Blackmore Vale

 Where is the Blackmore Vale Region?

(References at bottom)

Blackmore Vale Region

The name ‘Blackmore’ derived from the forest, which once covered the area and which by the fourteenth century, had virtually disappeared . 1  

Penselwood Forest part of the ancient Gillingham Forest of 'Blackmoor'
Penselwood Forest part of the ancient Gillingham Forest of ‘Blackmoor’

The Blackmore Vale is set in the middle of Thomas Hardy’s county of Wessex where its fictional status is celebrated with many a fine tale such as the 1891 work of Tess of the d’Ubervilles where the region is aptly named theVale of Little Dairies.’ 2  

Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

 A description still applicable years later in 1930s when a survey of land and agriculture concluded that due to the good quality of grass,  the area was best suited to cattle breeding,  both dairy and beef 3.  80 years later is this still an accurate description?

Cows overlooking Blackmore Vale courtesy of Dorset Echo
Cows overlooking Blackmore Vale courtesy of Dorset Echo

 The Blackmore Vale region, in part due, to its lack of agreed defined geographical borders, remains exclusive to some and elusive to many more.  Even various maps pertaining to the region can plot its existence in a bewildering variety of locations, and while many scholarly accounts agree inclusion of both counties, Dorset and Somerset, fierce debate continues over inclusion of particular county villages.

Fierce debates over which towns and villages are in the Blackmore Vale region
Fierce debates over which towns and villages are in the Blackmore Vale region

 During the late eighteenth century, John Claridge placed the boundaries of the Blackmore Vale firmly within Dorset:

‘The Vale of Blackmoor extended from North to South about nineteen miles from Gillingham and Silton, to Duntish and May Powder;  and from East to West from Compton and Sutton,  about  fourteen miles,  to North Wotton and Long Burton…’4

Antique Maps Online
Antique Maps Online

Whilst a more comprehensive definition – click parishes  to see list- or scroll down – and the one used by this author says:

‘the Vale is three miles wide and 20 long encompassing a region of some 60 square miles, ‘eastwards from Chetnole to Sturminster Newton, north towards Wincanton’  including 110 parishes,  81 in Dorset,  24 in Somerset and 5 of which are located in Wiltshire.

 Not Flanders Fields but....in 'The Blackmore Vale'2

Not Flanders Fields but....in 'The Blackmore Vale' by Norman Crabb. To see more of Norman's photography visit www.normancrabb.com
Not Flanders Fields but….in ‘The Blackmore Vale’ by Norman Crabb. To see more of Norman’s photography visit www.normancrabb.com

Today many of us have a weekly reminder of its name through the highly popular Blackmore Vale Magazine.

Blackmore Vale Magazine. Read online at www.blackmorevalemagazine.co.uk
Blackmore Vale Magazine. Read online at www.blackmorevalemagazine.co.uk

 You can find information on First World War soldiers, sailors, airmen and nurses on this website  for Towns and Villages listed below:

ABBAS & TEMPLECOMBE
ALWESTON
BAGBER (No WM)
BATCOMBE
BEER HACKET  
BELCHALWELL 
BISHOPS CAUNDLE 
BLACKFORD
BLANDFORD
BOURTON
BRADFORD ABBAS
BRATTON SEYMOUR
BRUTON
BUCKHORN WESTON 
BUCKLAND NEWTON
CANN 
CASTLE CARY
CASTLETON (SHERBORNE) 
CAUNDLE MARSH
CHARLTON HORETHORNE
CHARLTON MUSGROVE
CHETNOLE 
CHILD OKEFORD
CLIFTON MAYBANK (No WM)
COMPTON ABBAS
COMPTON PAUNCEFOOT
CORTON DENHAM
CUCKLINGTON
DORCHESTER
DURWESTON
EAST KNOYLE
EAST ORCHARD 
EAST STOUR
ENMORE GREEN
FIFEHEAD MAGDALEN (No WM)
FIFEHEAD NEVILLE
FOLKE
FONTMELL MAGNA
GILLINGHAM
GLANVILLES WOOTTON
GOATHILL
HENSTRIDGE
HAMMOON
HANFORD (No WM)
HAYDON
HAZELBURY BRYAN 
HENSTRIDGE
HERMITAGE
HILFIELD
HINTON ST MARY
HOLNEST
HOLTON
HOLWELL
HORSINGTON
IBBERTON 
IWERNE COURTNEY
IWERNE MINSTER
KINGTON MAGNA
LEIGH
LEWESTON
LILLINGTON
LONG BURTON
LYDLINCH
MANSTON
MAPPERTON
MAPPOWDER
MARGARETS MARSH (No WM)
MARNHULL
MELBURY ABBAS
MELBURY BUBB
MERE
MILBORNE PORT
MINTERNE MAGNA
MOTCOMBE
NETHER COMPTON
NORTH BREWHAM
NORTH CADBURY
NORTH CHERITON
NORTH WOOTTON
OBORNE
OKEFORD FITZPAINE 
OVER COMPTON
PENSELWOOD
PITCOMBE
POYNTINGTON
PULHAM
PURSE CAUNDLE
RYME INTRINSICA
SANDFORD ORCAS
SEDGEHILL
SEMLEY
SHAFTESBURY
SHASTON 
SHEPTON MONTAGUE
SHERBORNE
SHILLINGSTONE
SILTON
SOUTH BREWHAM
SOUTH CADBURY
STALBRIDGE 
STOCK GAYLARD
STOCKWOOD
STOKE TRISTER
STOKE WAKE (No WM)
STOUR PROVOST 
STOUR ROW
STOURTON CAUNDLE
STOWELL
STURMINSTER NEWTON 
SUTTON WALDREN
THORNFORD 
TISBURY
TODBER
WINCANTON
WEST KNOYLE
WEST ORCHARD
WEST STOUR
WOOLLAND
YARLINGTON
YEOVIL
YETMINSTER
ZEALS

References

1. Drew Charles ” The Forests of Blackmoor and Gillingham” in The Marnhull Book (Gillingham 1952) Pages 33 – 35

2. Hardy Thomas Tess of the d’Ubervilles (London 1897) Page 135.  Hardy contrasts the Vale of the Little Dairies based around Marnhull, with the Valley of the Great Dairies based in the Frome area.

3. Dorset Records Office – Ellis L. The Institute of British Geographical Land Classifications in Dorset (Liverpool 1937)

4. John Claridge General View of Agriculture of the County of Dorset (1793)

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