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BEAMINSTER, an ancient town, 141 miles from London, and 12 from Dorchester, is pleasantly situated on the little river Brit. It has several times suffered from fire: in April, 1644, it was almost totally consumed, in consequence of a soldier belonging to the Royal troops under Prince Maurice dis. charging his musket into a thatched roof; the loss sustained by the inhabitants (which was augmented by the plundering of the soldiers) was estimated at more than £21,000, and the Parliament granted £2000 for the relief of the sufferers. In June, 1684, another fire destroyed property amounting to £10,000; and in March, 1781, a third conflagration demolished more than 50 dwelling-houses, beside many other buildings: fortunately for the inhabitants, however, a great part of the property destroyed on this occasion was insured, and in a short time the damage was repaired, and the town is now of very respect. able appearance. The most remarkable building is St. Mary's Chapel (the town being a part of the parish of Netherbury), which is a handsome edifice, erected on an eminence: it has a tower, nearly 100 feet high, which is ornamented with carved representations of the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and Ascension of our Lord; it has also eight good bells. This Chapel contains some handsome monuments: it is neatly fitted up, and has lately been adapted to the increased population of the town by an addition of 221 seats, 160 of which are appropriated to the gratuitous accommodation of the poor. Beaminster has a Free School, founded by Mrs. Tucker, in 1684, for the education of 20 boys, some of whom are yearly apprenticed, or sent to sea: the Rev. S. Hood, father of Lords Hood and Bridport, was once Master
before the ship went to pieces, the Captain called Mr. Meriton, the second mate, into the cuddy, where his two daughters, two nieces, and three other beautiful young ladies, were clinging round him for protection; and, on being told that it was impossible for the ladies to escape, he nobly resolved to share their fate; and addressing himself to bis daughters, and enfolding them in his arms, he said, “Then, my dear children, we will perish toge. ther.' The ship disappeared in a few minutes. The unhappy wretches who gained the rocks were in a more dreadful situation; many of them being dashed to pieces by the force of the returning surge. No fewer than one hundred and sixty-eight persons perished; and of the eighty-two that escaped (chiefly through the heroic exertions of the neighbouring quarriers) many were terribly bruised, and others had their limbs broken.'
of this school. Here is also 'an Almshouse, built and endowed by Sir John Strode for six poor persons; and a commodious Workhouse. The population of this town, in 1821, was 2806; many of the inhabitants are engaged in the manufacture of sailcloth, and of small articles in iron, tin, and copper. The Market-day is Thursday; and three annual Fairs are held.
At Beaminster was born, in 1635, Thomas Sprat, afterwards Bishop of Rochester. He received his education at Oxford, entered the Church, and after several minor preferments, attained the above dig, nity, in 1684. As this worthy prelate never suffered his principles (if he had any) to stand in the way of his preferment, he readily allowed himself to be placed in the Ecclesiastical Commission which James II formed in 1686, with the view, under pretence of inquiring into and protecting the rights of the Protestant Church, to destroy its very foundations. When, however, in 1688, the Bishop discovered that his Majesty's bigoted precipitation had alarmed and irritated the people, and that he was on the eve of losing his crown, he thought it time to declare against a government which was not likely long to exist; he therefore refused to read the Declaration for liberty of conscience, acquiesced in the Revolution which followed, and by taking the oaths to William and Mary, preserved his bishopric, and the Deanery of Westminster, of which he died possessed in 1713, and was buried in the Abbey. He was the author of several works, among which his History of the Royal Society, Life of Cowley, and Sermons, are praised by Dr. Johnson, who remarks that “ each work has its distinct and characteristical excellence."
Near Beaminster is Parnham House, a fine old mansion, the property of Sir William Oglander, whose family acquired it in 1699, by a marriage with the heiress of Sir J. Strode. The Hall is a noble apartment, the walls and windows ornamented with the armorial bearings of all the branches of the Strode family; and in other rooms are original portraits of Cromwell, Earl of Essex, his son Lord Cromwell, and other distinguished personages.
About four miles from Beaminster, in the parish of Broad Windsor, are the eminences called Lewes
don Hill*, and Pillesdon Pen, within a mile of each other'; both are of considerable altitude, and form distinguished sea-marks; they are known to the sailors as the Cow and Calf, from some fancied resemblance to those animals. On the Pen is a large and strong Entrenchment, of a nearly oval shape, defended by a triple rampart and ditches; another strong fortification of the same nature exists on Lambert's Castle Hill, a lofty eminence of singular shape, at a short distance south of Beaminster.
