The best of Dorset in words and pictures

Dorset villages: West Stafford

Ken Ayres takes his camera to a village between the waters of two rivers

There is a good mix of vernacular styles in West Stafford from different periods in  the village's development. The church of St Andrew is at the bend in the road

There is a good mix of vernacular styles in West Stafford from different periods in the village’s development. The church of St Andrew is at the bend in the road

Appropriately for a village between the Frome and the South Winterborne, the origins of the name of West Stafford are the words for stony and ford. There was once an East Stafford too, which is now called Lewell.

 In what must have once been a very convenient arrangement, School House is next to the village pub

In what must have once been a very convenient arrangement, School House is next to the village pub

West Stafford has drawn the particular attention of three writers: Treves, Fellowes and Hardy.

Stafford House is one of two significant houses in the village of West Stafford, along with the Manor House

Stafford House is one of two significant houses in the village of West Stafford, along with the Manor House

Sir Frederick Treves confines himself to describing West Stafford as being on the east side of Dorchester and being a ‘lovely village, with a church and rectory good to see’. This uncharacteristically positive and unusually brief comment appears only eight pages from the end of his 370-page book, so he was perhaps sprinting for the line, but it’s still a little light on detail, given his usual depth.

The old reading room as it was this time last year

The old reading room as it was this time last year

Many know the village as the home of (and suffix to the name of) Oscar-winning Gosford Park screenwriter, Julian Kitchener-Fellowes, Baron Fellowes of West Stafford.

The 400-year-old building that became the Wise Man pub used to be an estate cottage, but became a public house 80 years ago next year, when it will also be a decade since its re-opening following a catastrophic fire in 2006

The 400-year-old building that became the Wise Man pub used to be an estate cottage, but became a public house 80 years ago next year, when it will also be a decade since its re-opening following a catastrophic fire in 2006

Thomas Hardy fans will know West Stafford as the location of the story The Waiting Supper, with the church of St Andrew also being the apparent setting for Tess and Angel Clare’s marriage in Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Lower Lewell Farm is also though to be the likely inspiration for Talbothays Dairy in Tess.

The carved wooden screen in St Andrew's Church

The carved wooden screen in St Andrew’s Church

More vernacular 'soft' dormer windows in thatch, which contrast with the ornately decorative version (below) found on other properties in the village

More vernacular ‘soft’ dormer windows in thatch, which contrast with the ornately decorative version (below) found on other properties in the village

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The village hall, location for short-mat bowls, table tennis and keep fit... as well as the annual parish meeting

The village hall, location for short-mat bowls, table tennis and keep fit… as well as the annual parish meeting

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