Bere Regis Village, Dorset
 
Bere Regis Village
Bere Regis Village Website Bere Regis Village website

1904 Illustrated

Description of Bere

Regis by Charles Harper

Mrs Branscombe ,Bere Regis ,£46.10.0 Charles Besent,Bere Regis ,£43.13.0 Charity Trustees of Williams,Bere Regis,£20.0.0 Mrs Egginton ,Bere Regis ,£4766.18.0 John Henning ,Bere Regis ,£35.1.0 Elizabeth Spear ,Bere Regis ,£30.11.0 Rev. Francis Warre,Bere Regis ,£52.1.0 John Wheannell ,Bere Regis ,£23.5.0
In   1904,   Charles   Harper   wrote   an   illustrated   book   called,   'The   Hardy   Country   -   literary   Landmarks   of   the   Wessex   Novels'.   In   it   he   described   his   trip to Bere Regis. With thanks to The Project Gutenberg Only   when   Bere   Regis   comes   within   sight   are   the   solitudes   of   Egdon   left   behind.   Steeply   down   goes   the   way   into   the   village,   down   Rye   Hill,   past the   remarkably   picturesque   old   thatched   cottage   illustrated   here,   perched   on   its   steep   roadside   bank,   and   so   at   last   on   to   the   level   where   Bere Church   is   glimpsed,   standing   four-square   and   handsome   in   advance   of   the   long   street,   backed   by   dense   clumps   of   that   tree,   the   fir,   which   has   so strong an affection for these sandy heaths. Cottage on Rye Hill in Bere Regis (1904), by Charles George Harper Published as part of his book, 'The Hardy Country - literary Landmarks of the Wessex Novels' Here   then   is   the   introduction   to   the   “Kingsbere-sub-Greenhill”   of   the   Wessex   novels,   the   “half-dead   townlet   .   .   .   the   spot   of   all   spots   in   the   world which could be considered the D’Urbervilles’ home, since they had resided there for full five hundred years.” This   “blinking   little   place,”   and   now   perhaps   a   not   even   blinking,   but   fast   asleep   village,   was   at   one   time   a   market-town,   and,   more   than   that,   as   its latinised   name   would   imply,   a   royal   residence.   Kingsbere,   said   to   mean   “Kingsbury”—that   is   to   say,   “King’s   place”   or   building—really   obtained   its name   in   very   different   fashion.   It   was   plain   “Bere,”   long   before   the   Saxon   monarchs   came   to   this   spot   and   caused   the   latter-day   confusion   among antiquaries   of   the   British   “bere,”   meaning   an   underwood,   a   scrub,   copse,   bramble,   or   thorn-bed,   with   the Anglo-Saxon   “byrig.”   We   have   but   to   look upon   the   surroundings   of   Bere   Regis   even   at   this   day,   a   thousand   years   later,   to   see   how   truly   descriptive   that   British   name   really   was.   It   was   of   old a   place   greatly   favoured   by   royalty,   from   that   remote   age   when   Elfrida   murdered   her   stepson,   Edward   the   King   and   Martyr,   at   Corfe   Castle,   and thrashed   her   own   son   Ethelred   here   with   a   large   wax   candle,   for   reproaching   her   with   the   deed.   Those   events   happened   in   A.D.   978,   and   it   is therefore   not   in   any   way   surprising   that   no   traces   of   the   ferocious   Queen   Elfrida’s   residence   have   survived.   Ethelred,   we   are   told,   hated   wax candles   ever   after   that   severe   thrashing,   and   doubtless   hated   Bere   as   well;   but   it   was   more   than   ever   a   royal   resort   in   the   later   times   of   King   John, who   visited   it   on   several   occasions   in   the   course   of   his   troubled   reign.   Thenceforward,   however,   the   favours   of   monarchs   ceased,   and   it   came   to depend upon the good will of the Abbots of Tarent Abbey and that of the Turbervilles, who between them became owners of the manor. The   village   street   of   Bere   is   bleak   and   barren.   It   is   a   street   of   rustic   cottages   of   battered   red   brick,   or   a   compost   of   mud,   chopped   straw,   and   lime, called   “cob,”   built   on   a   brick   base,   often   plastered,   almost   all   of   them   thatched:   some   with   new   thatch,   some   with   thatch   middle-aged,   others   yet with   thatch   ancient   and   decaying,   forming   a   rich   and   fertile   bed   for   weeds   and   ox-eyed   daisies   and   “bloody   warriors,”   as   the   local   Dorsetshire   name is   for   the   rich   red   wall-flowers.   Sometimes   the   old   thatch   has   been   stripped   before   the   new   was   placed:   more   often   it   has   not,   and   the   merest casual   observer   can,   as   he   passes,   easily   become   a   critic   of   the   thoroughness   or   otherwise   with   which   the   thatcher’s   work   has   been   performed, not   only   by   sight   of   the   different   shades   belonging   to   old   and   new,   but   by   the   varying   thicknesses   with   which   the   roofs   are   seen   to   be   covered.   Here an   upstairs   window   looks   out   immediately,   open-eyed,   upon   the   sunlight;   there   another   peers   blinkingly   forth,   as   behind   beetling   eyebrows,   from half   a   yard’s   depth   of   straw   and   reed,   shading   off   from   a   coal-black   substratum   to   a   coffee-coloured   layer,   and   thence   to   the   amber   top-coating   of the   latest   addition.   Warm   in   winter,   cool   in   summer,   is   the   testimony   of   cottagers   towards   thatch;   and   earwiggy   always,   thinks   the   stranger   under such   roofs,   as   he   observes   quaint   lepidoptera   ensconced   comfortably   in   his   bed.   Picturesque   it   certainly   is,   expensive   too,   although   it   may   not generally   be   thought   so;   but   it   is   more   enduring   than   cheap   slates   or   tiles,   and,   according   to   many   who   should   know,   if   indeed   their   prejudices   do not warp their statements, cheaper in the long run. This   Drawing   is   Copyright   of   Dorset   County   Museum.   The   Museum   is   owned   and   managed   by   the   Dorset   Natural   History   & Archaeological   Society (DNH&AS). Reproduction is strictly prohibited. Prints can be ordered from the Museum, by contacting them here , or on 01305 756 829 It   is,   in   fine,   not   easy   to   come   to   a   definitive   pronouncement   on   the   merits   or   demerits,   the   comparative   cheapness   or   costliness,   of   rival   roofing materials.   