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WESSEX POLITICS
 
THE WESSEX SOCIETY

Wessex Society

is dedicated to preserving and developing the cultural and linguistic heritage of Wessex. For more information please contact : WESSEX SOCIETY, 121 Worthing Road, Patchway, BRISTOL
WESSEX, BS34 5HU  telephone 0117 969 4947 email wessexsociety@zyworld.com
THE WESSEX REGIONALIST PARTY/WESTSEAXE LANDRICESTAEFA

Wessex Regionalist candidate  Colin Bex

is dedicated to the setting up of self government for WESSEX. For membership information or general enquiries please contact :
James Gunter, Secretary-General, WESSEX REGIONALISTS, 5 Rickyard Cottages, Broad Hinton, Swindon,
Wiltshire, Wessex ,SN4 9PS tel 01793 731974 email wessexregionalists@regionalist.net
THE WESSEX CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION
National Parliament
is an all party group that is forwarding the exciting plans of all the people of WESSEX to have their own parliament, with powers equal to those of Scotland. For more information please contact : WESSEX CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1/2 Atlantic Road South
WESTON-SUPER-MARE, Somerset, WESSEX  tel 01934 641334  email wessexconvention@regionalist.net
Until borders are agreed with all the various regionalist groups in England WESSEX for our purposes consists of the counties of Somerset, Wiltshire, Dorset, Devon, Hampshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire
The Earl of WessexTHE EARL OF WESSEX

Wessex was one of the four earldoms of Anglo Danish England. In this period the earldom of Wessex covered the lands of the old kingdom of Wessex, covering the counties of the south of England, including Cornwall  and extending west to the Welsh border. During the reign of King Canute the earldom was conferred on Godwin at some time after 1020.  Thereafter Godwine rose to be, in King Edward's time, the most powerful man in the kingdom. On his death in 1053 the earldom passed to Godwin's son, who later became King Harold II and died at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Following the Norman conquest in the winter of 1066 the earldom was bestowed on William FitzOsbern, King William’s most trusted companion.  FitzOsbern continued to help William consolidate his new realm, until his death in Normandy in 1071.

Following this the earldom was reduced in power and regional jurisdiction, and passed to FitzOsbern's son, Roger, as the earldom of Hereford.

    * Godwin, Earl of Wessex (c. 1001–1053)
    * Harold Godwinson (c. 1022–1066) also Earl of East Anglia; ascended to the throne of King of England in January 1066
    * William FitzOsbern (c. 1020-1071)

The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex (Edward Antony Richard Louis; born 10 March 1964)  is the third son and fourth child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. At the time of his birth, he was third in the line of succession to the thrones of ten independent states; however, after additions to the Royal Family, and an evolution of the Commonwealth, Edward is currently seventh in line to the thrones of 16 countries. He is a resident of and most directly involved with the United Kingdom, the oldest realm, while also carrying out duties in and on behalf of the other states of which his mother is sovereign. 
The 1998 film Shakespeare in Love featured an entirely fictional, villainous Earl of Wessex, played by Colin Firth. There is also a fictional Earl of Wessex in Geoffrey Trease's novel Bows Against the Barons.

David Cameron was brought up in Peasemore, Berkshire. Educated at Heatherdown Preparatory School at Winkfield, in Berkshire, Eton College and Oxford University (Brasenose College). He is MP for Witney in Oxfordshire.  Cameron is a descendant of King William IV and his mistress Dorothea Jordan
Cider, morris dancing and 100% tax: an election strategy with a difference
On the outermost fringes of politics, Wessex Regionalists come out fighting for a pre-industrial revolution England
guardian.co.uk,   
Wessex Regionalist candidate  Colin Bex

Wessex Regionalist candidate Colin Bex tries out his canvassing skills in Chipping Norton. Photograph: Graeme Robertson

It is a wet lunchtime in Chipping Norton, and no one seems interested in the cause of the Wessex Regionalists. The party's president, Colin Bex, tramps along the glistening pavements, attempting to drum up interest in his efforts to unseat David Cameron as MP for the Witney constituency in Oxfordshire. He also wants to promote his party's ideology, which centres on the idea of a devolved parliament for the Wessex region, but offers up a curious mish-mash of agrarianism, wealth redistribution and a nostalgia for pre-industrial revolution England that would give the writers of Lark Rise to Candleford pause, thunderous condemnation of the current political system, and promotion of "the culture of Wessex".

Questioned on what the culture of Wessex might involve, Bex offers: "Its own traditional brand of morris dancing." "Cider," chips in the party's secretary general, David Robins. "Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, William Barnes."

But even with the promise of more morris dancing and cider, it's looking like a hopeless task. The most engaged voter we've come across is a pensioner, attracted by the party's flag, carried by Nick Xylas, who defected to the Wessex Regionalists from the Green party, bringing their total membership to 11. The pensioner is happy to argue about Wessex's boundaries but, sadly, recoils from the suggestion he take a leaflet.

We have been doing this for a half an hour and I'm already both deeply discouraged and increasingly suspicious of the number of people we've met who claim not to be registered to vote in Witney. "A lot of tourists come to Chipping Norton," offers Xylas, hopefully.

But clearly it takes more than inclement weather and public indifference to dampen the spirits of Colin Bex: "Third on the ballot paper! X for Bex!" he cries at another hastily departing form. Indeed, after a few hours in his company, I'm beginning to wonder what it would take to dent Colin Bex's ebullience. Certainly not vast public indifference to his cause, which has invariably come as standard over the 36 years Bex has spent on the outermost fringes of British politics.

This is the sixth general election Bex has stood in: his greatest success came in Windsor and Maidenhead in 1979, when he got 251 votes, but was still beaten by a man in a pantomime horse outfit, representing the Willy Shovel It Mushroom party. Welcome to the world of the minor political party, a world of apathy, sodden pavements, and the ever-looming possibility of being trounced by a pantomime horse. 
It's the province of the Christian party, which in the past has spiked its grimly anti-gay, anti-abortion agenda with some lively ideas regarding the dragon on the Welsh flag representing Satan, and the Mum's Army, whose campaign against yob behaviour was founded by Take a Break magazine. It exists almost entirely below the radar of the media.
There was a flicker of interest in the Wessex Regionalists' early days, thanks to the involvement of Bex's co-founder Alexander Thynn, then Viscount Weymouth, now the Marquess Of Bath. It's hard not to feel his patronage must have come as something of a mixed blessing: on the one hand, he has a high media profile; on the other, perhaps the wifelets and the penchant for kaftans and erotic murals might have proved something of a hindrance to being taken seriously as a political force. Either way, he defected to the Liberal Democrats.

Today, the party's main means of communication with the electorate, besides the leaflets and an interview on a local radio station, is its website, where its 100 point manifesto can be found. The day I look at it, one of the chapters has received 14 hits.

And yet, there are people like Colin Bex in virtually every constituency: doggedly campaigning away, apparently unabashed by the fact that they're doomed to failure from the outset. The Electoral Commission website lists dozens and dozens of them: Vivamus, A Country Once Proud, The John Lilburn Democratic party, Integrity UK, Keep Bucks Blue, the latter presumably ever-vigilant for the creeping menace of communism in Little Missenden.

Given the number of voters who claim to feel disenfranchised by the main parties, this should theoretically be their moment: Bex is optimistic – "it's lethal to guess what will happen, but I have a hunch, I have a feeling" – but our experience on the streets of Chipping Norton strongly suggest his optimism might be misplaced.
Nevertheless, I'm fascinated by minor parties. Not the joke candidates, who in Cameron's constituency include not merely Howling Laud Hope of the Monster Raving Loony William Hill party, but gormless, witless "comedy terrorist" Aaron Barschak. They're obviously wasting everyone's time, including their own. It's the serious ones I'm interested in. What possesses them to do it? Are they an essential part of the democratic process, nobly standing up for their beliefs? Or are they victims of their own monumental hubris, effectively mono-maniacal message board bores and late-night phone-in nutters? Furthermore, what's it like to spend your life devoted to a political cause no one else cares about? What happens when you have a party and no one turns up?

I've alighted on the Wessex Regionalists, not because of any great support for their policies, but simply because they seem both committed – fighting seven general elections over 36 years – and comparatively benign.

I first encountered Bex earlier in the week at a hustings in Woodstock. He's easy to spot, having handily turned up dressed as a venerable English eccentric: loud shirt, white suit, mutton-chop whiskers, big rosette. 

 When I arrive he's answering a question about global warming: the other candidates talk about recycling and international accords, but Bex launches into an impassioned harangue about the industrial revolution. His fellow candidates shuffle their notes.

 The UK Independence party and, mercifully, Aaron Barshack are among those who have failed to show, but there's a guy standing in for David Cameron, a well-informed local independent, a youthful Lib Dem lady, a Green and a representative of the Labour party whose technique for winning over one of the safest Tory seats in Britain seems to largely involve making check-out-this-loony faces whenever his opponents are speaking. When it comes to Bex's turn, you actually fear for the safety of the Labour representative's physiognomy, not least when the former outlines his party's tax policy. "The top 10% of earners must be taxed at 100% and the money given to parish councils," declares Bex. By the time he's finished speaking, it's gone up to 101%, leading to sneaking suspicion he might be making up the Wessex Regionalists' tax policy as he goes along: either way, judging by the cars parked outside Woodstock's plethora of upscale bistros, it doesn't seem an idea likely to find much favour in The Cotswolds.

Incredibly, however, during a discussion about local government, Bex not only appears to find some favour with the audience, who like his line about the dissolution of top-down central bullying, but his fellow candidates: "I agree with Colin," offers the Labour guy, his eyebrows finally under control, "regional government is important." Everyone else agrees with that too, but alas, Bex's Nick Clegg moment is rather fleeting: any sense of an ideological entente cordiale between the Wessex Regionalists and the major parties is upended by his refusal to shake the hand of David Cameron's representative at the end of the debate.

"I couldn't bear to touch his fat sausage fingers," he says, wrinkling his nose, which puts paid to the idea that he simply enjoys the business of politics, the cut-and-thrust excitement and clubbable atmosphere of a general election. "Oh no," he frowns. "I hope the other parties wish we'd bugger off. That means we're doing our job."

Nor could you accuse him of hubris, given that his aims are so modest. "I would be happy if I got over 100 votes," he admits in Chipping Norton. "I would be very happy with 200 or 250." He smiles. "I don't think I'm wasting my time. I'm not there to get into parliament. There's not a precedent for someone like me to get in. It can't happen. I'm doing it because I'm utterly convinced my ideas are right, and that, unless they're put into place, the next crash to come will be the crash to end all crashes. I was quoting Shelley last night, something about how out of the ashes of your failure comes the very thing you were aiming for. That's fine with me." And with that, the Wessex Regionalists head off in search of prospective voters, their flag wilting a little in the rain.
CamelotSimtropolis Pictures of Camelot City on Staple Hill, Neroche.
Capital of Wessex  2010

Situate at the highest point between the Bristol & English Channels
 on Staple Hill in the Blackdown hills.

Camelot has over 1500 years of history. It was & is the Capital of the Ancient English Kingdom of Wessex

Map of Camelot
Created by
Ginger Blokey - Simtropolis Geek Trixie Winner 2007
Central Market
Central Station
Eastgate Mall
Elm Hotel
Elm Towers
Elmwood Centre of Art
Elmwood Financial Centre
Fisherman's Place
Government Offices
High Court of Wessex
Mill Redevelopment
Museum of Jewish Culture
National Museum of Wessex
National Opera House
National Parliament
St John's Park
Transelm Riverside Centre
Wessex Science Museum

Camelot Forest

Tourist Info
The Wessex Tourist Board
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The Mall , Eastgate
Camelot, Staple Hill,
Neroche,Wessex
TA2 6AU
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Fax: 0845 862 1954
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Click onto The Camelot Businesses Below
Camelot Villa's Roman lap pool The image “http://www.camelotlimo.com/crest_200x200.png” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. The image “http://www.hotels.com/hotels/1000000/930000/920300/920258/920258_1_b.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Camelot Cottons Camelot Golf Club
Camelot Villa
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Camelot Golf & Country Club
The image “http://images.travelpod.com/users/wbeardsl/1.1229985600.camelot-motel.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Camelot Cats Camelot Village Sign Camelot Wines Camelot Park Villas
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http://www.schooltripadvisor.com/system/main_images/286/original/Camelot_logo_jpeg_2.jpg?1264759308 http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/01/68/d0/d2/cafe-camelot-in-spring.jpg Camelot Bar & Grill Daytime Picture of CLUB CAMELOT ,Balibago, Angeles City, Philippines Camelot medieval restaurant
Camelot Theme Park
Cafe Camelot
Camelot Bar & Grill
Club Camelot
Camelot Restaurant & Bar
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http://www.melburyandappleton.co.uk/ekmps/shops/melburyapple/images/wessex-mill-french-bread-flour-615-p.jpg
This French bread flour from Wessex Mill is milled in France from French wheat. It gives a light open textured loaf with a crisp crust. The French have always used local wheat. It is low in protein, and when protein is mixed with water it forms gluten. Gluten is like chewing gum, it allows the gas generated by the yeast to be trapped in bubbles. The stronger the wheat the smaller the bubbles.
The English have historically, because of the Empire imported wheat from India, Australia, South America, America and Canada. These wheats are strong in protein allowing English bakers to make small bubbles. It also allows more water to be added, if you then add a bit of fat, it allows the loaf to last for longer. English wheat has been bred to be much stronger over the last 60 years. Traditional French Bread is made with only flour, yeast and water. It goes stale very quickly, but you can revive it by reheating it in a hot oven for 3 minutes.
 
271 Muswell Hill Broadway,
Muswell Hill,
London.
N10 1DE
Our shop telephone number  is:
020 8442 0558
(from outside the UK call +44 20 8442 0558)
CLICK FOR WEBSITE
Old Wessex Canisters - New Look

100% Natural. 100% Delicious.
Our cereals are known for their taste, just like Grandmother made! Old Wessex™ products are delicious and packed with nutrition. With our various selections, you will find a high fiber breakfast cereal your whole family will love!
Old Wessex, 313 Iron Horse Way, Providence, RI 02908 USA
Saxon England
  The Wessaxens came here for a visit 1514 years ago and liked it so much they have stayed.
The Wessex Tourist Board Website is a success story. It is the voice of Wessex. The English Ancient Kingdom founded by Cerdicin 597AD. This site has attracted more than 21 million visitors since it opened in March 2002. Why ? Because we created the Internet Tabloid form to supply the information readers want. Our lovely Wessex lasses invite you in.  Information that is easy to use, easy to read and humourous. Some of our many pages may be clicked on below:
Great British Heritage Pass - Buy OnlineFives
Cricket Soccer Cerdic Golfer Horse Riding Ice Hockey Rugby
Cricket
Football
 Golf
Horseracing
Ice Skating & Hockey
Rugby
 Tennis Boxing  Theatre
Camping
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Tennis  Boxing  Theatre
Camping
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Kosher
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Filmland including The 007 Bond Girls Hotels Kosher Cerdic's Front Page
Events Mercian History Taunton Tourist Guide
Chard
& Wessex History
National Travel Literary Tour of Wessex
Caravan & Camp Sites in Berkshire  Caravan & Camp Sites in Devon Caravan & Camp Sites in Dorset  Caravan & Camp Sites in Gloucestershire
 Caravan & Camp Sites in Hampshire  Caravan & Camp Sites in Oxfordshire
Caravan & Camp Sites in Somerset Caravan & Camp Sites in Wiltshire Journey Planner  Check to see if your name has Wessex Roots Shopping in Chard Rowing UK
Guest Houses Somerset Carnivals  Pubs & Restaurants  Michelin Starred restaurants in Wessex Wessex List of National Reference Websites
Shitstirrers
Wessex Horse Riding
Bridgwater Tourist Guide
Simtropolis Camelot City
Chard Tourist Guide
Yeovil Tourist Guide

Roller SkatingCerdic FarmerMotorcycleSquashChefCerdic
A
C

Cerdi Von Wessex


The House of Wessex, also known as the House of Cerdic, refers to the family that ruled a kingdom in southwest England known as Wessex. This House was in power from the 6th century under Cerdic of Wessex to the unification of the Kingdoms of England.

The House, at this point, became rulers of all England (Bretwalda) from Alfred the Great in 871 to Edmund Ironside in 1016. This period of the British monarchy is known as the Saxon period, though their rule was often contested, notably by the Danelaw and later by the Danish king Sweyn Forkbeard who claimed the throne from 1013 to 1014, during the reign of Æthelred the Unready. Sweyn and his successors ruled until 1042. After Harthacanute, there was a brief Saxon Restoration between 1042 and 1066 under Edward the Confessor and Harold Godwinson, who was a member of the House of Godwin. After the Battle of Hastings, a decisive point in British history, William of Normandy became king of England. Anglo-Saxon attempts to restore native rule in the person of Edgar the Ætheling, a grandson of Edmund Ironside who had originally been passed over in favour of Harold, were unsuccessful and William's descendants secured their rule. Edgar's niece Matilda of Scotland later married William's son Henry I, forming a link between the two dynasties.

The House of Wessex was the last native English royal dynasty, the Kingdom of England and its successors since being ruled in turn by the House of Normandy (Norman French), House of Plantagenet (French), House of Tudor (Welsh), House of Stuart (Scottish), House of Orange (Dutch), House of Hanover (German) and House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (German; renamed House of Windsor in 1917).


