Maiden Newton in pictures
Ken Ayres points his camera at a Frome Valley village with some idiosyncratic architectural features
Published in April ’11
The village of Maiden Newton was merely known as Newetone in Domesday Book, from the Olde English for new farm (niwe tun), but had acquired the prefix Maydene, indicating that it may have belonged to a nunnery. Not quite contained within the bounds of the Dorchester-Beaminster road and the railway line, the village, which is symbiotically joined to Frome Vauchurch, is a mix of ancient and modern; it is the former location of the iconic White Horse Inn, whose demolition caused an outcry, and now has just one of the nine inns mentioned in the 1851 census. Frederick Treves, rather sniffily, and indeed inaccurately, maligned the village stating that: ‘much of the interest in Maiden Newton from the point of view of the tourist has vanished since the pulling down of the White Hart [sic].’
Known as Chalknewton in Hardy’s Wessex novels, it is here that Tess of the d’Urbervilles cuts off her eyebrows to avoid unwanted male attention, only to receive the comment: ‘what a mommet of a maid’.
There is a reasonable sprinkling of buildings from the 17th century and 18th century, much Victorian building, some 20th-century housing of variable quality and some very sympathetic, recently-built housing. There is a more ancient artefact in the village in the shape of the 15th-century market cross which, like the preaching cross in the churchyard, is just a vertical stump! The church has a (blocked-up) Saxon doorway said to be among the oldest doorways in England.
As an important railhead for the D-Day preparations, Maiden Newton also plays host to a biennial ‘Maiden Newton at War’ re-enactment event, which next takes place in June 2012. In a different war and in a different time, the village (or at least the writer of its parish register) was clearly monarchist in outlook, as the following entries for the Rectors of the village either side of and during the Commonwealth demonstrate: ‘Mr Osborn, M.A., who was unjustly turned out by Ye Rumpish Triers, and afterwards restored by ye just hand of Providence. Mr Bramhall, his base and unworthy successor, put in by ye scandalous party, and turned out by God Almighty.’