A Dorset village: Mosterton
Ken Ayres takes his camera to the north-west of the county
Published in May ’16
When you get close to the Somerset border, near to the town of Crewkerne, you may see a road sign indicating Misterton one way and Mosterton the other. The former is firmly in Somerset, being the minster town of Crewkerne, the latter is very much in Dorset and its name has a wholly different origin, as its 1086 reference as Mortesthorn in the Domesday Book reveals: the thorn tree belonging to Mort. Although their names’ origins different, the literal building blocks from which Misterton and Mosterton are made are the same, and the common vernacular architecture shows just how porous man-made county borders can be.
Roland Gant, writing in his matchless Dorset Villages book in 1980, described Mosterton as ‘a village with an air of attending to its own business, but it is difficult to know precisely what that business is. There used to be a cloth mill that got its power from the River Axe, which rises in the hills two miles away and runs under the road here. The cloth-mill went away and the church came closer. Formerly at Chapel Court a half-mile away, it was dismissed in one guidebook [not by Sir Frederick Treves, surprisingly] as “built in 1832 on a new site and of no interest”. In fact, it is a plain and pleasant church with a wide nave and a west gallery on columns. The east window, designed by Geoffrey Robinson and made by Joseph Bell of Bristol, portrays Christ Triumphant above a Ford tractor, an International Harvester and a Webb single seeder drill. The colouring is brilliant, with a lot of red, and the window very effective. It was dedicated by the Archdeacon of Salisbury in July 1975.
Gant continues: ‘On my writing table is a bowl thrown by David Eeles in his Mosterton Pottery. I first went there years ago and have gone back many times for replacements, gifts for friends, or just the pleasure of going. David is a big, golden-bearded Viking of a man and the house, judging by its shape and the general lay-out of the buildings, was probably a pub at some time.’
Sadly, David Eeles died in September last year – potting up until two days before his death – but the Eeles pottery is still very much in Mosterton, 55 years after the family arrived. ◗
Eeles Pottery is having workshop tours/Raku firing demonstrations throughout Dorset Art Weeks (28 May-12 June), daily at 2.00. Watch as a red hot Raku pot is lifted from the kiln at temperatures of over 1000°C and placed onto sawdust that instantaneously combusts into an inferno of flames. Details at www.eelespottery.co.uk