The   cost   of   the   materials   themselves,   payments   for   laying   them,   and   the   astonishing   difference   between   the   enduring   qualities   of   thatch well   and   thatch   indifferently   laid   forbid   certitude.   But   all   modern   local   authorities   are   opposed   to   thatch,   chiefly   on   the   score   of   its   liability   to   fire. All the   many   and   extensive   fires   of   Dorsetshire   have   been   caused   by   ignited   thatch;   or   else,   caused   in   other   ways,   have   been   spread   and   magnified by   it. Yet,   here   again   your   rustic   will   stoutly   defend   the   ancient   roofing,   and   declare   that   while   such   a   roof   is   slowly   smouldering,   and   before   it   bursts into   a   blaze,   he   can   dowse   it   with   a   pail   of   water.   No   doubt,   but   that   water,   from   a   well   perhaps   two   hundred   feet   deep,   and   that   ladder   from   some neighbour half-a-mile away, are sometimes not to be brought to bear with the required celerity. This,   let   it   be   fervently   said,   is   not   an   attack   upon   thatch:   it   is   but   the   presentation   of   pros   and   cons,   and   is   no   argument   in   favour   of   that   last   word in utilitarian hideousness, corrugated galvanized iron, under whose shelter you freeze in winter and fry in summer. Meanwhile,   here   are   ruined   cottages   in   the   long   street   of   Bere,   whose   condition   has   been   brought   about   by   just   such   causes,   and   whose continuation   in   that   state   is   due,   not   to   a   redundancy   of   dwellings,   but   because   the   Lady   of   the   Manor   at   Charborough,   despising   the   insignificant rents here, will not trouble about, or go to the expense of, rebuilding. Hence the gaps in the long row, like teeth missing from a jaw. Not   a   little   hard-featured   and   stern   at   first   sight,   owing   to   the   entire   absence   of   the   softening   feature   of   gardens   upon   the   road,   this   long   street   of Bere   has   yet   a   certain   self-reliant   strong-charactered   aspect   that   brings   respect.   It   has,   too,   the   most   interesting   and   beautiful   church,   rich   in historical, and richer in literary, associations. This   Drawing   is   Copyright   of   Dorset   County   Museum.   The   Museum   is   owned   and   managed   by   the   Dorset   Natural   History   & Archaeological   Society (DNH&AS). Reproduction is strictly prohibited. Prints can be ordered from the Museum, by contacting them here , or on 01305 756 829 Bere   Regis   in   its   decay   is   a   storehouse   of   old   Dorset   speech   and   customs.   To   its   cottagers   vegetables   are   “gearden-tackle,”   sugar—at   least,   the moist   variety—is   “zand,”   and   garden-flowers   all   have   quaint   outlandish   names.   The   rustic   folk   have   a   keen,   if   homely   philosophy.   “Ef   ’twarnt   for   the belly,”   said   one   to   the   present   writer,   in   allusion   to   cost   of   living,   “back   ’ud   wear   gold.”   “Bere,”   said   another—an   ‘outlandish’   person   he,   who   had only   been   settled   in   the   village   a   decade   or   so   and   accordingly   was   only   regarded   as   a   stranger,   and   so   indeed   regarded   himself—“Bere,   a   poor dra’lattin   twankyten   pleace,   ten   mile   from   anywheer,   God   help   it!”   which   is   so   very   nearly   true   that,   if   you   consult   the   map   you   will   find   that Dorchester is ten miles distant, Corfe Castle twelve, Wimborne twelve, Blandford eight, and Wareham, the nearest town, seven miles away. “Kingsbere-sub-Greenhill,”   as   Mr.   Hardy   elects   to   rechristen   Bere   Regis,   owes   the   ultimate   limb   of   that   compound   name   to   Woodbury   Hill,   a   lofty elevation   rising   like   an   exaggerated   down,   but   partly   clothed   with   trees,   on   the   outskirts   of   Bere   Regis.   The   novelist   describes   this   scene   of   an ancient   annual   fair,   now   much   shrunken   from   its   olden   import,   rather   as   it   was   than   as   it   is.   “Greenhill   was   the   Nijni   Novgorod   of   South   Wessex; and   the   busiest,   merriest,   noisiest   day   of   the   whole   statute   number   was   the   day   of   the   sheep-fair.   This   yearly   gathering   was   upon   the   summit   of   a hill,   which   retained   in   good   preservation   the   remains   of   an   ancient   earthwork,   consisting   of   a   huge   rampart   and   entrenchment   of   an   oval   form, encircling   the   top   of   the   hill,   though   somewhat   broken   down   here   and   there.   To   each   of   the   two   openings,   on   opposite   sides,   a   winding   road ascended,   and   the   level   green   space   of   twenty   or   thirty   acres   enclosed   by   the   bank   was   the   site   of   the   fair. A   few   permanent   erections   dotted   the spot, but the majority of the visitors patronised canvas alone for resting and feeding under during the time of their sojourn here.” The   place   looks   interesting,   viewed   from   beneath   whence   two   forlorn-looking   houses   are   seen   perched   on   the   very   ridge   of   the   windy   height.   But   it is   always   best   to   remain   below,   and   so   to   keep   romantic   illusions;   and   here   is   no   exception.   Climbing   to   the   summit,   those   two   houses   are increased   to   fifteen   or   seventeen   red-brick,   storm-beaten   cottages,   some   thatched,   others   slated,   mostly   uninhabited;   all   commonplace.   The   fair   is still   held   in   September,   beginning   on   the   18th,   the   Nativity   of   the   Blessed   Virgin   Mary.   