The best of Dorset in words and pictures


Ken Ayres takes his camera to a village which has come to unaccustomed prominence in the last hundred years.

1. Moreton House was built by James Frampton in 1744. The Frampton family are for ever associated with the Tolpuddle Martyrs – a later James was not only the first to draw the authorities’ attention to the six proto-trade unionists but was a member of the jury at their trial – yet for six centuries they have been generally benevolent landlords of a large estate which included most of the village of Moreton.

2. The obelisk to the south of the village was erected in 1786 as a memorial to James Frampton. It gives him something in common with George III, whose statue on the Esplanade at Weymouth was designed by the same architect, James Hamilton.

3. A stray German bomb in 1940 was the direct cause of one of Dorset’s finest works of art. It blew out all the parish church’s windows, which were replaced over a period of some thirty years by glass-engraver Lawrence Whistler. His windows are a triumph of light, remembrance and hope and make St Nicholas’s one of the country’s outstanding parish churches.

4. The ornate entrance to the village’s graveyard started life as the entrance to the kitchen gardens at Moreton House. It was moved in about 1950.

5. This is possibly the reason why the graveyard was felt to need such an imposing lynch-gate: the grave of T E Lawrence, whose cottage at Clouds Hill was a couple of miles away across the heath. The headstone makes no reference to his exploits in Arabia but only to his connection with Oxford University; the open book at the foot of the grave displays the university’s motto.

6. Before the 20th-century fame brought to Moreton by Whistler and Lawrence, it was no more than an obscure heathland village which Sir Frederick Treves in his Highways and Byways of Dorset (1906) did not even think worthy of a mention

7. Like so many villages in Dorset, Moreton has now lost its post office. It was once housed in this building, which starts off as a conventional cottage and then bursts out into eccentric eaves, buttresses and brickwork.

8. The broad crossing of the Frome, in a lovely setting on the edge of the village, is a popular place to cool off on a hot summer’s afternoon

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