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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Film: The Spirit of Portland with Gary Biltcliffe

The Spirit of Portland
by Gary Biltcliffe
Click Here
The recent screening of  The Light and Energy Channel film 'The Spirit of Portland with Gary Biltcliffe' (Events: The Spirit of Portland – Film night at the The Light and Energy Centre,Friday, 11 November 2011). Is now available to view on The Light and Energy Channel website: http://www.thelightandenergychannel.tv/the-spirit-of-portland-with-gary-biltcliffe/ It will also be screened on Edge Media TV, Sky Channel 200 in a few weeks time.

Events: The Great Fire of Wareham 1762 by Anne King

The Great Fire of Wareham plaque
Learn about the Great Fire of 1762 in Wareham at a National Trust talk.  The talk by Anne King, will be held at United Church in South street, Dorchester, tomorrow Thursday 1st December. 

Talk arranged by The National Trust Local Group. No Booking Required. Tickets are £2.50 for members and £3.00 for non-members.  For more information call Pat Woodley 01305 832198

Sunday, 27 November 2011

News Clipping: Roman ring and Viking fragment found in North Dorset declared treasure

A Roman ring and a silver Viking fragment found on farmland have been declared treasure and seized for the Queen. Both pieces of ancient jewellery were found last year on farmland in North Dorset.

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Sunday 27th November 2011

Friday, 25 November 2011

Review: Haunted Weymouth by Alex Woodward

Haunted Weymouth
by Alex Woodward

Click Here
Drawing on historical and contemporary sources, 'Haunted Weymouth' by local ghost tour guide Alex Woodward,  is sure to send a shiver down the spine of anyone daring to learn more about the haunted history of the area. Including many previously unpublished stories, this book will appeal to both serious ghost hunters and those who simply want to discover what frights lurk beneath the surface of this once royal seaside resort.

Click Here for full review by Andrew May

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Events: The Mellstock Band presents ‘Hardy Perennials’

The Mellstock Band
Celebrating 25 years of The Mellstock Band: Favourite music, songs, stories and poems, from the works of Thomas Hardy and Dorset tradition.

1986 saw the release of the album 'Under the Greenwood Tree', a selection of dance tunes and carols from the Hardy family manuscripts. Since then, The Mellstock Band has entertained audiences all over the world, released albums, and provided music for stage, screen and radio. Their varied interests in research and composition have brought forth forgotten gems and startling sounds, all rooted on English tradition, and over the past 25 years some have become firm favourites with band and audiences alike.

The Mellstock Band's new show for 2011 celebrates the most popular of their musical and spoken pieces, under the broad headings of Love & Marriage, A Soldier's Life, Rogues & Villains, Speed the Plough, Faith & Superstition and Making Merry.

Nearly all the music is from Dorset tradition, linked by poems and stories from the works of Thomas Hardy and the Dorset dialect poet William Barnes.They sing, tell tales, and play fiddle, concertina, oboe, clarinet and serpent, performing in period costume.

See 'Hardy Perennials' at the following venues this season:
For more information on venues and booking prices visit artsreach.co.uk or telephone the Box office on 01935 873555

More information about the performers visit the Mellstock Band at  www.mellstockband.com



Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Autumn Issue of 'Merry Meet' out now!

Merry Meet: Issue 46 Autumn 2011
Merry Meet Magazine is an independent quarterly journal of Folklore and Pagan Heritage, produced and edited by local musician and author Jerry Bird

In Issue 46 Autumn 2011, articles include:
  • Heedless William's Stone
  • Sylvia Townsend Warner's Lolly Willowes, or The Loving Huntsman
  • The Mother's malison by Michael Berman
  • Martinmas Fairs.
Current Stockists
  • The Candy Box, High East Street, Dorchester, Dorset DTI  IHU
For more information visit www.merrymeetmagazine.co.uk

Dorset featured on ITV's 'Ade in Britain'