BERE Regis, 112 miles from London, and seven from Wareham, is believed to have been a Roman station, under the name of Ibernium, which conjecture is strengthened by the existence of a circular Entrenchment, including about ten acres, on Woodbury Hill, in the immediate vicinity. It was a royal manor in the Saxon times, and hither Queen Elfrida retired after the murder of her son-in-law, Edward the Martyr. King John is stated to have resided here: and a part of the manor subsequently became attached to the Abbey of Tarent, on whose Dissolution it was granted to Robert Turberville, whose family had long possessed the other portion: their ancient residence is still standing, but has nothing more than its antiquity to recommend it to our notice. The Church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is a large and handsome edifice, and contains several monuments. This town is of neat appearance; and is perhaps indebted for its improvements to the fires from which it has suffered, the last of which was in 1788, when nearly 50 houses, with the vicarage, &c. were destroyed. The population, in 1821, was 953; the Market-day is Friday; and a very large annual Fair, commencing Sept. 18, and continuing during five days, is held on Woodbury Hill, for horses, cattle, cheese, &c. &c.
Cardinal Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury, was born in this town about 1410, and received his education at Baliol College, Oxford. After passing through various minor preferments, he attained the primacy; to him is attributed the plan of terminating * This Hill is the subject of a poem
“ in the manner of Thomson," by the Rev. Mr. Crowe, Řector of Stoke Abbas; in which the poet takes a survey, from its summit, of the surrounding objects.
the contest between the rival houses of York and Lancaster, which for so long a period had afflicted this country, by the union of Elizabeth, daughter of Edward ÎV, with Henry VII; and this marriage he personally solemnized. Lord Bacon represents him as “ a stern and haughty man, odious at court, and equally disliked by the people;" he was, however, a very liberal patron of learning, and founded or endowed many charitable and ecclesiastical establishments: he died in 1500, and was interred in the Cathedral of his See.
BLANDFORD FORUM (generally called by the first name only) is a neat and well-built town, situated in a fertile part of the country, on the river Stour, over which it has a Bridge, and is 103 miles from London. It was formerly a Borough, and is still governed by a Bailiff, and six Burgesses. It is a place of some antiquity, but every vestige of its ancient buildings has been effaced by the numerous conflagrations to which it has been subjected; the last and most destructive of these calamities occurred in 1731, when the Church, Town Hall, Free School, and nearly all the houses, were consumed; several of the inhabitants lost their lives, and property valued at more than £100,000 was destroyed. The Church is an elegant building, of Grecian architecture, 120 feet in length, with a tower and cupola, 60 feet high. The interior is extremely neat, and contains several monuments. The Town Hall is a good structure of Portland stone, supported on pillars of the Doric order; within is a pump, above which, on a marble slab, is an inscription commemorating the great fire just mentioned. Here is a Roman Catholic Chapel; an Almshouse, founded in 1682, for the reception and maintenance of ten poor persons; two Free Schools; a Charity School, and many other benevolent institutions and bequests. The Market-day is Saturday; the population, in 1821, was 2643 persons, some of whom are employed in an extensive manufactory of shirt-buttons, but the town owes its principal support to the resort of travellers, the expenditure of the surrounding gentry, and the Races annually held in July, on the neighbouring. Downs.
Blandford has been the birth-place of many dis
tinguished persons; among whom may be enumerated, William Wake, Archbishop of Canterbury, an excellent prelate, who died in 1736, aged 79; Thomas Creech, one of the most faithful, if not the most elegant, of translators, who, in a moment of insanity, committed suicide, in 1700, in the 41st year of his age, just after having been presented to the living of Welwyn, of which he never took possession; and the.Rev. Christopher Pitt, author of the translation of Virgil so highly praised by Dr. Johnson, who observes," it will always be quoted when Dryden's is only read;” he was Rector of Pimpern, in this county, and died, aged 49, in 1748.
At the east end of this town are the remains of the ancient mansion of Damory, Court, once the residence of a powerful baronial family, but now occupied as a farm-house; near this building stood a tree of immense size and great antiquity, called the Damory Oak, which, when it was rooted up in 1755, was 75 feet high, and 23 feet in circumference at the base; it had a cavity 15 feet wide, and 17 high, in which some persons are said to have found a temporary abode after the great fire.
Brianston House, a splendid mansion of the Portman family, is situated a little to the west of Blandford, and is an elegant edifice of freestone, nearly of a quadrangular form. It is superbly fitted up, and the grounds are laid out with great taste, and command a fine prospect.
About a mile from hence, on the opposite side of the Stour, is Blandford St. Mary, a village with 358 inhabitants, noted as the birth-place of Browne Willis, the celebrated antiquary. He received his education at Westminster School, and at Oxford; represented the county of Buckingham in Parliament; and distinguished himself by a particular attention to our national antiquities. He published several works, among which his Account of the Cathedrals of England, 3 vols. 4to. is the most celebrated; he is said to have visited every one of these sacred edifices, except that of Carlisle, and made an invariable rule of doing so on the festival of the saint to whom each is dedicated. He was very eccentric in dress and manners, but of unspotted integrity, and great charity: he greatly impaired his fortune by his antiqua