This picture of Cerdic was drawn by Juliet Davey & is her copyrite

Hail My Subjects and My Visitors

cerdic RowsIm Cerdic, First King of Wessex. The Royal Family of England descends from me. I landed in Briton in 497AD and my Kingdom became the most powerful in the land - it was called Wessex. (West Saxons) and Camelot was my  capital. Wessex became England with the amalgamation of Mercia & Northumbria. After the Norman Conquest Wessex was divided up into eight different counties: Berkshire, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Somerset and Wiltshire. My site covers the attractions & Events in those eight Counties plus the four GREATER WESSEX counties of  Cornwall, Kent, Surrey & Sussex. Visit the Attractions in the ancient kingdom of Wessex .Tarry a while. Stay in our hotels, guesthouses ,caravans or campsites We thank the many hotels, Guest Houses, Caravan camping sites, internet cafes, visitor centres, tourist offices,magazines, newspapers and County shows for freely advertising our sites.

Somerset is a region of highs and lows. Along the middle and northern parts, low coastline meets the marshy "Levels," while further inland lie the freshwater and peaty marshlands known as the "Moors." Most of this area is no more than 80 feet above sea level. Among these expanses of flatlands lie  the   Blackdowns Hills. The topography here, as anywhere, has played a role in how the land has been used over the centuries. Climb a hill in Somerset or Devon today and you may well see grazing land, roads, low-lying villages. You may also catch sight of drainage channels, locally known as rhynes (pronounced "reens"). These are key to why much of you see is land inhabited and used by people rather than simply being watery marsh. Attempts to drain the marshes date back to the Roman period but the pervasiveness of the water has made the Somerset hills vital sites for settlement, protection, industries such as mining, and farming.

Somerset is home to around 47 hill forts. Many of these defended settlements were established in the fifth and sixth centuries BC and ranged from fairly simple designs, with a single bank and ditch extending around the hilltop, to more sophisticated systems of multiple ramparts and ditches. The Celtic tribes, which in this area included the Dubbuni, Durotriges, and Dumnonii, lived in roundhouses, grew food, grazed animals and traded with one another. The activity of the Iron Age tribes did not halt with the Roman invasion in 43 AD but there is gruesome evidence, for instance at South Cadbury, that some groups put up a strong resistance to the occupiers. The Romans occupied some of the hill forts for only short periods after arriving, although in some cases longer term settlements arose around economic activities such as mining.

After the Roman invaders had moved on, the locals regained the hilltops and many of the hill forts of Somerset continued to be used in various ways. Settlements continued at some of the larger sites. Over the centuries many of the hill tops were used for sending messages via beacon fires, particularly in times of conflict. The Saxons employed these during the Viking invasions and they were likely used in the 16th century and during the Napoleonic wars. The usefulness of some sites, such as Brean Down, continued into the 20th century, with its 19th-century fort being re-armed for defense during the second world war.

Today these sites provide a link to the past. As you gaze out over the land from atop of Camelot you cannot help but imagine what it would have been like living there years ago. The sites are also outstanding habitats for wildflowers, butterflies, and other wildlife.  As the main Hill Fort Camelot has developed into the major city of the 21st Century.

Camelot City LocationGeography of The Blackdown Hills

The Blackdown Hills form a tranquil, beautiful, and relatively isolated landscape on the Devon and Somerset border. Steep ridges, high plateaux, valleys and springs create a stunning mosaic of countryside dotted with farms, villages and ancient features. They cover an area of 370 square kilometres (143 sq mi). Heavily cut with sharp valleys, the hills reach their highest point of 315 metres (1,033 ft) above sea level at Staple Hill in Somerset. The hills in the southern part of the area, near Honiton in Devon, are more gentle. The Blackdown Hills are a sparsely populated area; much of the land is used for dairy farming.
 
The River Culm rises at a spring   near Culmhead and flows west through Hemyock, then Culmstock to Uffculme before joining the River Exe on the north-western outskirts of Exeter. The name of the river is thought to mean 'knot' or 'tie', in reference to the river's twists and loops;[3] or is derived from a Celtic river-name meaning winding stream.  The River Otter rises near Otterford, where a stream feeds the Otterhead lakes:  . It then flows south for32 kilometres (20 mi) through East Devon to the English Channel at the western end of Lyme Bay. The Permian and Triassic sandstone aquifer in the Otter Valley is one of Devon's largest groundwater sources, supplying drinking water to Taunton.  The other rivers are the River Yarty and the Corry Brook. The highest point is Staple Hill on which stands Camelot City. Camelot City is an enchanted place. It appears once every hundred years for one day, then disappears back into the mists of time, to wake up to its next day a century hence. So if you pick the right day you will be enchanted.

Villages in the northern, Somerset part of the hills include Staple Fitzpaine, Buckland St Mary, Whitestaunton, Wambrook and Churchstanton. The larger, more southerly area in Devon includes Dunkeswell, Upottery, Smeatharpe, Hemyock, Blackborough, Yarcombe, Membury, Stockland, Sheldon and Cotleigh.

WAS CERDIC KING ARTHUR?
*Some experts believe that Cerdic was another name for King Arthur  "Don't let it be forgot,That once there was a spot, For one brief, shining moment that was known as Camelot"
READ ABOUT THE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THE LIFE OF CERDIC &  KING ARTHUR - Click HERE or *Ref: Arthur, Cerdic, and the Formation of Wessex By: John C. Rudmin, 864 Chicago Av, Harrisonburg, VA, 22801  Joseph W. Rudmin, Physics Dept., James Madison Univ., Harrisonburg, VA, 22807 (First submitted for publication in Oct 1993) http://camelot.celtic-twilight.com/ rudmin/   Also view:http://www.jmu.edu/montpelier/summer97/arthur.html

cerdic

My Picture is copywrite of Juliet Davey. For permission to reproduce:


Hail there my subjects I'm Cerdic the very first King Of Wessex and the new www.wessextouristboard.org.uk website is MINE.  I landed in Britain in 497AD and conquered the Britons with my Saxon legions.

I came to Chard area- which is named after me ( originally Cerde). Here I made my headquarters for a time. This therefore became my headquarters and the first capital of Wessex. However as my army moved around I moved my capital around & other sites later included Cadbury, Somerton and Winchester.
(Actually my full name was Cerdic Von Wessex.)
  • My father was a Saxon Wizard called LLyr Merini. Yes legend has it that he was Merlin.  I was an illegitimate son so was Arthur.
  • Both my name in Saxon and Arthur's name in Celt mean Strongarm.
  • My wife was Guignier, sister of Cador, Prince of Cornwall. (King Arthur married Guenevere, raised in the household of Cador Duke of Cornwall).
  • I also spent 25 years in Gaul and ruled at Nantes and Vannes. (King Arthur spent 9 years subduing Gaul and held court in Paris. Reigned in Nantes in some stories)
  • I was the dynastic founder of Glamorgan. (King Arthur reigned for 5 years in Glamorgan).
  • Medrot was my Grandson (Arthur died fighting his nephew Modred)
  • Other coincidences in the story of King Arthur is that he goes to Dunbarton and fights the Picts and Scots. There is an emphasis on Dunbarton. This may have been due to confusion of Cerdic with Ceredig of Dunbarton. Someone named Ceredig gathered a fleet and ravaged the coast of Ireland around the year 450AD . King Arthur conquered Ireland and Iceland.
  • Whilst the story of King Arthur is obviously built up in legend, like that of Robin Hood, it seems that much of that legend was based on Cerdic. 
  •  Wessex grew into one of Britain's largest Kingdoms ( along with Mercia and Northumbria) and Cerdic's descendant King Alfred became King of England.
    Thus Cerdic's blood line runs through to the British Royal family to this day. The last British king to also be King of Wessex was Harold.
  • Now after a thousand years the Queen's Son, Prince Edward is the next Earl of Wessex.
  • It was stated that Camelot was on the highest point between the Bristol and English Channels- this is Staple Hill in the Blackdown Hills not far from Chard.

Sword in Stone

 
WHO WILL BE THE NEXT KING OF WESSEX?  COME TO COLLEGE GREEN,TAUNTON AND CHANCE YOUR ARM!
  • Whilst other places claim to be Camelot. We know it was supposed to be on the highest point between the English and Bristol Channels. Chard is the highest town in Somerset on the Blackstock Hills and near the highest point betwenn the Bristol and English Channels.
  • So as you continue through Chard just think Sir Lancelot, Guenevere or King Arthur could have stood there before you. Just think you might even find Excalibur, my famous sword.

dininghall
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scrollcamelot_small.jpg crests of camelot small image meine_liebe 

 

Ralph WhitlockWHERE & WHAT IS WESSEX?
(from "Whitlock's Wessex " by Ralph Whitlock 1975)

Wessex is the cradle of England. Here most things English came to birth and were nourished and protected through a difficult infancey. But for one or two of those incalculable accidents of history, we would now be hearing the BBC Newsreader every morning announce, 'Marnin'to ee all. Here be the tidings vor....'
Consider the verb 'to be'. In standard English the present tense now runs, I am, Thou art, He is, We are, They are.  
A mongrel hotchpotch culled from goodness how many verbs. Compare it with the Wessex: I be, Thou bist, He be, We be, You be, They be. An old English verb, perfectly conjugated. Nothing irregular about it, except that a Wessex man will use thee instead of thou, while, of course, a Devon man would say us instead of me. And until recently Dorset and Wiltshire folk would use her for everything except a tomcat, which was always he.

Even so, Wessex speech is much nearer to the original Anglo-Saxon than is Oxford English, which is a kind of debased dialect - as every Wessex man will confirm
.
Wessex speech, with its 'v's and 'z's and broad vowels, is still understood and used throughout Wessex. Indeed, a rough-and-ready definition of Wessex is the province where it is so used. It would include all of Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset and Devon; most of Hampshire and parts of Berkshire and Gloucestershire. Cornwall should come in ,too, I think. Cornwall was incorporated into the historical Wessex at a later date and so preserved for longer its Celtic identity and much of its Celtic Speech. The Cornish are insular to the extent that a Cornishman standing on the hills by Callington was able to comment, as he gazed at some apparently similar hills on the eastern horizon, 'There! Now who'd live in a place like that?'
When asked what was the matter with it he replied with infinite scorn, 'Why, that's Devon.'
 Another well-educated Cornishman who I met at Helston soon after the war commented, quite seriously, 'Well, I've finished my travels and now that I'm out of the RAF I don't ever want to go back to England again.
Nevertheless, there is a similarity between present-day Cornish speech and that of central Wessex. To Thomas Hardy it was 'Outer Wessex' and so it shall be for us.


Whitlock's WessexWessex folk have a Shibboleth. It is, Thee cassen zee as well as thee coo'st, ca'st? And if thee coo'st thee oosen!  Anyone who can understand that, by ear alone, can qualify as a Wessex man. I think most Cornish could.  The origin of Wessex is, of course, a matter of history. Wessex, the country of the West Saxons, was the largest, most enduring and most civilized of the Anglo-Saxon states. Our Royal family is descended directly from the West Saxon kings, the first of whom was the half-legendary Cerdic, who, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, landed with a war band somewhere on the south coast in the year 495. The Wessex royal family provided the first king of all England, Egbert. In 878, 53 years later, Wessex, alone of all the kingdoms of western Christendom, fought the rampaging Northmen to a standstill. Alfred, the hero of that epic, is the only English king ever to have been awarded the title 'the Great'.

For several centuries the political and social life of England was centered on Winchester, the Wessex capital. Probably it was the feud between Edward the Confessor and his mother, the redoubtable Queen Emma, that led to London, where Edward founded Westminster Abbey, usurping the place of Winchester, where Emma lived. But for centuries afterwards Wessex still led in commerce and industry. The West Country was studded with flourishing little weaving-towns and wool markets long before that industry moved to the North. Bristol & Southampton
were the foremost among dozens of thriving ports along the southern and south-western coasts. In recent years a trend towards regionalism, as a reaction to overmuch centralism, has revived the concept of Wessex. While some of the suggested new regions have had little logical basis in either history or geography Wessex, based on historical extent, would have an immense potential and would be at least homogeneous as Wales or Ulster.

Published by the Moonraker Press
. 26 St.Margaret's Street, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire
C 1975 Ralph Whitlock

The Wessex Suite is a work that evokes summer holidays by the seaside. Early in 1934 Percy Whitlock suggested to Richard Austin that he write a suite for orchestra. Austin was Dan Godfrey’s successor as conductor of the Bourenmouth Municipal Orchestra. At this time Whitlock was still organist and choirmaster at St Stephen's Church. However it was not until September 1937 that the suite materialised. It was written under the nom-de-plume of Kenneth Lark.
The Suite is in three movements - Revels in Hogsnorton; The Blue Poole and March: Rustic Cavalry. Revels in Hogsnorton derives from a mythical village created by the popular comedian Gillie Potter. It is a 'thirties ‘Much-Binding-in-the-Marsh’. This is an attractive waltz with a distinctly ‘modern’ trio.
The second movement is truly lovely. The title, The Blue Poole is a concatenation of two beauty spots. The Blue Pool on the Isle of Purbeck and of course Poole harbour itself. The movement opens with a brief upward phrase for saxophone. Then there is a cadenza for solo violin. There is a rocking motion in the accompaniment; a gorgeous tune is given to saxophones. The vibraphone is heard in the background. Muted brass lead to a variation of the tune; a harp glissando leads into a middle section. Then suddenly it is up-tempo. The xylophone is busy with figurations. Then the mood music returns, first for strings, then into the languorous theme- even the two solo violins seem slightly out of tune- just as it may have been in some far off performance. The movement ends quietly, with a vibraphone added note chord. It is a perfect picture of lazy days by the seaside.
The last movement is entitled Rustic Cavalry – seemingly related to Mascagni’s opera Cavalleria Rusticana. This march has been well described as ‘rousing and swashbuckling’ – and it certainly is. Elgar, however, is the musical inspiration rather than the Italian operatic composer. Malcolm Riley, the Whitlock scholar, has noted allusions to Froissart and mentions the fact the Radio Times billed this work as the Rustic Chivalry March. Elgar had prefixed his score of Froissart with ‘When chivalry lifted high her lance on high.’ Listeners have also detected references to the First World War Song – 'It’s a Long Way to Tipperary'. I do not quite understand what it is doing in a Wessex Suite; it does not really help with tone painting of a holiday by the sea. However, perhaps the clue lies in its description as swashbuckling. Is it meant to refer to things piratical and nautical? Who knows. But it rounds off what is an attractive and thoroughly enjoyable work.

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Neroche leaf logo

Welcome to Neroche

Neroche Parish lies in the beautiful Somerset countryside between the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to the south and Taunton, the county town of Somerset, to the north. It is made up of four smaller parishes – Bickenhall, Curland, Orchard Portman and Thurlbear, and Staple Fitzpaine, and includes the hamlets of Badger Street, Winter Well and Whitty. The landscape that makes it so enjoyable a place to live and work was shaped by agriculture, farming and forestry activities, but it is also an area where other local businesses thrive. The lanes, footpaths, bridleways and forest are ideal for outdoor activities for all the family.  It has exceptional facilities for walkers, runners and horse riders.

This is your gateway to the landscape of the northern ridge of the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, spanning the border of Somerset and Devon, from Culmstock Beacon in the west to Castle Neroche in the east.
The Neroche area blends secret places to explore, long distance Herepath Trails for walking and horse riding, a forest full of wildlife, and a rich historical landscape to discover.  We invite you to visit, to learn and to work with us to set this landscape free.
Neroche is a Landscape Partnership Scheme supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and a range of local organisations.  Led by the Forestry Commission and working closely with the local community, the Scheme is working to protect and celebrate the heritage of the area, and to provide opportunities for quiet enjoyment, education and training in countryside skills.

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Places to see near & Around Camelot City
Download map showing all sites
Refer to Ordnance Survey maps Explorer 115,116 and 128 or Landranger 193 and 192 when planning your visit.
1. Wolford Chapel Wolford Chapel Photograph 2 The burial place of John Graves Simcoe, first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada from 1792. The chapel and gardens are now owned by the Province of Ontario and are visited by many Canadians each year. The Chapel gardens are also open to the public at various times during the year. Follow the Canadian flag signs on the Honiton to Dunkeswell road. Map
2. Hembury Hillfort http://commondatastorage.googleapis.com/static.panoramio.com/photos/original/13531671.jpg The finest prehistoric hillfort in Devon with massive defensive ramparts. Excavations have revealed Iron Age and Roman occupation. Access via public footpath off A373. Map
Nearby Dumpdon Hill (16) is another Iron Age fort.
3. Otterhead Lakes http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3171/2923262439_459fd1fbe6.jpg?v=0 A mile-long chain of tranquil lakes, once part of a grand estate, now a nature reserve with lovely walks. Car park south of Otterford. Map
4. Wellington Monument The most recognisable landmark in the Blackdowns, overlooking the Vale of Taunton. Erected in the 19th century to honour Sir Arthur Wellesley, who chose the title Duke of Wellington after his victory over Napoleon. National Trust car park signed from A38 west of Wellington. Map
5. Second World War sites http://www.oorlogsmusea.nl/upload/2651080430141041.jpg The Second World War airbases at Dunkeswell, Upottery and Culmhead have major impacts on their local landscapes. You can see buildings and structures from this period and the sites are a draw for overseas visitors and relations of those service men stationed here during the war.