Today Ade Edmondson’s quest to find British traditions and food takes him to Dorset where he treats some Dorset Horn Sheep to a manicure and hair cut, gets to grips with the traditional skill of thatching, plants and harvests watercress and goes blueberry picking, before baking a Dorset Apple cake for a local taditional dance group the 'Bourne Bumpers Ladies Morris' who perform cotswold Morris and traditional Dorset stave dances

To watch episode in full visit ITV Player, Tuesday 22nd November 2011

Source: Ade in Britain: Episode 12 - Dorset, Aired: Tuesday 22nd November 2011 on ITV1

Monday, 21 November 2011

News Clipping: Hardy Players actress Norrie Woodhall's memorial service

Norrie Woodhall
A memorial service has been held for the last surviving member of a Dorset theatre group set up by Thomas Hardy. Norrie Woodhall was among a handful of actors who performed plays based on the author's works in 1924, rehearsing at Hardy's home at Max Gate, Dorchester. Later Ms Woodhall became president of the New Hardy Players. She died on 25 October, aged 105. The United Church, Dorchester was packed for the service which took place on Monday afternoon.

READ MORE - Source: BBC News

Friday, 18 November 2011

News Clipping: Julian Fellowes made president of The Society of Dorset Men

Julian Fellows
Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes took charge of another production when he joined a historic group. The Oscar-winning writer and director presided over the annual county dinner in his new role as president of The Society of Dorset Men.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Friday 18th November 2011

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Events: 'Haunted Weymouth' by Alex Woodward book signing

Haunted Weymouth
by Alex Woodward

Click Here
Who is the unseen lady that makes her presence chillingly felt to those who fail to bid her 'Good Morning'? What was the featureless dark shadow that terrified a curious young boy exploring a disused fort? From heart-stopping encounters with a Roman soldier to the mysterious sounds of an ancient battle, this collection of ghostly goings-on and paranormal happenings is a mixture of personal accounts and well-researched local legends, with many of the stories backed up by the town's rich, and sometimes bloody, history.

Drawing on historical and contemporary sources, 'Haunted Weymouth' by local ghost tour guide Alex Woodward,  is sure to send a shiver down the spine of anyone daring to learn more about the haunted history of the area. Including many previously unpublished stories, this book will appeal to both serious ghost hunters and those who simply want to discover what frights lurk beneath the surface of this once royal seaside resort.

Alex Woodward will be signing her new book 'Haunted Weymouth' at Imagine Books, 23 St Alban, Weymouth, Dorset, this Saturday 19th November between 1.00pm and 4.00pm.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Events: Mystery Big Cats Of Britain - A talk by Merrily Harpur

Merrily Harpur
As part of the Thomas Hardye School Community Lectures series, Merrily Harpur will be giving a talk about big cats in our countryside, at Thomas Hardye School Theatre on Monday 21st November 2011 at 7.30pm

Merrily, who runs the Dorset Big Cat Register www.dorsetbigcats.org -  has researched thousands of sightings of anomalous big cats (ABCs) roaming Britain.  Sightings of these mysterious felines, described as being like pumas or panthers, are higher in Dorset than any other county in England. 

Meeting or glimpsing a Big Cat could, Merrily suggests, be the nearest we get in Britain to a ‘brush with the unknown’.   She discovers that these mystery felines have been with us for longer than we imagine, in folklore and familiar to the Neoplatonists as daimons (not demons) – intermediaries between this world and another. They may ‘at the very least change your view of a landscape that can produce such beautiful and elusive creatures’.

Merrily Harpur is a freelance cartoonist, illustrator and writer and has contributed regularly to many national newspapers and magazines.  Living between Dorset and Ireland, in 2002 she created the Dorset Big Cats Register, a gazetteer of locations and eyewitness accounts.

She has written two books on the subject, Roaring Dorset! Encounters with Big Cats (pub 2008, Roving Press) documents some of the closest and most vivid encounters.  Mystery Big Cats (pub 2006, Heart of Albion) investigated the big cat phenomena nationwide and received huge critical acclaim.
  • Free admission but by ticket only (available from school reception two weeks prior; Tel 01305 266064).