Formerly   it   lasted   a   week,   and,   at   the   rate   of   a   hundred pounds   a   day   in   tolls   to   the   Lord   of   the   Manor,   brought   that   fortunate   person   an   annual   “unearned   increment”   as   the   Radicals   would   call   it,   of   £700. Nowadays those tolls are very much of a negligible quantity. Here   it   was,   during   the   sheep   fair,   that   Troy,   supposed   to   have   long   before   been   drowned   in   Lulworth   Cove,   but   living   and   masquerading   as   Mr. Francis,   the   Great   Cosmopolitan   Roughrider,   enacted   the   part   of   Dick   Turpin   in   the   canvas-covered   show,   and,   looking   through   a   hole   in   the   tent, unobserved himself, observed Bathsheba, who had thought him dead. The   villagers   of   Bere   look   askance   upon   the   dwellers   on   this   eyrie.   They   tell   you   “they   be   gipsy   vo’k   up   yon,”   and   hold   it   to   be   the   last   resort   of those   declining   in   worldly   estate.   Villagers   going,   metaphorically,   “down   the   hill”   in   the   direction   of   outdoor   relief,   move   to   the   less   desirable cottages   in   the   village,   and   then,   complete   penury   at   last   overtaking   them,   continue   their   moral   and   economic   descent   by   the   geographical   ascent of this hill of Woodbury, whence they are at last removed to “The Union.” Below   Woodbury   Hill,   on   the   edge   of   Bere   Wood,   the   scene   of   an   old   Turberville   attempt   at   illegal   enclosure,   is   rural   Bloxworth,   whose   little   church contains   the   fine   monument   of   Sir   John   Trenchard   “of   the   ancient   family   of   the   Trenchards   in   Dorsetshire,”   Sergeant-at-Law   and   Secretary   of   State in   the   reign   of   William   and   Mary.   He   died   in   1695,   aged   46.   Ten   years   before,   he   had   been   an   active   sympathiser   with   the   Duke   of   Monmouth,   in that   ill-fated   rebellion,   and   it   is   told,   how,   when   visiting   one   Mr.   Speke   at   Ilchester,   hearing   that   Jeffreys   had   issued   a   warrant   for   his   arrest,   he instantly took horse, rode to Poole and thence crossed to Holland, returning with the Prince of Orange three years later. Above   all   other   interest   at   Bere   is   the   beautiful   church,   standing   a   little   distance   below   the   long-drawn   village   street,   and   clearly   from   its   character and details, a building cherished and beautified by the Abbey of Tarent, by the Turbervilles, and by Cardinal Archbishop Morton, native of the place. The   three-staged   pinnacled   tower   is   very   fine,   the   lower   stage   alternately   of   stone   and   flint,   the   three   surmounting   courses   diapered:   the   second and   third   stages   treated   wholly   in   that   chessboard   fashion.   The   beautiful   belfry   windows,   of   three   lights,   divided   into   three   stages   by   transoms,   are filled   with   pierced   stonework.   The   exterior   south   wall   of   the   church   is   of   alternate   red   brick   and   flint,   in   courses   of   threes.   There   is   a   remarkable window   in   the   west   wall   of   the   north   aisle,   and   in   the   south   wall   the   exceptionally   fine   and   unusual   Turberville   window,   of   late   Gothic   character   and five   lights,   filled   in   modern   times   by   the   Erle-Drax   family,   of   Charborough,   with   a   series   of   stained-glass   armorial   shields,   displaying   the   red   lion   of the   Turbervilles,   all   toe-nails   and   whiskers,   and   ducally   crowned,   ramping   against   an   ermine   field,   firstly   by   himself   and   then   conjointly   with   the arms   of   the   families   with   which   the   Turbervilles,   in   the   course   of   many   centuries,   allied   themselves.   The   Erle-Draxes   have   not,   in   honouring   the extinct   Turberville,   forgotten   themselves,   for   some   of   the   shields   display   their   arms   and   those   of   the   Sawbridges,   Grosvenors,   Churchills,   and Eggintons they married. This   Drawing   is   Copyright   of   Dorset   County   Museum.   The   Museum   is   owned   and   managed   by   the   Dorset   Natural   History   & Archaeological   Society (DNH&AS). Reproduction is strictly prohibited. Prints can be ordered from the Museum, by contacting them here , or on 01305 756 829 Entering,   the   building   is   seen   to   be   even   more   beautiful   than   without.   Its   most   striking   and   unusual   feature—unusual   in   this   part   of   the   country—is the   extraordinarily   gorgeous,   elaborately   carved   and   painted   timber   roof,   traditionally   said   to   have   been   the   gift   of   Cardinal   Morton,   born   at   Milborne Stileman,   in   the   parish   of   Bere   Regis.   The   hammer-beams   are   boldly   carved   into   the   shapes   of   bishops,   cardinals,   and   pilgrims,   while   the   bosses are worked into great faces that look down with a fat calm satisfaction that must be infinitely reassuring to the congregations. The   bench   ends   are   another   interesting   feature.   Many   are   old,   others   are   new,   done   in   the   old   style   when   the   church   was   admirably   restored   by Street.   Had   Sir   Gilbert   Scott   been   let   loose   upon   it,   it   may   well   be   supposed   that   the   surviving   bench-ends   would   have   been   cast   out,   and   nice   new articles   by   the   hands   of   his   pet   firm   of   ecclesiastical   furnishers   put   in   their   stead.   One   is   dated,   in   Roman   numerals,   MCCCCCXLVII;   another   is inscribed   “IOH.   DAV.   WAR.   DENOF.   THYS.   CHARYS,”   and   another   bears   a   merchant’s   mark,   with   the   initial   of   “I.   T.”   The   Transitional   Norman pillars   are   bold   and   virile,   with   humorous   carvings   of   that   period   strikingly   projecting   from   their   capitals.   It   evidently   seemed   to   that   now   far-away waggish   fellow   who   sculptured   them   that   toothache   and   headache   were   things   worth   caricaturing.   