Ken Ayres travels to the hinterland of the Jurassic Coast
Published in October ’10
The parish church of St Mary the Virgin showing the clock that was brought from old Christ’s Hospital school in London. The church’s south aisle was restored in 1897 with the addition of ‘Arts and Crafts’ glasswork.
Inside the 15th century church, there is a 14th century Font with its 12th century base, as well as this a 20th century wooden pulpit, which makes for a historically interesting, if not always aesthetically harmonious, mix of styles.
According to Treves: ‘The village is exceedingly pretty, possessing many delightful old houses and cottages with thatched roofs.’ This once accurate description is today less appropriate thanks to some undistinguished new building, and to the number of static caravans in the area.
Flax and hemp production was a major component of Burton Bradstock’s working life from the late 18th century onwards. Richard Roberts built at least three mills in the village offering employment to many – although he could not stop them popping off to fish for herrings or to bring the harvest in.
Reflecting the industrial past of the village, the mill stream is but one of a number of watercourses running through Burton, which originally takes its name from the River Bride (it was known as Bridetone in Norman times), while Bradstock comes from the Abbey of Bradenstoke in Wiltshire which held the manor from the 13th century
Burton Bradstock still keeps the spirit of a village, with its two pubs, post office and shop and school. The reason for the pub to share its emblem with the Worshipful Company of Farriers is lost in the mists of time.
Burton Bradstock’s wonderfully named Donkey Lane is not the only animal connection in the village. Over the years there have also been sightings of a ghost dog – headless according to some reports – taking itself for a walk along the cattle tracks
The beach at Burton Bradstock is not only a significant geological feature – its mixture of hard and soft Bridport sands give the cliffs a serrated look – but was also the place where, according to folklore a mermaid was brought to land in 1757; probably it was an off-course dugong. Less exotic landings were made there by Dorset smuggler par excellence, Isaac Gulliver, who even planted a stand of conifers as a landmark for his smuggling fleet.