Edmondsham is a small village about a mile and a half south-east of Cranborne, and our ramble on November 6th started outside the big House there. Not at this time of year, but the very interesting House and Gardens are often open to the public. It is famous for being the home of the Tregonwell family at the time Lewis built Bournemouth’s ‘first house’ in 1810, and his portrait hangs there. Later owners bore the name Hector Munro and, as we walked up the village street many of the houses had HM and their date inscribed on them. Half-way up the street there is a wrought iron sign proclaiming Edmondsham Post Office, but I guess it is many a year since postal orders could be bought there. At the top of the street there is a small shelter over the village pump, installed by HM in 1884; it was decorated with Halloween pumpkins, and this was a good photo-opportunity for the group.
Our path was then northwards, initially an easy gravelled driveway, but then we turned onto a track, and then on to a rather muddy path; I had pre-walked this area in September, but the more recent rains made it hard going for some. After a few hundred yards we came out onto a firmer path, making the going easier. The sun was shining, highlighting the golden beech leaves, both on the ground and still on the trees. The slope up on our left gradually got steeper, until we reached the site of the Norman ‘Motte and Bailey’ Cranborne Castle; it is largely covered in trees now, but one could appreciate that it had been pretty impregnable.
Walking through Cranborne village, we came to the school where the Ancient Technology Centre is, a collection of reconstructions of Viking and other similar buildings. Entry had been free during Heritage Week but, with limited time, the consensus was to go for lunch earlier, rather than pay the entrance fee! The Sheaf of Arrows in the Square laid on excellent meals for all 20 of us in their Function Room.
On our journey home we stopped at a site mentioned in Dorset Curiosities. Now eradicated, there was a disease several hundred years ago called scrofula, a type of tuberculosis. It was said that a monarch’s touch could cure someone of the disease, curiously known as ‘Touching for the King’s Evil’. Legend says that, under this particular large oak tree, the boy king Edward VI (son of Henry VIII) touched for the King’s Evil. The massive tree, although still alive, is a husk of its former self, and is supported by a couple of steel cables to prevent it toppling; there is a commemorative stone under it. Locally known as the ‘Remedy Oak’, a Golf Club has adopted the name. If you want to find it (the tree, that is, not the Golf Club) its Grid Reference is 051100 (right on the edge of my map, at any rate).
All the best and hope to see you all next time - John Jones