|Looking back towards Lyme Regis|
Once we left Wells we drove south via Glastonbury and then Somerton, important in the old Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex and headed towards the coast at Bridport. The weather had become much gloomier and we were treated to some spectacular purple clouds which duly dumped substantial quantities of rain. A bit of shame as we were hoping to briefly stop at Chesil Beach.
|Weymouth in summer glory; photo:www.freefoto.com|
In the event, the afternoon was also drawing on so we contented ourselves with driving along the coast to Weymouth. This part of the south coast of England is a World Heritage site and is known as the 'Jurassic Coast' on account of its fossils. Weymouth is an elegant seaside town which boasts seafront buildings with delicate wrought iron balconies. Sadly it was pouring with rain so we weren't able to take any photos. Just along the coast from Weymouth we branched inland at Overcombe and headed towards the "Puddles".
There are five "Puddles": Puddletown, Affpuddle, Turnerspuddle, Briantspuddle and Tolpuddle. The last is the famous one and where we were headed.
|Niall in Tolpuddle|
In the 1832 a group of farm labourers decided to to form a local branch of the 'Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers' to improve their poor and insecure working conditions. They swore an oath to support each other, which at the time was illegal. These early versions of trade unionism made the government of the time extremely uneasy and they didn't hesitate to prosecute even such 'small fry' as the 6 farm labourers from Tolpuddle.
The 6 men were tried and sentenced to 7 years transportation to Australia. The sentence caused huge public outcry and the 'Martyrs' as they became known were pardoned 2 years later; but not before they had served some time in Australia. 4 chose to come back to England immediately once they were pardoned and later on emigrated to Canada. A 5th was released late [due to a previous criminal conviction]. Hence 5 figures on the information board, not 6.
|Information on the 'martyrs'|
The story of the 'Tolpuddle Martyrs' is one of the earliest events of the Trades Union movement for better working conditions.
After visiting Tolpuddle we drove over to Lyndhurst in the New Forest where we found a nice pub, The Waterloo Arms, for dinner. Afterwards it was only a shortish drive on the M27 to Portsmouth and the ferry to Caen/Ouistreham.