The best of Dorset in words and pictures

Maiden Newton in pictures

Ken Ayres points his camera at a Frome Valley village with some idiosyncratic architectural features

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].’

The Maiden Newton school had just six headmasters between 1852 and 1960, the first of these, Mr. John Brown, was appointed when he was just eighteen and remained headmaster for 47 years as well as being organist at Maiden Newton for 51 years. As well as looking after 200 children, he also tended forty bee hives. The frankly enormous clock on the school was put there in celebration of Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.

The Maiden Newton school had just six headmasters between 1852 and 1960, the first of these, Mr. John Brown, was appointed when he was just eighteen and remained headmaster for 47 years as well as being organist at Maiden Newton for 51 years. As well as looking after 200 children, he also tended forty bee hives. The frankly enormous clock on the school was put there in celebration of Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.

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.

The parish church of St Mary the Mother of Our Lord has elements of five different architectural styles and parts of the church date to Saxon times, the 1400s, 1500s with Victorian additions and restorations. The Norman apse was torn down in the 1200s to make way for a Gothic chancel. The belfry contains six bells, four of which are dated between 1580 and 1883.

The parish church of St Mary the Mother of Our Lord has elements of five different architectural styles and parts of the church date to Saxon times, the 1400s, 1500s with Victorian additions and restorations. The Norman apse was torn down in the 1200s to make way for a Gothic chancel. The belfry contains six bells, four of which are dated between 1580 and 1883.

The old market cross stands at the junction of Dorchester Road and Church Road. The five-foot-high cross was moved from its original position in 1998 to protect it from likely traffic damage. From a distance, there is little to discern, but closer to, the west face of has much-weathered figures standing on a corbelled projection. It dates probably from the 15th century.

The old market cross stands at the junction of Dorchester Road and Church Road. The five-foot-high cross was moved from its original position in 1998 to protect it from likely traffic damage. From a distance, there is little to discern, but closer to, the west face of has much-weathered figures standing on a corbelled projection. It dates probably from the 15th century.

Standing sentinel over the final few yards of the River Toller, or Hooke, the former Castle Inn/Hotel was, despite its name, never a castle, but rather the <i>folie de grandeur</i> of a publican.

Standing sentinel over the final few yards of the River Toller, or Hooke, the former Castle Inn/Hotel was, despite its name, never a castle, but rather the folie de grandeur of a publican.

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.’

Sandwiched between Cattistock Road and the main thoroughfare at the arrowhead-shaped crossroads on Station Road, this 1836 toll house is one of many attractive Victorian cottages in the village

Sandwiched between Cattistock Road and the main thoroughfare at the arrowhead-shaped crossroads on Station Road, this 1836 toll house is one of many attractive Victorian cottages in the village

According to church records, the wooden door in the South Porch dates from about 1600, but the hinges appear to be Norman. Inside this door is an ancient lock which, when it was taken off for greasing, was found to contain two inches of tallow.

According to church records, the wooden door in the South Porch dates from about 1600, but the hinges appear to be Norman. Inside this door is an ancient lock which, when it was taken off for greasing, was found to contain two inches of tallow.

There have been water mills in Maiden Newton as far back as Domesday Book. Originally corn mills, they have been put to various uses from industrial units to rope and even ecclesiastical carpet making.

There have been water mills in Maiden Newton as far back as Domesday Book. Originally corn mills, they have been put to various uses from industrial units to rope and even ecclesiastical carpet making.

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