Welcome to Dorset Allsorts

We'll be posting a variety of facts and photos of whatever takes our fancy as we wander around Dorset. They may be of churches, buildings, visitor attractions or natural scenes – in fact there will be all sorts! We hope they will give you a glimpse of some of the sights this beautiful county has to offer.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Tales from the Grave

Whenever we go walking and pass a church, we usually have a quick look around the graveyard to see what we can find.  Here are a few of the interesting graves we've found to date with a bit of information about their occupants!

Thomas Hardy is, of course, one of Dorset's most famous novelists and poets.  Born at Higher Bockhampton, near Dorchester, in 1840, he originally trained as an architect, but after a stint in London he returned to Dorset to dedicate himself to his writing.  He died in 1928 and his heart is buried in the churchyard at Stinsford, while his ashes are interred at Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.

Not far from Hardy's grave at Stinsford, we discovered the grave of Cecil Day Lewis (1904-1972), the irish poet and novelist who had been the British Poet Laureate from 1968 until his death in 1972.  Lewis had been a big admirer of Thomas Hardy and had asked to be buried as close to his grave as possible. 
Sgt William Lawrence is buried in the graveyard of St Nicholas of Myra church in Studland.  He ran away from Studland to join the army in 1805, and served with the South American Expedition, and with Wellington in the Peninsular Wars and at the Battle of Waterloo. His experiences included being sentenced to 400 lashes for being absent without leave, and receiving 175 of them.  After discharge in 1828 he returned to Studland with his French wife and together they ran the local pub, the New Inn, which was renamed the Wellington Inn.
Another famous Dorset inhabitant was Thomas Edward Lawrence, popularly known as Lawrence of Arabia.  After his huge successes in Arabia in the First World War, Colonel Lawrence bizarrely re-enlisted in 1923 as a simple soldier and was posted to Bovington (home of the famous tank training centre).  He rented and then bought a tiny gamekeeper's cottage called Clouds Hill, which he retired to in 1935.  Unfortunately, he was killed only a few weeks later in a motorcycle accident near his home.  The stone pictured below marks the spot near the road where he was fatally injured.  T E Lawrence is buried in the graveyard of St Nicholas Church at Moreton and his funeral was attended by many famous dignatories, including Sir Winston Churchill.

John Hammett is buried in St John's Church at Tolpuddle and was one of the original Tolpuddle Martyrs - see our separate entry for more information.
We discovered this grave of Benjamin Jesty in the churchyard of St Nicholas' Church in Worth Matravers.  

Jesty was a farmer from Yetminster who is the first known person to have given the first recorded smallpox vaccination.   It was widely believed at the time that people who contracted cowpox became immune from smallpox, and Jesty himself knew 2 dairymaids who had contracted cowpox, but had then nursed relatives during a smallpox outbreak without any serious consequences.  So, in an attempt to protect his family from the disease in 1774, Jesty deliberately infected them with cowpox by taking infected pus from the udder of a cow and, with the point of a stocking needle, scratching their arms and inserting the pus. The first authenticated vaccination had taken place.
Some 20 years later the process had become better understood thanks to Edward Jenner who had dedicated his life, money and reputation to spreading the use of vaccination.  Jenner subsequently became known as the "father of smallpox vaccination".

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