Friday, 11 November 2011

Events: The Spirit of Portland – Film night at the The Light and Energy Centre

The Spirit of Portland
by Gary Biltcliffe
Click Here
On Tuesday 15th  November at 7.00 pm at the The Light and Energy Centre, Unit 1, Jubilee Enterprise Centre, Weymouth (behind Matalan).  The Light and Energy Channel will premier their film based on the book 'The Spirit of Portland' by Gary Biltcliffe. Then have time to ask Gary any questions or discuss the book over refreshments
  • Entry to the screening £5 with refreshments. For more information Tel: 01305 839394 or visit The Light and Energy Channel website at www.lightandenergycentre.co.uk

Events: Montague Jack screening at Allendale House - 24th November 2011

Wimborne Minster Cine and Video Club screens it award-winning film, 'Montague Jack' to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of East Dorset Heritage Trust taking up residence in Allendale House.

Starring Michael Medwin as Inspector Abberline, this new movie explores the life of one of Wimborne’s most notorious characters – Montague John Druitt.

Produced by Wimborne Minster Cine and Video Club the story has been written and directed by Ray Joyce with Peter Hale as director of photography, together with a cast of talented actors from local theatre including Wimborne Drama and Canford School. Shot on location in Wimborne and Poole, it traces the life of Montague Druitt from his early days as a teenager in Wimborne through to his untimely suicide at the age of 31 in 1888. The story is told through the eyes of the retired Inspector Frederick Abberline (Michael Medwin) who headed the hunt for Jack the Ripper.


This movie throws a fascinating light on one of the great unsolved mysteries of the 19th Century.



  • Held at Allendale House on 24th November at 2.30pm. This is a FREE event but donations to the Trust would be most welcome. For more details about the screening contact 01202 889992 or visit the East Dorset Heritage Trust website at www.edht.org

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Dorsetarian: Well Dressing and Sacred Water

Contributing to the Dark Dorset online journal the 'Dorsetarian' this month. Dorset Archaeologist Chris Tripp, looks at the folk customs and traditions associated with water and how these ancient rituals still remain with us to this day.

Click here to read - Well Dressing and Sacred Water

Friday, 4 November 2011

Events: Christmas Customs and Folklore

On Saturday 19th November 2011, Sue Herman will be teaching a course on 'Christmas Customs and Folklore' at the at Trouville Hotel, Bournemouth.  Folklore, customs and superstitions are woven deep into the the mists of time and have greater meaning than we often perceive.  To understand them we will need to consider how our ancestors lived.

The fee for this adult course costs £22.50 and will be held at Trouville Hotel, 5-7 Priory Road, Bournemouth, BH2 5DH from 10.00am to 4.00pm.  This course is organised by the WEA, whose local branches of this organisation offer education in communities.
  • Alternatively, enrolments for 'Christmas Customs and Folklore' Ref: C3522418 can be made online at www.wea.org.uk or Tel: 0845 458 2758     

Events: Fortean Times: Unconvention 2011 - 12-13th November

12-13th November 2011
Camden Centre, Bidborough Street,
London, WC1H 9AU
The Fortean Times UnConvention is back in 2011 to bring you a wonderful weekend of high strangeness and full-on fortean fun.

Once again, the Uncon will be presenting a wide-ranging, two-day programme of talks and events devoted to the odd, the intriguing and the inexplicable. We’ll be bringing you the world’s most exciting speakers and scholars from every realm of forteana, from cryptozoology and conspiracy to parapsychology and ufology – not to mention dog philosophers, cursed stones and a certain talking mongoose called Gef…

The conference will be held at the Camden Centre, a central London location opposite King’s Cross station.

