Wednesday, 21 September 2011

YMCA - Village People

You Must Come to Abbotsbury

At long last a burst of early autumn sunshine coupled with a half covered sky, allowing plenty of it to show through, plus a light breeze completed a near perfect day weather wise. It would, given another set of circumstance, have been an ideal day to head for the Bill once again, but for no real reason I had this urge to visit this small hamlet just 10 miles north west of my home.

The X53 bus service that ply the Jurassic Coast from Poole in the east to Exeter, Devon in the west is the ideal way to visit many of our fine villages, and one of the great reasons for getting older, IT'S FREE! Not far from home I noticed they are demolishing a huge part of Budmouth School, let's hope only to re-build it in better fashion.

Alighting at The Swan Inn at the east end of the village is a good place to start,

and although not the usual birds I want to see, the local domestic fowl are free to wander the roads and lanes.

To some the St Nicholas church is the heart of the hamlet, but to many more it is the establishment just touched on, which of course is down to personal choice - hic!

A light and airy interior with beautiful Lectern and Pipe Organ.

While from the outside there are excellent views of some of the Cottage Orchards,

St Catherine's Hill and

all that remains of the former Abbey.

Having walked from the village,

we soon reach the Tithe Barn which is now a small museum of local life, a Children's Farm and is also the largest 'thatched' building in the world.

From there, the old Abbot's House can be seen and soon after arriving at the west end of the village

complete with many quaint cottages and businesses.

The Finger Post points us in the direction of the most prominent building, but before that we have to negotiate the

Sheep, which always reminds me of the menacing lyrics of the Pink Floyd track of the same name from their 1977 album 'Animals' - which in my humble opinion is their very best work by a head!

Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland away;
Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air.
You'd better watch out! There may be dogs about.
I looked over Jordan, and I've seen things are not what they seem.

That's what you get for pretending the danger's not real.
Meek and obedient you follow the leader
Down well trodden corridors into the valley of steel.
What a surprise!
A look of terminal shock in your eyes.
Now things are really what they seem.
No, this is not a bad dream.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want
He makes me down to die
Through pastures green He leadeth me the silent waters by.
With bright knives He releaseth my soul.
He maketh me to hang on hooks in high places.
He converteth me to lamb cutlets,
For lo, He hath great power, and great hunger.
When cometh the day we lowly ones,
Through quiet reflection, and great dedication
Master the art of Karate,
Lo, we shall rise up,
And then we'll make the bugger's eyes water.

Bleating and babbling we fell on his neck with a scream.
Wave upon wave of demented avengers
March cheerfully out of obscurity into the dream.

Have you heard the news?
The dogs are dead!
You better stay home
And do as you're told.
Get out of the road if you want to grow old.

Slightly Orwellian, a lovely little passage to counter a summer-like day - Hey?

So, back to the plot, and a look across the meadows to see the B3157 winding its way up Abbotsbury Hill towards Bridport, before entering

ExteriorWeathered, west facing Buttresses.

What is commonly described as a Whalebone Roof (Ceiling)


Ever watchful for bird-life, there was little here to see except for a few departing Wheatear, lots of Rook and Jackdaw, all 3 common Wagtail (Pied, Grey & Yellow) plus a distant Green Woodpecker.

It would be a huge understatement to describe the 'panorama' from here as spectacular, which includes
to the west, this tree filled (hidden) valley, considered to have its own micro-climate, supporting a very special Sub-Tropical Garden - well worth a visit.

Of course I was missing Portland today but no need to worry, as the eye follows the course of the Fleet into a sunny distance Thomas Hardy's 'Isle of Slingers' can be seen, eloquently he described it as "like the beak of a huge bird jutting into the English Channel".

Of course Abbotsbury is also visible as are

the 'world famous' Abbotsbury Swannery, once a souce of food for the Monks,

and the less well known Dragon's Teeth. A legecy of World War II they were part of the defences to stop the enemy landing on the Chesil Beach.

Two names are synonomos with this village and the area, that of Ilchester and Strangways (please note no 'e')

The 'main' village pub bears the name of the first which is that of the Estates

The Ilchester Arms

while the Strangways (village) Hall bears the other. The family name of the succession of Earls of Ilchester with the present encumbant, Charlotte Townshend featuring as the UK's second richest female.

Interesting Note:-

The property crash has not prevented Charlotte Townshend from snapping up bargains. In July 2008 her Ilchester Estates company bought the Yeoman Industrial Estate in Bournemouth for £13m. The estate will add to Townshend's already considerable portfolio.

Townshend, 54, has 20 choice acres round London's exclusive Holland Park, and 15,000 acres in Dorset, where she has her main home. She also had 3,000 acres in Nottinghamshire, but these have been sold for £9m.

We can see six farming and estate companies, including Addison Developments and Ilchester Estates, which together showed £20m net assets in 2007-08.

Townshend is the only person in Britain, apart from the Queen, who is allowed to own swans. They are kept at Abbotsbury, her Dorset estate. Townshend is valued at £300m this year.