Dunkeswell Memorial Museum is dedicated to all the Veterans of United States Fleet Air Wing 7 and RAF personnel who served on the only American Navy airbase on UK soil during the war - later made famous in the TV series Band of Brothers. The museaum is at Flightway Business Park, Dunkeswell, EX14 4PG. Map
6. Culmstock Beacon The image “http://www.nerochescheme.org/media/uploadedFiles/image/History%20Pictures/CulmstockBeacon.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. One of a chain of Elizabethan beacons built to warn of Spanish invasion on the Devon coast. High on Blackdown Common, a wildlife haven with stunning views. Access via public bridleway. Map (access point)
7. Staple Hill easy access viewpoint trail A 1 km circular trail, built to enable people of all abilities to experience the landscape of the Neroche area. A firm, level trail, suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Viewpoints and picnic benches add to the enjoyment. Access via Forestry Commission car park south of Corfe. Map    Part of the Neroche Scheme. See the Neroche website for more information and trail guides.
8. Castle Neroche http://www.forestry.gov.uk/images/1051570big.jpg/$FILE/1051570big.jpg Now a series of earthen ramparts, Castle Neroche was once an Iron Age hillfort and later a simple Norman motte and bailey castle. A great site for walks. Access via Forestry Commission car park south of Staple Fitzpaine. Map
Staple Fitzpaine Herepath
This 13.7 mile (22 kilometre) circular trail takes you through the beautiful woodlands of the Neroche area. Open to walkers and riders, clearly waymarked and easy to follow. Access via car parks at Staple Hill (7) or Castle Neroche (8). Part of the Neroche Scheme. See the Neroche website for more information and trail guides.
Wildlife spotting
For places to see rare plants, butterflies, birds and other wildlife, see the sites for wildlife page.
Coldharbour Mill Coldharbour Mill
Cold Harbour Mill built around 1800 on the western edge was sited to exploit the available water power of the river Culm and was used for wool and yarn production until its commercial closure in 1981. It was a major employer and is now managed as an educational trust and continues to play an active part in telling the industrial history of the area. See http://www.coldharbourmill.org.uk/
Hemyock Castle Photo of Gatehouse at Hemyock Castle, Devon This medieval castle ruins with moat is open to visitors on bank holiday Mondays. It is possible to open at any time by prior arrangement. There are displays of history and archaeology and holiday accommodation is also available. Tel: 01823 680745.
For more information go to www.hemyockcastle.co.uk
Villages Community gathering place in Wessex Estate A host of lively communities with amenities for visitors. Traditional architecture includes picturesque thatched cottages and handsome chert houses. Larger villages include Hemyock, Dunkeswell, Churchinford, Broadhembury, Stockland and Buckland St Mary.
Blackdown Hills AONB

Neroche Parish Council

Neroche Hall
Sopmer set County Council
WASSAIL
Banners Galore

Signpost

THE ENGLISH COUNTIES PRE 1974
Click County You require
Wessex County Map Hampshire Somerset Devon Somerset Wiltshire Dorset Hampshire SUSSEX Kent Gloucestershire Berkshire Oxfordshire Worcestershire
Berkshire(BRK) Cheshire(CHS) Cornwall(CON)  Derbyshire(DBY)
 Devon(DEV) Dorset(DOR) Essex(ESS)
Gloucestershire(GLS)
Hampshire(HAM) Herefordshire(HEF)  Kent(KEN) Leicestershire(LEI)
London Tourist Guide  Middlesex(MDX) Nottinghamshire(NTT) Oxfordshire(OXF)
Shropshire(SAL) Somerset(SOM) Staffordshire(STS) Surrey(SRY)
Sussex(SSX) Wiltshire(WIL) Warwickshire(WAR) Worcestershire(WOR)
The Big Brum
Birmingham Tourist Guide
Bridgwater Tourist Guide Bristol Tourist Guide
Chard Tourist Guide
Mendip Tourist Guide Taunton Tourist Guide Yeovil Tourist Guide
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SO NOW WELCOME TO THE LANDS OF THE WESSAXENS, SOUTH SAXONS and ANGLES

Eventually my descendants captured the whole of England and amalgamated Mercia & Northumbria. It is my ambition to eventually cover all the attractions of England. So far we have covered Wessex under the website www.wessextouristboard.org.uk (Formerly www.chardnet.co.uk)  and now we have started to cover Mercia under www.merciatouristboard.org.uk. Click on to the county you require on the table to the left.So far 20 counties + London have been prepared- slowly the rest will follow.

Further we have a multitude of reference pages which were created some time ago and are now under reconstruction. So on here you will find dedicated pages to specialist activities in Wessex & Mercia. These include a list of Agricultural ,Horse Shows etc, The Wessex Hall of Fame, Michelin starred restaurants in Wessex,Seaside Resorts, Theatres in Wessex & the UK, List of Films made in Wessex, Wessex Names, Golf Clubs, Football Clubs, Rugby Clubs, Ice Skating and Racetracks . Campers & Caravanners have their own dedicated section too. I have even got my own page for readers letters and news snippets, mainly from my ancient capital Chard. There is also a full A-Z list of shops services in Chard, Crewkerne & Ilminster. All about Chard & The History of Wessex are also included. A special section on the County Town TAUNTON is also online

As we bring each one of those Counties on-line you will be able to click through to it on the map of Britain to the left. If you think there is anything that should be added do contact me on  Contact Us or call up on 0845 868 2810 or fax on 0845 862 1954

Wassail


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WESSEX EDUCATIONAL ESTABLISHMENTS
Wessex Institute of Technology
Located amid the beautiful New Forest National Park in England, Wessex Institute of Technology (usually referred to as just Wessex Institute or WIT) is a unique organisation serving the international scientific community. The overall aim of Wessex Institute is to develop a series of knowledge transfer mechanisms, particularly directed towards the exchange of information between academics and professional users within industry.This is achieved through a range of activities organised by a dedicated team of staff both within the Institute and its associate companies. A large network of prestigious contacts and links have been established with many organisations throughout the world.   
Ashurst Lodge, Ashurst, Southampton SO40 7AA, UK
 Email: wit@wessex.ac.uk
WESSEX INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY CLICK
 Tel: +44 (0)238 029 3223   Fax: +44 (0)238 029 2853
 Wessex Institute University of Southampton
Wessex Institute is part of the School of Medicine at the University of Southampton. Our mission is to support the national and international prosecution of the highest possible quality health technology assessment (HTA) and HTA-related research, in order to inform and improve the provision of health care. We are a multidisciplinary group of people: academics, administrators, doctors, health economists, health service researchers, information specialists, managers, midwives, nurses, public health specialists and systematic reviewers.
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the Wessex Institute University of Southampton, Mailpoint 728,
Boldrewood, University of Southampton, Southampton SO16 7PX.
E-mail: wi@soton.ac.uk
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON CLICK
Tel: 023 8059 5591
Fax: 023 8059 5639
Open University Geological Society
Welcome to the Wessex Branch of the OUGS. The Branch is lucky enough to have the World Heritage site of the Jurassic Coast on our doorstep. It is fantastic to see, and can show us so much about the history of the earth. Wessex OUGS is one of 18 branches of the Open University Geological Society. The Wessex branch covers Hampshire, Dorset, Isle of Wight, Southern Wiltshire and the Channel Islands. Check out the OUGS Branches page for locations and web sites of the other branches. The aims of the Wessex branch and the society is to organise a varied programme of field trips to venues both locally and throughout the UK, and to support the local and national membership in their study and enjoyment of Earth Sciences. We endeavour to welcome new and prospective members to join us in our aim of 'learning by doing' in the field and to keep the branch membership informed of our activities and findings.


Wessex Branch Organiser wessex@ougs.org
Wessex web-manager colin.morley@ouvip.com
OPEN UNIVERSITY WESSEX BRANCH CLICK


Wessex Media Group
The Media School is responsible for the management of Wessex Media Group, a creative network of media businesses in TV, Animation and Interactive Media. It exists to help members stay abreast of the current issues and developments which affect their businesses and also to communicate ideas and information with colleagues. Currently membership is free. WMG is one of five media clusters in the South West supported with help from South West Screen.The Media School at Bournemouth University is the largest centre of professionally based Higher Education for the media and communications industries in the UK, offering high-quality, industry-recognised courses in Media Production, Journalism and Communication, Computer Animation and Corporate & Marketing Communications.
Universitetas
The Media School
Bournemouth University
Weymouth House
Talbot Campus
Poole
Dorset
BH12 5BB
Email: srose@bournemouth.ac.uk
  WESSEX MEDIA GROUP CLICK

Tel: 08456 501501 (BU does not profit from this service)
(UK callers enquiry service only)
Tel: +44 (0)1202 961916





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Peter Bowles's heaven on earth: Wessex
Peter Bowles describes how he is inspired by the ancient sites and countryside of Wessex in southern England.
Wessex - Peter Bowles' heaven and earth
Big country: broad skies and sweeping views characterise the Wessex heartlands Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Peter Bowles' heaven on earth
Peter Bowles is particularly fascinated by the ancient sites of England Photo: GETTY IMAGES
 
Manor BornI love the part of southern England that once comprised the Kingdom of Wessex. When I was a bit younger I used to get up at about five in the morning or earlier and drive down to Silbury Hill – the tallest prehistoric man-made mound in Europe – from London and climb to the top in time to see dawn breaking.  Another favourite spot is Maiden Castle in Dorset – the largest and most complex Iron Age hill fort in Britain, which has the most fantastic earthworks. The views from both are amazing. Plus, I've always been fascinated by these ancient sites and sometimes, when I was restless and depressed as a younger man, I would find going up them quite inspirational. Often I'd be the only person around.

I still visit the area – which has all sorts of other attractions too, such as Stonehenge and Cadbury Hill, which are synonymous with ''Old England'' – as often as possible. I was also lucky to get to know it even better when we were filming "To the Manor Born" in the late Seventies and early Eighties. The countryside, with its rolling hills and hedgerows, pretty villages and parish churches, is so quintessentially English, and that's another reason why an old romantic like me loves it so much.

I have a couple of favourite places I like to stay. Firstly, Plumber Manor (01258 472507; www.plumbermanor.co.uk), in Sturminster Newton, the archetypal Dorset country hotel. The owner does the best vodka martini I've ever had. I'm also a big fan of the Acorn Inn (01935 83228; www.acorn-inn.co.uk) in Evershot. The Acorn is a 16th-century coaching inn that featured in Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the d'Urbervilles", though he renamed it The Sow and Acorn. It boasts fantastic views and the food is excellent – it also serves a lovely drop of local ale.
Whenever I visit Wessex, I can't help thinking how lucky we are to be blessed with such wonderful countryside on our doorstep.


ANTHEA MILNES "THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO Wessex".
 Independent, The (London). Aug 17, 2002. 
 
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20020817/ai_n12638245
If you listen to Wessex FM, travel on Wessex Trains and use Wessex Water, you may be surprised to learn that Wessex no longer exists. Established in the 6th century, the tribal kingdom of Wessex changed shape repeatedly during its 300-year life. At its greatest, it stretched from Cornwall to Kent, with Winchester at its heart and Alfred as its king. The name Wessex is a shortened version of "West Saxony", although the region's early inhabitants included Jutes and Celts as well as Saxons.

Since its demise in the 9th century, there have been several attempts to resurrect the region, most famously by Thomas Hardy in the 19th century, who used Wessex as the setting for his novels. (Wessex was also the name Hardy gave to his bad-tempered dog.) Today, organisations bearing the name Wessex serve counties as far-ranging as Devon, Gloucestershire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Herefordshire and Hampshire. Some base their definition on archaeological and historical sources, some on where the Wessex dialect was spoken, and some on Thomas Hardy's map, while others have simply defined Wessex to suit themselves. In the spirit of "invent your own Wessex" this article focuses on the (arguably) core counties of Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

HOME TO EDWARD AND SOPHIE?

The Earl and Countess of Wessex actually live in Bagshot in Surrey. Prince Edward is the third Earl of Wessex, following on from Godwin, to whom King Canute first gave the title, and his son Harold Godwinson, later Harold II of England. When the Normans invaded in 1066 they abolished local earldoms, and the office of Earl of Wessex was abandoned for 1,000 years until Prince Edward adopted it on his marriage to Sophie Rhys-Jones. However, as the historian David Starkey points out, "The title itself is a total fiction. There is nowhere called Wessex."

ISN'T IT WORZEL GUMMIDGE COUNTRY?

The traditional view of Wessex is that of a region full of yokels; people who call you "my lover", and decline the verb to be "I be, you be, he be, we be, you be, they be" while conversing in a West Country burr about "them apples" and sipping a pint of scrumpy. This is, of course, far from the whole story, and today's inhabitants are more likely to be commuters than dairymaids. The region's landscape varies from rolling hills and hedgerows to trout streams and healing waters; from milk-and-honey valleys to chalk downland and bleak plains; from sacred sites to smugglers' coves, and from seaside resorts to suburban sprawl. Incidentally, Scatterbrook Farm in the TV series of Worzel Gummidge, was actually Pucknell Farm in the Test Valley in Hampshire (which may or may not be in Wessex).

WHAT ABOUT THOMAS HARDY COUNTRY?

The first guide to Thomas Hardy country was published in 1904, starting a trend in tracking down the sites featured in Hardy's novels. This pursuit is complicated by the fact that many of the places the author mentions have been condensed or expanded, while buildings have been transposed or amalgamated. If you want to follow the Hardy trail, take Fred Pitfield's Hardy's Wessex Locations as your guide (Dorset Publishing Company, pounds 9.95).

Perhaps the most-visited Hardy site is his own thatched cottage in Higher Bockhampton, Dorset (01305 262366, open 1 April-4 November, daily except Friday and Saturday, 11am-5pm; pounds 2.60 per person). It was built by his great-grandfather in 1800. Sitting in the window- seat here, Hardy wrote Under The Greenwood Tree and Far From The Madding Crowd. Nature trails through neighbouring Thorncombe woods, a wildlife sanctuary, are especially enchanting during the bluebell season, and from here you can also walk to Stinsford Church where Hardy's heart is buried. The rest of his body is interred in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.

You can stay in cottages converted from barns built by Hardy's father at Greenwood Grange, a short distance from Hardy's Cottage (0870 585 1111; www.english-country-cottages.co.uk). The cottages have a communal indoor swimming pool, sauna and solarium. Each cottage sleeps four; and costs pounds 666 for a week in August.


ANY OTHER LITERARY CONNECTIONS?

Loads. On the Cobb (an artificial breakwater) in the historic Dorset seaside town of Lyme Regis, John Fowles' French Lieutenant's Woman stood hooded and windswept, and Louisa Musgrove jumped and fell in Jane Austen's Persuasion. After Charmouth, Lyme also boasts one of the best fossiling beaches on the south coast, and it was here that 11-year-old Mary Anning astonished the scientific community in the early 19th century by finding the skeleton of an icthyosaurus. A two- bedroom thatched cottage on the sea-front can be rented from Lyme Bay Holidays (01297 443363; www.lymebayholidays.co.uk) for pounds 525 per week in August or pounds 400 per week in September.

J Meade Faulkner was a contemporary of Thomas Hardy's and author of the much-loved smuggling story, Moonfleet. The Fleet is a lagoon separating Chesil Beach, an 18-mile ridge of shingle stretching from the Isle of Portland to Bridport, from the mainland. On the far side of the Fleet many vessels foundered, causing the lee shore to be known as "Deadman's Bay", or in John Meade Faulkner's story, "Moonfleet Bay". Fleet Old Church is where John Trenchard is supposed to have been trapped in Blackbeard's vault. Moonfleet Manor (01305 786948; www.moonfleetmanor.com) on The Fleet is situated at the end of a two-mile winding lane. It has a pleasantly ramshackle, old- colonial feel and superb sea views over to Portland Bill. A single room for one night starts from pounds 80.

Neolithic man certainly made his mark here. The greatest concentration of prehistoric monuments in Britain occurs in Wiltshire, which is home to burial mounds, hill forts and henge monuments. The most famous is Stonehenge (open 1 June-31 August, 9am- 7pm; 1 September-15 October from 9.30am-6pm; pounds 4 per adult, pounds 2 per child). The site is about to get a pounds 57m revamp designed to improve public access to the stones, to take away traffic and to create a visitor centre. Not far away is Avebury, the largest of the 900 or so surviving stone circles in Britain. Fourteen times larger than Stonehenge, the Avebury circle is also more than 500 years older. Access to the Avebury stones is free and unrestricted. Also in the vicinity are West Kennet Long Barrow, one of the longest Neolithic burial chambers in Britain; Silbury Hill, the largest artificial mound in Europe dating back to around 2700bc; and Windmill Hill, the site of the earliest Neolithic farming culture in England.

You can explore Wiltshire's Neolithic world on a new four-day walking tour run by Foot Trails (01747 861851; www.foottrails.co.uk). The trail crosses the open countryside of the Vale of Pewsey and the northern tip of Salisbury Plain, taking in at Windmill Hill, Avebury, Silbury Hill, West Kennet Long Barrow and Stonehenge. The cost is pounds 375 per person with a single person supplement of pounds 15 per night. Accommodation is at the two- star Lamb Inn, an old country hotel in the idyllic Wiltshire village of Hindon. You will walk about eight miles each day at a relaxed pace. Foot Trails also offers one- day six-mile guided walks around Stonehenge. The price of pounds 19.95 per person includes a picnic lunch.