 This years talks and speakers include:
  • A Popular History of the Mummy - Gail-Nina Anderson
Just what does the Egyptian mummy mean to you? There’s the archaeological way of looking at them, of course, involving factual evidence and historical contextualisation – or there’s the way that popular culture has been teaching us for the last couple of centuries. This illustrated talk explores the modern mythology of the mummy, a bizarre journey involving autopsies, femmes fatales, fashion jewellery, brown paint, comic books, deeply amusing toys and Abbott and Costello. Oh yes – and the lingering curse (which seems quite a reasonable response to the way we’ve treated these relics of the long-dead.)  Western thought has (with the help of such luminaries as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker, not to mention Universal and Hammer film studios) re-invented the mummy to suit its own desires and fears, managing to forge links with Spiritualism, reincarnation and even Vampirism. They’re the original Undead – if you enjoy tracking changing fashions in mouldering bandages, this is the talk for you.
  • Talking Canaries and Voices of the Dead - Sarah Angliss
In December 1877, a journalist writing in Scientific American noted there was now “a startling possibility of recording voices of the dead”. He had just witnessed Edison recording sound on his new invention: the phonograph. In this live demonstration, I’ll explore some of the stranger obsessions of the early adopters of audio recording, as I immortalise a voice from the audience by recording it on wax, using an original Edison Standard Phonograph. Delving into the archives, I’ll also examine a little-known curiosity from the 18th century, one which may have been used to record short segments of sound 150 years before the phonograph. This event will include some short, musical interludes incorporating a few of my own inventions. As I use the theremin to conjure up ‘music from the aether’, I’ll reveal how the first ‘electric servants’ were also seen as tools for paranormal investigation.
  • Talking Dogs and Canine Intellectuals - Jan Bondeson
Jan Bondeson reveals how an early-20th century German obsession with the supposedly superior intelligence of horses and dogs gave birth to a ‘new animal psychology’ and created a host of doggie celebrities noted for their philosophical thought, ardent patriotism and ability to communicate with humans. These canine luminaries included Rolf, the philosophical Airedale Terrier, who kept up a lively correspondence with scientists and thinkers, and Don, the incredible talking Pointer, who enjoyed a spectacular career and spawned a host of imitators around the world.
  • Scared to Death - David Clarke
1855 is best known to Forteans as the year in which the mysterious Devil’s Footprints appeared overnight during a heavy snowfall in Devon. But were supernatural forces also at work in Yorkshire – with fatal consequences? This talk tells the story of a Sheffield woman who died “from fright” following an encounter with a ghost, and the bizarre story that unfolded in the wake of the inquest – a story involving spiritualists, messages from a murder victim, buried treasure and a mysterious young woman with wild talents. Taking a story that would have perplexed the Victorian detective Inspector Jack Whicher, David Clarke follows the clues and asks: was this truly a case of death by supernatural causes?
  • Cursed Stones - David Clarke and Andy Roberts
Stone has exerted a fascination on humankind since the first stone tools were created. Stones were regarded as the bones of the Earth and all cultures attributed to both natural and carved stones the qualities of gods, goddesses, elemental and paranormal forces. Such stones often acquired names and required ritual and propitiation. They were special, sacred, or in some other way significant to their community. People who tampered with such stones, those who moved, damaged or stole them often found themselves the victims of supernatural retribution, to the point where stones that had been stolen were immediately returned. Andy and Dave have been investigating cursed stones for 25 years and present an audiovisual examination of some of the weirdest cases. You will hear tales of werewolves, fairies, stone heads, terrified stone thieves and even have the chance to touch a cursed stone – if you dare!
  • All Ape-men Great and Small - Richard Freeman
