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THE WEB CHARMOUTH SITE
Charmouth Then and Now
Some time ago I sent Neil some photos where I’d merged old photos from his website with modern day ones that I’d taken. At a party on New Year’s Eve he sidled up to me and asked if I could help with some photos for a his next talk. In a moment of weakness I said yes…and it kind of developed from there.

As you’ll see, I like tweaking photos either to blend them together or tweak their texture to give them a different character. The photos I’ve used tonight are mainly my own but not all, Google street view has helped me out with several. Several I took in the snow of March this year when there was no traffic and it was safe to stand in the road. 

Hopefully these tweaks will help to bring the old photos to life and make it easier to compare Charmouth now with Charmouth then. I’ve also gone through Neil’s website and teased out some of the little stories and anecdotes hidden within it to add a bit more colour. There is so much in Neil’s website that we’ve had to split the talk into two. This first part will take us from the top of the hill down as far as Barrs Lane.

So I hope that you’ll be able to take two things from this evening. Firstly what a wonderful, rich history Charmouth has and we’re so lucky that it has been preserved. And the second thing I hope you’ll take away is never to trust anything you see in a photograph.

Here is Charmouth today, Boxing Day 2016 to be precise. Even with the newer buildings around the edges, Charmouth retains its historical core. How much has it changed over the years?
Looking at this view painted in 1855 – not a lot! We still nestle between the green fields and the blue sea.

Similarly this view painted in the 1830’s by Thomas Galpin is very familiar to us today.

On the right of this picture you can see two roads disappearing over the hill towards Lyme and it’s over there that we’ll start.

Starting at the top of the village, this is the familiar view up Old Lyme Hill. This used to be a busy road that took a perilous route across the top of Black Ven to Lyme Regis. It was steep and potholed. Some maps have it marked as ‘Roman Road’ but there has as yet been no archaeological evidence to substantiate this.. 
This is the same view taken by Claude Hider in the 1920’s. 
...apart from the cars and the double yellow lines.
The sign at the end of the road is there to warn traffic…

.It reads ‘DANGER, Dorset County Council , The Coast Road Between Charmouth and Lyme Regis IS UNSAFE’


It reads ‘DANGER, Dorset County Council , The Coast Road Between Charmouth and Lyme Regis IS UNSAFE’


Because the original route up Old Lyme Hill was steep and difficult for carriages to get over, in 1824 a gentler new road was cut lower down across the cliff face - Old Lyme Road. The shifting slopes of Europe’s largest active landslip, Black Ven, were perhaps not the wisest choice of route.
This shows the route of the old and new roads and where they merged before going along to the bottom of Timber Hill. Note that the road around Dragon’s Hill, going past today’s Park and Ride hadn’t been built. All traffic came down Timber Hill.
This shows the routes of the two roads. Charmouth was less built up then. You can see Old school in the bottom right foreground.
And here’s the new road before Downside and the other houses were built
This is the new Old Lyme Road – I guess it was just called Lyme Road then? Within two years, one end of the new cutting had dropped by 20 feet but it was repaired. The section of cliff it travelled along was so windy it was known as the Devil’s Bellows.
The route, seen here in 1890, seemed reasonably useable.
This must be taken from near the Timber Hill end.
However landslips made the road increasingly precarious, hence the warning sign at the end of the road.
This notch in the cliff was quite a landmark and marked the route of a footpath long before the new road was built. In 1810, a carpenter and part time fossil collector from Lyme Regis called Richard Anning, Mary’s father, fell down the cliffs just here, seriously injuring his back. He developed TB and died, leaving his wife and family to scratch a living collecting and selling fossils.
By all accounts they did alright. Seen here are Phil and Ali, Wardens from the Heritage Centre (or at least it’s their heads on some actors from the forthcoming film.)
In 1924 a landslip finally cut Old Lyme Road and it was closed. See the woman walking along the road.
I don’t know if Claude Hider paid her danger money or if she was genuinely walking to Lyme  The higher road, Old Lyme Hill, continued in use until it too was forced by landslips to close in 1957
Even in earlier times Old Lyme Hill had looked pretty precarious. Here’s the view towards Lyme Regis
…and here it is today, there appears to be no trace left 
The spectacular view in the other direction shows just how high the cliffs are. It was remarkable that horse drawn vehicles ever made it up here.

Indeed even King George III had problems getting over the hill when he travelled through the village. The Western News reported that on the 20th August 1789 : 


"Between Bridport and Chard are two very large steep hills, Chideock and Charmouth. It was impossible his majesty's horses could here proceed in the swift manner in which he usually travels. The King dismounted and walked up the hill. 

The King said he had never travelled such a stage in his life. During all this part of the road the multitude walked with him, and at times (he) conversed familiarly with such as were near him.   

The people of the village of Charmouth had prepared a lofty triumphal Arch of oak boughs, with a crown of Laurel and wreaths of flowers. It was prepared by the rude hands of industrious peasants; but yet it was a greater compliment than the most magnificent column erected by the hand of tyranny to celebrate rapine and cruelty”.This isn’t a picture of the king but you get the idea

In 1911 the village repeated the creation of a triumphal arch, this time to celebrate the Coronation of King George V. In fact they built several arches. This one is by the bridge..
The same view with a modern day stagecoach coming through.

And here are the views then and now. I don’t think the bus will get under the arch somehow.


There was an arch by The George
The view would have been spoilt by modern day vehicles. They aren’t as picturesque as a horse and cart
And there was yet another arch at the top of the village at the beginning of Axminster Road
This location is perhaps harder to visualise because the cottage on the left has since been demolished. The cottage used to be occupied by one of Charmouth’s characters, Jimmy Hodges, who on village club days would put a barrel of beer outside for people to help themselves
The site of the cottage was used as a car park for the New Inn opposite. It was subsequently bought for road widening, making space for the bus stop.
Further along, the old view of Axminster Road…
…hasn’t really changed very much.
Now, there are many accounts of accidents caused by vehicles careering down the steep hills around Charmouth, sadly some resulting in deaths. Perhaps the most unusual accident occurred in 1929 here at Fernhill on the road to Lyme from Charmouth. This is from the report in the Daily Mail…
In June 1929, Chapman’s Travelling Zoo-Circus was moving from Bridport to Lyme Regis. A lion and three tigers were in a cage being towed up Fernhill when the connecting rod broke and the cage rolled back down the hill.
In June 1929, Chapman’s Travelling Zoo-Circus was moving from Bridport to Lyme Regis. A lion and three tigers were in a cage being towed up Fernhill when the connecting rod broke and the cage rolled back down the hill.

This shows on the left the type of trailer they were using.


The cage hit a tree and broke open and ‘Pasha’ the lion escaped. He lay by the road, seemingly enjoying the change for half an hour while queues of traffic and onlookers built up. The trainer was summoned from Lyme and approached with a rope but the lion got up and moved away which caused the spectators to start running and shouting. The lion was spooked and jumped over the hedge, heading towards Lily Farm.


Here we can see where Lily Farm was. The lion was heading towards the village.

Here’s Lily Farm in more tranquil times just a few years earlier. The lion spotted some cattle in the field. One of the cows immediately attacked it. A fierce battle ensued, in which for some time the cow held its own, and inflicted a severe gash with its horn. But the cow was terribly injured by the lion’s claws and eventually died.


The lion, now thoroughly roused, careered round the field and then dashed into the garden of Mr. Goodland of Lily Farm who was astonished to see it among his vegetables. He seized a gun and joined in the hunt with several other farmers and the village butcher Mr F C Marsh, who were all armed.


By this time a crowd of several hundred people was watching the operation from a distance. Some climbed telegraph poles or trees and others got on roofs. Shots were fired, one of which wounded the lion in the hind-quarters, and another in an eye. Then the lion went mad and raced around. The crowd scattered and one man was chased by the lion round an old building.


At this point, onto the scene strode the village postman, Percy Smith who, armed with a revolver, crept up close enough to swiftly despatch the poor animal.


LOOK AWAY NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE THE LION AFTER THE SHOOTING

So here is ten year old Pasha whose one hour of freedom sadly cost him his life.
A sad end for Pasha the lion, but if you look towards Golden Cap and squint a little you can sometimes almost imagine that his spirit lingers on!
So let’s return to the top of The Street. Here are the houses that now make up what was the New Inn. Or New Commercial Inn to give it its full title.
This is the original thatched building that was the pub. Unfortunately, like many buildings in Charmouth over the years, the inn was destroyed in a fire in 1883

It was however rebuilt and here is the replacement built about 3 years later in 1886 - without a thatched roof this time. 


The view the other way down The Street has changed little. We’re not sure who this gathering is, presumably the owner and staff. Next door is the building which became the village hospital in 1867, set up by Doctor Norris.

The space created in front of the New Inn where the four roads met was a useful gathering point.

This gathering was the start of the procession in 1911 to celebrate the Coronation of King George Fifth. That’s Andrew Dunn waving the flag. He’d been a sailor for some thirty years.  

I must admit that every time I now drive along this bit of road I always imagine Andrew standing there in the middle of the road waving his flag! 

We’ll be seeing more of this coronation procession later as it works its way down the Street. 


This was another procession in 1906 for one of the village Club days. Everyone, including the children, was in their Sunday best for the procession. There were two clubs in Charmouth, the ‘National Sick and Burial Club’ and the ‘Court of the Ancient Order of Foresters’. On Whit Sunday both clubs held a church parade and on Whit Monday there would be a village fete
Here’s where they would have been standing today. Watch out for them when you’re driving through as well.
The New Inn finally closed its doors in 1976. Here’s one of the last views we have of the locals, anyone recognise themselves?
There’s a West Country tradition that on Guy Fawkes night flaming tar barrels are rolled through the streets. Ottery St Mary (seen here) still does so, only for some reason people have decided to pick them up and run with them on their shoulders. Maybe they haven’t got any hills?
In Charmouth flaming tar barrels were rolled down The Street from outside the New Inn down to the Coach and Horses by the church where they were stacked up into a bonfire. The village Customs Officers would guide the barrels down using long poles. It is not known if there was any connection between this annual event and the many premises in the village destroyed by fire over the years. 
(This picture isn’t of Charmouth but  just illustrates the type of event)
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries it was fashionable for the well to do to come and spend some time, often several weeks, in Charmouth enjoying the sea air. This photo outside the New Inn shows the heavily laden Axminster Bus about to depart for the railway station. There seems to be some concern about the suspension. That’s the cottage that was demolished in the background.
Enjoying the delights of the seaside was very popular although appropriate clothing still doesn’t seem to have been developed when this was taken in the 1920’s.
I don’t know if the children were made to get out and walk when the carriage made its way up the steep hills. Often a separate wagonette had to be used to carry the luggage.
Just along The Street another huge amount of luggage is prepared outside Claremont for transport to Axminster Station. Claremont, just out of shot on the left, had letting accommodation. Wonder if the Laurel and Hardy looking pair are just sauntering back from a pint at the pub?
Claremont ’now’… looks very much… 
…like it did ‘then’. 

In 1939, while laying drains, workmen found the remains of the old toll gate that stood here


Claremont is most likely the site of the toll house.
This area of The Street had several shops. This is Fred Hutchings the bootmaker’s premises in Granville House, that’s Mary his wife
There was a steady stream of passing trade. The house had been rebuilt in the 1880’s after being destroyed by a fire on Christmas Eve.
Next door in Waterloo was Childs’ blacksmiths, now familiar as Chris Moore’s fossil shop. The present door was a wide arch where horses could be led in for shoeing by the forge at the back. It was Childs who repaired the broken coupling of the cage from which Pasha the lion had escaped. Alongside was Childs’ ironmonger’s shop. 
How times have changed. The inside of the ironmonger’s shop at the front is today quite different. It’s a holiday let.
The Forge at the back of the premises became Mike and Susan Hendricks Charmouth Pottery in 1967, at one stage producing 10,000 items a year. 
Today, at the back, in the old Forge, Chris Moore prepares and sells fossils. He has had an illustrious visitor recently
…but he put him to work…
...and the results were pretty impressive. This is the ichthyosaur that featured in the BBC programme Attenborough and the Sea Dragon.
It is now on display in the Heritage Centre
Two doors up is Melville House…
…this is where you used to find Long’s Store…
…and before that Mr Chard (seen here chatting to George Pidgeon the village postman) ran a grocers for Edward Vince.
Opposite is Foxley Farmhouse which became Badgers Bookshop, the name no doubt inspired by the then owner, Mr Brocklehurst.
The change from the 1950’s is almost imperceptible
Well that 1911 Coronation procession has set off now. Andrew Dunn is leading them down past Askew House. I wonder if the modern day lady on the left can see the procession? Askew House for a long time was the doctor’s Surgery. At the time of this photo Dr Alfred Barrat Hine was in residence.
Moving round the corner in the 1910’s we see this elegant group, the Whittington sisters, who lived in Charmouth Lodge next to Barrs Lane. They seem to be checking out the map before a muddy walk – or maybe something more genteel to befit their outfits.
They are outside Miss Tarr’s stationery and fancy goods shop. 
Come forward to the 1970’s and the shop would have changed to Mediterranea.
Transport our 1920’s ladies forward through time as well and they  would have blended right in with the Mediterranea’s customers
Some of the visitors have been somewhat less ‘elegant’….more ‘elephant’. I wonder if these were anything to do with the circus that Pasha the lion escaped from?
Still at Miss Tarrs’ shop, this view shows two sailors, Ted Hunter and Charles Larcombe stood outsid. Captain Dixon who lived at the Elms is in the wagonette. Barnes Bread and Cake shop stands closest to the camera. Charlie Larcombe, along with George Pidgeon would later build the village War Memorial in 1920.
I wonder what they would have said if they could see the view today
Oddly a photo I took in the snow in March this year with two people in the road seems remarkably reminiscent of the previous photos. On the right is Charmouth House.
The Street outside Miss Tarr’s shop seemed quite tranquil in the 1920’s. That’s Miss Tarr with her neighbour Miss Enoch, an infant school teacher. Note the water tap at the end.

A hundred years later it’s a bit busier today. Thank goodness for the Bypass.


On the opposite side of the road, Charmouth house can be traced back some 500 years. Records show that back in 1682 it was known as the Fountain Inn. It was  owned by William Lymbry and it was a relative of his, Stephen Lymbry, who in 1651 was due to sail King Charles across to France … until his wife found out and locked him in. 
In later years it became the Charmouth House Hotel …
…with a spectacular addition at the back.
Inside, the bar was resplendent with its wooden panelling.
Earlier this year, in the snow, Charmouth House seemed to be reverting back to its former, characterful self.
Looking down the Street, just beyond Charmouth house can be seen some trees and some flags and bunting
This was the village Club Day held on Whit Monday on the field known as Fountain Mead The Village band and a forerunner of the Black and White Minstrels can be seen in the foreground. In the background can be seen the distinctive shape of The Court.
This photo taken in 1934 shows the location. The owner of The Court, Mrs Mary Napier Stuart had bought part of Fountain Mead from the owner of Charmouth House so that she could ensure the view of the sea from her library. The field was later to become known as Court Field, as is the house that was built there. 
The entrance to Fountain Mead was the site chosen for the village war memorial on land donated by Mrs Stuart… looking unfamiliar in this photo with no buildings behind it. It was built around 1920
Here it is today
Very recently Charmouth residents got together and collected money for another fine memorial to the First World War. THERE NOT THERE stands on guard discretely in Lower Sea Lane.
Next to the war memorial is of course the Royal Oak. This has only been a pub since 1867 although the building was built around 1800 It has been a drapers, grocers, tea dealers and a butchers. It’s first landlord, John Wild, was also the Village Cryer and he’d be paid a shilling to go round the village announcing the arrival of the coal boats in Lyme

This photo shows one of the more colourful landlords, Jim Bridle, who was landlord between 1923 and 1934. Born in 1870 in Lyme, he joined the Royal Navy aged 15. According to information given to Reg Pavey… 


…he was in the field gun crew for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee parade, he was in the ship when Marconi made the first successful long distance wireless call from the Atlantic and, when in South Africa, he met and talked to Captain Scott on his last fateful journey to the Antarctic.

When he left the Navy he went to Windsor Castle and was an Attendant at the Albert Memorial Chapel where he met several of the Crowned heads of Europe including the Kaiser and the Archduke of Austria just a few weeks before he was assassinated. He treasured two gold sovereigns Queen Alexandra once gave him.  At the outbreak of the First World War he returned to the Navy and served at the Battle of Jutland. After the war he settled in Charmouth, naming his house St Helena after the first foreign soil on which he landed. 


As you can see, Jim Bridle seems to have led a rich and colourful life..…or was it just that our landlord was a good spinner of seamen’s yarns?? 

Like many of Charmouth’s old buildings, the Royal Oak today looks much the same as it always has done and blends in to this snowy modern day scene..
With the snow making the tarmac look more like the original muddy road, if it wasn’t for the car and the Sky Sports banner you could be back in the 19th Century rather than March 2018.
…as this early photo suggests.
Time for a quick advert. Don’t forget to buy your 2019 Charmouth traders calendar. This is January’s photo. Bargain at £5.99
Right, let’s cross over the road now. We just need to mind the cattle coming down to be milked at Backlands Farm which is a couple of further premises down.
You can just about make out the sign for Backlands Dairy on the left here.

Opposite the Royal Oak is the curiously named Shoe and Stocking Cottage. In 1673 Anthony Tutchen, a successful and wealthy mariner, gave a freehold house in Charmouth and a field containing about one acre- ‘for the benefit of Seamen, Seamen's wives and children’. Originally the income from the house and land was to be used to buy stockings and shoes for the poor sailors and their families.  Later the building became an Alms House which stood on the site of the present cottage. This house contained three rooms below and three above and was occupied by six aged, poor, people who benefitted from having the accommodation plus a little bit of money rather than shoes and stockings.


When The Court next door was developed the view out of the front door was of this by now very dilapidated Alms house. So Mrs Stuart had it pulled down and a coach house built – this is the building we see today but it has retained the name as a link with the past. 

To compensate for pulling the alms house down Mrs Stuart built two new ones next to the old school in Lower Sea Lane, here they are immediately on the right. Note the children in the school yard
…and here they are today
Two doors down from the Shoe and Stocking is Luttrell House, seen here in 1900 with the Axminster bus just passing by (it’s the door with the curved top).
This combined photo helps to locate it in today’s street scene. In 1918 Luttrell house was occupied by an engineer, Mr John West and family. 
When the footbridge across the Char was washed away in 1929 the Parish Council got a tender for £310 to rebuild it. John West thought this was too expensive and was given permission to rebuild it himself with the help of Fred Penny a local carpenter. It cost a mere £193
The new bridge was officially opened by Mr West’s wife in 1930.
And here is Luttrell House in 1970, as seen from the beer garden of the Royal Oak. It was a small B&B in those days.
This is it from the church tower.

And here is Luttrell House today. Back in 1830 it was the home of the Reverend Thomas Hodges and his wife. It was reported that Reverend Hodges’ wife “got her brandy cheap from the smugglers then infecting the coast. The Excise officers lived at the bottom of the village. Their Chief wrote to the Rev. Hodges saying that he was coming down for a few days as he had work to do down there. Mrs Hodges got very anxious thinking he had heard of the brandy, but she knew well and trusted the excise officers’ house keeper, so she consulted her. 

It was suggested that the incriminating bottles should be put in a cupboard in the excise officers own house as the last place he would suspect. This was agreed so Mrs Hodges brought down the bottles hidden in the vast muff fashionable at the time"


By the way, have you noticed anything familiar about Luttrell House? Look at the door. Remind you of anywhere?

Maybe this will help. Yes, 10 Downing Street must have copied their door design from Charmouth! 

The photo is of Years 5 and 6 children from Charmouth who in 1981 went on a four day trip to London. If any of you went to the Old School I can highly recommend the section about it in Neil’s website that has a very full description of its history and many photos of the children.

We’ll cross back to the other side of the Street, mind the cattle coming up the hill this time…


…and we find Charmouth Medical Practice or Littlehurst surgery as it’s known.
This is what it looked like back around 1890
Little has changed. In 1830 it was lived in by the mother and aunt of the architect Charles Fowler who designed the present St Andrews Church. He also designed Covent Garden market and was a founder member of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
In 1848 it was owned by Sir Sidney Herbert. 
Not to be confused with Sidney Herbert who was the Charmouth Chemist in more recent years. You can see part of his shop here.
This is where it sits in today’s parade of shops.
No, Sir Sidney Herbert was an MP in Wiltshire where he had a very large estate with many villages on it. He was a high flyer in the government and in 1845 he was Minister At War under Robert Peel, a post that he was to hold on three occasions. In 1847, having lost the post when the government changed, Herbert had time on his hands. So he and his new wife went on a tour to Rome where they met …
… Florence Nightingale and soon discovered that they shared a common interest in caring for sick people. They became lifelong friends.

Herbert wanted a place where sick workers and villagers from his estate could go to after their treatment in Salisbury hospital, so that they could benefit from ‘a more perfect and permanent restoration to health and also the hospital could gain room for fresh patients’.  This was quite a radical concept for the time. Sounds like a solution to bed blocking.


So in 1848 Herbert set up this 20 bed Convalescent Home here in Charmouth. The Home was described as being ‘fittedup for the reception of patients, under the care of a German Protestant sisterhood. Herbert also provided bathing-machines, and a donkey-cart in which to convey to the shore those who were well enough to bathe’. TB patients were said to have been treated here with special mineral water sent over from Germany.


The opening of the home in 1848 was attended by their good friend Miss Florence Nightingale.

Unfortunately there are no photographs or illustrations of Florence Nightingale opening the home in 1848 but perhaps this opening ceremony of the same building 139 years later in 1987, with the fresh faced Doctors Martin and Sue Beckers, gives an idea of what the event might have been like. We’re sure it was no less auspicious.
Although…it doesn’t require too much imagination to almost recreate the scene from 1848.

Six years later, in 1854, Herbert was again Secretary at War. It was the time of the Crimean War and conditions for injured troops in the Crimea were being criticised so Herbert invited his friend Florence to go and sort it out. 


This illustration was the start of the story of ‘The Lady with the Lamp’.


In 1865, after the death of Herbert, a bigger convalescence home was built in Bournemouth and the Charmouth building reverted to a private house. Around this time the first bath in the village was installed in Little Hurst much to the consternation of the villagers who feared that water shortages would result

In 1889 it was purchased by James W Harrison of the printing firm Harrisons & Sons. As well as regular printing of things like the London Gazette and Burkes Peerage, they also produced 250 million blank telegram forms a year. Importantly they did all the secure, confidential printing for the Government, eventually becoming the printers of all the postage stamps in the country as well as for 100 other countries.


Ironically and with splendid symmetry, in 1859, it was Harrisons that published Florence Nightingale’s most influential work called ‘Notes on Nursing, What it is and what it is not’.

Oddly, because Harrison was an avid photographer (many of his photos appear in Neil’s site), there aren’t many photos of the house. This one from 1903 shows it hidden by bushes.

The Harrison’s ancestral home was in Hurst near Reading. Their house in London was known as ‘The Hurst’. And their house in Charmouth was named ‘Little Hurst’.

Here are Mr and Mrs Harrison in their carriage and pair. You can see the shadow of the photographer.

James  Harrison’s son, Sir Cecil Harrison, stayed at Hillside and owned the first car in the village, a De Dion, seen here outside the Coach House on the Knapp


Next door to Little Hurst is Wistaria, originally dating back to the 1600’s
Just a few years ago it had been renamed Langley House and was looking a little tired. The blue building was added when access to the stables was no longer required and it became Lloyds Bank until the new one opened in 1930. The building today is currently looking much better and is in the process of having a facelift.
More familiar today, it is where we find Herringbone. By the way, on the left here you can see a shop called Hazards, a grocer and ironmonger
Here it is in its heyday
…and here it is today. Sadly it lived up to its name of Hazard and burned down not once but twice, never to be replaced.
Wistaria has had many uses. From 1900 for 40 years it was the Post Office run by William Holly and his son after he gave up running the Aylesbury Bus – the coach and horses to Axminster.
Here is William Holly
William Holly is stood at the back of the van which was one of the first motor vans to run between Charmouth and Dorchester. In 1940 the Post Office moved down to Sunnyside or Devonedge as we know it today. Stood on the right there is their neighbour James Harrison.
It was then taken over by Childs Ironmongers (the traders that were up the road in front of what is now the Fossil Shop). Here it is in 1963
You can just see some of their wares on the right here. Opposite and looking quite different is the Cottage, known today as Albury House. In this photo it was selling cream teas
This is The Cottage, one of the oldest buildings in the village, going back to at least 1729. Apparently at one stage the roof got into such a bad state of repair that it had to be held up internally with an old ship’s mast that was visible from the drawing room.
Here it is today with the recycling ready to be collected.
But it was probably looking it’s best when it was a café and B&B.
But it was probably looking it’s best when it was a café and B&B.
The Elms with an extension on the side and the door moved round to the end
In 1996, Mallory Hayter, Chairman of the parish council was instrumental in buying the Elms for the parish and it is now the council’s offices …and home to the Pavey Group.

And now we come to the Church, St Andrews which as we have heard was built in 1836 by Charles Fowler, the architect for Covent Garden. 


The church that preceded it was called St Mathews, built in 1295. There are no significant drawings of it but there is this magnificent model built by William Hoare the son in law of William Dunn who supervised the building of the new church.
Here’s how it might have looked today. Similar but with a taller tower, lower roof and smaller windows. By 1835 this church could only seat a mere 363 people and needed to be expanded by adding a new aisle to the north. Unfortunately the surveyor who checked it said ‘I have never witnessed so dilapidated or unsafe a building’ and it therefore had to be pulled down.
These scenes from inside the model are perhaps unknowingly recreating the dilapidated state of the original building.
These scenes from inside the model are perhaps unknowingly recreating the dilapidated state of the original building.
The new church cost £3000 to build and could now seat some 600 people. The outside was going to be rendered and painted but fortunately after seeing a small trial patch of what the flint would look like it was decided to finish it in flint as we see it today.
Now as you walk down the street, as these Edwardian ladies are, it’s very apparent that the side opposite the church broadens out and the houses on the north side are set further back from the road. There’s a big space in front of the White House and Hillside Terrace.
This wintery scene from March shows better the broadening out of the street just here.
This old photo shows the original coach and horses before it burnt down in 1882 - and it too is set back from the road.

And in fact records show that in 1861 the front wall of the church had been moved forward by some 15 feet to enlarge the graveyard. Marked is Lydia Watts’ sweet shop, which jutted out awkwardly into the Street and had become derelict. It was demolished five years later, as was the parish pound and, indeed, the village stocks.


The parish pound would contain any stray animals (sheep, pigs etc.) that had been found wandering and they could be reclaimed by the owner for a small fee. Any not claimed would be sold at the market and the pound keeper could pocket the money. The pound was moved up to the junction of Old Lyme Hill and Old Lyme Road in 1866.

Remarkably, this very early photo was taken in 1860 from the old entrance to the graveyard; you can see the sweet shop on the left. It shows how much further back the front wall of the churchyard was.  In 1278 the Abbot of Forde had granted a weekly Market and a yearly Fair at Charmouth. Old deeds talk about the ancient market being held in the ‘Square outside the Inn’. So this would have been Charmouth’s original market place.
The two yew trees either side of the path as you go in to the church were planted to mark the position of the original gate posts. The grave nearest the camera and the wall is that of Mrs Mary Stuart from the Court who paid for the graveyard to be extended, presumably so that there would be enough space for her.
In 1950 many of the headstones were moved to the sides of the curchyard in order to create better access for vehicles. Some were placed here against the boundary wall and some opposite against the end of the church. That of George Holly had originally been erected facing his Inn, the Coach and Horses next door. However he hated the present building that was built to replace it when it burned down and he went to live up in Charmouth House rather than stay there. For this reason, when the headstones were moved, George Holly’s was put against the boundary wall looking westwards away from the Coach and Horses.
There are far too many stories to tell about all the people who are buried in the graveyard. These have been well documented in Neil’s book.
But to give you a flavour of just one of the stories, here is the gravestone of Captain George Sidney Smith. He was one of three people who died in the village in 1832 of cholera. He was 40.

They were buried in the same area of the churchyard in what became known as ‘the cholera mound’. ….(Read out notice)  

Notice of Cholera!  

Be temperate in eating and drinking! 

Avoid raw vegetables and unripe fruit! 

Abstain from COLD WATER, when heated, and above all from ARDENT SPIRITS, and if habit have rendered them indispensable, take much less than usual. 

Sleep and clothe warm. 

Do not sleep or sit in a draught of air. 

Avoid getting wet. 

Attend immediately to all disorders of the bowel.

Smith had been captured by the French in 1804 trying to land British spies on mainland France. He spent 8 years in prison where he learned to speak French. This would come in handy as in 1814 Smith was selected to transport Napoleon from Frejus in southern France to exile in Elba.

(As you can see French photography was much more advanced than our own. Actually this was to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the event).


Napoleon learned that Smith was the nephew of Admiral Sir Sidney Smith who had inflicted upon Napoleon his first defeat by vigorously defending, both at sea and on land, the port of Acre (just north of Haifa)) and of whom Napoleon later said‘That man made me miss my destiny’. Napoleon hated sir Sidney Smith as much as he hated Wellington.


During the voyage to Elba Napoleon, who spoke with the other officers freely, only spoke once to Smith’s nephew, saying ‘Ithought very little of Sir Sidney’s gunnery at Acre as he fired very badly’. Lieutenant Smith, a gruff and rather surly tempered officer with a strong antipathy towards Napoleon after all his years as a prisoner answered back very tartly‘That Sir is exactly what Sir Sidney always said of you!’. They never spoke again.

We’ll just let this Sunday school outing go by as we turn to the Coach and Horses.
Charmouth’s position on the main route between London and Exeter made it a prime location for servicing the coaches and their passengers.
The Watford Gap of its day seen here in 1874.
The first reference to the Coach and Horses Inn is in 1714 when it was known as the Ship Inn (it has also been known as the Three Crowns, The Mail Coach Inn and even Holly’s Hotel but I’ll just call it the Coach and Horses as it was named by the then owner George Holly in the 1840’s). It is seen here in 1874.
The original inn was a lot more quaint than the imposing edifice that’s there today.

Jane Austen stayed here in 1803 and here’s her quote from Persuasion… 

It is perhaps worth mentioning that around this time some locals would take the opportunity to approach the passengers stretching their legs and would ask if they were interested in buying some of the ‘Curiosities’ found on the local beaches. William Lock of Lyme Regis visited daily and became known as ‘Captain Cury’ (short for curiosity) for his offerings to travellers. He was also the Anning family’s arch nemesis as they both scoured the beach for the best fossils. But by selling to the travellers, news and examples of the fossil finds began to trickle back to London. Soon there would be a trickle of fossil hunters from London heading this way. That trickle sometimes feels like a flood today.

Travel by coach was not for the feint hearted:

In 1739 The Western Gazette reported…

"Our townsmen beheld by only going to Charmouth, thewonder of the day, better known as " The Exeter Flying Stage Coach" which reached Dorchester from London in two days and reached Exeter in three days… 

It continues…The lofty Stonebarrow Hill had to be ascended from Morcombelake and the descent - a perilous one - to be made by the main road, better called a narrow lane, beyond the eastern brook by Charmouth." As you see here, in 1769 a gentler road was built and in 1826 an even easier route was established and is the present road.
In Charmouth graveyard is the now almost indecipherable headstone of 58 year old Anne Pitts, a lady’s maid who worked for an MP’s family. It was reported in 1805 that ‘a stage coach from Exeter for London overturned on Charmouth Hill. An outside passenger was thrown with such violence on the road that she died immediately’. . It was slightly cheaper to sit on the outside but clearly more dangerous. In 1791, another man succumbed to the cold and died while on the coach between Chideock and Charmouth.
As the roads improved the coaches got faster, the fastest of all being the Exeter to London Mail Coach known as the Quicksilver – here it is in 2015 when it sold at auction for £133,000. In around 1810, the 200 mile trip would take just 20 hours including stops. This later reduced to 16½ hours. In 1760 a man was killed in Charmouth as the Mail Coach rushed through. 
Famously in 1816, when the Quicksilver was near Salisbury, its horses were attacked by a lion that had escaped from a travelling menagerie! Nothing is new!
The old thatched Coach and Horses was destroyed by fire and was rebuilt in 1882 giving us the building we see today.
There was extensive stabling at the rear as this photo from 1926 shows.
As well as the high speed intercity coaches, there was plenty of business for local coaches, or horse drawn omnibuses as they were known. The Holly family operated two buses from the Coach and Horses.  Even Mary Poppins on the right here used them when her umbrella wasn’t working.

William Holly is seen here driving the Axminster Bus which was described as follows:

The 'buses had seating accommodation for two passengers by the side of the driver, four behind and occasionally a third row for four passengers could be bolted on the roof which normally was used for luggage. Inside there were seats for six people. When fully loaded there would be sixteen passengers and a third horse became necessary, which was ridden by Johnny Holly the youngest son, he returned when the 'bus reached the top of Greenway Head.

(Greenway Head is just outside Raymonds Hill) 

The buses were popular for taking people to the railway stations at Axminster and Bridport. There was often a separate wagonette to take their luggage.
But it wasn’t just passenger transport that was catered for. Russells in 1799 were charging £1 a ton to haul goods from London to Charmouth.
This sort of work would require the use of several Heavy Horses
…sometimes as many as eight were needed to cope with the hills around Charmouth..

And here’s the modern equivalent. Even in 1963 big loads like these transformers also required the heavy haulage units to be coupled together.

By the way, in the 1930’s The Street was one of the first in the country to be built out of reinforced concrete slabs. Unfortunately the traffic was so heavy that it caused the slabs to move and start to damage roadside properties, When it was decided to remove them in the 1950’s a special machine had to brought over from Germany to break them up.

But the golden age of quiet road and of the Coach and Horse was passing 

The writing was on the wall. Literally. The internal combustion engine was taking over and Gears Garage here was in the forefront of its advance.


On the left is Fred Marsh’s butchers, he was one of those involved in hunting down Pasha the lion.


Incredibly, someone from North Carolina saw this photo on the website and got in touch with Neil to say that one of the small boys in the photo was his father who was a son of F C Marsh and he, at the time, was living in Christchurch Dorset aged 96.

Ironically when I blended these two photos together I hadn’t appreciated that the writing was on the wall for the chocolate shop as well.
The omnibus of 1926 had a different type of horsepower.
The hotel carried on until 1996 but then it closed and was turned into the apartments we see today.

Right, well I see the 1911 Coronation Procession has made it as far down as Nisa. So let’s have a little look at the village stores. Note the sign for the Star Inn which used to be down the alley to the side of the stores.

The stores dates back to 1806 but the old thatched building that was there was destroyed by fire in 1862 and this is the replacement.

The cart seen here around 1900 belonged to Lizzie Taylor who came regularly from Morcombelake with chickens, rabbits and vegetables. She was a well-known figure in the village for many years
And here is the scene recreated by Zakariyah Ali and his Nisa truck. It’s lost some of its charm I’m afraid.
I think I prefer a blend of the two

There is a remarkably complete photographic record of the ownership of Charmouth stores:

In the 1880’s it was Mortimers

In the 1890’s it was Vinces
In the 1900’s it was Bakers
In the 1910’s, as we have seen for the coronation procession, it was Morgans
In the 1920’s it was William Dampiers
In the 1950’s it was Donald Dampiers
In the 1980’s it was Ron and Jean Dampiers – seen here on their last day
And more recently it was this unruly mob of Trittons. And what an asset to the village over the years the stores has proved to be.
Just down from the stores we have Charmouth Lodge or The Limes as it was originally called after the trees at the front. By the way, Reg Pavey is one of those children stood in front.
Originally built as two houses in 1838, they were knocked together to form one in 1866. 
And talking of knocking things together…
In 1900 Canon Richard Whittington and family moved in. They were descendants of Dick Whittington, Lord Mayor of London.
They had two sons and five daughters, four of the daughters we’ve already met at the top of the Street outside Miss Tarrs’ shop. The sisters went on to be involved with the church, the tennis club and the school that they ran next door in Little Lodge.
Here are two of the sisters in 1905. They ran the tennis club to strict standards, it was a very select club and only high-ranking service officers, landed gentry, doctors, lawyers and those of independent means were allowed to join. One of the sisters, Joan, was accepted for Wimbledon but couldn’t play as she’d once accepted money for a tournament in Cairo.
In 1916 one notable member who the sisters allowed to join the tennis club was Maud Watson, seen here on the left; her is sister on the right. She was a great friend of Miss Evans who lived at Hammonds Mead House and would often stay with her. These two ladies were the first ever finalists in the Wimbledon Ladies Singles Championship in 1884.
Nineteen year old Maud beat her sister, a feat not repeated until the Williams sisters in 2002. 
And to prove it wasn’t a fluke she won it the following year 1885 as well. Here she is that year in Bath.
In 1926 Wimbledon had a parade of champions and Maud, being the first ever winner, was presented with a commemorative medal by King George V and Queen Mary. 
Maud had been allowed to keep her flower basket trophy so it had to be replaced in 1886 with the big Venus Rosewater Dish that we see presented to this day. In the 1930’s Maud presented this, the very first trophy, to her old tennis club in Edgbaston.
It’s still played for today in the Birmingham Classic and is highly prized by women tennis players who want to get their hands on the very first Wimbledon trophy. Is that distant rumbling I can hear the sound of Maud rolling in her grave.
I wonder what she would say if she met her modern counterparts? She got 20 guineas prize money not the two million they get today. And as for the costumes…
In 1932 Maud moved in with Miss Evans at Hammonds Mead House and lived there until she died in 1946.
The school the Whittingtons ran in Little Lodge was no doubt as strictly run as their iron grip on the tennis club. Although the prospectus does say that ‘no pupil is unduly pressed or overstrained.’

But it is perhaps the ghosts that inhabit the building that are of most interest. 

Ellis Long, a prominent village resident, interviewed Joan Whittington in 1974. Joan told her about a grey-clad monk who was often seen walking slowly from the house, through walls and into the garden.

This apparition was always to be seen on Hallowe’en it was claimed and has been verified on two occasions by other residents of the house as recently as 1999. Also, perhaps once a year, they heard the sound of horses hooves galloping over the roof.

In addition, Joan spoke of frequent appearances of a young lady in white who sometimes passed the Whittington family on the stairs.

The White Lady, as she became known, was said to be a sad, young presence who did not disturb the family in the least. There was, however, one dramatic exception to her behaviour reported. In the 1950s, the Rev J Robinson, a relative of the Whittingtons, was playing the piano by candlelight one night when the White Lady entered the room and laid cold hands upon him, clutching him about the throat. He stopped playing and was so shocked that he never entered that room again.    

Joan also told Ellis of a damp smell in the drawing room. Bert Smith, local builder and village councillor, was called and found dry rot in the boards. Under the floor, an ancient well was discovered with the skeleton of a young woman laid across it. Very discreetly, to avoid unwanted attention, and with the rector’s permission, the remains were taken at night and buried in a secret spot in the church cemetery. 


Thankfully, the White Lady was never seen again!

I couldn’t leave Charmouth Lodge without mentioning the magnificent hollyhock display we’ve been treated to. But once again this is only echoing history… in 1855 Henry Brown wrote that Charmouth ‘consists of one street, which is composed of picturesque villas, having gardens at their entrances. The arrangement in Spring and Summer produces a very beautiful effect: the long thoroughfare seems decorated for a festival and the air is impregnated with the odoriferus perfumes of the floral favourites of these numerous parterres.’ 
Well it’s almost time to call a halt to the first half of our ramble around the village. Next time we’ll hear about the rest of the village: the development of the shops, lorries crashing through the bridge, the ships figurehead, the collapsing tea room, the smugglers, and the rifle range on the beach, the meandering river, the cement factory and the death of the lord of the manor in a duel. And of course, the continuing progress of the 1911 coronation parade down the village.
But just before we finish, we’ve seen that Sir David Attenborough was in the village earlier this year. I was fortunate enough to be in the Heritage Centre at a reception Chris Moore held for all those who had helped in the making of the BBC programme Attenborough and the Sea Dragon. Sir David made a surprise appearance and gave a speech that was very complimentary about Charmouth which I recorded. I’ve just obtained permission from him to make it public so before I put it onto YouTube I thought I’d let you have a preview – a world exclusive. It only lasts five minutes.
PLAY ATTENBOROUGH MOVIE
Well how do you follow that? Perhaps we should leave the last word with Charles and Thurza Wells, a pair of Hawkers from Monkton Wyld.