I WANT TO STAY ON THE BEATEN TRACK

Two of the best-loved walks that pass through Wessex are the Macmillan Way and the Monarch's Way. The 290-mile Macmillan Way actually starts in Lincolnshire, but passes through Wiltshire and ends on the Dorset coast at Abbotsbury. It was originally devised as a charity walk to raise money for the Macmillan Cancer Relief and is now fully waymarked. The walk has its own website at www.macmillanway.org.

The Monarch's Way follows the flight of Charles II after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. It is more than 600 miles long in its entirety, but the section within Wessex runs from Bristol via Wells to Yeovil in Somerset, through Charmouth and Bridport in Dorset, then to Wincanton in Somerset and just north of Salisbury in Wiltshire before passing on into Hampshire and Sussex. The Monarch's Way website is at www.monarchsway.50megs.com.

Wycheway Country Walks (01886 833828; www.wychewaycountrywalks.co.uk) offers a series of guided walking holidays following the Monarch's Way. The price for a one-week guided walk is pounds 395 per person, including accommodation in small hotels, guesthouses or farmhouses, breakfast and packed lunch. The average daily walking distance is 10 miles.

WHAT ABOUT THE SEASIDE?

Wessex has two patches of coastline; in the west the Severn Estuary stretches from Avonmouth in the north to Porlock in the south, while the south Dorset coast extends from Lyme Regis in the west to Christchurch in the east. The most popular seaside resorts include Weymouth and Bournemouth in Dorset and Weston-super-Mare in Somerset. Weymouth became a fashionable seaside resort after King George III went to bathe there every summer. If modern royals feel over-exposed, they may like to remember that every time the king bathed, crowds cheered and played the national anthem.

As Weymouth became increasingly popular, Bournemouth was developed as a more exclusive alternative. Portrayed as Sandbourne in Tess Of The d'Urbervilles, Bournemouth has not changed much since Hardy described it as a "fashionable watering place... with its piers, its groves of pines, its promenades and its covered gardens", and still likes to think of itself as a cut above its rivals, Blackpool and Brighton. More fun on piers is to be had at Weston-super-Mare in Somerset. Weston is also a good base from which to explore Wookey Hole Caves, Cheddar Caves and Gorge, Longleat, Bath and Bristol.

WHERE'S THE BEST PORT IN A STORM?

The thousand-year-old port of Bristol. This summer from 22 August- 22 September you can visit the "Dance Live! Bristol" festival. Spanning venues across the city, the festival features World Dance Day (Lloyds TSB Amphitheatre, 25 August) and "Dance Bites" introducing the Autumn Fashion Shows with Jeff Banks (the Mall at Cribbs Causeway, 19-21 September), among other events. For more information go to www.visitbristol.co.uk.


For gentler entertainment, attend a series of free Friday lunchtime and early evening jazz performances in Queen Square throughout August; take a boat trip from Bristol Industrial Museum around the Floating Harbour on the newly-restored John King, a 1935 motor tug; or explore Bristol's Georgian village, Clifton, on a guided walk any Saturday or Sunday in August at 12pm, 1pm or 2pm.

A VILLAGE AFFAIR

POETIC, PICTURESQUE AND PERFECT FOR TV

John Betjeman was a regular visitor to Dorset and loved the sounds of the names of the villages. His poem "Dorset" begins "Rime Intrinsica, Fontmell Magna, Sturminster Newton and Melbury Bubb..." Other Wessex towns and villages worth a visit include:

Lacock in Wiltshire. This National Trust village dates from the 13th century. Its lime-washed, half-timbered and stone houses made it the ideal setting for Meryton in the most recent BBC dramatisation of Pride and Prejudice. The medieval Lacock Abbey also featured in the film of Harry Potter (01249 730501; www.nationaltrust.org.uk). The museum, cloisters & garden are open 16 March -3 November daily, 11am- 5.30pm; closed Good Friday; the abbey is open 30 March-3 November, daily 1pm-5.30pm (closed Tuesdays and Good Friday). Entrance to all costs pounds 6.20 per adult, pounds 3.40 per child or pounds 16.80 for a family ticket.

In contrast, Poundbury, an extension of Dorchester, has been used as a model for urban development. This highly modern village has been designed, with input from the Prince of Wales, to be energy efficient, to create a sense of community, and so that people with different incomes live next door to one another.

Midsomer Norton in Somerset is ITV's murder capital of the country, while Golden Hill in Shaftesbury is featured in the famous Hovis advert, accompanied by Dvorak's "New World Symphony" and out- of-place Yorkshire accents.

The picturesque village of Corfe on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset offers easy access to sandy beaches at Studland, Swanage and Sandbanks, the steam Swanage Railway, riding, golf and great walks. The ruin of Corfe Castle (01929 481294; www.nationaltrust.org.uk) towering above the village on a conical hill in a gap in the Purbeck ridge is visible for miles around (open daily all year, except 25, 26 December and one day in mid-March; April to October 10am-6pm; pounds 4.30 per adult, pounds 2.15 per child, pounds 10.80 per family - two adults and three children).


Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy's Wessex

I find that the name Wessex is getting taken up everywhere and it would be a pity for us to lose the right to it for lack of asserting it





The Windle map of Hardy's Wessex, 1906.
Bertram Windle published a topographical guide titled The Wessex of Thomas Hardy.
(This map, courtesy of The Thomas Hardy Association, has been chosen for its relative clarity.) 
Thomas Hardy first used the term "Wessex" in his 1874 novel, Far From the Madding Crowd.

In reprinting this story for a new edition I am reminded that it was in the chapters of "Far From the Madding Crowd," as they appeared month by month in a popular magazine, that I first ventured to adopt the word "Wessex" from the pages of early English history, and give it a fictitious significance as the existing name of the district once
included in that extinct kingdom. The series of novels I projected being mainly of the kind called local, they seemed to require a territorial definition of some sort to lend unity to their scene.
--- from Hardy's Preface to the novel, 1895-1902 

The extinct kingdom to which Hardy refers, of course, is that ancient kingdom of the West Saxons known as Wessex. From the sixth to the tenth centuries the boundaries of Wessex expanded and contracted as wars went favorably or otherwise, but theheart of the kingdom, with its capitals first in Chard and then at Winchester, always lay in southwest England, and in large part approximated the area indicated by the map displayed above.
King Alfred the Great of Wessex, who styled himself King of the English, ruled from 871-899, and did much to consolidate the kingdom and advance the development of what was to become the English monarchy. 

 It was during the reign of King Athelstan (925-939), however, that the royal house of Wessex reached a peak of splendor and success, and the Wessex king could proudly lay claim to the title "King of all Britain".

The Battle of Hastings in 1066 sounded the death knell of the Saxon monarchy. When William the Conqueror claimed the English throne he quickly put down all resistance, and the Saxon nobility were largely destroyed and almost entirely dispossessed.

The bones of many of the kings of Wessex repose in mortuary chests within Winchester Cathedral. That city was the royal and ecclesiastical centre of Wessex, and the site of a minster church since the year 648.

Hardy's concept of Wessex, as we know it today, did not spring full-blown from his mind at an early stage. Rather, it evolved over the years in both size and exactitude as his imagination formulated a unifying geographic canvas for his novels and poems.

It was not until about 1884, when he began to write The Mayor of Casterbridge , that "... Hardy achieved a full realization of the Wessex concept, a realization which depended on the establishment of Casterbridge itself... as the central point, the economic, administrative, and social capital, of a whole region" (from Michael Millgate's Thomas Hardy:

 

His Career as a Novelist, which devotes a chapter to "The Evolution of Wessex").

In 1895-96, Hardy painstakingly revised his novels for the Osgood, McIlvaine collected editions soon to be published. He systematically changed place names and topography to conform consistently with the fictitious Wessex he had formulated. 

For example, actual place names were used in The Trumpet-Major when originally published in 1880; now Dorchester became Casterbridge, Weymouth became Budmouth, and so on. In other cases distances and directions were changed to conform to the actual landscape of the region. In Far From the Madding Crowd, for example, when driving the funeral cart from Casterbridge to Weatherbury, Joseph Poorgrass originally went up a hill, looked left to the sea, and saw high hills; this was modified to down a hill, looked right to the sea, and saw long ridges

The new wording more accurately describes what one would actually experience in traveling that route from west to east. Further revisions were made in later years for later editions, until finally Hardy's vast works conformed to the region that he envisioned and called Wessex. But as Thomas Hardy himself always maintained, "This is an imaginative Wessex only".

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WESSEX MISCELLANY
             MOVE over, you Essex lasses - the Wessex Girls are here.
from The Sun Newspaper 
Party girls ... Wessex women Charlotte Smith and Kelly Edwards
Party girls ... Wessex women Charlotte Smith and Kelly Edwards
They are West Country and very up-fronty ... 65 per cent said in a survey on dating website countrysidelove.co.uk that they would sleep with a man on a first date. Here, REBECCA LEY chats to two girls from the nation's newest hot-to-trot spot about dating and mating.  It must be something to do with all that fresh air
 
Fun-nel times ... Charlotte Smith on a night out
Charlotte Smith, 24

Fun-nel times ... Charlotte Smith on a night out

CALL centre worker Charlotte is from Bristol.
FIRST-DATE CONQUESTS: 3Big night ... Charlotte and pals
She says: "I would consider myself to be a proper West Country girl - we're loud, outgoing and always up for a laugh.
"A typical night out would start with me and a few mates, usually ten of us, getting dolled up round someone's house. "We get through a few bottles of wine there and, once we are looking fabulous, we go on to a couple of bars then a club.
"West Country girls know how to let their hair down. I think that relaxed attitude is why we are happy to have a roll in the hay without worrying about what other people will think of us.

"We are just less stressed down here. The pace of life is undoubtedly slower.
"I don't go out to pose, I go out to get involved. When it comes to blokes, me and the girls like to be the predators.

"If I see a good-looking bloke on the dance floor or at the bar I'm not going to wait for him to come over, I'll go and introduce myself to make sure I get what I want.
"I don't go out specifically to have a one-night stand, but if it goes that way then I don't care. "Guys do it all the time, so why not girls? I have had sex three times on the first date.
"It is nice to have fun without any strings, as long as both of you are up for it, why not? "I love sex, I'm proud of it and I'm always careful."
"People try to pigeonhole girls who like sex as slags but it is not like that at all. We're strong women who like to take control. "We want to have some fun. I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

 



 
Philosophical ... Kelly Edwards
 
 
Kelly Edwards, 22
RECRUITMENT consultant Kelly is from Bristol.
"I love the West Country, the parties are rowdy, the girls are up for partying - and the blokes are fit. A perfect combination."

FIRST-DATE CONQUESTS: "Several"
She says: "Girls from this part of the world are definitely up for a laugh. "We are more party-minded than some other parts of the country - I think it goes with a more relaxed pace of life. "What you see is what you get.

We don't feel the need to hold anything back and if that down-to-earth attitude extends to meeting blokes, then I don't see that there's any harm done. "I have slept with several men on the first date and I don't see anything wrong with it.

Berry sexy ... Kelly all dolled up
Berry sexy ... Kelly all dolled up
"It's good to try before you buy, that way you work out if you really like someone or not.   "When I first meet someone, it's all about their looks initially, but then you rely on how well you get on with them to establish whether there is any chemistry between you.
"Then if you want something to happen, it should be up to you."At the end of the day, the only person you should have to justify yourself to is the one you see in the mirror.
"I don't see why anybody should judge anybody else.
Here's a tidy little package ... Kelly Edwards
Here's a tidy little package 

 

"I have also got together with a man after a formal first date - it isn't always just after meeting them in a club.
"One bloke took me out for dinner and then a boat pulled up outside to take us to a champagne bar.

"He had arranged it all. It was so romantic and exciting that we ended up sleeping together that night.

"I don't think West Country girls are the new Essex girls though.
"That was a traditional perception of blonde hair and fake boobs - we're not anything like that.
"I think when that idea was created, women were less in control of their lives than they are now.
"Now it's a woman's world.
 "We really are the ones in charge and if that extends to enjoying our sex lives then what's the harm?
"I will go out with a group of girlfriends every weekend.
"Sometimes there will be up to 15 of us and it would be fair to say that we get a bit of attention.
"But we're young, we may as well enjoy it.
"I have had three long-term relationships. One developed after I had slept with someone on a first date.
"At the moment I'm single. It's less hassle than a relationship and I'm in no rush to get coupled up again.
"I'm having the time of my life."
What they wear
Wessex wear ... ugg boots
Wessex wear ... ugg boots
NOT white stilettos and mini skirts - they have a more rural, laid back style.
Micro-shorts and Ugg boots are in, but they are just as happy in jeans and a T-shirt.
Belts slung around the hips are also a big craze - Sienna Miller was doing it three years ago, but boho-chic still rules here.
Wessex Girls want to look hot, but not like they've tried too hard.
What they say
IF a Wessex Girl likes a man they will call him "lush". Their capital of fun, Bristol, is called "Brizzle".
"How are you?" translates as "Alright me luvver?" and "Where is it?" becomes "Wer zat to?"
If they're pleased - particularly after a fruitful first date - they might come out with "Proper job" or "Mint, innit!".

If you want to poke fun at a Wessex girl try these jokes ...

Where they're to ... Wessex country

Where they're to ... Wessex country

A WESSEX girl put an ad in the classified section of a newspaper saying: Husband wanted.

Next day she received a hundred letters. They all said: "You can have mine."

Q: What's the mating call of the Wessex Girl?
A: "I'm sooo drunk!"
Q: How did the Wessex Girl break her leg raking leaves?
A: She fell out of the tree
Q: How many Wessex girls does it take to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies?
A: Five. One to make the mixture and four to peel the Smarties.
Q. WHAT does a Wessex girl never leave home without?
A. Her hyphen!
DO YOU KNOW ONE?

ARE you a Wessexy girl or do you know someone who is?

  • Email your tales of sexy West Country women to features@the-sun.co.uk or write to: Wessexy, The Sun, 1 Virginia St, London E1 9BD.
  •  On The Other Hand This is The Independant Defination of Wessex Girl
     What do sociologists describe as "a Wessex Girl"?

     
     Sophie Countess of WessexUnlike Sloanes, who cling to their class background with goofy, panicky enthusiasm, Wessex Girls are generally uninterested in social position. They are reasonably well-bred, of course ­ most of them were raised in the home counties or in the smarter parts of the Chilterns ­ but they have discovered that, in modern Britain, overt snobbery is a career liability. On the other hand, unlike Essex Girls, they have not the slightest interest in drinking to excess, staggering about at parties or using inappropriate language.

    Although it has been a good five years for Wessex Girls, their sphere of influence is in particular areas. They never work in the City, finding the barrow-boy, fast-buck ethic distasteful, and the idea of joining a firm that actually makes something has never appealed ­ there is something about the words "manufacturing" and "product" that makes their hearts sink. Working as some kind of high-level facilitator or intermediary is their strength. They put people in touch with one another, quietly use their efficiency and superior classlessness to market and promote. Although you might find a few of them as partners in a blue-chip estate agency or running one of the more fashionable charities, it is the media that is their natural home.

    Wessex Girls learnt the importance of the sensible, tidy ordering of things when they were prefects at their girls school (a particularly happy time) and since then, organisation has been central to their world. They have discovered that creativeness is quite the thing these days but, not being that way inclined themselves, they often work in a faintly creative environment, but in the administrative wing. They hold together film production companies, run PR companies, and make formidably solid publishing editors or literary agents.

     
    Amy WilliamsIt's Official Wessex Girl Comes down Fastest : Amy Williams from Bath wins the Olympic Gold Medal in the Skeleton event at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

    Wessex Girls have no wish to run the world. They are content with a directorship, a high five-figure salary, and the knowledge that, when they have children, any change to their careers will be easy to accommodate. They marry late ­ not because they enjoy having a wild time while single ­ unlike Sloanes and Essex Girls, Wessex Girls tend to have a low sex drive ­ but for simple organisational reasons. It takes time to build a career, to establish an acceptable position in the world. A husband, important as he may be to the general set-up, will tend to be a late add-on. He will have similar priorities to her ­ a decent salary, agreeable friends, a sense of amiable moderation ­ and, like his Wessex Girl, has reached a stage in life when it seems sensible to become a couple.Wessex W.I.

    When they have children, it will be an orderly event. Family matters ­ bedtimes, manners, education, love, holidays ­ will be administered with the same cool, gentle efficiency as a board meeting or a PR campaign.

    There are no Wessex Girls in the Priory. They have seen too much mess in the lives of their parents ­ divorce, booze, rage and collapse ­ to go beyond the nursery slopes of pleasure. They may not openly disapprove of drugs, for tolerance is rather important to them, but they will not have taken them since they made rather a fool of themselves in a slightly silly period in their gap year. Not all Wessex Girls are the same. Some, will experience the odd setback. But they will soon be back on track. For a Wessex Girl knows that, in today's world, there is not much that breeding, worldliness and an acceptable accent cannot achieve.
    Wessex Folk Festival
    Next year's Festival will be 3 - 5 June 2011
    The Wessex Folk Festival, which generally occurs on the first weekend in June, is a community based organisation run by volunteers and supported by local businesses and fund raising. The festival's aim is to promote, support and encourage live performance for all, especially that which is rooted in the traditions of the area. Since 2006, the focus of the event has been Hope Square and Weymouth Old Harbour, with activities ranging from free open air concerts on two stages, pub music sessions, dance displays, workshops, and two ticketed concerts. Up-to-date details are on our website.
    487 Radipole Lane, Weymouth DT4 0QF.
    Tel: 01305 780457.