The search for unknown hominids continues – from the 10-foot-tall Yeti to the rather les imposing Orang Pendek. In November 2010, the Centre for Fortean Zoology took an expedition into the Garo Hills of Northern India in search of the yeti, or mande burung as it is know locally. They uncovered not only eyewitness reports and tracks but also stories of a monster snake unknown to science. In September of 2011, the CFZ mounted their fourth expedition to Sumatra in search of the Orang Pendek, building on the 2009 trip, where the creature was sighted and hair found. Richard Freeman will be giving full accounts of the results of these latest expeditions.
  • Apocalypse When? - Ted Harrison
The world should have ended on 21 May this year, according to American radio preacher Harold Camping; or has the Apocalypse been postponed to 2012 as the Mayan Calendar is supposed to suggest? Over history, hundreds of dates have been set for Doomsday and, so far, every prediction has fallen flat on its face. So why do prophets keep prophesying? Why do their followers believe them? And how do failed prophets and disillusioned followers cope with the inevitable ‘disappointment’ of waking up on Judgement Day to find everything as normal? And how is the world supposed to end when it does? Will a wrathful God take to the skies with his angels? Will we be hit by a meteorite or rogue planet? Will the human-race score an own-goal and cause irreversible climate change or blow itself up with nuclear weapons? Ted Harrison explores the history, mythology and psychology of End-time rumours.
  • Gef the Talking Mongoose - Christopher Josiffe
In the early 1930s a family living in a remote farmhouse on the Isle of Man was plagued by a bizarre entity that called itself ‘Gef’. The ‘Dalby Spook’ became one of the media sensations of the decade, but although many investigators, including famous ghost hunter Harry Price, attempted to solve the mystery, it remains one of the most puzzling cases in fortean history. Now, Christopher Josiffe reopens the files on Gef the Talking Mongoose. But what was this hymn-singing, stone-throwing ‘man-weasel’? A poltergeist? A hoax? An uncannily talented animal? Or something stranger yet?
  • The Forbidden Universe - Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince
Were the first scientists hermetic philosophers? What do these occult origins of modern science tell us about the universe today? This talk reveals the secret brotherhood that defined the world, and perhaps discovered the mind of God. All the pioneers of science, from Copernicus to Newton via Galileo, were inspired by Hermeticism. Men such as Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Leibniz, Bacon, Kepler and Tycho Brahe owed much of their achievements to basically occult beliefs. Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince go in search of the Hermetic origins of modern science and prove that not everything is as it seems and that over the past 400 years there has been a secret agenda behind our search for truth. From the age of Leonardo da Vinci, the influence of hermetic thinking upon the greatest minds in history has been hidden, a secret held by a forbidden brotherhood in search of the mind of God.
  • Science and Sasquatch: the life of Grover Krantz - Brian Regal
Physical anthropologist Grover Krantz (1931-2002) was the most well known scientist to publicly champion the existence of the North American cryptid called Sasquatch—also known as Bigfoot. While he did not originate it, he actively promoted the idea that this creature was an evolutionary descendent of Gigantopithecus. For his efforts, he was dismissed or ignored by academics who viewed the Sasquatch as at best a relic of folklore and at worst a hoax, and also received a negative reaction from amateur Bigfoot researchers, some of whom threatened and abused him.
  • The Psychopath Test - Jon Ronson
When Jon is contacted by a leading neurologist who has recently received a cryptically puzzling book in the mail he is challenged to solve the mystery behind it. As he searches for the answer, Jon soon finds himself, unexpectedly, on an utterly compelling and often unbelievable adventure into the world of madness. Jon meets a Broadmoor inmate who swears he faked a mental disorder to get a lighter sentence but is now stuck there, with nobody believing he's sane. He meets some of the people who catalogue mental illness, and those who vehemently oppose them. He meets the influential psychologist who developed the industry standard Psychopath Test and who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are in fact psychopaths. Jon learns from him how to ferret out these high-flying psychopaths and, armed with his new psychopath-spotting abilities, heads into the corridors of power.
Source: Fortean Times

