Out of work… for 44 minutes!

John Batchelor is not the sort of man to let things get in the way of what he wants to do. His quiet determination, unswerving focus and perhaps a healthy dose of naivety have served him well since September 1940 when, at the age of 4½, he first put pencil to paper to draw, recording Read More…

Dunshay: a private view

  Far enough off the beaten track to be considered one of Purbeck’s relatively few truly private places, not many people stumble on Dunshay Manor – you need a reason to be there. And there’s no better reason than being able to call it home, as writer, traveller and art historian Ilay Cooper has done Read More…

A Hardy biennial

Few places on Earth are completely immune to change, but lovers of Thomas Hardy’s writing must count themselves fortunate that large swathes of the Dorset landscape are proving remarkably resilient. To those attending the 22nd biennial International Thomas Hardy Conference and Festival the appearance of the Dorset landscape is essential to the understanding and enjoyment Read More…

Rena Gardiner: Portrait of an artist in Dorset

She was a one-woman publishing house, a self-contained artist, writer, researcher, designer, printer, bookbinder and distributor, running perhaps the definitive cottage industry from her thatched Tarrant Monkton home. She called it The Workshop Press and its imprint is to be found on the series of beautifully handcrafted guidebooks to historic sites and the natural landscape Read More…

Elvis McGonagall – Purbeck’s people’s poet

It takes all sorts, of course it does, but how does a physically imposing, wild-haired son of Perth with a passion for poetry and a penchant for revolutionary politics come to be at large in the Purbeck hills? For more than a dozen years now Elvis McGonagall, or as his passport would have it Richard Read More…

Tyneham: Its one-woman workforce

Her work has been seen by tens of thousands of people, yet few of them realise it … and having left her mark on two of Dorset’s most singular attractions and worked tirelessly to enhance visitors’ enjoyment of both, that’s just the way Lynda Price likes it. She’s an artist, graphic designer, project manager, writer, Read More…

Decadence and depravity…with added cheese

It may not have the swish of Swinging London; it’s not as far out as San Francisco, or as groovy as Goa, but Dorset has more than played its part in hippy history. More specifically, the lysergically-enhanced happenings in a ramshackle recording studio set up in a farmhouse near Tincleton make for a fascinating footnote Read More…

When Dorset went to Waterloo

The Battle of Waterloo, the bicentenary of which is on 18 June, remains a defining moment in European history. It brought to an end 23 years of global conflict against the expansionist French, secured Britain’s empire and ushered in almost 50 years of peace in Europe. It was at no small cost, though, as nearly Read More…

Ben Waters: From Upwey to the stars

For more than 25 years he’s travelled the world earning a crust playing boogie-woogie piano. Now Ben Waters is one of Britain’s most sought-after musicians, but with no obvious cultural or geographical connection to the United States’ Deep South, how did an underachieving schoolboy from Upwey in the early 1980s even get to hear the Read More…

The first Sir Winston Churchill

Growing up in the 1970s with the surname Churchill the inflected ‘any relation’ formed a frequent question. Sir Winston Spencer-Churchill cast a long shadow and it continues to crop up even though the power of marketing has now seen the metaphorical bulldog replaced by a much different canine as the primary association with the name; Read More…