Let   us   hope   he   never   suffered   from   them,   but   he evidently took as models some who were such martyrs. But   the   centre   of   interest   to   us   in   these   pages   is   by   the   Turberville   window   in   the   south   aisle,   beneath   whose   gorgeous   glass   is   the   great   ledger- stone, covering the last resting-place of the extinct family. It is boldly lettered: Ostium sepulchri antiquae Famillae Turberville 24 Junij 1710 (The door of the sepulchre of the ancient family of the Turbervilles) In   the   wall   beneath   the   window   is   a   defaced   Purbeck   marble   altar-tomb,   and   four   others   neighbour   it. These   are   the   tombs   described   in Tess   of   the D’Urbervilles   as   “canopied,   altar-shaped,   and   plain;   their   brasses   torn   from   their   matrices,   the   rivet-holes   remaining,   like   marten-holes   in   a   sand- cliff,”   and   it   was   on   one   of   those   that   Alec   D’Urberville   lay   prone,   in   pretence   of   being   an   effigy   of   one   of   her   ancestors,   when   Tess   was   exploring the twilight church. The   great   monumental   History   of   Dorsetshire   tells   the   enquirer   a   good   deal   of   the   Turbervilles   who,   being   themselves   all   dead   and   gone   to   their place,   have,   with   a   slight   alteration   in   the   spelling   of   their   name   served   as   a   peg   on   which   to   hang   the   structure   of   one   of   the   finest   exercises   ever made   in   the   art   of   novel   writing.   It   seems   that   the   Turbervilles   descended   from   one   Sir   Pagan   or   Payne   Turberville,   or   de   Turbida   Villa,   who   is shown   in   the   Roll   of   Battle Abbey—or   was   shown,   before   that   Roll   was   accidentally   burnt—to   have   come   over   with   the   Conqueror. After   the   Battle of   Hastings   he   seems   to   have   been   one   of   twelve   knights   who   helped   Robert   Fitz   Hamon,   Lord   of   Estremaville,   in   his   unholy   enterprises,   and   then to   have   returned   to   England   when   his   over-lord   was   created   Earl   of   Gloucester.   He   warred   in   that   lord’s   service,   in   the   Norman   conquest   of Glamorgan, and was rewarded with a tit-bit of spoil there, in the shape of the Lordship of Coyty. In   the   reign   of   Henry   III.   a   certain   John   de   Turberville   is   found   paying   an   annual   fee   or   fine   in   respect   of   some   land   in   the   forest   of   Bere,   which   an ancestor   of   his   had   impudently   endeavoured   to   enclose   out   of   the   estate   of   the   Earl   of   Hereford;   and   in   1297   a   member   of   the   family   is   found   in   the neighbourhood   of   Bere   Regis.   This   Brianus   de   Thorberville,   or   Bryan   Turberville,   was   lord   of   the   manor,   called   from   its   situation   on   the   river   Piddle and from himself, “Piddle Turberville,” and now represented by the little village called Bryan’s Piddle. This   Drawing   is   Copyright   of   Dorset   County   Museum.   The   Museum   is   owned   and   managed   by   the   Dorset   Natural   History   & Archaeological   Society (DNH&AS). Reproduction is strictly prohibited. Prints can be ordered from the Museum, by contacting them here , or on 01305 756 829 At   a   later   period   the   rising   fortunes   of   this   family   are   attested   by   their   coming   into   possession   of   half   of   the   manor   of   Bere   Regis,   the   other   half being,   as   it   had   long   been,   the   property   of Tarent Abbey.   Still   later,   when   at   last   that Abbey   was   dissolved,   the Turbervilles   were   in   the   enjoyment   of good   fortune,   for   the   other   half   of   the   manor   then   came   to   them.   This   period   seems   to   have   marked   the   summit   of   their   advancement,   for   from   that time   they   gradually   but   surely   decayed,   giving   point   to   the   old   superstition   which   dates   the   decadence   of   many   an   old   family   from   that   day   when   it sacrilegiously   was   awarded   the   spoils   of   the   Church.   This   fall   from   position   began   in   the   reign   of   Queen   Elizabeth,   but   D’Albigny   Turberville,   the oculist   who   was   consulted   by   Pepys   the   diarist,   and   eventually   died   in   1696,   as   the   tomb   to   him   with   the   fulsome   inscription   in   Salisbury   Cathedral tells   us,   was   a   distinguished   scion   of   the   ancient   race,   as   also   was   “George Turberville,   gentleman,”   and   poet,   born   at   Winterborne   Whitchurch,   and publishing   books   of   poems   and   travels   in   1570.   These,   doubtless,   were   not   forms   of   distinction   that   would   have   commended   themselves   to   those old fighting and land-snatching Turbervilles; but, other times, other manners. The   last   Turberville   of   Bere   Regis   was   that   Thomas   Turberville   over   whom   the   ancient   vault   of   his   stock   finally   closed   in   1710.   His   twin   daughters and   co-heiresses,   Frances   and   Elizabeth,   born   here   in   1703,   sold   the   property   and   left   for   London.   They   died   at   Purser’s   Cross,   Fulham,   near London,   early   in   1780,   and   were   buried   together   at   Putney.   Shortly   afterwards   their   old   manor-house   of   Bere   Regis,   standing   near   the   church,   was allowed   to   lapse   into   ruin,   and   thus   their   kin   became   only   a   memory   where   they   had   ruled   so   long.   Of   the   old   branch   of   the   family   settled   in Glamorganshire,   a   Colonel   Turberville   remains   the   representative,   but   the   position   of   the   various   rustics   who   in   Dorset   and   Wilts   bear   the   name, corrupted   variously   into Tollafield   and Troublefield,   is   open   to   the   suspicion   that   they   are   the   descendants   of   illegitimate   offspring   of   that   race. There remained,   indeed,   until   quite   recent   years   a   humble   family   of   “Torevilles”   in   Bere   Regis,   one   of   whom   persisted   in   calling   himself   “Sir   John.”   But   as Mr.   Hardy   says,   in   the   course   of   Tess   of   the   D’Urbervilles,   instances   of   the   gradual   descent   of   legitimate   scions   of   the   old   knightly   families,   down and   again   downwards   until   they   have   become   mere   farm-labourers,   are   not   infrequent   in   Wilts   and   Dorset.   Their   high-sounding   names   have undergone   outrageous   perversions,   as   in   the   stated   instance   of   courtly   Paridelle   into   rustic   Priddle;   but,   although   they   have   inherited   no   worldly gear they own the same blood.
