Here you will find details of the other oddities scattered across the county that donʼt fit anywhere else.
Barnes Cross Postbox
The pillar box outside Barnes Cross Cottage in Holwell near Sherborne is claimed by many to be the oldest box still in use in mainland Britain.
It was made by John Butt & Co. of Gloucester, to an unusual octagonal design commissioned by the Surveyor of the Western Division of the Post Office, Anthony Trollope, in 1853.
These were manufactured in batches between 1853 and 1859
Wikipedia reckons the record actually belongs to a pair of boxes of a slightly different design in Framlingham, Suffolk,
which were manufactured in 1856, and that the Barnes Cross example came from a batch produced after this date. But then Wikipedia has been known to be wrong.
Everyone seems to agree though that the oldest box still in use in the whole of the British Isles is in Saint Peter Port, Guernsey and also dates from 1853.
The Fifehead Neville Packhorse Bridge is a medieval stone bridge over the River Divelish.
Like most packhorses bridges it is narrow, and has low parapets so not to interfere with the horsesʼ panniers. The timber hand-rails are a recent addition; health and safety gone mad!
As I was standing on the opposite side of the ford taking a photo, I heard a car coming along. Being sited on a bend, I knew the driver wouldnʼt be able to see me. So I stood well back.
No surprise, as he drove through at some speed, there was a huge whoosh of water which only just missed me. More surprisingly for those of us not used to their strange country ways,
as this was deepest, darkest Dorset the driver stopped and apologised for not spotting me. Ah! The pleasures of the countryside.
Studland these days is a peaceful place and it is difficult to believe that this area once resounded to the sound of gunfire
as part of the preparations for the D-Day invasions.
Perched on the cliff above the beach is Fort Henry, at 30m in length with walls a metre thick
it is the largest and strongest Observation Post to be built in Britain.
Built in 1943, it was from here that George VI, Winston Churchill, General Dwight D Eisenhower, General Montgomery and Admiral Louis Mountbatten
watched Operation Smash, a training exercise for the Normandy Beach invasions using live ammunition.
So realistic was the exercise, that six men lost their lives when an amphibious tank sank.
Behind it stands an earlier (1940) 4in gun emplacement, built before the Battle of Britain when a German invasion seemed a realistic possibility.
Hinton Martell is one of those villages that is not easy to find unless youʼre lost.
If you are lost, it is all all the more surprising to come across a fountain in the middle of a pretty but otherwise unremarkable village.
Prior to 2009, this was the handsome, albeit decaying, stone edifice pictured opposite, which replaced one built in 1870 to provide drinking water for animals that was irreparably damaged in the severe winter of 1963.
The plaques on the four sides of the fountain used to read:
Unveiled by Miss Ann Sidney of Poole (Miss World 1965) on the 8th May 1965
Designed by George R (?) Smith of Portland
Made by the South Dorset Technical College
Paid for by Public Subscription
Unfortunately, this was replaced by one featuring a strange misshapen putto that looks like it was remaindered in a local garden centre sale,
but is in fact an attempt to reproduce the original 1870 Coalbrookdale centrepiece.
Holdenhurst is the only place in Dorset, as far as I am aware, and one of the few places in the country still to retain its old gas lamps;
and what pretty ones they are too (Sugg Windsor lanterns, mounted on the original cast iron columns, should you be interested).
I am amazed that some interfering official hasnʼt declared them a fire risk, and insisted that they be replaced.
As it is they are numbered just like any other street lamp which, fortunately, only slightly detracts from their old world charm,
and does nothing to harm their nostalgia value.
External Links and References
Yes, folks. They are still being made! https://www.williamsugg.co.uk/products/windsor-gas/
The Osmington White Horse was first cut in 1808 and shows the figure of King George III, who regularly visited Weymouth.
Somewhat controversially, he is depicted riding on his horse away from the town. There is an urban myth that that the King took offence,
and thought it was a sign that the townspeople did not welcome him.
It is 280 feet (85 m) long and 323 feet (98 m) high, and
was restored, not very well, in 1989 by the TV show Challenge Anneka. It was restored again on 11 March 2012 in time for the Olympics.
The Stag Gate
Thousands of people must drive past this familiar sight on the A31 Dorchester Road every day.
But how many of them realise that the stag has five legs?
Apparently from the house (Charborough Park) it only looked like it had three, so an extra one was crudely grafted on.
The more you look at it the more it looks like something that was lying around on Ma Coadeʼs shop floor
that was vaguely the right shape and could be shoved up there to keep the Master happy.
External Links and References
Wikipedia article including the recipe https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coade_stone
I wonder how many motorists rushing along the busy Blandford to Melbury Abbas road notice the rather unusual tall tree in Sutton Clump,
a fine example of Telephonicus Celiphonitis or Greater Cellphone Mast.
It is only when you get up close and notice its unusual fruiting body that its true nature becomes apparent.