Event: Remember, remember: A history of fireworks in Britain

At Compton Verney, Warwickshire from 15 October 2011 to 11 December 2011 and exhibition, the first of its kind, explores Britain's November the fifth celebration through the history of Fire Festivals, the Gunpowder plot of 1605 and the astonishingly vivid advertising and packing of domestic fireworks from the 20th century. The history of fireworks in Britain will be vividly brought to life in this multi-media display.

The main body of the exhibition will look at the vital artwork connected to the design and display of 20th century Fireworks. This promises to be a nostalgic sweetshop of delight for visitors with fireworks from all the main UK companies, such as Standard, Pains, Wessex, Brock’s and Astra on display. Visitors will recognize the well-known domestic brands such as Jack in a Box, Mine of Serpents, Traffic Lights and Screech Owl as they walk through a charted history of the British firework industry.



Other themes explored within the exhibition include the celebration of Guy Fawkes Night and its significance to British culture since the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of 5 November 1605, in which a number of Catholic conspirators, including Guy Fawkes, attempted to destroy the Houses of Parliament in London. From its origins in an Act of Parliament called The Thanksgiving Act, which made it compulsory until 1859, to celebrate the deliverance of the King of England, Scotland, and Ireland to the long standing tradition of fire-festivals across Britain which will be brought to life in a multi-media display.

The exhibition has been designed by Simon Costin, Director of the Museum of British Folklore. Simon is an internationally respected art director and set designer who has collaborated extensively with luxury brands such as Alexander McQueen, Hermès, YSL and Lanvin. An artist in his own right, his work has been exhibited at the ICA, London and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Source: www.comptonverney.org.uk - Remember, remember: A history of fireworks in Britain

Source: www.museumofbritishfolklore.com/news

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Events: The Belinus Line: The Spine of Albion - A talk by Gary Biltcliffe

The Spine of Albion
Gary Biltcliffe
and Caroline House
Next week on Wednesday 9th November 2011 - 7.30pm at the Upwey and Broadwey Memorial Hall - The Menzies Room.  Gary Biltcliffe, author of  'The Spirit of Portland' will talk about his latest discoveries from his soon to be published book The Spine of Albion.  He will explain how the Belinus Line – the longest north-south axis in Britain – is connected with the cosmic axis of a star considered by the ancients as the Gateway to Heaven.

Gary will take you on a journey to some of the sacred places along this line, which he has been exploring with his partner Caroline.  He will discuss how his personal experiences of light ball phenomena, psychic communication and the energies of 2012 relate to the ‘Spine of Albion’.
  • More details about the book and his research can be found via Gary's website www.belinusline.com

All are welcome: Admission: £5 (£4 concessions) Free parking and refreshments

For further information about the talk Tel: 01305 81664 or Email: spiraloftranquility.roma@virgin.net

Directions: Turn off Dorchester Road into Victoria Avenue. The Menzies Room is at the back of the Hall (follow the pavement and turn right – pass the door marked Women’s Institute –  entrance around corner next to private garage)

Source: Wessex Research Group: Weymouth and Dorchester Branch

Events: Bonny Sartin's "The Banks Of Newfoundland" with special guests - Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll

17th Century painting of Trinity Bay, Newfoundland
(Dorset County Museum)
Bonny Sartin will be performing at  Thornford Village Hall on Friday 4th November with a fascinating talk on the history of Dorset people. This time the story moves abroad, and he will be joined by two of the South West's finest fiddle players to make it a real night to remember.

The talk is entitled “The Banks Of Newfoundland” and tells the story of Dorset's brave fishermen who for hundreds of years sailed across the Atlantic for the summer to fish for cod off Newfoundland.

Bonny said “Many fortunes were made and lost, but the port of Poole, in particular, flourished. It was tough for the fishermen though. Newfoundland is inhospitable. Icebergs, fogs and foul weather played havoc with their little boats and if you survived that you were often greeted by the Press Gang when you reached home.”

Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll
Joining Bonny will be Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll, the fiddle duo are leading lights in the new folk generation and have recently completed a project marking the 400th anniversary of the founding of the first permeant English settlement in Canada, Cupids Cove, Newfoundland.

They have been swopping tunes and songs with Newfoundland musicians, and will have just finished a joint tour called Shore To Shore. This show brought together leading singers and musicians from Newfoundland and the West Country of England in an international collaboration that charted the development of folk song and music on both sides of the Atlantic from the early 1600s to the present day.
  • For more details and ticket information visit www.artsreach.co.uk  or Telephone 01935 873762
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