We will remember them' but how many of us spend time thinking about those who served in wars other than on armistice day?

In Osmington our small community has actively kept the memories alive of those who fought in the war and much is still planned.

An act of remembrance with repesentatives from the regiments attending was organised by Marjorie Bandy and Rev Ellis  to commemorate the restoration of a tapestry listing the names of all those who fought in WW1.

It is a great way for them to be remembered and a useful source of information for visitors and locals.

Osmington History has been tracing the life stories of the soldiers and sailors who fought in conflicts and we will continue to find out as much as we can. We are very interested to hear from anyone who might be related, or have photos or family stories of these men.

One story we are able to share is that of:

Able Seaman Petty Officer, Coast Guard
William Henry Foot
128846, H.M.S. "Monmouth.", Royal Navy
who died on 01 November 1914 Age 44

HMS Monmouth

He is named on the naval memorial at Plymouth

William lived at the Coastguard cottage in Osmington mills prior to the start of the war. He grew up in Shaldon in Devon and served there as a Coastguard officer and also in Cork. He moved to Osmington mills around 1912.

William married Susan in 1896 they both grew up in Shaldon Devon and the majority of their children were born there.

William and Susan's children were:

William Henry Foot b.1896
Cyril Egbert Foot b.1899 d. 1979
Victor Robert Foot b.1900 d.1978
Stanley Frederick Foot b. 1903 d. 1990
Leslie George Foot b. 1907 d. 1988
Dorothea Edna Foot b. 1910 d.2002

Sadly in December 1912 Susan died in childbirth with their youngest child. They are both buried in St Osmund's churchyard near to the path on the left just as you walk up the path.

Willaim Foot Snr received a Long Service medal and a Good Conduct medal from the Royal Navy for his work as a coast guard.

On 1 November 1914 he was killed in action at the Battle of Coronel leaving his six remaining children orphaned. His body was never recovered.

William and Susan's eldest son also called William Henry b.1896  served in the Royal Navy from 1915 until 1928. He later moved to Canada.

The Battle of Coronel - 1 November 1914

This Battle took place in the southern Pacific Ocean, over 12,000 km (7,500 miles) from northern Europe, off the coast of Chile.

The British Navy was led  by Rear Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock and the Germans by Vice Admiral Reichsgraf Maximilian von Spee.

Von Spee

Coronel is a notable battle of the first world war as the British Royal Navy confronted a German squadron outside the port of Coronel, close to Chile's second city of Concepcion.

The Germans under the Command of Von Spee won a resounding victory, sinking two of the four British ships with the loss of over 1,600 lives. Not a single German sailor died.

It was the first defeat of the British Navy.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

The origins of Osmington

King Athelstan was born in 895AD and was the first King of England. He was ennobled by his Grandfather Alfred the Great and was apparently his favourite grandson.

In the period 933AD to 940AD he gave the village of Osmyngton to the Abbey of Milton.

The Benedictine abbey of Milton was built in 933AD by King Athelstan for the soul of his brother Edwin.

Athelstan was a great supporter of the church and his tomb was placed in his favourite place Malmesbury Abbey in Wiltshire.

In 964AD the reform of the monasteries replaced secular priests with monks led by an abbot.

At the time of the Doomsday book the monks at Osmington were granted by Henry I,

"possessions therein enumerated with all liberties, free customs and acquittances, the right of soc, sac, tol, team, and infangnetheof, waif, assize of bread and ale, gallows, pillory, and all other appurtenances". 

The Abbey of Milton owned Osmington for the next 500 years until the dissolution of the monasteries by the Tudors.

Sir John Ashley

Elizabeth I gave Osmington to her kinsman and member of her privy council, Sir John Ashley.

He was the husband of Katherine Champernowne, Elizabeth I's Governess, and First Lady of the Bedchamber who had been close to the Queen all her life.

Sir John was a distant relation of Queen Elizabeth I through his mother. She was the sister-in-law of Elizabeth's great-uncle, Sir James Boleyn.

The farm in Osmington was given to George Watkins by Elizabeth I and was then passed to Lord Petre and then to The Sheldons of Weston in Warwickshire.

Awnsham Churchill

Daniel Sheldon in 1695 sold his lands to Awnsham Churchill a bookseller and MP in the reign of Queen Anne; he had acquired a large area of land in Osmington, Ringstead and Poxwell.

Osmington passed through the Churchill family to his great grandson William Churchill Esq of Henbury. He sold the farm to Mr Hitt of Beaminster (Hitt's farm) and latterly with the rest of the village lands to Robert Serrell Wood in 1745.

Robert Serrell Wood had one son also the Reverend Robert Serrell Wood (1779-1812) who pre-deceased him by two years and so he left the majority of the village lands to his two grandsons, Edward Atkyns Wood (1810 - 1892) and the elder brother Robert Serrell Wood (1808-1853).

Robert Serrell Wood

Edward decided to demolish the Tudor Osmington House in 1851 and re-build it in the current location on Roman road so that it was more privately situated. This was completed in 1857.

Major Edward Atkyns Wood was buried in St Osmund's church on 16 January 1892.

His elder brother Robert Serrell Wood emigrated to America and died in 1852 of yellow fever.

His son  Colonel Jefferson Serrell Wood moved from America to live in the UK but died at the age of 55 in 1907.