© 2003, Bere Regis Village Website.
Bere Regis Village
Bere Regis Village Website

1904 Illustrated

Description of Bere

Regis by Charles Harper

In   1904,   Charles   Harper   wrote   an   illustrated   book   called,   'The   Hardy Country    -    literary    Landmarks    of    the    Wessex Novels'. In it he described his trip to Bere Regis. With thanks to The Project Gutenberg Only   when   Bere   Regis   comes   within   sight   are   the   solitudes   of   Egdon left   behind.   Steeply   down   goes   the   way   into   the   village,   down   Rye   Hill, past   the   remarkably   picturesque   old   thatched   cottage   illustrated   here, perched   on   its   steep   roadside   bank,   and   so   at   last   on   to   the   level where   Bere   Church   is   glimpsed,   standing   four-square   and   handsome in   advance   of   the   long   street,   backed   by   dense   clumps   of   that   tree,   the fir, which has so strong an affection for these sandy heaths. Cottage on Rye Hill in Bere Regis (1904), by Charles George Harper Published   as   part   of   his   book,   'The   Hardy   Country   -   literary   Landmarks of the Wessex Novels' Here   then   is   the   introduction   to   the   “Kingsbere-sub-Greenhill”   of   the Wessex   novels,   the   “half-dead   townlet   .   .   .   the   spot   of   all   spots   in   the world   which   could   be   considered   the   D’Urbervilles’   home,   since   they had resided there for full five hundred years.” This   “blinking   little   place,”   and   now   perhaps   a   not   even   blinking,   but fast   asleep   village,   was   at   one   time   a   market-town,   and,   more   than that,   as   its   latinised   name   would   imply,   a   royal   residence.   Kingsbere, said     to     mean     “Kingsbury”—that     is     to     say,     “King’s     place”     or building—really   obtained   its   name   in   very   different   fashion.   It   was   plain “Bere,”   long   before   the   Saxon   monarchs   came   to   this   spot   and   caused the    latter-day    confusion    among    antiquaries    of    the    British    “bere,” meaning   an   underwood,   a   scrub,   copse,   bramble,   or   thorn-bed,   with the Anglo-Saxon   “byrig.”   We   have   but   to   look   upon   the   surroundings   of Bere   Regis   even   at   this   day,   a   thousand   years   later,   to   see   how   truly descriptive   that   British   name   really   was.   It   was   of   old   a   place   greatly favoured   by   royalty,   from   that   remote   age   when   Elfrida   murdered   her stepson,   Edward   the   King   and   Martyr,   at   Corfe   Castle,   and   thrashed her   own   son   Ethelred   here   with   a   large   wax   candle,   for   reproaching her   with   the   deed.   Those   events   happened   in   A.D.   978,   and   it   is therefore   not   in   any   way   surprising   that   no   traces   of   the   ferocious Queen   Elfrida’s   residence   have   survived.   Ethelred,   we   are   told,   hated wax   candles   ever   after   that   severe   thrashing,   and   doubtless   hated Bere   as   well;   but   it   was   more   than   ever   a   royal   resort   in   the   later   times of   King   John,   who   visited   it   on   several   occasions   in   the   course   of   his troubled    reign.    Thenceforward,    however,    the    favours    of    monarchs ceased,   and   it   came   to   depend   upon   the   good   will   of   the   Abbots   of Tarent Abbey   and   that   of   the   Turbervilles,   who   between   them   became owners of the manor. The   village   street   of   Bere   is   bleak   and   barren.   It   is   a   street   of   rustic cottages   of   battered   red   brick,   or   a   compost   of   mud,   chopped   straw, and   lime,   called   “cob,”   built   on   a   brick   base,   often   plastered,   almost   all of   them   thatched:   some   with   new   thatch,   some   with   thatch   middle- aged,   others   yet   with   thatch   ancient   and   decaying,   forming   a   rich   and fertile   bed   for   weeds   and   ox-eyed   daisies   and   “bloody   warriors,”   as   the local   Dorsetshire   name   is   for   the   rich   red   wall-flowers.   Sometimes   the old   thatch   has   been   stripped   before   the   new   was   placed:   more   often   it has   not,   and   the   merest   casual   observer   can,   as   he   passes,   easily become    a    critic    of    the    thoroughness    or    otherwise    with    which    the thatcher’s   work   has   been   performed,   not   only   by   sight   of   the   different shades   belonging   to   old   and   new,   but   by   the   varying   thicknesses   with which   the   roofs   are   seen   to   be   covered.   Here   an   upstairs   window looks   out   immediately,   open-eyed,   upon   the   sunlight;   there   another peers   blinkingly   forth,   as   behind   beetling   eyebrows,   from   half   a   yard’s depth   of   straw   and   reed,   shading   off   from   a   coal-black   substratum   to   a coffee-coloured    layer,    and    thence    to    the    amber    top-coating    of    the latest   addition.   Warm   in   winter,   cool   in   summer,   is   the   testimony   of cottagers   towards   thatch;   and   earwiggy   always,   thinks   the   stranger under    such    roofs,    as    he    observes    quaint    lepidoptera    ensconced comfortably    in    his    bed.    Picturesque    it    certainly    is,    expensive    too, although   it   may   not   generally   be   thought   so;   but   it   is   more   enduring than   cheap   slates   or   tiles,   and,   according   to   many   who   should   know,   if indeed   their   prejudices   do   not   warp   their   statements,   cheaper   in   the long run. This   Drawing   is   Copyright   of   Dorset   County   Museum.   The   Museum   is owned   and   managed   by   the   Dorset   Natural   History   &   Archaeological Society   (DNH&AS).   Reproduction   is   strictly   prohibited.   Prints   can   be ordered   from   the   Museum,   by   contacting   them   here ,   or   on   01305   756 829 It   is,   in   fine,   not   easy   to   come   to   a   definitive   pronouncement   on   the merits   or   demerits,   the   comparative   cheapness   or   costliness,   of   rival roofing   materials.   The   cost   of   the   materials   themselves,   payments   for laying    them,    and    the    astonishing    difference    between    the    enduring qualities   of   thatch   well   and   thatch   indifferently   laid   forbid   certitude.   