Tuesday, 1 November 2011

5 Puddles!

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.

14 comments:

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Niall and Antoinette:
We have much enjoyed this, and the previous post on Wells, highlighting some of the time which you have recently spent in what is, to us, one of the loveliest parts of Southern England. For years we spent long weekends based in Lyme Regis and so do, consequently, know the area quite well. What a pity that the weather was not kinder for you, but notwithstanding you do seem to have got about and seen a great deal.

GaynorB said...

I remember David Attenborough 'finding' enormous ammonites at Chesil beach. We looked and couldn't find a thing! wonderful beach and wonderful area which we haven't visited for about 20 years.

Time to go back .....

Niall & Antoinette said...

@ Jane & Lance - Thank you :-) We know Wells quite well but the rest of the day was all new. It is surprising how much you can pack in even on a 1 day visit. We shall definitely go back, the area was lovely!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Gaynor - I remember that on telly as well. We shall go back as this was such a fleeting visit--more of a 'taster' than anything else. Even in poor weather [misting rain] the coast was specatuclar.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Hi I am catching up with my blogging friends and you welcomed me home with some posts on some of my favourite places in the UK this morning. Thanks also for calling by and commenting while I was away. Well done also with all the terrace work, very familiar, it was much longer than two weeks waiting for cement to harden before we dressed ours though. It will be worth all the effort in the end.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for this post, Weymouth is my home town.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@LindyLou - nice to have you back in blog-land. The S/SW coast 'taster' was great and we'll def. go back for more.
Terrace even without tiles is looking good. Tiles will wait until spring--they're neatly stacked on a pallet and swathed in a tarp.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Anonymous - just wish we'd had more time to explore properly--we will be back.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

I have never heard of the puddles before, I am being educated :) Great post. Diane

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Diane - I'd vaguely heard of the Tolpuddle Martyrs but had no idea where the actual place was -- Niall [trust the historian] spotted it while we were looking at the map planning where to go on to after Weymouth.

Jean said...

Great post - fascinating. This is one of the parts of England that we have not explored. Getting around the UK is such hard work that we tend to stay local, so thanks for the little tour.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jean - Apart from Wells it was all new to us too :-) Glad we made the effort. VERY surpisingly we had easy runs both ways! Up we went via Oxford, M1, A1(M) and back via M74, M6 and then M5 to Gloucester.

Perpetua said...

Lovely post. Mention of the Tolpuddle Martyrs takes me straight back to O-Level history circa 1962. In Mid-Wales our claims to working-class activist fame are the Chartist uprising in the 1840s and being the birthplace of the social reformer Robert Owen.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Perpetua - Thanks :-) 19th Cent social history is well worth remembering. The actions were sorely needed at the time.