    Wessex Morris Men group photograph Wessex Morris Men were founded in 1957 by a group of young men (including our present Foreman: Don Byfleet) out of The White Horse Morris Men. The side is an all male side, dancing mainly in the Cotswold tradition. The side is an active member of the Morris Ring.
    We dance out, mainly in the late spring and summer months, around West Dorset and nearby. During summer we dance every Monday evening (see our programme for details). We also dance at shows, fetes and other public and private events.

    Send email to the Bagman Send (or phone 01258 817963 but email is easier for him).

    or email to the Squire Send

    or email to the Treasurer Send

    Museum of Jewish Culture The Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/nonJewish Relations
    The Parkes Institute is a unique centre for the study of Jewish/non-Jewish relations across the ages. The Institute, through its research, publications, teaching and outreach work, is based on the library and life work of the Christian scholar and activist, the Reverend Dr James Parkes (1896-1981). The library now consists of over 20,000 printed items – books, pamphlets and journals – and is supplemented by one of the largest collections of Jewish archives in Europe, consisting of many hundreds of individual and institutional records, totalling millions of individual items.  

    The Parkes Institute
    History - School of Humanities
    The James Parkes Building
    University of Southampton
    Southampton - SO17 1BJ
    UNITED KINGDOM
    URL: www.soton.ac.uk/parkes
    Email: parkes@soton.ac.uk
    Tel: (+44) 23 8059 2261
    Fax: (+44) 23 8059 3458

    The Wessex Singers Chamber Choir, St. James' Church, Holt, Dorset The Wessex Singers is a Chamber Choir of about 40 singers, founded by its musical director Christopher Dowie in 1979. This Wimborne choir is promoted by Wimborne Music Society and usually gives three main concerts a year, sometimes with Wimborne Minster Chamber Orchestra, as well as singing the occasional Minster service in the absence of the Minster Choir. The choir regularly premieres new choral works, as well as performing from a wide repertoire of established works.
    email - Wessex Singers
    Jane Asher with WMC Wessex Male Choir was founded by its Musical Director Robert Elliott in September 2001, and currently has around 60 members. The choir has built a reputation for its professionalism and entertaining repertoire, and is in great demand for concert engagements.WMC also has a proud tradition of charity support, both nationally and in the Swindon area.Wessex Male Choir occasionally enters competitions. We were awarded the coveted Gold Cup for the best choir at the Cheltenham Choral Festival in May 2008 and took second position in the Male Choir competition at Llangollen International Eisteddfod in July 2006, beating all other UK choirs.

    Musical Director: Robert Elliott ,
    Tel: 01793-853753
    musical.director@wessexmalechoir.co.uk

    The Wessex Chamber Choir  The Wessex Chamber Choir was founded in 1990 under the musical direction of Nicholas Woods, who established the choir as a versatile and accomplished vocal ensemble. After many successful years with Nicholas, we are now delighted to have Richard Stevens as our musical director. The choir consists of 25 to 30 mixed voices. Members come from a variety of musical backgrounds and live in North Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire. We meet weekly near Basingstoke to rehearse throughout the year and perform in a variety of venues across the region. In addition, we visit cathedrals around the country several times each year to take part in services in the absence of their resident choir. We are also available to sing at weddings and other services in the area.
    To discuss booking the Wessex Chamber Choir or information regarding ticket sales, contact us by email

    Good fiction does more than tell a story.

    It gives the gift of experience.

    The Wessex Collective


    If literary fiction (story telling) is the way that human beings can understand and describe what history feels like, we believe it should be relevant to universal and historic human experience.  We believe also that literary fiction provides an opportunity to recognize, with significant impact, the problems of societies as well as individuals.

    At the Wessex Collective we are publishing books that demonstrate an empathy for human vulnerability and an understanding of how that is important to the larger society.

    Please click on an author's name to find out more about their work.
    © Copyright 2010 The Wessex Collective. All Rights Reserved.
    witchesPumpkinTHE DARK SIDE OF SOMERSET
    As with most countries and lands in England, Somerset has a rich history that is shrouded in both myth and legend. That history is spiced with ghostly tails, mysteries and legends of old. While the myths and legends that haunt throughout England's historic lands are similar in time and circumstance, Somerset has it's own famous entities, legends and tales of the past. Below are Some Somerset 2010 Halloween events + some of the Somerset dark sides.

    Ghost, Ghouls & Witches Day :A creepy day of trails and storytelling Toilets, car park Dunster Castle Normal admission applies plus £2 per trail 01643 821314
    Exmoor  Somerset  Wed 27 October
    Halloween Star Party : A chance to join members of the Wiltshire Astronomical Society and use their telescopes to sweep the night sky. This time of year you should see Uranus, the planet discovered by.. more...In front of Number 1 Royal Crescent Bath  Somerset BA1 2LR 
    Sat 30 October
    Ghost Tours : Spooky tours at Dunster Castle Toilets, car park Dunster Castle Bookings required Adult £10, Child £5 01643 821314 Exmoor  Somerset
    Sat 30 October
    WEST SOMERSET RAILWAY HALLOWEEN GHOST EXPRESS. Take the Halloween Express for a round trip on a steam train between Bishops Lydeard (near Taunton) and the Haunted Garden at Stogumber station for the entertainment. The trip.. more...West Somerset Railway, Bishops Lydeard, Taunton  TA4 3BX
    Sat 30 October
    Halloween Ghost tours Listen to spooky and sinister stories about the museum, its buildings and exhibits, whilst touring the museum. more...
    Haynes International Motor Museum  Somerset BA22 7LH
    Sat 30 October
    Halloween at Brean :Are you brave enough to take the Brean Down challenge and face the wicked witch in her ruined fort? Be sure to wear your scariest costume and remember, its never too late to turn.. more...Brean Down  Somerset
    Sun 31 October
    Watersmeet - Spooky Halloween Trail :Enjoy a spooky Halloween Trail around the grounds of Watersmeet House Tea room and shop. Toilets. Steep walk down to Watersmeet House. Disabled parking available,please call.. more...Exmoor  Somerset
    Sun 31 October
    http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/features/chpverse/images/jpegs/king_arthur_copy.jpgKing Arthur

    Possibly the greatest figure in the history and folklore of Britain is the fabulous King Arthur. According to legend he lived in the late 5th to early 6th centuries at a time when Britain was the scene of a bloody struggle between the Britons and the invading Saxons and their allies, the Picts and Scots. Arthur is famed as being the great figure at the forefront of the Britons' heroic defence of their homeland and heritage. Based mainly in the South West of England he also seems to have waged a national campaign to defend the Island against its invaders.
        He was truly a Christian Warrior, being raised in an area thought to be one of the first, if not the first to be introduced to Christianity in Britain. Legend has it that he led a contingent of 28 knights, the legendary Knights of the Round Table. One of these Knights was Launcelot, who fell madly in love with Arthur's Queen, Guinevere with tragic consequences.
         Was there ever such a man as Arthur and is there substance behind all the folklore? Modern research has uncovered behind the figure of legend a real person of historical significance in those troubled times. Chroniclers and documents were few in those times so the details of Arthur's life must remain uncertain. We cannot know exactly what he was like but he still lives today in the heart of the English who refuse to be conquered.
         "The South-Western Peninsula, made up of the counties of Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, in certain aspects has a character akin to that of the ancient Celtic Atlantic seaboard communities of Scotland, Wales and Ireland. In common with these communities the Peninsula possesses a powerful tradition of independence, a durable strain of mysticism taken from early paganism and modified by Christian practice and not least of all, a breathtaking combination of scenery and climate which dominates the individual and heralds the power of forces outside the control of man. Such areas are the homes of most of our Island's legends and it would be natural for a man of power and great fighting prowess to become a 'folk-hero' in the Peninsula." - Graham Ashton B.A.

     

    dragonSt Carantoc's Dragon
     
    St Carantoc is famed for being one of the early evangelists who came to the West Country and his name is reflected in various place names throughout the West of England.

    The story goes that St Carantoc was looking for the place to set up his mission and so he cast his marble altar into the Severn Estuary saying that he would build a church wherever it came to rest.

    King Arthur, some days later, was riding across the marshes on his way to help the people of Carhampton who had been terrorised by a flying dragon. The King spotted St Carantocs altar in the reeds and has his men pick it up and bring it with them. He noticed that on this circule of marble were inscribed the words St Carantocs Altar. At the time King Arthur had no idea who St Carantoc was.

    A few miles further on he met a strange man by the side of the road who asked the King if he had seen the Altar of St Carantoc on his journeys. Arthur was intrigued and beleiving the old man must be some kind of sorcerer he asked the stranger his name.

    The man answered gently "I am St Carantoc", and Arthur bared his head, realising that he was in the presence of holiness.

    Arthur said that he would strike a bargain with the saint. If St Carantoc could call up the dragon from the marches then he would restore the Altar to its owner.

    St Carantoc nodded and turned away in prayer, uttering a strange incantation over the swamp. Immediately the bog heaved and parted and amidst a terrible smell the dragon appeared right in front of the retinue. Only Arthur and the Saint stood their ground while the rest backed away in horror.

    The dragon the trotted up to the Saint and bent its head in submission. St Carantoc then led the dragon to the court of King Catho at Dunster Castle where the dragon was forced to vow never to hurt another soul again.

    So transformed was the dragon by the Saint that it never ate meat again and only used its fiery breath to aid the villagers in lighting bonfires in the rain.

    St Carantoc was granted land by the Kings and built his chapel by the river at Carhampton.

    BlacksmithThe Devil and the Blacksmith  - Fiddington
    At Fiddington once lived a smith who was so proud of his craft that he very unwisely boasted he could shoe the Devil's own horse - "Ah! An' shoe he to rights too."
    But one midnight he was called up by a traveler whose horse had cast a shoe, and when he looked at the rider of the great black horse, he found it was the Devil himself.
    The terrified smith had the wit to pretend he had left a hammer at this Cottage and ran for the parson. The parson, however, refused to return nearer than the roadside hedge where he remained to watch, having told the smith if he valued his soul to keep his word and shoe the horse - "But he must take no payment!"
    The smith set to work, and the Devil was so delighted with the result that he presented the man with a bag of gold, but was told politely, "I never don't take nought vor work done at night."
    Baffled the Devil glanced around, and caught a glimpse of the lurking Parson.
    "If it hadn' a-been vor that old blackbird in behind orchet," he yelled, "I'd a had'ee vor zertain zure!"
    With that both he and his horse vanished.


    Monk-In-A-HabitThe Starving Monk

    If the chap who haunts Oldbury Court,Bristol is who we think he is, it's no wonder he's still wandering around.

    Back in the days when there was a stately home on the estate, the story goes that a Catholic monk or priest was secretly celebrating Mass at a time when it was illegal.

    When visitors arrived, he was hidden in a priest hole or secret passage and forgotten.

    This does sound slightly dubious - would you forget storing a priest in your walls? But he is supposed to have starved to death.

    The last recorded sighting was in the '70s when some teenagers saw a cowled figure in a cloak which seemed to float before vanishing into a wall.

    Giants
    The Giants of Stowey

    There was a time, long, long ago, when giants came to live close to Nether Stowey. They flung up a huge mound for their Castle, and lived under it.
    Some of the people fled to Stogursey, other ran up hill for safety on Dowsboro' Camp, and others, poor things, just stayed where they were.
    No one liked going past the Castle even if they had to, and most of those who did come back were pale and terrified. The Giants had a horrible way of putting their hands out of the hill and grabbing a sheep, or a cow, or a man.
    Once the monsters had tasted men's flesh they grew ravenous. They made a riad on Stogursey Castle, and beat it down flat, and chased the Stogursey people till they caught them in handfuls. When this supply ran out they began again on the folk of Nether Stowey.
    Most of them were old (and tough) or very young (and tender) for all the able-bodied folk had run up the hills and were quite safe in Dowsboro' Camp having a fine time. They didn't know what was going on so a poor old gaffer tried to tiptoe past the Castle and tell them, but an arm came out and got him.
    Then a little lad got on one of his father's hill ponies along with a 'dirft' of them, and went away past the Castle at a stretch gallop. A hand di come out, but it got such a kick it went in again mighty fast and there was a dreaful yell.
    The folk on Dowsboro' heard that and got ready to fight - but when the little lad on his pony got to them they didn't wait to give battle up there, No. "The men from Dowsboro' beat down Stowey Castle' and after that anyone could pass the hill again - they still don't like doing it at night.
    Quantock saying:
    'Men from Dowsboro' beat down Stowey Castle, and men from Stowey beat down Stogursey Castle.'
     
    The Squire of Norton Manor

    One New Year's Eve the Squire of Norton Manor was drinking and merrymaking at Langford Budville, when he suddenly decided he was going home. It was nearly midnight, and everyone warned him not to go, but he laughed and swore that he didn't care if he broke his neck. He climbed on his horse with such a volley of oaths that they were glad to shut the iron bolts behind him and draw up close to the fire.
    As for the Squire, he rode off merrily till he came to Young Oaks, where his horse swerved aside from a great pack of black hounds. If the Squire had been sober he would have started to pray, but instead he told the hounds to go to Hell (from which, of course, they had just come) and slashed at them with his whip. Green fire ran up the lash and scorched the rider and horse, which bolted and away went the Squire with the ghostly pack behind him. On the Common at French Nut Tree the horse stumbled and both the horse and the Squire broke their necks.
    Every New Year's Eve the Drunken Squire is said to make the ride to Norton Fitzwarren again and the unfortunate ones may well meet him riding again to get away from the devil's hounds. If you should meet him then throw yourself on the ground and pray that the hounds don't get you as well!


    The Roundhead
    We haven't heard from the local Roundhead ghost recently but he was once a regular in the woods at Stapleton.

    This was the area where Cromwell mustered his New Model Army before the attack on Prince Rupert in Bristol.

    For some reason, the ghost walks up to walkers as if to speak to them and then walks straight through them. It would be interesting to know if those who saw him were all staunch royalists and were simply being snubbed.

     
    The Norton Fitzwarren Dragon
     
    Somerset has a great deal of stories about dragons but one of the most famous is of the Norton Fitzwarren dragon. It is said that after a great battle during the Iron Age a mighty dragon was formed from the pile of corpses. The dreaded beast set about terrorising the area by devouring children and destroying crops growing in the fields. Angered by the exploits of the evil dragon one man stood up to face the foe.

    A young man called Fulke Fitzwarren took on the beast in single combat. After a long and bloody struggle, he pierced the dragons heart and cut off its head.

    In All Saints Church at Norton Fitzwarren stands a sixteenth-century rood screen that depicts the gruesome story.

    Many now believe that legends of Dragons are associated with the invasion of the Danes into the County.

     
    The great dragon of Aller
    Another Dragon was the great dragon of Aller, near Langport, a flying serpent which breathed flames and poisonous fumes - yet, curiously, was a milk addict.
    It attacked milkmaids, but was more interested in their buckets of milk than their bodies, and even sucked cows dry. It was finally slain by John of Aller who smeared his body with pitch and put on a thick mask to protect himself from the fire and fumes.

    He stabbed it with a nine foot long spear still preserved in Low Ham church and walled up its cave so its brood starved to death (no mention of a Mrs Dragon, you notice). There is an effigy of John of Aller in the village church.

     Taunton Castle
    Taunton Castle is said to be haunted by the tramp of soldiers bringing the Sedgemoor prisoners to the Bloody Assizes in 1685 after Monmouth's Rebellion.
    The landing of Castle House is haunted by a man in riding dress and heavy boots. He is dark and wears a full Charles II wig. He has a sword, a sash, gauntlets, and a heavy pistol in his belt. He tramps up and down restlessly.
    Heddon Oak, Crowcombe.
    Tradition says that half a dozen fugitives from Sedgemoor (Monmouth's Rebellion) were hanged on Heddon Oak. Chains can be heard clanking, and there are moans from choking men. Some have heard the noise of horses galloping up the hill but nothing ever arrives.
    The Blue Lady - Crowcombe
    The Elizabethan part of the Rectory at Crowcombe is haunted by the Blue Lady. She appears at very rare intervals, and then only to children.
    Corpse Candles

    It is said that many have witnessed strange spectral light floating in mid-air foretelling the demise of someone very close.
    The Spunkies

    Somerset's version of the Will o' the Wisps. Believed to be the souls of unbaptised children, doomed to wander until judgment day. Some believe they also forewarn of the approach of death. On Midsummer Eve night all the spunkies go to church to meet the newly dead children.
    The Yeth (or Yeff)  Hounds - the Wild Hunt

    The Devils own hunting dogs out to catch a few souls no doubt! If they catch up with you the best thing to do is throw yourself on the ground face down and they should pass you by. Cannington Park is said to be the devil's hunting ground from where the Yeth hounds start off for a nights hunting.
    Burgess the Miner
    Burgess the miner was a widower, who lived with his little daughter in a cottage in White Water Combe. After a time he fell in love with a worthless woman, and as they found the child a nuisance he murdered it and threw the body down a mine-shaft. This proved no concealment, for a mysterious light shone above the shaft, so Burgess took up the body, buried it hastily in a bank side and left the moor.  Two sheep-stealers saw a rag sticking out of some loose earth and thought a sheep had been hidden there, for this was the usual sign. When they began to scrape back the earth, however, they came across a child's hand. Burgess was pursued and caught. He was hanged at Taunton Jail in 1858. There is still a ghostly light to be seen at the place of the murder but it is very unlucky to see it.

