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tion is vested in the Corporation, and in a small number of persons who are admitted by them as freemen.
The Church, an ancient edifice, is in good preservation, and more than 200 additional seats have lately been erected for the accommodation of the increased population of the town. Beneath the Custom House, a plain brick building, of modern erection, supported on pillars, the weekly Market is held on Saturday. Here is a convenient, but not very extensive Quay; and several small Forts, mounted with cannon, defend the Harbour at various points. The most remarkable structure at Lyme, however, is the Cobb; a vast pile of stone, raised at great expense, and kept in excellent repair, as it is of the utmost importance to the navigation of this coast, there being no other shelter for shipping between the Start Point in Devonshire, and the Portland Roads. The period of its first erection is not ascertained; but it must have been previous to the middle of the fourteenth century, as it is stated to have been destroyed by a violent storm in the reign of Richard II. It was rebuilt in a more substantial and compact manner, and although repeatedly much damaged by the winds and waves, it has as frequently been repaired, and £100 per annum is allowed out of the Customs of the port in aid of that object.
Thomas Coram, to whose active benevolence London is indebted for the Foundling Hospital, was born at Lyme about 1668. He became master of a vessel trading to America, and when on shore resided in the eastern part of the metropolis, where he witnessed so many instances of the exposure and desertion of young children, that, struck with a deep sense of their sufferings, he laid the plan of that noble charity. After labouring with the utmost assiduity, during a period of nearly 20 years, he had the happiness of seeing his great object accomplished by the assistance of many persons of distinguished rank, among whom several ladies honourably distinguished themselves. He died shortly afterwards, in 1751, at the age of 84, and was interred in the Chapel of the Hospital. His devotion to this and other charities had so completely exhausted his own fortune, that during the latter years of his life, he was supported
by an annual subscription of about £100, raised among the nobility.
MELBURY SAMPFORD, a village about five miles from Cerne Abbas, has a venerable and spacious Church, built in the form of a cross, with a central tower, and containing many curious and ancient monuments. Near this building, in an extensive Park, stands Melbury House, a noble mansion, built about 1700, on the site of an edifice, which had for several ages been the residence of the Strangeways'; it is placed on a rising ground, and commands a wide and varied prospect, reaching as far as Shaftesbury on one hand, and Wells Cathedral on the other.
MELCOMBE REGIS is so closely united with Weymouth, that, to avoid repetition, it will be described with that town at a subsequent page.
MILTON ABBAS, a village about six miles from Bere Regis, derives its name from a magnificent Abbey erected here by King Athelstan, which continued in a flourishing state until the Dissolution, when its annual revenues were estimated at £720. Some remains of it still exist, forming part of the mansion now called Milton Abbey, which was principally erected by Sir William Chambers, for the Earl of Dorchester, in a non-descript style of architecture, intended for an imitation of the Gothic, but whose deformities are rendered more conspicuous by the elegant Abbey Church, which still remains in a perfect state, with the exception of the west end, supposed to have been destroyed soon after the Reformation. It now consists of a choir and transept, with a low, square tower; the interior is very neat; it has a beautiful altar screen, a handsome font, and some fine monuments. This edifice is now used as a Chapel to the mansion, which is decorated with great elegance, and contains some good paintings; it stands on an eminence, commanding fine views in all directions. The village of Milton is neat, having been entirely rebuilt, with a Church and an Almshouse, at some distance from its former site, by the Earl of Dorchester, about the middle of the eighteenth century; the population is about 700 persons.
Bullbarrow, an Entrenchment occupying the summit of a hill about four miles north-west of Milton, is of a nearly circular shape, and is supposed to be of Roman construction, as many coins of that people have been found in digging the neighbouring fields.
This town, which stands on a small peninsula near the south-eastern extremity of the County, 103 miles from London, is the most considerable sea-port in Dorsetshire. Its situation, between an open shore and a bleak, desolate heath, gives it a dreary appearance, which is not much improved on entering the town, as its streets, of which it has several, are mostly composed of mean and ill-built houses, and its public edifices are few. and not remarkable for beauty. It is, however, a place of very considerable trade, and the Harbour or Bay, which is 60 miles in compass, and contains several islands, is esteemed one of the best in England for merchant vessels. The town dues, for goods landed at the Quay, which are received by the Corporation, are considerable; and the Customs have amounted to more than £10,000 in a single year.
