Wanderings in Wessex eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 275 pages of information about Wanderings in Wessex.

Poole, like a good many other places with as much or as little cause, has been claimed as a Roman station.  There seems to be no direct evidence for this.  The first actual records of the town are dated 1248, when William de Longespee gave it its first charter.  This Norman held the manor of Canford, and Poole church was originally a chapel of ease for that parish.  The present building only dates from 1820 and for the period is a presentable enough copy of the Perpendicular style.  Poole was a republican town in the Civil War and sent its levies to help to reduce Corfe Castle.  The revenge of the other side came when, at the Restoration, all the town defences were destroyed, though the king was not too unforgetful to refuse the hospitality of the citizens during the Great Plague.

The only remarkable relics in Poole are the Wool House or “Town Cellar” and an old postern dating from about 1460.  The Town Hall, with its double flight of winding steps and quaint high porch was built in 1761.  Within, as a commemoration of the visit recorded above, is a presentment of the monarch who must have had “a way with him,” since his subjects’ memories apparently became as short as his own.

But Poole’s most stirring times were in the days when Harry Page, licensed buccaneer and pirate, made individual war on Spain to such good purpose that the natives of Poole were astounded one morning to see upwards of one hundred foreign vessels dotted about the waters of the harbour, prizes taken by the redoubtable “Arripay,” as his captives termed him.  Nothing flying the Spanish flag in the Channel seemed to escape him, until matters at last became so humiliating that the might of both countries was brought to bear on Poole, and the town underwent a severe chastisement, in which Page’s brother was killed.  This spirit of warlike enterprise descended to the great grandchildren of these Elizabethans, for in Poole church is a monument to one Joliffe, captain of the hoy Sea Adventurer, who, in the days of Dutch William, drove ashore and captured a French privateer.  In the following year another bold seaman, William Thompson, with but one man and a cabin-boy to help him, took a Cherbourg privateer and its crew of sixteen.  Both these heroes received a gold chain and medal from the King.  Another generation, and the town was fighting its own masters over the question of “free imports.”  In spite of the usually accepted fact that smuggling can only prosper in secret, Poole became a sort of headquarters for all that considerable trade that found in the nooks and crannies of the Dorset coast safe warehouses and a natural cellarage.  So bold did the fraternity become that in 1747, when a large cargo of tea had been seized by the crown authorities and placed for safe keeping in the Customs House, the free traders overpowered all resistance and triumphantly retrieved their booty, or shall we say, their property? and took it surrounded by a well-armed escort to various

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Wanderings in Wessex from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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