    The St George ghost
    Air Balloon Road, St George, Bristol

    In 1998 Victoria and Steven Cross asked the Bristol Evening Post for help in tracing the ghosts that had haunted her home in St George, Bristol.

    Victoria, aged 25, said: "Old coins from the 1930s turned up in the house for no reason we could understand, and a friend said she saw a vision of a man in one of the upstairs rooms.

    "We had builders in and they could hear footsteps when they were alone in a room.  "We had a puppy that used to get very distressed at night in certain rooms. There was definitely something strange going on."
    The couple, who have a one-year-old son called Caleb, quickly called in a medium who said there were four ghosts in the Victorian house.

    One was a boy called Tom, another was a woman in a black dress with a high collar. The third was a teenager called Peter who died in the house, and the fourth was a man called David.  Victoria: "We haven't had any more trouble since the medium came but I would like an explanation of where the ghosts came from. I'm sure there must be a good reason because I've heard other people in the area say they've had similar hauntings since."

    Despatch Rider
    Morton House, Rossiter's Hill, Frome, Somerset

    Morton House often boasts some impressive floral displays which prompts some visitors to the area to try and capture the sight on film.

    In 1990 Reg Wickens did just this, but the picture that was processed was not as he had imagined - the house and displays could still be seen but a shadowy figure had appeared across the picture.

    Theories that it could be the shadow of Reg have been discounted given the angle that the sun would have been at at the time the picture was taken. The possibility that it might be a double exposure was also discounted given the camera that Reg used.

    So what was this strange apparition that seemed to take over the picture. Reg thought it looked like the shadow of a wartime dispatch rider coming towards the camera on his motorcycle.

    He could make out a leather helmet, goggles and a long black raincoat which was the dress for dispatch riders in the war years. So he started his own research into the area to try and solve the mystery.

    After making enquiries with locals, Reg found out that not one but three dispatch riders had died in an accident and one of them - Bombardier Thomas Gladdis - swerved and went into the wall right where Reg was standing when he took the photograph.

    The Wookey Hole Witch
    Wookey Hole Caves, near Wells in Somerset, have been inhabited for 70,000 years, when they were explored by Neanderthal Man, in his search for a home offering shelter and security. Numerous travellers from the Romans onwards have made reference to the caves, showing that even when vacated as a home for Iron Age people, they remained a place to visit and marvel at.
    In 189 AD, the Roman diarist Clement of Alexandria relates to the "clashing of numerous cymbals", a known phenomenon where changes in air pressure produce extraordinary noises. The caves were also, according to legend, the home of an unpopular witch who didn't get on with her neighbours.
    The village clubbed together to decide what to do and decided to send in a monk to have a word with her. After failing to mediate successfully he followed her down Hell's Ladder where he apparently found her turned to stone.

    The most likely explanation is that he saw a piece of rock in the shadows that had eroded into a witch-like shape, but it makes a good story.  In this chamber with a sandy shore reaching down to the subterranean River Axe the outline of the witch can be seen, her eyes fixed on the river. The story that the monk turned the witch to stone was first written down in 1748, even though the story had been handed down for generations.
    It wasn't until 1912 that Mendip cave explorer H.E. Balch found evidence that could substantiate the story - at least to a degree.
    He found goats had been stabled at the entrance to the cave, a milking pot nearby and even a ball that had been made from a stalagmite. But there was more - a comb made from red deer antler, a set of human bones and some tools, all of which are now exhibited in Wells Museum.
    The witch - if it was her - had apparently died of disease or violence on the floor of her cave

    Skid Marks The Spot
    A38, Barrow Gurney Reservoir, near Bristol.

    The spirit of a departed life has almost caused others to lose theirs when it suddenly walks out in front of them on the A38 south west of Bristol.  Many people have reported exactly the same experience, which is typified by the first witness.

    This young man was driving along the road when all of a sudden a lady in a white coat appeared to be crossing the road just in front of him. He slammed on his brakes and skidded across the road, luckily managing to keep control of the car.
    When he came to a halt he realised that there was no-one there, he went to investigate that bit of the road and found that there were lots of skid marks in exactly the same spot.
    Indeed several other people have since come forward to say that they encountered the same lady on that stretch of the road.
    The Gurt Wurm of Shervage Wood
    A scene from Humpty Dumpty showing a rotund (Humpty Dumpty) man and a cat
    On the Quantock Hills in Somerset, folk lived in mortal fear of a bloodthirsty dragon who rampaged through the countryside by night, killing and feasting on any living thing in its path. By day it slept, coiled up like a huge serpent, in Shervage Wood. The creature was known as 'The Gurt Wurm of Shervage', and this is its story!

    Every year, in late September, folk gather in St Matthew's Field for Bridgwater's famous fair. From right across the town they come, and from the hills and hamlets too – from Timberscombe, Triscombe, Crowcombe and Hestercombe, from Holford and Stolford, Stogursey and Stogumber. They come to buy and to sell, to entertain and to be entertained, to meet old friends and to make new ones. It's been this way for hundreds of years!

    But this particular September, of which I now speak, things were not the same as usual. Folk set out their stalls in silence; no one laughed; there was a watchful, nervous look on farmers' faces as the animals were herded into pens. There were whisperings and mumblings and mutterings in corners.

    A cloud of dark rumour was gathering, and casting its shadow over the town:

    "Does ee fancy there be fewer sheep this year?"
    "Oh-arr. And fewer ponies."
    "'appen it be true what they'd say about the Wurm."
    "'appen. They say that it do roam the hills by night. Eats any livin' thing in its path!"
    "Eats sheep and deer and ponies they'd say – cattle too!"
    "Gorges itself by night and sleeps by day up in Shervage Wood."
    "Body thick as three great oak trees, they d' say!"
    "Not long, I reckon, 'til it do crave some human flesh!."
    "Young shepherd lad's gone missing up near Stowey."
    "And two stable lads, I heard, from Crowcombe way."

    Meanwhile, in a cottage out at Crowcombe, a widow by the name of Maggie Conibeer was busy making whortleberry tarts when she heard a loud knocking at her door and a cheerful voice calling her name:

    "You there, Maggie? 'Tis Joe Tottle from Stogumber. Mebbees you have some jobs for I?"

     
     

    Joe was a woodcutter, a simple, friendly fellow, who was partial to Maggie's cooking and particularly fond of Maggie's fine cider. In exchange for a good meal and a pint of cider, he would often chop wood or do other small jobs about the cottage.


    (I should mention, at this point, that although most folk on the Quantock hills lived in mortal fear of 'The Gurt Wurm', news of the deadly creature had not yet reached Stogumber!)

    Maggie agreed with Joe that if he picked some whortleberries and chopped some wood, he could go with her to Bridgwater Fair on the horse and cart, help sell the whortleberry tarts and take a share in the earnings.


    Delighted with the plan, Joe set off up the steep hill from Crowcombe, with one of Maggie’s baskets on his arm.

    He'd a napkin full of bread and cheese and a flagon of Maggie's strongest cider to see him through the day.


    "Be sure ee keep away from Shervage Wood!" Maggie called after him. But Joe was half way up the hill and whistling loudly to himself. He didn't hear her.

    By mid-day the sun was blazing overhead. Joe's basket was full of plump, purple whortleberries, but the flagon of cider was almost empty. He had wandered further than he intended and had reached the edge of Shervage Wood. Time to rest in the shade, he thought, and have a bite to eat. The wood was dark and eerily silent, but Joe welcomed the cool shade and the peace. Settling himself down on a large fallen tree, he tucked into his lunch. 
    Suddenly the tree trunk he was sitting on began to wobble.


    "Whoa! Whoa!" said Joe, steadying himself. "This be good zyder and no mistake!" He drained the flask and carried on eating.
     


    A moment later the trunk began to move again. Not just a wobble this time, but a squirming and a writhing and a wriggling, as if the fallen tree were a living creature! Joe was a good-natured fellow mostly but, once roused, his temper could be fearsome.

    "Spoil my meal, would ee?" he bellowed, leaping to his feet. "Take that! And that!! And that!!!" So saying, he split the mighty 'tree' in half with three clean blows of his axe.


    The Quantock hills trembled and an ear-splitting howl of raw pain echoed through Shervage Wood! Joe gaped in amazement as the top half of the 'tree' ran, roaring through the woods in the direction of Taunton and the lower, headless half scuttled off towards Minehead.

    He looked down at his axe and saw that it was dripping with dragon's blood!


    By the time Maggie and Joe reached Bridgwater Fair, they had a tale worth telling. Folk queued to buy Maggie's whortleberry tarts and hear her story, and Joe had more cider than he could drink as they urged him to tell and tell again, just how the dragon met its end.

    Did Maggie and Joe marry and live happily ever after? Well, that I can't say, but what I can say is this – they both lived well off that tale for many years to come!


    And what became of the Gurt Wurm, you ask? Well, it seems that one half reached Kingston St Mary and the other half ended up in Bilbrook, near Minehead. Both halves of the beast, separated by so many miles, finally died.

    So that is the story of what happened when a simple woodcutter sat on a Wurm. But some folk say that, before Joe killed it, the Gurt Wurm laid an egg in Shervage Wood.

    Now dragons' eggs, as you probably know, take hundreds of years to incubate. By my calculations, this one should be ready to hatch just about …………… NOW!!!!

    Stron Easton Par is a magnificent Palladian house near Midsomer Norton in Somerset, home to the ghost of the murdered parlour maid who stalks the top floor.


    Achtung!
    The ghost of a Luftwaffe officer has been seen at Hengrove Park, the former site of Whitchurch airport. Could be he's trying to get a ticket to the multi-screen cinema. 

    The Ring O' Roses (The Holcombe Inn) located near Radstock in Somerset is a 17th century Inn steeped in history and intrigue. Rumour has it a man stalks the rooms at night, checking on his daughter who was bequeathed to a noble, ran away with a commoner, only to be imprisoned by her father in a room upstairs.
    Porch Presence
    Wedmore, Somerset

    Not all ghosts are scary and in a pillared porch attached to a 17th century house in Wedmore, the benign presence of the doctor who once used the house as a cottage hospital can still be felt.  Dr John Westover was way ahead of his time in the treatment of the mentally ill, preferring to treat his patients with kindness and gentle care rather than the ill-treatment which was the norm at the time.


    Molly The Tea Lady
    Yeovil Railway Station, Somerset

    The new owners of Yeovil railway station buffet didn't believe the stories that is was haunted when they took it over, but they do now.

    Molly the tealady who used to work at the buffet and who died on the station platform in the 1960s, couldn't bear to be away from the place.

    Her ghost is thought to be responsible for swapping cutlery around and turning things on and off, but she always stops when she's asked to!

    Duchess of Beaufort
    Vassals Park, Fishponds, Bristol

    This spirit has been seen by a lot of people over the years as they've gone through the park.
    Two teenagers were halfway across the footbridge in the park that leads over the River Frome when they saw the hooded figure dressed in a cloak with its arms outstretched.

    They couldn't make out a face or feet and the figure gave the impression that it was floating. After moving a little way onto the bridge the spirit turned around and vanished into the wall just past the end of the bridge.

    Other teenagers from the same youth club went to revisit the spot for the next few nights and saw an inexplicable white light floating near the wall where the figure had disappeared.
    A lady went with others to check out the spot and she reported hearing monks chanting.

    The A38 Hitchhiker
    Nr Taunton, Somerset

    The solitary and ghostly hitchhiker haunting different stretches of road is an image that has prevailed over the years.

    However, a phantom hitchhiker, said to wear a grey overcoat, appears to be haunting a stretch of the A38 near Taunton, in Somerset.

    In August 1970 a woman from Taunton encountered the apparition standing in the centre of the road and was forced to veer to avoid him.

    Stopping to tell him what she thought of his choice of place to stand, she discovered that he had disappeared.

    Local newspapers found a number of people who had encountered the same apparition at the same place, including a motorcyclist who had crashed as a result.

    These local reports prompted lorry driver Harry Unsworth to tell how he had encountered the man several times in 1958.

    At the first meeting Unsworth gave the man a lift, having picked him up wet through from the rain at three o'clock in the morning.

    The man in the grey overcoat spent the journey of four miles recounting tales of accidents that had occured during the last few days and was not exactly bright company for the driver.

    Mr Unsworth picked up the same passenger several times, usually in the pouring rain and wandering along with a torch in his hand.
    The Skull Of Theophilus Broome
    Higher Chilton Farm, nr Yeovil, Somerset

    You often hear creepy stories of dismembered parts of the body haunting people so that they might be reunited with their body. But at Higher Chilton Farm the opposite is true.

    The skull of Theophilus Broome has remained at the farm at the request of its owner who died in 1670. A Civil War soldier during the 1640s, he had become horrified at the mutilation of bodies carried out by Royalist troops at the time.

    Mr Broome was scared that his head might be severed from his body and impaled on a stick as a trophy, common practice for Royalist troops.

    So before he died he asked his sister to ensure that his skull never left the farmhouse.

    It seems that Theophilus is a bit of a cantankerous ghost, and when people have tried to remove the skull they have been subject to terrible screaming until it is returned.

    Likewise when TV crews have tried to film there, they are sent packing by the old ghost.

    He doesn't even seem to want to be put back with his body all these years down the line, when someone attempted to do it the spade broke in half as they tried to exhume the body.

    It seems that as long as the skull remains in the house, and that the house is well looked after, the ghost can be very nice, but mess around with either and there'll be skullduggery before you know it.

    The Girl on the Roof
    Sally was a serving girl on a Hanham,Bristol farm during the Civil War and was killed by Cromwell's troops for refusing to tell them where some Royalists were hiding.

    The story goes that she tried to escape through a trap door on to the barn roof because that's where she has been hanging out ever since.

    Evil Dwarf Highwayman
    Jenkins Protheroe was a dwarf highwayman who begged for money and then held up and robbed passers-by who didn't give enough.

    Jenkins was hanged in 1783 at the top of Pembroke Road,Bristol.. He still haunts the area.
    The Union Activist
    This was a ghostly figure who used to appear in the Spillers animal feed mill at Avonmouth - but only to Transport and General Workers Union members.
    The general theory was that he was trying to join the union, although frightening the brothers seemed an odd way of going about it. "We won't be beaten by a ghost" said their shop steward stoutly. And he added: "As far as I know, it's not a card carrying member."
    Everybody out!

    Somerset Carnivals

     Carnival heritage wins £41,000 lottery grant

    11:00 - 15-July-2010

    The Carnivals In Somerset Promotion Project group has made a successful bid for Heritage Lottery funding to promote and conserve the history of the area's famous illuminated carnivals. A Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £41,000 has been secured to develop a range of facilities and key element will be a mobile exhibition unit, due to make its first appearance on Wells Cathedral Green on August 4. It will then be touring the county and elsewhere.The exhibition van will display the history, heritage, culture and community of the carnivals through images, video, text and memorabilia. The van also has a recording facility to collect oral histories and memories. Anyone with carnival memorabilia is invited to bring it along. A carnival DVD and educational package for schools is being prepared.

    The Carnivals in Somerset Promotion Project (CISPP), was formed by volunteers in January 2009, in response to concerns that the heritage of Somerset's illuminated carnivals could be lost unless more people are encouraged to take part in the tradition.The carnivals bring in an estimated £40 million of tourist and other revenue each year. Around 10,000 people are thought to be involved in carnival and there are more than 50 float clubs and another 100 or so other clubs who enter as walking groups or individuals.
    The origins of carnivals in Somerset can be traced back to the famous Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators failed in their attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament. King James I and his parliament decreed that the events of November 5 should be commemorated annually with the lighting of bonfires which led to a tradition of merrymaking out which the carnivals were born. The Bridgwater Carnival (the oldest event of its kind in the UK) can be traced back to 1847 through journalistic records.

    http://www.northsomersetcarnival.co.uk/contents/media/carnival%2001.jpg

    The Somerset Carnivals are highly regarded as the largest illuminated processions in the world.
    They occur late on in the year at various locations including: Bridgwater, Burnham-on-Sea, Chard, Ilminster, Glastonbury, North Petherton, Shepton Mallet, Taunton, Wellington, Wells,  Weston-Super-Mare, and Yeovil.


    The carnivals in Somerset date back to 400 years, and are one of the most spectacular events in Somerset today. In some of the bigger locations (such as Bridgwater), you can expect to see crowds of more than 120,000.


    The carnival floats (or carts as they are sometimes referred as), are designed and built by dedicated carnival clubs around the West Country.

    These carnival clubs have many members who raise money throughout the year, and work relentlessly to achieve the spectacular carnival entries. The carnival floats take part in the carnival parade along with other entries; these range from clowns dancing in the streets to 100ft illuminated carnival floats (some with up to 30,000 light bulbs) pulled by tractors.