But all   modern   local   authorities   are   opposed   to   thatch,   chiefly   on   the   score of   its   liability   to   fire.   All   the   many   and   extensive   fires   of   Dorsetshire have   been   caused   by   ignited   thatch;   or   else,   caused   in   other   ways, have   been   spread   and   magnified   by   it.   Yet,   here   again   your   rustic   will stoutly   defend   the   ancient   roofing,   and   declare   that   while   such   a   roof is   slowly   smouldering,   and   before   it   bursts   into   a   blaze,   he   can   dowse it   with   a   pail   of   water.   No   doubt,   but   that   water,   from   a   well   perhaps two   hundred   feet   deep,   and   that   ladder   from   some   neighbour   half-a- mile   away,   are   sometimes   not   to   be   brought   to   bear   with   the   required celerity. This,   let   it   be   fervently   said,   is   not   an   attack   upon   thatch:   it   is   but   the presentation   of   pros   and   cons,   and   is   no   argument   in   favour   of   that last   word   in   utilitarian   hideousness,   corrugated   galvanized   iron,   under whose shelter you freeze in winter and fry in summer. Meanwhile,   here   are   ruined   cottages   in   the   long   street   of   Bere,   whose condition   has   been   brought   about   by   just   such   causes,   and   whose continuation   in   that   state   is   due,   not   to   a   redundancy   of   dwellings,   but because    the    Lady    of    the    Manor    at    Charborough,    despising    the insignificant   rents   here,   will   not   trouble   about,   or   go   to   the   expense   of, rebuilding. Hence the gaps in the long row, like teeth missing from a jaw. Not   a   little   hard-featured   and   stern   at   first   sight,   owing   to   the   entire absence   of   the   softening   feature   of   gardens   upon   the   road,   this   long street   of   Bere   has   yet   a   certain   self-reliant   strong-charactered   aspect that   brings   respect.   It   has,   too,   the   most   interesting   and   beautiful church, rich in historical, and richer in literary, associations. This   Drawing   is   Copyright   of   Dorset   County   Museum.   The   Museum   is owned   and   managed   by   the   Dorset   Natural   History   &   Archaeological Society   (DNH&AS).   Reproduction   is   strictly   prohibited.   Prints   can   be ordered   from   the   Museum,   by   contacting   them   here ,   or   on   01305   756 829 Bere   Regis   in   its   decay   is   a   storehouse   of   old   Dorset   speech   and customs.   To   its   cottagers   vegetables   are   “gearden-tackle,”   sugar—at least,   the   moist   variety—is   “zand,”   and   garden-flowers   all   have   quaint outlandish   names.   The   rustic   folk   have   a   keen,   if   homely   philosophy. “Ef   ’twarnt   for   the   belly,”   said   one   to   the   present   writer,   in   allusion   to cost    of    living,    “back    ’ud    wear    gold.”    “Bere,”    said    another—an ‘outlandish’   person   he,   who   had   only   been   settled   in   the   village   a decade   or   so   and   accordingly   was   only   regarded   as   a   stranger,   and   so indeed   regarded   himself—“Bere,   a   poor   dra’lattin   twankyten   pleace, ten   mile   from   anywheer,   God   help   it!”   which   is   so   very   nearly   true   that, if   you   consult   the   map   you   will   find   that   Dorchester   is   ten   miles   distant, Corfe     Castle     twelve,     Wimborne     twelve,     Blandford     eight,     and Wareham, the nearest town, seven miles away. “Kingsbere-sub-Greenhill,”    as    Mr.    Hardy    elects    to    rechristen    Bere Regis,   owes   the   ultimate   limb   of   that   compound   name   to   Woodbury Hill,    a    lofty    elevation    rising    like    an    exaggerated    down,    but    partly clothed    with    trees,    on    the    outskirts    of    Bere    Regis.    The    novelist describes   this   scene   of   an   ancient   annual   fair,   now   much   shrunken from   its   olden   import,   rather   as   it   was   than   as   it   is.   “Greenhill   was   the Nijni   Novgorod   of   South   Wessex;   and   the   busiest,   merriest,   noisiest day   of   the   whole   statute   number   was   the   day   of   the   sheep-fair.   This yearly   gathering   was   upon   the   summit   of   a   hill,   which   retained   in   good preservation   the   remains   of   an   ancient   earthwork,   consisting   of   a   huge rampart   and   entrenchment   of   an   oval   form,   encircling   the   top   of   the hill,   though   somewhat   broken   down   here   and   there. To   each   of   the   two openings,   on   opposite   sides,   a   winding   road   ascended,   and   the   level green   space   of   twenty   or   thirty   acres   enclosed   by   the   bank   was   the site   of   the   fair.   A   few   permanent   erections   dotted   the   spot,   but   the majority   of   the   visitors   patronised   canvas   alone   for   resting   and   feeding under during the time of their sojourn here.” The   place   looks   interesting,   viewed   from   beneath   whence   two   forlorn- looking    houses    are    seen    perched    on    the    very    ridge    of    the    windy height.   But   it   is   always   best   to   remain   below,   and   so   to   keep   romantic illusions;   and   here   is   no   exception.   Climbing   to   the   summit,   those   two houses   are   increased   to   fifteen   or   seventeen   red-brick,   storm-beaten cottages,    some    thatched,    others    slated,    mostly    uninhabited;    all commonplace.   The   fair   is   still   held   in   September,   beginning   on   the 18th,   the   Nativity   of   the   Blessed   Virgin   Mary.   Formerly   it   lasted   a week,   and,   at   the   rate   of   a   hundred   pounds   a   day   in   tolls   to   the   Lord   of the    Manor,    brought    that    fortunate    person    an    annual    “unearned increment”   as   the   Radicals   would   call   it,   of   £700.   Nowadays   those   tolls are very much of a negligible quantity. Here   it   was,   during   the   sheep   fair,   that   Troy,   supposed   to   have   long before   been   drowned   in   Lulworth   Cove,   but   living   and   masquerading as   Mr.   