The period at which Poole was first built is uncertain; but it does not appear to have been much frequented as a sea-port before the reign of Edward III, when it furnished that monarch with 94 mariners, in four ships, to assist at the siege of Calais. It afterwards suffered from the incursions of the French, but appears to have recovered under Edward IV and Richard III, both of whom bestowed considerable privileges upon it. After being reduced in the time of Leland, (about 1533), to "a poor fischar village," we find it again in a flourishing state under Elizabeth, by whom it was incorporated, and made a County of itself, having the liberty of appointing its own Sheriff and other officers, in the same manner as Southampton. Its government is vested in a Mayor, four Aldermen, and 28 Burgesses: the Mayor is Admiral of the Bay, and Justice of Peace; and possesses the singular privilege of choosing the Burgesses: a Sheriff, a Water Bailiff, and several inferior officers, complete the Corporation, by whom two Members are elected to represent the town in
Parliament; the first return made from hence was in 1341; but the privilege was afterwards long suspended, and it is only since 1452, that it has been exercised without intermission. Quarter Sessions are held for the town by the Mayor and Justices, and the Judges have sometimes tried causes here on their way to Dorchester; but this is not frequent.
The Church is an ancient structure, consisting of a body, two aisles, and a tower. The interior is handsome, and it has an elegant altar-piece of carved mahogany. It contains several monuments, the most remarkable of which is one in memory of Peter Jolliffe, who, with the assistance of only two sailors, captured a French privateer, for which gallant action he was rewarded by William III with the command of a vessel, and a gold medal. The Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Anabaptists, and Society of Friends, have each their respective places of worship in this town; and several Charity Schools have been established. The population, in 1821, was 6390.
The Quay has been much improved of late years, and now almost encircles the town; the Custom House is conveniently situated near its eastern extremity: the Town Hall is an ancient edifice, erected about 1572, beneath which is a Prison; the Wool House, or King's Hall, is a building intended as a store-house, and of some antiquity, but nearly rebuilt about the beginning of the present century; adjoining to this is the Town House, a kind of Exchange, erected in 1727; the Market House was built in 1761, at the expense of the Members of Parliament; here the Market is held weekly on Monday.
The merchants of Poole employ their vessels principally in the Newfoundland fishery; their exports are provisions, cordage, nets, sail-cloth, &c.; in return for which they bring fish, oil, seal-skins, and timber; they also trade largely to the Baltic, Norway, America, Portugal, and Holland; and the number of ships belonging to this port is estimated at about 300.
Nearly opposite to the entrance of the Harbour is Brownsea Island, of an irregular oval form, a mile and a half long, and three quarters of a mile wide.
* It is stated in the newspapers of the day (Nov. 1830) that the Corporation of Poole have recently offered the freedom, which confers the elective franchise, to any inhabitant of the town who may choose to accept it.
The soil is sandy, but, as it is well watered, considerable plantations have been made, and a large portion of the land brought into cultivation. On the eastern side of the Island is a mansion called Brownsea Castle, which was erected at the expense of the Corporation of Poole, in the reign of Elizabeth, for the defence of the town and harbour; during the Civil War it was garrisoned, but having afterwards fallen into decay, it was repaired, and converted into a residence, by the Sturt family, to whom the Island belongs.
ISLE OF PORTLAND.
This Island, or more properly Peninsula, is situated in the Channel, nearly opposite to Weymouth, and is connected with the main land by a singular ridge of pebbles called the Chesil Bank*; a narrow inlet of the sea, named the Fleet, separates this bank from the coast. The Island is about four miles and a half in length, and two in breadth, and consists almost entirely of one vast mass of freestone, from the quarries of which the materials of many of the finest buildings in the metropolis were obtained. It is not, however, unfertile; a large number of sheep, of small size but delicate flavour, are fed here; and wheat, oats, pease, and barley, are raised, although in small quantities, which may perhaps be in some measure owing to the defective system of agriculture, which is almost solely left to the women, while the men are more profitably engaged in the stone quarries.
The whole Island forms but one parish, including seven villages or hamlets; Chesilton, near the northern extremity, is the principal; and near this is situated Portland Castle, which was erected by Henry VIII for the defence of Weymouth Road, and is the residence of the Governor when on the Island. In this
"The Chesil Bank," says Dr. Maton, "is one of the most extraordinary ridges or shelves of pebbles in Europe, and perhaps the longest, except that of Memel, in Polish Prussia. Its length is supposed to be about seventeen miles. Its breadth is in some places nearly a quarter of a mile. The pebbles are so loose, that horses' legs sink almost knee deep at every step; but a traveller of any curiosity should by no means neglect to examine the productions of this pebbly desert. With regard to the pebbles themselves, they in general consist of white calcareous (known by the name of Portland) pebbles; but there are many of quartz, jasper, chert, and a variety of other substances. It is worthy of remark, that they gradually diminish in size, the nearer they approach to the main land, being very little larger than horse-beans towards Abbotsbury; though at the other end of the bank, they are from one inch to three inches in diameter."