Friday, 18 August 2017

"What did the Roman's ever do for us?"

"Well there's your Romano- British settlement in Osmington"...

In 1968 an extensive archaeological excavation took place along the Roman road bridleway towards Poxwell.
The Commission on Historical Monuments initiated the dig and listed the findings in 1970, stating that the site is an occupation site associated with ancient field groups.  So what does that mean?
To summarise briefly, they found an extensive site of  habitation dating from the early Bronze age all the way through to medieval times.  The site has been fortunate to be preserved due to agricultural development over the years. Basically, the really old artifacts were buried even deeper due to medieval cultivation of strip lynchets and soil moving down the hillside. This preserved what remained there until they dug it up in 1968.

Romano-British sites were often robbed of their contents and archaeologists believe this happened here too. But they believe that it was a big settlement so what they discovered was only a fraction of what was there originally.

So what did they find?

There were pottery jars, bowls, a jug, flint scrapers, a coin, bracelets, iron plates and shears and Roman nails, animal bones. They also found corn drier ovens and the Romano skeletons of a lady and a child dated to 150 AD and a Bronze age Barrow complete with skeleton.
The lady has been identified as being buried in the Romano-British period so here you have one of our Roman ancestors. We've decided to call her Octavia.
The pottery especially has enabled experts to date the remains to several specific periods in time

1. Late Neolithic - Early Bronze age (2500 BC-2000 BC)
2. Iron age (400-150 BC)
3. Romano-British AD 200-300
4. 4th Century
5. Medieval (5th-15th Century)
 Remains of a corn drying oven found at the site.

It has often been quoted that Osmington has been in existence for around 900 years (when it was mentioned in the Doomsday book as Osmetone). This evidence is conclusive proof the area has been populated for at least 5000 years.

The artifacts removed from the site have been housed at the Dorset County museum.

Source of data: Dorset Natural History & Archaeological Society.
(NB. This is a brief summary of what was found during the dig).

Friday, 11 August 2017

Introducing Talbot Hughes - An evening event Friday 20 October 2017 - St Osmund's church, Osmington

Osmington is known for it's connection with the famous painter John Constable. He spent his honeymoon in Osmington and was great friends with the local vicar Reverend John Fisher, who shared his artistic interests. 
The village however had an additional long-term resident artist who relocated here after leaving London society in the late 1920s.

He is known commercially as the painter Talbot Hughes.
Talbot had exhibited at the Royal Academy from the age of 17 up to 1913, when he sold his unique and highly sought-after costume collection to Harrods.

The sale was agreed with the proviso that after a year the entire collection would be donated to the Victoria and Albert museum in London.  Harrods agreed to the conditions of sale and the costumes are still held by the V&A.
On 20 October 2017 we are holding an evening event at St Osmund's church, Osmington to see Talbot's work and hear about his life, loves and death.
The evening is organised by Mr Jeff Little from the New Friends of St Osmund's who will talk about the artistic works of Talbot Hughes.

Lucy Wyman from Osmington History will also be speaking about the eventful and rather controversial life of Talbot Hughes.

Friday 20 October 2017 @6.30pm
St Osmund's church, Osmington
 Tickets cost £5 each and include a picnic box and a glass of wine
To book tickets please call 01305 833849 or

All proceeds to the 'new Friends of St Osmund's church'
Registered charity number: 1172380

The charity was established to help restore and maintain St Osmund's church for community use and educate the public in it's heritage.

Osmington History is delighted to be working with the NFoSOC on this joint research project.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

World war two archaeology in Osmington

June 6th is a well-known date amongst historians for it was this day in 1944 that the D-Day troops left Weymouth to fight in France.

Osmington played its part in the operation providing a strategic home to Canadian troops  at Osmington house on Old Roman road in the lead up to D-Day.

Today evidence of their occupation is still visible from the bridleway,  the Canadian's air raid shelter is still standing on the opposite side of Roman road from Osmington house just over the hedge.

Photo courtesy of Ridgeway tours

On D-Day, June 6, 1944, “Operation Overlord”, the long-awaited invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe, began with Allied armies from the U.S., Britain and Canada landing on the coast of Normandy. The 3rd Canadian Infantry Division landed on Juno Beach, casualty figures from that battle are estimated at 2,700 British, 946 Canadians, and 6,603 Americans.

Osmington house was occupied by the Royal Canadian Engineers who departed from Weymouth for the French coast.

Many of those killed were buried in BRETTEVILLE-SUR-LAIZE CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY in Calvados France. 

Upton Fort which is part of Osmington parish located between Osmington mills and Ringsted played a crucial strategic role during the period, helping to defend Portland Harbour through to 1943.

Upton fort

It was built alongside several other strongholds to defend the key areas of the naval harbour at Portland, these were located at the Nothe Fort, East Weare Battery, the Inner Pierhead Fort, and the Verne Citadel.
Aerial photo of Upton fort

This coastal artillery battery has been identified as one of only ten examples of its type which have survived largely intact (from a recorded total of 202 built in the 20th century) in England.

Upton Fort retains all of the elements of a battery, including gun emplacements, magazines, searchlight structures, and ground defences located within defensive earthworks.

All survive in a good state of preservation. In addition, the site retains a group of support buildings that are rare survivals and which are listed at Grade II.