    The timing of the West Country Carnival close to the British celebration of Bonfire night is no coincidence, as the roots of the original carnival in Bridgwater date back to 1605.  Guy Fawkes is the character most associated with the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament, however the instigator was Jesuit priest Robert Parsons from Nether Stowey, a short distance from Bridgwater. Parsons and his colleagues were Catholics who wanted to put an end to the Protestant King James VI and Parliament of the day, in order to put an end to catholic persecution, hence they planned their ill-fated attempt on 5 November 1605. 

    Bonfire night is a major annual celebration across the whole of England, but it is likely that the reason that the West Country Carnival was originally so keenly celebrated is that the South West towns were predominantly Protestant — hence the celebration of Robert Parsons' (and Guy Fawkes') failure. The religious origins of the event are almost forgotten and far less significant today
    The Carnival Circuit
     The Bridgwater carnival was the first carnival of its type, however other carnival processions within the South West began some years ago. They start in late August and continue until late November. The oldest and largest circuit is the Somerset County Guy Fawkes Carnival Association Circuit which starts at Bridgwater, with many of the carts will appear in all of the carnivals. Prizes are awarded in several categories for the best carts in each carnival.

    The three circuits are:
        * Wessex Grand Prix Circuit: Sturminster Newton, the third Thursday in August/weekend before Bank Holiday; Trowbridge; Mere; Frome; Shaftesbury; Gillingham; Castle Cary & Ansford; Wincanton; Warminster
        * South Somerset Federation Of Carnival Committee Circuit: Wellington held on the last Saturday in September; Ilminster; Chard; Taunton; Yeovil
        * Somerset County Guy Fawkes Carnival Association Circuit: Bridgwater on the Friday following the nearest Thursday to 5 November; North Petherton on the following Saturday; Burnham-on-Sea on the following Monday; Shepton Mallet on the following Wednesday; Wells on the following Friday; Glastonbury & Chilkwell on the following Saturday; Weston-super-Mare on the following Monday, the last carnival in the whole circuit. From 2012 this will change with Bridgwater on the first Saturday after 5 November, Weston-super-Mare on the following Friday, North Petherton on the second Saturday, Burnham-on-Sea on the following Monday, Shepton Mallet on the following Wednesday, Wells on the third Friday and Glastonbury on the third Saturday.
    http://www.chardandilminsternews.co.uk/resources/images/1065265/?type=gallery
    There is one unofficial carnival in the circuit, held at Midsomer Norton on the Thursday between the Shepton Mallet and Wells carnivals. There are also a series of unofficial Christmas carnivals, including Sidmouth.
    [edit] Carts and floats

    Uniquely in the West Country, the vehicles are called carnival "carts", unlike other carnivals where the term carnival float is used. The term "cart" is still used today to describe the large and elaborate trailers used in the procession. Carts are built by local clubs of individuals funded totally by charitable donations and sponsorship from local businesses.
    Carts are always themed, with no restriction on the theme from the organising committee. Regularly chosen themes include:

        * Popular children's books - like Alice in Wonderland
        * Favourite children's characters - such as Disney characters
        * Scenes or themes from history - like Pre-Historic, Victorian or famous Battles
        * Scenes or themes from around the world - such as Australia, Rio de Janeiro or Spanish
        * Travel and transport - such as cars or trains, e.g. The Chattanooga Choo-Choo
        * Popular themes of the day - including pop songs or dances
        * The future or exploration - such as space
    Carts include both music and costumed people to complete their theme. People and items on the cart can either be moving, or static in tableau format - the later being difficult to hold position for on a cold November evening.

    Today these carts are driven by farm tractors, and usually also tow a large diesel driven electricity generator to provide the huge amount of power required to power the carts. Some generators used can provide over one megawatt of power, with 10,000 to 30,000 light bulbs not uncommon on a modern day cart.[8] The tractors themselves are often decorated to match the rest of the cart and generator, and in some cases modified so that the driver is positioned low down between the two front wheels. This allows for a higher degree of decoration without obscuring the driver's view. The length of the entire cart is often built to the maximum allowable of 100 feet (30 m).

    These floats are also interspersed with walking exhibits, either groups or singles, and occasional marching bands or majorette troupes.

    Somerset Carnivals
    The dates of the Somerset Carnivals 2011
    own(Click on Link)
    Date
    Picture
    Time
    Circuit
    Bridgwater   [route/map]
    The origins of our annual carnival in Bridgwater can be traced back to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 when Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators, failed in their attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament. That story is well known to everyone, but what is not so widely acknowledged is that it was King James 1st and his parliament who decreed that the events of 5 November should be commemorated annually with the lighting of bonfires, a tradition which is celebrated across the nation to this very day.
    4th November (Fri) The image “http://www.fireworks.co.uk/images/squibbing/bridgewater_carnival.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. 7:00pm Somerset County GFCA
    Burnham-on-Sea / Highbridge   [route/map]
    In the late 1800s and contininuing into the 1900s Burnham celebrated November 5th with a bonfire in the High Street to which were rolled blazing tar barrels. In about 1907/8 there were concerns about safety and it was decided to have the bonfire on a field and  a torchlight procession starting in the High Street and processing to the bonfire field. Thus in 1909 Burnham had its first Torchlight Carnival Procession. This format continued until the outbreak of World War One ,and the carnival did not return until 1923.It then continued as an evening carnival until 1939, when an afternoon procession was held. Festivities were cocooned until 1947 and the event grew in size and popularity to become one of the most popular carnivals in Essex.Afternoon events were held on the Mildmay Ironworks Field and there were madi gras type events in the High Street after the procession. In the 1950s a full Funfair was introduced into the High Street and this remained until 1966. There were problems in this year and the following year an small afternoon procession was organised .1967 saw an Evening procession back,now at the end of September and much curtailed from pre-1966. Subsequent committees have built that carnival up to what you now see today, with one of the most successful Carnivals in the South East of England.

    7th November (Mon) 'Wrath Of Neptune' from Masqueraders Carnival Club won the 2007 Burnham-On-Sea Carnival 7:30pm Somerset County GFCA
    Castle Cary
    The Castle Cary & Ansford Carnivals take place annually in October. Our Children’s Carnival usually takes place on the afternoon of the second Saturday, when children and parents process through Castle Cary town centre. The Illuminated Carnival takes places on the evening of the following Saturday.Around the time of the Illuminated Carnival, a fun fair is in town, and high street traders compete in a window-dressing competition. The Carnival Committee produces a 64-page Carnival Programme,on sale locally, which provides information about the Carnival, serves as a directory to the local businesses that advertise in it, and includes competitions. On our pages you will see line drawings that have appeared in our Programmes, drawn by Committee member Pam Pope. On the evening of the procession there are barbeques, hog roasts, and other hot food and drinks around the town.
    15th October (Sat) http://www.orchard-farm.co.uk/IMGP7463.JPG 7:30pm Wessex GP
    Chard
    (route/map)
    In 1967, representatives from the League of Friends and Chard Youth Centre met to discuss ways in which to raise money for the respective groups. Gerald Quick, Mervyn Ball, Tom Miller and Wendy Clulow decided that the best option would be to revive Chard Carnival, after a break of 13 years. The carnival is now in its 43rd year and has raised over £85,000 pounds for local charities and organisations, including Chard Christmas Lights, Children’s Hospice South West, Chard Hospital and all the local schools. In the early 1970’s, Chard, Ilminster, Wellington and Taunton formed the South Somerset Federation of Carnivals, with Yeovil joining at a later date. This provided a competition for the best entries from the 5 towns taking part.


    8th October (Sat) Carnival05 7:15pm South Somerset FC
    Crewkerne
    Sandra Shore, secretary of the now-disbanded committee, said: "It was felt that due to the current climate and the difficulty in fund raising, obtaining sponsorship, the cost of public-liability insurance and new rulings on health and safety, it would be impossible to commit to staging this event with the limited funds the committee had in reserve following the disastrous summer last year and the poor attendance of floats at the carnival in December




    Frome
    Carnival has been in Frome since 1929 having been founded by Mr Alan Bennett together with others who worked at that time for Butler and Tanners, a local printing firm who are still one of the main employers in the town. Frome carnival grew in popularity over the years and this was aided by the fact that Mr Bennets daughter Hazel met and married Mr Roy Butler M.B.E. he became known as "Mr Carnival" and was well known in the community for his dedication to the carnival charity which was formed to help local people in need.
    24th September (Sat)
    7:00pm Wessex GP
    Gillingham


    8th October (Sat) http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3257/2913898587_bfd7ecece5.jpg?v=0 7:30pm Wessex GP
    Glastonbury   [route/map]
    Glastonbury, with Bridgwater, is the biggest. At each carnival there are collections to raise money for charities.The Carnival takes over the town for one day, starting at around 7.30 in the evening. Thousands of people pour in from near and far, traffic is closed off, and the town reeks of hot dog stands and outdoor snack bars. People line the streets, all wrapped up against the cold, and the Carnival floats weave through town. It's quite a close-and-friendly affair. Apart from crowds in the streets, people hold parties in houses along the route and the pubs fill up after the event. Kids love it - there's a fairyland element to it, even though the high-volume music makes it a little, shall we say, modern!
    12th November (Sat) None 7.00pm Somerset County GFCA
    Ilminster
    This is the second Carnival in the Somerset circuit, Ilminster is a small market town South of Taunton.  Ilminster always have some good organisation and put on a well organised show with more entries than most towns. There are prizes for 1st, 2nd and third in their different classes, there is a cup for “Spirit of Carnival”
     It's a fun night out for all the family and you can help raise funds for charities or the clubs for the next year's entry. Thousands attend the carnival, so watch out as parking can get very limited on carnival nights and the town centre can often be cut off to traffic during the carnival.

    1st October (Sat) Float at Ilminster carnival 7:15pm South Somerset FC
    Mere
    A popular annual event started in 1928 when Mere Carnival was founded.
    17th September (Sat) 7:00pm Wessex GP
    Midsomer Norton   [route/map]
    A very enjoyable Carnival which has been running since 1948
    10th November (Thur)

    http://profile.ak.fbcdn.net/object2/1399/70/n112129545473735_1405.jpg

    7:15pm
    North Petherton   [route/map]

    North Petherton Guy Fawkes Carnival, was formed in 1948, and joined the Somerset County Guy Fawkes Carnival Association in 1952,and is regarded by many of our thousands of spectators, as the family carnival. This is due mainly to the fact that it held on a Saturday night, which allows the youngsters to stay up a little later than normal. The other reason is that is runs straight through the town of North Petherton, Somerset, with no awkward turns, causing unnecessary hold ups.  As with thousands of visitors converged into our small town emergencies will always happen and no amount of planning will not eliminatethis, please be patient as the emergency services will deal with theses as soon as possible, and allow the carnival to resume, if they need to be on the route.  North Petherton Guy Fawkes Carnival, offers ample viewing throughout the whole route, which allows even the youngest and eldest of our visitors, to watch this marvelous spectacle of light, sound and movement.  We do not charge for admission to one of the three, largest illuminated carnivals in the world, however a street collection will take place during the carnival itself, by numerous collectors and collecting vehicles, proceeds of which, go towards the running of the carnival, prize money and  finally the local  charities of which we support. We are always grateful for any amount we collect, however our collections have equated to only 30p a head. With over three hours of entertainment from the dedicated entrants and the cost for them to build these exquisite entries, we urge you to give at least  £3 per head from your group of friends or family, and secure the future of North Petherton Carnival for future generations, to marvel over.
    5th November (Sat) http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2256/2044853940_70c83ed4fa.jpg?v=1195511091 7:00pm Somerset County GFCA
    Shaftesbury
    Shaftesbury Carnival is an annual event that has become part of Shaftesbury’s history. This year will be the 133rd Carnival, a great achievement that involves hundreds of people to make it such a great success. A lot of people give their time voluntarily including people driving Courtesy cars for our Mayor and retiring royal family, collecting vehicles who turn out year after year, the many marshals that walk miles back and forth, the owners of the land at our assembly areas, who are always most helpful and of course, our sponsors for their continued financial support, without which the Carnival could not survive. There are more too numerous to mention, so thank you, thank you, thank you all.
    1st October (Sat) http://www.getusonline.co.uk/dorset/images/com_sobi2/clients/259_img.jpg 7:00pm Wessex GP
    Shepton Mallet   [route/map]
    The origins of Shepton Mallet’s carnival are some what unique. It all began because the town needed a community centre. In the early 1960s the Shepton Mallet Community Association was inaugurated to raise funds for the project.Organisations from across the town and surrounding villages pulled together and it was agreed that bringing carnival to Shepton Mallet was one way to draw in much needed funds.A Carnival committee was set up in 1965 and carnival came to Shepton Mallet. Over the following decades, thousands of pounds have been raised for local charities, unfortunately donations to the community centre fund were stopped when it was realised that for various reasons the centre would not be set up.Mr Bob Kerslake and Mrs Maura Kerslake were amongst the founder members with Mr Lionel Edwards as chairman an office he held for thirty years this he handed over to Don Clifford who remains as chairman at the present time. In the years that followed, from 1965 the sponsorship raised by the carnival queens and princesses has done much to cover the running costs, with street collections making up the balance to cover costs and make donations yearly to local clubs and charities.Over the years the carnival grew and in 1978 there were a record 151 entries. It was at this stage that the decision was made to no longer plough money into the community centre fund, there still being no visible progress on that project. In fact Shepton Mallet 30 years later still does not have a community hall.
    9th November (Wed) Mary Poppins 2008 7:30pm Somerset County GFCA
    Sturminster Newton

    EVENTS start on Sunday in the run-up to Sturminster Newton Carnival with a church service, a walk round Broad Oak, and skittles at the Bull. On Monday there is a jumble sale, on Tuesday a pet show and darts at the Royal British Legion, on Wednesday a quiz, and on Thursday the fun fair will open and the Dorset Doddlers carnival fun run will take place. Bingo on Friday, August 20, is followed by carnival day itself. Sir Thomas Tyldesley's Regiment of Foote will be at Durrant re-enacting the battles of the English Civil war. In the afternoon there will be children's fancy dress, and an evening parade celebrating the carnival's 60th anniversary. The day will end with a firework spectacular.
    20th August (Sat) http://www.sturminsternewtonrotary.co.uk/images/carn2008cap/carn011cap.png 7:15pm Wessex GP
    Taunton
    The Taunton Carnival is over a 1.5 mile long route and features stunning illuminated floats and walking entries with lights, glitz and glam.BUSINESS administration apprentice Lizzy Grigg was crowned Miss Taunton 2010 at a ceremony at Taunton’s Albemarle Centre. Lizzy will head the Taunton carnival parade in October.
    15th October (Sat) Miss Taunton 2010 result 7:00pm South Somerset FC
    Trowbridge
    Come along to the town carnival. Leaves Canal Road at 7pm, and makes its way through the town centre before finishing at Cradle Bridge (by the library)
    Entry forms and a route map are available form our website or the town council offices at 10/12 Fore Street.

    22nd October (Sat) 7:00pm Wessex GP
    Warminster
    carnival floats, bands & Masqueraders - 6:45pm from Boreham Road

    290th October (Sat) Warminster Carnival 2006 7:00pm Wessex GP
    Wellington
     WELLINGTON Carnival, which was under threat because of a demand for £1,500 from the Performing Rights Society, has been given a reprieve following intervention by Taunton MP Jeremy Browne. The society wanted to claim the money under a new law. But carnival chairperson Josephine Chave was able to negotiate a substantial reduction after Mr Browne took up the cause. The carnival is set to go ahead as planned on September 25th
    24th September (Sat) Wellington Carnival 2006 (Andy Jones) 7:30pm South Somerset FC
    Wells   [route/map]
    The Wells Carnival is a spectacle not to be missed. It is said be the biggest illuminated carnival in the world. These huge floats make their way slowly through the medieval streets intertwined with street performers with highly inventive and stunning costumes. As it is dark at this time of year the blaze of colourful lights, music, dancing and beautifully tailored costumes on these floats creates a unique and exciting atmosphere. The tableau floats usually depict a scene with all the performers in a fixed pose effectively creating a living picture.
    The carnival is Free to see and all these floats are created by enthusiasts who are raising money for Charity.
    The 2010 Wells carnival is scheduled to take place on Friday 12th November at 7.00pm and is a must see for anyone planning to come to the area.  There is also a fun fair in the market place.
    11th November (Fri) Wells Carnival (12th November 2010) 7:00pm Somerset County GFCA
    Weston-super-Mare   NEW ROUTE - [route/map]
    WESTON-SUPER-MARE ILLUMINATED CARNIVAL, A SPECTACLE OF LIGHT, MUSIC & COLOUR The earliest newspaper records concerning Weston super Mare November Carnival go back to 1871.  In those days it was usual for the Parade to start at the Knightstone Island and after wending its way through almost every street in the town, it dispersed on the beach, where bonfires were lit and effigies burned.  These were not only Guy Fawkes, but any unpopular figure of local disdain or even international infamy.This year approximately 100,000 spectators are expected to line the route around the town. There will be around 130 entries, of which 50 will be large illuminated floats up to 100 feet long and up to 17 feet high.
    14th November (Mon) 7:15pm Somerset County GFCA
    Wincanton   October cancelled 
    Wincanton Carnival 2006 (photo: Jo Merritt) 7:00pm Wessex GP
    Yeovil unknown


    List of carnival clubs
    The following is a list of major carnival clubs and their home town locations:

