The best of Dorset in words and pictures

Melbury Osmond

Ken Ayres has taken his camera to one of Dorset’s most typical and attractive villages

church of st osmond

Thomas Hardy’s parents and grandparents were married in the church of St Osmond. It was re-built in 1745 by the lady of the manor, Susanna Strangways Horner, and modified in the 1880s.

ford melbury osmond

The ford in the main street is perhaps the village’s best-known feature

drive end lodge

Drive End Lodge, at the entrance to the park of Melbury House. The house has been the home of the Strangways family since 1500.

norman font in church

The old school house bell. Today, the village has neither school nor shop nor pub.

old school house

The most notable features inside the church are the Norman font and a strange piece of stonework on the north wall of the chancel, thought to be from an Anglo-Saxon cross and to represent Abraham’s ram caught in the thicket.

sterndale cottage

Although the Melbury Estate was the main employer, Melbury Osmond lacks the uniformity found in many estate villages. This is Sterndale Cottage.

glebe cottage

Glebe Cottage, dated 1626. According to Hutchins, those villagers who did not work for the Melbury Estate were likely to be producing horn buttons, plated buckles or dowlas, a coarse linen cloth.

monmouth cottage

Monmouth Cottage was occupied by Thomas Hardy’s forebears, the Swetmans. The Duke of Monmouth is supposed to have taken refuge there, a legend which Hardy wove into his short story, ‘The Duke’s Reappearance’.

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