Francis,   the   Great   Cosmopolitan   Roughrider,   enacted   the   part of   Dick   Turpin   in   the   canvas-covered   show,   and,   looking   through   a hole   in   the   tent,   unobserved   himself,   observed   Bathsheba,   who   had thought him dead. The   villagers   of   Bere   look   askance   upon   the   dwellers   on   this   eyrie. They   tell   you   “they   be   gipsy   vo’k   up   yon,”   and   hold   it   to   be   the   last resort     of     those     declining     in     worldly     estate.     Villagers     going, metaphorically,   “down   the   hill”   in   the   direction   of   outdoor   relief,   move to   the   less   desirable   cottages   in   the   village,   and   then,   complete   penury at   last   overtaking   them,   continue   their   moral   and   economic   descent   by the   geographical   ascent   of   this   hill   of   Woodbury,   whence   they   are   at last removed to “The Union.” Below   Woodbury   Hill,   on   the   edge   of   Bere   Wood,   the   scene   of   an   old Turberville   attempt   at   illegal   enclosure,   is   rural   Bloxworth,   whose   little church   contains   the   fine   monument   of   Sir   John   Trenchard   “of   the ancient   family   of   the   Trenchards   in   Dorsetshire,”   Sergeant-at-Law   and Secretary   of   State   in   the   reign   of   William   and   Mary.   He   died   in   1695, aged   46.   Ten   years   before,   he   had   been   an   active   sympathiser   with the   Duke   of   Monmouth,   in   that   ill-fated   rebellion,   and   it   is   told,   how, when   visiting   one   Mr.   Speke   at   Ilchester,   hearing   that   Jeffreys   had issued   a   warrant   for   his   arrest,   he   instantly   took   horse,   rode   to   Poole and   thence   crossed   to   Holland,   returning   with   the   Prince   of   Orange three years later. Above   all   other   interest   at   Bere   is   the   beautiful   church,   standing   a   little distance    below    the    long-drawn    village    street,    and    clearly    from    its character    and    details,    a    building    cherished    and    beautified    by    the Abbey    of    Tarent,    by    the    Turbervilles,    and    by    Cardinal   Archbishop Morton, native of the place. The    three-staged    pinnacled    tower    is    very    fine,    the    lower    stage alternately   of   stone   and   flint,   the   three   surmounting   courses   diapered: the   second   and   third   stages   treated   wholly   in   that   chessboard   fashion. The   beautiful   belfry   windows,   of   three   lights,   divided   into   three   stages by   transoms,   are   filled   with   pierced   stonework.   The   exterior   south   wall of   the   church   is   of   alternate   red   brick   and   flint,   in   courses   of   threes. There   is   a   remarkable   window   in   the   west   wall   of   the   north   aisle,   and in    the    south    wall    the    exceptionally    fine    and    unusual    Turberville window,   of   late   Gothic   character   and   five   lights,   filled   in   modern   times by   the   Erle-Drax   family,   of   Charborough,   with   a   series   of   stained-glass armorial   shields,   displaying   the   red   lion   of   the   Turbervilles,   all   toe-nails and   whiskers,   and   ducally   crowned,   ramping   against   an   ermine   field, firstly   by   himself   and   then   conjointly   with   the   arms   of   the   families   with which    the    Turbervilles,    in    the    course    of    many    centuries,    allied themselves.    The    Erle-Draxes    have    not,    in    honouring    the    extinct Turberville,   forgotten   themselves,   for   some   of   the   shields   display   their arms    and    those    of    the    Sawbridges,    Grosvenors,    Churchills,    and Eggintons they married. This   Drawing   is   Copyright   of   Dorset   County   Museum.   The   Museum   is owned   and   managed   by   the   Dorset   Natural   History   &   Archaeological Society   (DNH&AS).   Reproduction   is   strictly   prohibited.   Prints   can   be ordered   from   the   Museum,   by   contacting   them   here ,   or   on   01305   756 829 Entering,   the   building   is   seen   to   be   even   more   beautiful   than   without. Its    most    striking    and    unusual    feature—unusual    in    this    part    of    the country—is    the    extraordinarily    gorgeous,    elaborately    carved    and painted   timber   roof,   traditionally   said   to   have   been   the   gift   of   Cardinal Morton,   born   at   Milborne   Stileman,   in   the   parish   of   Bere   Regis.   The hammer-beams    are    boldly    carved    into    the    shapes    of    bishops, cardinals,   and   pilgrims,   while   the   bosses   are   worked   into   great   faces that    look    down    with    a    fat    calm    satisfaction    that    must    be    infinitely reassuring to the congregations. The   bench   ends   are   another   interesting   feature.   Many   are   old,   others are   new,   done   in   the   old   style   when   the   church   was   admirably   restored by   Street.   Had   Sir   Gilbert   Scott   been   let   loose   upon   it,   it   may   well   be supposed   that   the   surviving   bench-ends   would   have   been   cast   out, and   nice   new   articles   by   the   hands   of   his   pet   firm   of   ecclesiastical furnishers    put    in    their    stead.    One    is    dated,    in    Roman    numerals, MCCCCCXLVII;   another   is   inscribed   “IOH.   DAV.   WAR.   DENOF. THYS. CHARYS,”   and   another   bears   a   merchant’s   mark,   with   the   initial   of   “I. T.”   The   Transitional   Norman   pillars   are   bold   and   virile,   with   humorous carvings    of    that    period    strikingly    projecting    from    their    capitals.    It evidently   seemed   to   that   now   far-away   waggish   fellow   who   sculptured them   that   toothache   and   headache   were   things   worth   caricaturing.   Let us   hope   he   never   suffered   from   them,   but   he   evidently   took   as   models some who were such martyrs. But   the   centre   of   interest   to   us   in   these   pages   is   by   the   Turberville window   in   the   south   aisle,   beneath   whose   gorgeous   glass   is   the   great ledger-stone,   covering   the   last   resting-place   of   the   extinct   family.   