Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Biographical > Thomas Hardy's Dorset > CHAPTER XIII
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
 RAMBLES AROUND BRIDPORT I, who am a pagan child,
Who know how dying Plato smiled,
And how Confucius lessoned kings,
And of the Buddha's wanderings,
Find God in very usual things.
Toller Porcorum (Toller of the Swine) has a railway station on the Bridport branch line and is two miles from Newton. The name is explanatory, and great of swine were once bred here. The serves to distinguish this Toller from its next neighbour, Toller Fratrum (Toller of the Brethren, i.e. ), which is one mile from Maiden Newton station. The of Sir Thomas Fulford still stands and is a fine instance of early seventeenth-century domestic architecture. The very first things I noticed about this house were the tall, narrow, thick windows—windows that any man might look upon with eyes. Such tall stone-mullioned windows are an , and, as Hilaire Belloc says, it is the duty of every man to keep up the high worship of noble windows till he comes down to the windowless grave. A building with a thatched roof near the house is a refectory, and appropriately cut in stone on the wall will be noticed a eating bread.
At Wynford Eagle, two miles south, the church still preserves a curious tympanum of a Norman door. It shows two and unspeakable-looking beasts, who are about to fight. They are said to be wyverns—which are heraldic monsters with two wings, two legs and bodies. The most discovery ever made in the vicinity of Wynford Eagle was recorded by Aubrey in connection with the opening of a barrow at Ferndown. The diggers came upon "a place like an Oven, clay'd round; and in the midst of it a fair full of very firm bones, with a great quantity of black ashes under it. And what is most remarkable; one of the diggers putting his hand into the Oven when first open'd, pull'd it back hastily, not being able to endure the heat; and several others doing the like, affirmed it to be hot enough to bake bread.... Digging further they met with sixteen more, but not in Ovens; and in the middle one with ears; they were all full of some bones and black ashes."
The house of the Sydenhams still stands at Wynford Eagle. On the highest point of the central gable a fierce-looking stone eagle arrests our attention, and under it is carved the date 1630.
Rampisham is three miles south of Evershot, and the churchyard contains an ancient stone cross, the decayed condition of which will test the patience and of those who desire to satisfy themselves of the accuracy of Britton's description of the sculpture—namely, that it represents "the stoning of St Stephen, the Martyrdom of St Edmund, the Martyrdom of St Thomas à Becket, and two crowned figures sitting at a long table, to whom a man kneels on one knee."
The inn called the "Tiger's Head" is of great ; it has stooped and settled down with age, and, within, the low-ceiled rooms seem with influence, and weighty with the wearing of men's lives.
Cross-in-Hand stands on the of the down, which breaks away precipitously to the vale where Yetminster lies. A and upland, it took its name from a stone pillar which stood there, a strange, rude monolith, from a unknown in any local , on which was roughly carved a human hand. Differing accounts were given of its history and . Some authorities stated that a devotional cross had once formed the complete erection thereon, of which the present was but the ; others that the stone as it stood was entire, and[Pg 233] that it had been there to mark a boundary or place of meeting.
It was on this stone that Alec D'Urberville made Tess swear not to him by her charms. "This was once a holy cross," said he. " are not in my , but I fear you at moments." It was with a sense of painful that Tess, after leaving this spot, learned from a that the stone was not a holy cross. "Cross—no; 'twere not a cross! 'Tis a thing of ill-omen, miss. It was put up in wuld times by the relations of a , who was tortured there by nailing his hands to a post and afterwards hung. The bones lie . They say he sold his soul to the devil, and that he walks at times."
Deep down below is the village of Batcombe. An uncanny story attaches itself to a old Gothic tomb in Batcombe churchyard. The tomb stands near the north wall of the church, and it is said to be the resting-place of one Minterne, who in one of his novels tells us left directions, after having quarrelled with his vicar, that he was to be buried "neither in the church nor out of it." It is said that this eccentric injunction was complied with, but the tomb has since been moved. What deed Minterne had committed that prevented him from lying quietly in the usual grave like the other good folk of Batcombe who had departed this life no man can tell. All the could tell me was they had heard he had sold himself to Old Nick, and that his request to be buried in such a unique manner was a to prevent his master "the old 'un" from getting him when he died.
In bygone days the "conjurer" was an important character in the Dorset village, and he was generally of good reputation, and supposed to be gifted with supernatural power, which he exercised for good. By his incantations and ceremonies he cured anything from eyes to lung disease. A Wessex in magic and spells is mentioned in Hardy's story, The Arm. He lived in a valley in the remotest part of Egdon Heath:
"He did not his remedial practices openly, or care anything about their continuance, his direct interests being those of a dealer in furze, turf, 'sharp sand,' and other local products. Indeed, he not to believe largely in his own powers, and when that had been shown him for cure disappeared—which it must be owned they infallibly did—he would say lightly, 'Oh, I only drink a glass of grog upon 'em—perhaps it's all chance,' and immediately turn the subject."
But to return to Minterne. The present vicar of Batcombe church—. Joseph Pulliblank—thinks the fore-shortened stone of Minterne's tomb, which is square instead of the usual oblong, gives some support to the story of the "conjurer" being buried with his feet under the of the church wall. The following paragraph is also from some notes sent to me by the Rev. Joseph Pulliblank:—
"Batcombe Church, originally Saxon, has only two points which testify to the fact—(1) A Saxon font inside, (2) a small portion of Saxon masonry worked into the outside south wall.
"In modern times Batcombe was the seat of 'the Little ' settlement founded by the Earl of Sandwich and run on the lines of the 'George Junior Republic' in America—owing to financial and other difficulties it came to an end during the war."
In the church are wall tablets to the Minterne family: one to a John Minterne who died in 1716, as well as a John Minterne who was buried in 1592. There is a monument to Bridget Minterne in Yetminster church, who was the wife of John Minterne of Batcombe. The runs:
"Here lyeth y body of Bridgett Minterne wife of John Minterne of Batcombe esq., second daughter of Sir John Brown of Frampton Kt. who died y 19th July Ano Domini 1649."
Which of the ancient possessors of Batcombe can claim the honour of being the famous Conjuring Minterne I was unable to discover. Little of his history. We only know that he was always kind, and knew how to ride well, for he once jumped his horse from the of the down into the village, knocking one of the off the church tower on his way. He would not talk much about wizardry, but would rather sing songs. No doubt Minterne was a very lovable fellow!
In Rudyard Kipling's "Marklake Witches" (Rewards and Fairies) the Sussex "conjurer" is represented by Jerry Gamm the witchmaster, and he is one of the most striking examples in literature of the rustic astrologer and doctor. The following charm—a very excellent one, too—was Jerry Gamm's charm against a disease of an and deadly character:
"You know the names of the Twelve Apostles, dearie? You say them names, one by one, before your open window, rain or storm, wet or shine, five times a day fasting. But mind you, 'twixt every name you draw in your breath thr............
Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved