Wanderings in Wessex eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 332 pages of information about Wanderings in Wessex.

Gillingham cannot show many old houses and it has the appearance of a busy and flourishing manufacturing town of the smaller sort without any of the sordid accompaniments of such places.  Its commercial activities—­pottery and tile-making, breweries and flour mills, linen and silk manufacture, are mostly modern and have been fostered by the exceptional railway facilities.  In its Grammar school, founded in 1526 by John Grice, it still has a first-rate educational establishment with the added value of a notable past, for here was educated Clarendon, the historian of the Great Rebellion, and several other famous men.




There are three obvious ways of approaching Salisbury from Shaftesbury and the west:  by railway from Semley; by the main road, part of the great trunk highway from London to Exeter via Yeovil; and by a kind of loop road that leaves this at Whitesand Cross and follows the valley of the Ebble between the lonely hills of Cranborne Chase and the long line of chalk downs that have their escarpment to the north, overlooking the Exeter road.  These are all good ways, but there is even a fourth, only practicable for good walkers, that keeps to the top of the Downs until the Salisbury Race Course above Netherhampton is reached.  This is a splendid route, with magnificent views to the left and north, and some to be lingered over in the opposite direction, and the finest of all when the slender needle of Salisbury spire pierces the blue ahead.

Three miles out of Shaftesbury a road leaves the main route on the left for Donhead St. Mary; another by-way from this village joins the highway farther on and adds but a mile or so to the journey.  The church, high up on its hill, is an interesting structure, mainly Norman and Early English with some sixteenth-century additions.  The round font belongs to the older style.  A memorial to one Antonio Guillemot should be noticed.  He was a refugee Carthusian, who came here with some brother monks during the French Terror.  They found sanctuary at a farm-house placed at their disposal by Lord Arundell of Wardour, and now called the “Priory,” because of its associations.  Not far from the village is Castle Rings, an encampment from which there is a grand view of the Wilts and Somerset borderland.  In one of the chalky combes just below the hill is an old Quaker burial ground, as remote and lonely as the more famous Jordans ground was before the American visitor began to make that a place of pilgrimage.  Donhead St. Andrew, a mile from St. Mary’s, is in an entirely different situation to the latter, the Perpendicular church being at the bottom of a deep hollow.  Both villages are very charming.

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Wanderings in Wessex from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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