     
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    FROM NORTH M5  Leave the M5 at junction 18 (signposted A4 Bristol & Airport). Take  the A4 towards Bristol following signs  for the airport. Go past Bristol City Football ground and connect with the A38 towards Taunton, the airport is  situated 8 miles South of Bristol on the A38.
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    FROM SOUTH M5  Leave the M5 at Junction 22, at  roundabout take 3rd exit signposted  A38. At East Brent roundabout joining  the A370 take 2nd exit signposted A38 & airport. Continue on this road for approx 11 miles, airport is on the  left.
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    The image “http://www.mpm2.co.uk/images/mpm2-wessex-heartbeat.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Wessex Gopher Gold
    The Kingdom of Wessex



    by Caroline M. Jackson
    Once a powerful kingdom in Anglo-Saxon times, Wessex in southwest England attracts visitors who want to walk in the footsteps of English novelists Thomas Hardy and Jane Austen. Situated southwest of London, this pocket of England encompasses the counties of Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire and the western part of Hampshire. It is an area of gently rolling downs, peat moorlands and a magnificent 70-mile coastline. The landscape is dotted with cathedral cities such as Winchester, Salisbury and Wells interspersed with tiny villages like Puddletown, Tolpuddle and Affpuddle.
    Admirers of Jane Austen can begin their journey with a visit to the writer's charming 17th century red-brick house at Chawton where she penned Emma. Tarry in her bedroom and note the creaking door which was purposely left unattended so that she could hide her manuscript from view. The lovely gift shop has a marvellous collection of her novels.
    Continue west to the town of Lyndhurst. Known as the "capital of the New Forest", it is an ideal touring centre with cosy pubs and quaint shops. After a night's rest at a B&B, begin your day with a visit to the modern New Forest Museum & Visitor Centre. The area's history dates back to 1079 when William the Conqueror turned the Forest into a Royal Hunting preserve. The colourful pictorial history is beautifully illustrated in the amazing twenty-five foot long New Forest embroidery. At the centre one can also learn more about Alice Liddell, the little girl immortalised by Lewis Carroll in "Alice in Wonderland". She is buried in Lyndhurst parish church.
    The first surprising thing for the visitor to this area is that less than half of the 145-square mile New Forest is wooded. The term 'forest' originally included not only woodland, but open heathland, pasture land and small villages. Some of the ancient ornamental woodlands, mostly oak and beech, are magnificent.
    My favourite pastime was to observe and photograph the semi wild ponies of which there are nearly 3,000. One of the best ways to enjoy the wildlife is to park your car and hire a bicycle, take a wagon ride from Brockenhurst or walk through the countryside which is mostly unfenced.
    Just six miles southeast of Lyndhurst is the charming riverside village of Beaulieu which is home to three visitor attractions: the National Motor Museum which houses over 250 exhibits of classic cars, buses and motorcycles; the Palace House, ancestral home of the Montagu family. I chuckled when I noticed the dining room scales which enabled diners to weigh in before and after meals! Lastly, the 13th century Cistercian Abbey has fascinating exhibits of monastic life and an aromatic herb garden. Should you get a little footsore while traipsing around the site, hop aboard the monorail or the open top bus. The circular journeys are included in the entrance price.
    Just two miles down river from Beaulieu is the historic village of Buckler's Hard where ships for Nelson's fleet were built between 1743 and 1818. Visitors can walk through the 18th-century hamlet of brick cottages where displays re-create 18th century village life. Jane Austen and her family used to take boat trips along this river and up to the New Forest. Today you can take a lazy walk along the river bank or a scenic boat trip aboard the Swiftsure.
    For a complete change of pace, take an 18-mile drive south west to the Victorian seaside resort of Bournemouth. No longer do people flock here to recover from "consumption" but many seniors retire here to enjoy the sea breezes and delightful holiday atmosphere. This town lives up to its picture postcards with seven miles of lovely clean sands and a long pier complete with funfair. Hotel breakfasts over, lines of deck chairs and windbreakers begin to dot the beach and on the promenade tickets are sold for bathing boxes. The latter rent for $12 a day and include deck chairs and a little stove. The greatest entertainment is people watching and I was surprised to see some topless sunbathers. I asked a security guard if this was normal: "Oh" he chuckled, "They'll be over from the Continent and we just turn a blind eye unless they take off the bottom half...."
    Overlooking the waterfront, regal Victorian hotels are stacked like colourful dominoes along the cliffs which are punctuated by steep fissures called "Chines". Our magnificent hotel, The Chine Hotel nestled next to one of these steep valleys and in the evening we followed one of the lovely zigzag walks overlooking the ocean. Thomas Hardy described Bournemouth as: "A city of detached mansions; a Mediterranean lounging-place on the English Channel".
    Venture further along the coast to the Isle of Purbeck to see round medieval Corfe Castle, one of the most dramatic ruined castles in England. Its position commands a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. A National Trust property, the castle has a lovely garden tearoom where you would expect Miss Marpole to feel at home. Don't miss the adjacent village of Corfe, a treasure house of historic pubs and tiny shops. Sadly, the traffic thunders through here at speed.
    Ramblers and photographers can continue west and follow the 70-mile coastal path to beautiful Lulworth Cove. Once the haunt of smugglers, the picturesque bay is almost land-locked. Crunch over the pebbles or take a stroll along the coastal path but not too close to the edge....
    On your homeward bound journey to London, visit one of the cathedral towns with their cloisters, Chapter Houses and tombs. My favourite was Salisbury and I will leave Thomas Hardy to close with his description: "Upon the whole the Close of Salisbury, under the full summer moon on a windless midnight, is as beautiful a scene as any I know in England - or for the matter of elsewhere".
    LITERARY FIGURES
    Jane Austen (1775-1817) - English novelist, her work recently revived in the films Emma and Sense & Sensibility and the TV version of Pride and Prejudice. She is buried in the north aisle of Winchester Cathedral. In life her novels were anonymous and the inscription on her tomb does not mention her talents, but her character: "She openeth her mouth with wisdom and her tongue is the law of kindness."
    Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) English poet and novelist whose books included: Far from the Madding Crowd, The Return of the Native and The Mayor of Casterbridge. The heart of "Hardy Country" is Dorchester which he penned "Casterbridge".
    Edward Rutherford's recent novel Sarum was written around Salisbury.
    Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) Scottish writer wrote The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde and Kidnapped while living in Bournemouth.

    CATHEDRALS & ABBEYS
    Salisbury Cathedral - 83 mls. sw of London. Its 400-foot spire is the tallest in Britain and is the subject of several paintings by Constable.
    Winchester Cathedral - 64 mls. sw of London - Europe's longest church. Visit the Close, Pilgrim's Hall and the Refectory for tea. Crypt and Tower tours available.
    Shaftesbury Abbey - interesting and in a lovely location.
    Milton Abbey near Milton Abbas, a picturesque village of identical thatched cottages. The Abbey was once part of a Benedictine monastery and the pastoral setting is balm to the soul.

    Travel tips:
    By car from Heathrow Airport, follow the M3 to Winchester, then the M27 to Lyndhurst in the New Forest (a 90-minute drive).
    Parking in centre of cathedral towns at a premium. Check with tourist authority for park and ride options.
     
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    We found this Interesting Tour of Literary LITERARY WESSEX  by World ToursWorldSIM.com: Recieve international calls for free in over 150+ countries. Reduce bills by 95 percent.
     

    Literary Wessex Tour

    A tour of literary Wessex and the south west of England, starting and finishing in London.

    On this twelve day tour we travel through one of Europe’s oldest landscapes; a landscape that has inspired writers and artists for centuries and continues to exert its power and resonance today.

    Our Literary Wessex tour will include visits to the ancient stone circle of Stonehenge, Salisbury and its Cathedral, which boasts the tallest spire in England, the rolling hills of Hardy country, the elegant city of Bath, as well as the city of Winchester, the coastal town of Lyme Regis and the picturesque Isle of Wight, lying a short ferry trip from the mainland.

    All this, of course, in addition to London, where we will re-discover the locations associated with such peerless literary figures as Shakespeare, Dickens, Johnson and Pepys.

    Available at any time of the year as a private tour

    ITINERARY

    Literary Wessex Day 1 We will rendezvous at our London hotel from where, in the afternoon, we will set out for the Charles Dickens Museum at 48 Doughty Street for a guided tour. We will then walk through Dickensian London to Fleet Street, the city’s old publishing centre, to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, where Dr Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, David Garrick, William Makepeace Thackeray, Dickens, Oscar Wilde and W.B. Yeats Rhymers Club met to discuss their work.

    Literary Wessex Day 2 In the morning we will drive to Jane Austen’s House, Chawton, where we will have tea and a guided tour by a member of the Jane Austen Society.

    After lunch, we will drive on to Winchester Cathedral, the inspiration for Anthony Trollope’s Barchester novels, and visit Jane Austen’s grave. We will then visit King Arthur’s Round Table at the Great Hall and follow John Keats’ Walk, the inspiration for his ode – ‘To Autumn’.

    I take a walk every day for an hour before dinner and this is generally my walk. I go out at the back gate across on street, into the Cathedral yard, along a paved path, past the beautiful front of the Cathedral, turn to the left under a stone doorway – then I am on the other side of the building – which leaving behind me I pass on through two college-like squares seemingly built for the dwelling place of deans and Prebendaries – garnished with grass and shaded with trees. Then I pass through one of the old city gates…

    We will stay overnight in the historic city of Winchester.


    Literary Wessex Day 3 In the morning we will drive to Southampton and take the ferry to the Isle of Wight and the Farringford Hotel, formerly the home of Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

    In the afternoon we will visit Freshwater Bay, where Lord Tennyson, Julia Margaret Cameron, G.F. Watts, Annie Ritchie, Edward Lear, Virginia Woolf and others lived and wrote. Woolf’s only play, Freshwater (1935), concerns her life and friends here.

    We will be given a tour of the area, Julia Margaret Cameron’s home and studio, Dimbola Lodge and Tennyson’s home. Our guide will be Dr Brian Hinton MBE, Chairman of Dimbola Lodge and an authority on Tennyson, Cameron and the literary history of The Isle of Wight.

    In the evening, we will have a special reception meal with a guest speaker.

    Literary Wessex Day 4 This morning we will visit Literary Bonchurch, the hotel where Charles Dickens wrote parts of David Copperfield, the house where Algernon Swinburne was raised and the grave in which he is laid to rest. We will then travel to the northern part of the Island and visit Shanklin and Colebrooke, where John Keats lived and wrote.

    Keats wrote ‘The Eve of St Agnes’, ‘Lamia’ and part of his epic ‘Hyperion’ at Shanklin, which he described in a letter as:

    a most beautiful place, sloping woods and meadow grounds reach around the Chine, which is a cleft between the Cliffs to a depth of nearly 300 feet at least. This cleft is filled with trees and bushes in the narrow part, and as it widens becomes bare, if not for primroses on one side, which spread to the very verge of the Sea, and some fishermen’s huts on the other, perched midway in the Balustrades of beautiful green Hedges along their steps to the sands – But the sea, Jack, the sea – the little waterfall – then the white cliff – then St Catherine’s Hill.

    After some concluding remarks from Dr Brian Hinton we will take the Yarmouth ferry back to the mainland and our next hotel.

    Literary Wessex Day 5 In the morning we set off on our exploration of the heart of literary Wessex - sites and landscapes associated with Thomas Hardy and the Vale of the Little Dairies. We will visit Sturminster Newton, where he wrote The Return of the Native (1878), Tess’s Cottage, and have lunch at what was The Pure Drop Inn at Marnhull.

    After lunch we will visit Hardy’s Casterbridge (Dorchester) his house, Max Gate, his childhood Cottage at Higher Bockhampton and Stinsford Church, where his heart is buried.

    Hardy chose to build his home at Max Gate as it looks out across open fields towards Winterborne Came and the world of his friend, the dialect poet, William Barnes who, like the musicians gallery in Stinsford church where Hardy’s father played the violin, reminded him of a rural way of life celebrated in Under The Greenwood Tree (1872). The destruction of that way of life is artfully shown in The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), where Henchard’s reliance upon weather lore, verbal agreements and rule of thumb are replaced by Farfrae’s more calculated economic methods and technical innovation.

    Literary Wessex Day 6 In the morning we will visit Sherborne Abbey, where poet and statesman, Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-42), who pioneered the sonnet in England, is buried. The former lover of Anne Boleyn and favourite of Catherine Howard died of a fever whilst passing through Sherborne on the king’s business. His Songes and Sonettes (1557), translations and imitations of Petrarch’s sonnets, appeared in Tottel’s Miscellany, setting the trend for aristocratic love poetry.

    In the afternoon we will visit Sherborne Castle, built by the poet, courtier and adventurer, Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618), who in 1594 wrote The Passionate Man’s Pilgrimage, in 1594. He developed the castle from a medieval hunting lodge after persuading Queen Elizabeth I to allow him to buy the deer park from the church.

    Ralegh’s literary friends included Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson and John Donne - all of whom fell in and out of favour with court circles.

    Ralegh seduced the Queen’s Maid, Elizabeth Throckmorton, and was imprisoned. He eventually married Elizabeth and moved to Sherborne. After he was beheaded in 1618, Elizabeth took his head back to Sherborne so that his friends and staff could pay their respects.

    Literary Wessex Day 7 In the morning we will visit the coastal town of Lyme Regis, with its Cobb and harbour walk, inspiration to Jane Austen in Persuasion (1818) and to John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969), which is set largely in 1867 Lyme Regis. Jane Austen holidayed in Lyme Regis in 1803 and 1804, and there is a Jane Austen Garden.

    John Fowles (1926-2005) moved to Belmont House in 1965 and curated the Lyme Regis Museum from 1978-88. Here Fowles wrote The Ebony Tower (1974), Daniel Martin (1977), Mantissa (1982), A Maggot (1985) and The Tree (1992).

    Fossils have been discovered locally since the early nineteenth century and it is believed that the tongue twister, ‘She sells seashells on the sea shore’ is derived from the exploits of Mary Anning, who found an entire marine dinosaur in 1811 and continued to find and sell fossils in Lyme Regis throughout her life.

    Henry Fielding, Tennyson, Llewelyn Powys and Graham Swift have also been inspired by Lyme’s Jurassic landscape.

    OUr literary Wessex tour then takes us to the Somerset levels and the Isle of Avalon, the centre of King Arthur’s Wessex.

    Literary Wessex Day 8 Glastonbury, the site of the legends of King Arthur and the ancient home of Christianity in England, remains a spiritual centre and place of pilgrimage. Its history inspired medieval writers and chroniclers, such as Geoffrey of Monmouth and Thomas Malory, as well as Tennyson’s Idylls of the King (1859), John Masefield’s novel, The Badon Parchments (1948) and A Glastonbury Romance (1933) by John Cowper Powys. We will visit the Abbey ruins where monks are believed to have found the remains of Arthur and Guinevere in 1191 and the Tor where some suggest Joseph of Arimathea and his followers buried the Holy Grail.

    John Cowper Powys captures the spirit of the place:

    As these two slept, the shapeless moon sank down over the rim of the Polden Hills. As these two slept, little gusts of midnight air, less noticeable than any wind but breaking the absolute stillness, stirred the pale, green leaf-buds above many a half-finished hedge-sparrow’s nest between Queen’s Sedgemoor and the Lake Village flats. Here and there, unknown to Sam Dekker or any other naturalist, a few among such nests held one or two cold untimely eggs, over whose brittle blue-tinted rondure moved in stealthy motion these light-borne air stirrings pursuing their mysterious journeys from one dark horizon to another.

    Literary Wessex Day 9 In the morning we travel to Bath where we will spend the day and overnight.

    We will visit Jane Austen Centre for a Guided talk, the Royal Crescent, Pump Rooms and other sites associated with the wits, Congreve, Gay and Arbuthnot, Dr Johnson, Hester Thrale, Fanny Burney, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Sarah Siddons, Shelley and Mary Godwin, Dickens, Thackeray and many others.

    There will also be time for relaxation and shopping in the lively city centre.

    Literary Wessex Day 10 Today we visit Stonehenge, of which Henry James (who visited in 1872) wrote:

    You may put a hundred questions to these rough-hewn giants as they bend in grim contemplation of their fallen companions; but your curiosity falls dead in the vast sunny stillness that enshrouds them, and the strange monument, with all its unspoken memories, becomes simply a heart-stirring picture in a land of pictures …

    The centre of the stones is also, of course, where Tess, of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the Durbevilles, dies.

    We will then travel to the Cathedral city of Salisbury, following in the footsteps of Samuel Pepys, who visited Salisbury in 1668.

    Literary Wessex Day 11 In the morning we conclude our tour of literary Wessex proper with a visit to Salisbury Cathedral, inspiration to Anthony Trollope’s The Warden (1855) and William Golding’s The Spire (1964). Golding taught at Bishop’s Wordsworth school next to the cathedral.

    The Cathedral contains a commemorative stone to Sir Philip Sidney’s sister and inspiration for The Arcadia (1590), the poet, Mary, Countess of Pembroke, inscribed with an epitaph by William Browne, and a bust of local writer and naturalist, Richard Jefferies.

    In the afternoon we return to London.


    Literary Wessex Day 12 On our final morning we will visit Westminster Bridge, about which Wordsworth wrote Earth has not anything to show more fair following his walk on 3rd September 1802 across the bridge, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Poet’s Corner, where there are monuments to England’s most celebrated poets and writers.

    Please contact us for booking or further information regarding the Literary Wessex tour


     


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