Red admiral butterflies – God’s gift to amateur photographers, including myself. Colourful, prolific, simple to identify, usually within easy camera reach. All very well, but sometimes they are so busy feeding that the colourful topside is kept hidden. These images from Dorset attempt to show that closed-wing images of feeding red admirals have the interest if not the good cheer factor of the popular view. See what you think…
St Peter’s, Chetnole is a pretty and very typical rural Dorset church with a long history. It is at the heart of the village, and the popular village pub is close by. The openness of the churchyard is one of its attractions, and helps the church to be seen to its best advantage.
St Peter’s dates from c13, including the nave, the south door and a lancet window. Later features date mostly from c15 including the barrel vault and the tower, which was rebuilt at least in part in the c16. The four gargoyles on the tower are of particular note. The south porch is later. In the mid-c19, the church was enlarged (controversially, apparently) with the addition of the north aisle, and the chancel was refurbished. The clock was installed in soon after (and remains reliable). I couldn’t find the trace of a medieval scratch dial, though (see Sundials) other local churches have one.
The bells are of particular interest, with the first and second of the three being among the oldest in Dorset. They were cast by a London founder, William Chamberlain, in about 1500 and inscribed respectively: wox augustinae sonet in aure dei (‘the voice of Augustine speaks in the ear of God’), and sante laurenti ora pro nobis (‘St Lawrence pray for us’). The third (tenor) bell was cast in 1865 by John Warner and Sons of London, and weighs about 8cwt. The fittings are not suitable for ringing, so the bells are chimed.
St Peter’s is worth making a detour for if you are in the area, not least because of its attractive setting, and after visiting the church the proximity of the pub with its ales, food and garden for those with a thirst after righteousness to quench.
Photos: Keith Salvesen; Info adapted from Three Parishes Benefice’s informative website
On a cold, sunny November day, we went to a local church that was slightly outside our usual territory. The purpose was to photograph the medieval mass dial on the porch – or, as it turned out, dials in the plural. Beneath a neat dial from roughly 1600, we found the traces of an apparently older and much more sketchy dial. Below that, the possibility of a hint of a dial -possibly an original practice run. More of those another time.
As we drove home on a different road, we had a ‘stop the car’ moment. For there, outside a row of old cottages, was a small post or pillar box. Not only that, it was octagonal, Victorian, and worthy of immediate investigation. The location is at Holwell, Dorset – rather more of an area than a defined village. Its Church, St Laurences, is in its own hamlet known as The Borough, down a no-through-road. The box is actually at Barnes Cross near The Borough and Cornford Bridge, National Grid Ref: ST 69308 11775.
The box turned out to be a wonderful find. Plainly, it was an early one. Research when we got home revealed that is is in fact the oldest box still in everyday use in Britain. According to HE, it is dated to 1853 and was made (as the box itself proclaims) by a Gloucester firm, John N. Butt & Co. Roadside boxes were only introduced in 1852, so this one is a very early example. There are apparently two other extant boxes made by them, one at the National Postal Museum in London and the other a private box at a hospital in Plymouth. Standardisation of design was not brought in until 1859 – before that, designs varied from area to area.
The box is grade II* listed in 1987, designated thus for its ‘legacy record’. Despite the listing, the box became badly dilapidated, until in 2104 a restoration campaign by the local community succeeded. The Daily Mail carried an article with ‘before, during, and after’ images. The box had to be stripped before being fully refurbished to its former glory.
This very early box has a number of interesting original features, most of all the vertical letter opening, the royal insignia, and the fact that the makers advertise their skills twice over. The most important modern feature is of course the collection notice in its inset – proof that it is business as usual 165 years after the box was installed.
I have referred to this box as a post box, with a nod to pillar box (which is the name I grew up using). I realise some prefer postbox in one word. And clearly the correct description in the 1850s was letterbox, as shown printed on this example. But I imagine that in those early postal days houses did not have what we now usually call letterboxes, i.e. holes in the front door of a house, so there was no cause for confusion.
Credits: Historic England; Dorset OPC (Online Parish Clerks); BNPS Dorset Press Agency; Daily Mail. All photos apart from the 2 restoration ones are mine.
The River Frome in Dorset rises in Evershot and flows 30 miles eastwards before, like its neighbouring river the Piddle, entering Poole Harbour near Swanage. It is the most westerly of the classic English chalk streams and provides excellent fishing for trout and in the lower reaches, salmon and sea trout.
The upper river fishings, upstream of Dorchester, are wonderful for brown trout. The beat I fish (with variable success) is a couple of miles above this hut, where the fish are as wild as the unkempt banks, wily, and hard won. I have occasionally fished the beats lower downstream, above and below this wonderful hut, where the banks are well tended, though without pretention to the manicured perfection found elsewhere.
The river level changes abruptly at the hut, with a water-level control and an overflow that goes directly under the hut through two entries. Inside the hut, is it slightly strange to watch and hear the water passing underneath. The hut is a simple structure, its historic beams and brickwork more or less original.
I posted about the MAGPIE MOTH quite a while ago. Now I’ve come across its junior cousin, the small magpie moth. This one was in a hard to photograph corner (especially with an iPhone), and the images are neither good nor varied (it stayed completely still). But it’s another species to add to the list. Unlike the large magpie, the small variety has no yellow band across the wings,
This enjoyable armillary sphere at Kingston Lacy stands proudly on a tall stone baluster in the middle of a rose garden. I wanted to get close to it to look for markings, few of which were visible at a distance. However the lush spring growth deterred closer investigation, and I preferred to leave it inspected. It is not included in Historic England’s detailed descriptions of the house and garden. A photograph found online suggests that the sundial was at one time located elsewhere in the garden, near a wall. I need to try a bit harder to find a date for it.
All photos: Keith Salvesen Photography
Toller Porcorum is an archetypal Dorset village, right down to a latinate name redolent of medieval swine-herding (cf Ryme Intrinseca, Kington Magna etc). The fine Church of St Peter and St Andrew lies at the heart of the village, and is also very ‘Dorset’.
While I was fishing on the nearby River Frome a couple of weeks ago, Mrs RH visited some churches in the area, including this one. Inside, she noticed an unusual modern ‘glass sundial’ set in a stained glass window, a marker of the hours and the millennium.
Knowing that sundials are one of the features on this blog, she took a few photographs with her phone. They have come out very well.
In the close-up above, you can just make out the shadow of the gnomon at approx 12.40 (midday being at the bottom). On the outside the gnomon, in the right-hand window (below), is elegantly simple and unobtrusive. The close-up shows it more clearly. But of course the effect is meant to be seen from the inside, if only to time the length of the sermon.
Lordy, but I am negligent of this site. Thanks you, kind people who still come to look at stuff here even though (I am ashamed to note) my last post was in November 2017. I’m going to try to get back on track with this side-project… there’s quite a backlog of material!