A couple of weeks ago we published 20 questions about Dorset…
Here are the answers…
1) In Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books, the famous five had 12 legs – two for each person and four for their dog.
2) The towering landmark of the Hardy Monument which stands on Black Down above Portesham in South Dorset, was built in 1844. It was erected in memory of Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, Flag Captain of HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Amongst other things, Hardy became famous as it was in his arms that Nelson died, saying the immortal words “Kiss me, Hardy”.
3) It is considered very unlucky to mention rabbits on the Isle of Portland – they have long been associated with bad luck. Use of the word is still taboo – the creatures are often referred to as “Underground Mutton”, “Long-Eared Furry Things” or just “bunnies”. The origin of this superstition is obscure (there is no record of it before the 1920s) but it is believed to derive from quarry workers. The quarrymen would see rabbits emerging from their burrows immediately before a rock fall and blame them for increasing the risk of dangerous, sometimes deadly, landslides. If a rabbit was seen in a quarry, the workers would pack up and go home for the day, not to return until the safety of the area had been assured. Local fishermen too would refuse to go to sea if the word was mentioned.
4) The name of the railway line that runs through Dorset from Yeovil to Weymouth is known as the Heart of Wessex Line, also known, more prosaically, as the Bristol to Weymouth Line.
5) Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour is a sanctuary for Red Squirrels
6) The village that died for Britain is Tyneham, on the Isle of Purbeck, inland from Worbarrow Bay. In 1943 the Army requisitioned the area for training purposes in preparation for the D-Day landings and the villagers were told to leave.
7) Meryl Streep & Jeremy Irons starred in the film The French Lieutenant’s Woman filmed at the famous Cobb in Lyme Regis.
8) The Black Death (a form of bubonic plague) was carried into England on a ship that docked in Weymouth in the 14th century.
9) A “yaffle” is a Dorset dialect word for a green woodpecker.
10) The oldest letter (pillar) box in England still in use can be found in Dorset – at Barnes Cross near Holwell between Sherborne and Sturminster Newton (map reference ST 693117). It dates from the 1850s and is octagonal with a vertical letter slot with weather flap and is cast with Queen Victoria’s cipher.
11) Thomas Hardy’s name for Dorchester was “Casterbridge” in the book “The Mayor of Casterbridge”.
12) Dorset Blue Vinny is a blue-veined hard cheese made with skimmed milk which was very popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. The making of Blue Vinny died out in the 1960s, but it has now been revived and is gaining in popularity once more.
13) The crime drama Broadchurch starring David Tennant and Olivia Coleman was filmed in and around West Bay and has just finished filming its second series.
14) In Dorset dialect, a Dumbledore is a Bumblebee!
15) Gold Hill in Shaftesbury better known as Hovis Hill to many is the main setting for the 1973 “Boy on Bike” television advert for Hovis bread, which has been voted Britain’s favourite advert of all time.
16) Stone has been quarried in Dorset for centuries and the Purbeck area is particularly famous for a shelly limestone that takes a polish known as “Purbeck Marble”.
17) T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) is buried in the graveyard of the church of St. Nicholas & St. Magnus, Moreton, Dorset.
18) The Rex Cinema in Wareham’s South Street is the only remaining gas-lit cinema in Britain.
19) Bridport was famous for growing hemp & flax and the manufacture of high-quality rope, twine and fishing nets. Much of the cordage for the Royal Navy vessels was produced there, as well as rope for the hangman’s noose – the expression “to be stabbed with a Bridport Dagger” meant that you were hanged with a rope made in the town.
20) Much of the Dorset coastline is so rich in fossils that it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site better known as the Jurassic Coast