It   is boldly lettered: Ostium sepulchri antiquae Famillae Turberville 24 Junij 1710 (The door of the sepulchre of the ancient family of the Turbervilles) In   the   wall   beneath   the   window   is   a   defaced   Purbeck   marble   altar- tomb,   and   four   others   neighbour   it.   These   are   the   tombs   described   in Tess   of   the   D’Urbervilles   as   “canopied,   altar-shaped,   and   plain;   their brasses    torn    from    their    matrices,    the    rivet-holes    remaining,    like marten-holes   in   a   sand-cliff,”   and   it   was   on   one   of   those   that   Alec D’Urberville   lay   prone,   in   pretence   of   being   an   effigy   of   one   of   her ancestors, when Tess was exploring the twilight church. The   great   monumental   History   of   Dorsetshire   tells   the   enquirer   a   good deal   of   the   Turbervilles   who,   being   themselves   all   dead   and   gone   to their   place,   have,   with   a   slight   alteration   in   the   spelling   of   their   name served   as   a   peg   on   which   to   hang   the   structure   of   one   of   the   finest exercises   ever   made   in   the   art   of   novel   writing.   It   seems   that   the Turbervilles   descended   from   one   Sir   Pagan   or   Payne Turberville,   or   de Turbida   Villa,   who   is   shown   in   the   Roll   of   Battle Abbey—or   was   shown, before   that   Roll   was   accidentally   burnt—to   have   come   over   with   the Conqueror. After   the   Battle   of   Hastings   he   seems   to   have   been   one   of twelve   knights   who   helped   Robert   Fitz   Hamon,   Lord   of   Estremaville,   in his   unholy   enterprises,   and   then   to   have   returned   to   England   when   his over-lord   was   created   Earl   of   Gloucester.   He   warred   in   that   lord’s service,   in   the   Norman   conquest   of   Glamorgan,   and   was   rewarded with a tit-bit of spoil there, in the shape of the Lordship of Coyty. In   the   reign   of   Henry   III.   a   certain   John   de   Turberville   is   found   paying an   annual   fee   or   fine   in   respect   of   some   land   in   the   forest   of   Bere, which   an   ancestor   of   his   had   impudently   endeavoured   to   enclose   out of   the   estate   of   the   Earl   of   Hereford;   and   in   1297   a   member   of   the family   is   found   in   the   neighbourhood   of   Bere   Regis.   This   Brianus   de Thorberville,   or   Bryan   Turberville,   was   lord   of   the   manor,   called   from its   situation   on   the   river   Piddle   and   from   himself,   “Piddle   Turberville,” and now represented by the little village called Bryan’s Piddle. This   Drawing   is   Copyright   of   Dorset   County   Museum.   The   Museum   is owned   and   managed   by   the   Dorset   Natural   History   &   Archaeological Society   (DNH&AS).   Reproduction   is   strictly   prohibited.   Prints   can   be ordered   from   the   Museum,   by   contacting   them   here ,   or   on   01305   756 829 At   a   later   period   the   rising   fortunes   of   this   family   are   attested   by   their coming   into   possession   of   half   of   the   manor   of   Bere   Regis,   the   other half   being,   as   it   had   long   been,   the   property   of Tarent Abbey.   Still   later, when   at   last   that   Abbey   was   dissolved,   the   Turbervilles   were   in   the enjoyment   of   good   fortune,   for   the   other   half   of   the   manor   then   came to    them.    This    period    seems    to    have    marked    the    summit    of    their advancement,   for   from   that   time   they   gradually   but   surely   decayed, giving   point   to   the   old   superstition   which   dates   the   decadence   of   many an   old   family   from   that   day   when   it   sacrilegiously   was   awarded   the spoils   of   the   Church.   This   fall   from   position   began   in   the   reign   of Queen    Elizabeth,    but    D’Albigny    Turberville,    the    oculist    who    was consulted   by   Pepys   the   diarist,   and   eventually   died   in   1696,   as   the tomb   to   him   with   the   fulsome   inscription   in   Salisbury   Cathedral   tells us,   was   a   distinguished   scion   of   the   ancient   race,   as   also   was   “George Turberville,   gentleman,”   and   poet,   born   at   Winterborne   Whitchurch, and   publishing   books   of   poems   and   travels   in   1570.   These,   doubtless, were   not   forms   of   distinction   that   would   have   commended   themselves to   those   old   fighting   and   land-snatching   Turbervilles;   but,   other   times, other manners. The   last   Turberville   of   Bere   Regis   was   that   Thomas   Turberville   over whom   the   ancient   vault   of   his   stock   finally   closed   in   1710.   His   twin daughters    and    co-heiresses,    Frances    and    Elizabeth,    born    here    in 1703,   sold   the   property   and   left   for   London.   They   died   at   Purser’s Cross,   Fulham,   near   London,   early   in   1780,   and   were   buried   together at   Putney.   Shortly   afterwards   their   old   manor-house   of   Bere   Regis, standing   near   the   church,   was   allowed   to   lapse   into   ruin,   and   thus their   kin   became   only   a   memory   where   they   had   ruled   so   long.   Of   the old    branch    of    the    family    settled    in    Glamorganshire,    a    Colonel Turberville   remains   the   representative,   but   the   position   of   the   various rustics   who   in   Dorset   and   Wilts   bear   the   name,   corrupted   variously into   Tollafield   and   Troublefield,   is   open   to   the   suspicion   that   they   are the   descendants   of   illegitimate   offspring   of   that   race.   There   remained, indeed,   until   quite   recent   years   a   humble   family   of   “Torevilles”   in   Bere Regis,   one   of   whom   persisted   in   calling   himself   “Sir   John.”   But   as   Mr. Hardy   says,   in   the   course   of   Tess   of   the   D’Urbervilles,   instances   of   the gradual   descent   of   legitimate   scions   of   the   old   knightly   families,   down and   again   downwards   until   they   have   become   mere   farm-labourers, are   not   infrequent   in   Wilts   and   Dorset.   Their   high-sounding   names have   undergone   outrageous   perversions,   as   in   the   stated   instance   of courtly   Paridelle   into   rustic   Priddle;   but,   although   they   have   inherited no worldly gear they own the same blood.