Where is the Blackmore Vale Region?
(References at bottom)
The name ‘Blackmore’ derived from the forest, which once covered the area and which by the fourteenth century, had virtually disappeared . 1
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 the ‘Vale of Little Dairies.’ 2
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?
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.
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
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.
Today many of us have a weekly reminder of its name through the highly popular Blackmore Vale Magazine.
You can find information on First World War soldiers, sailors, airmen and nurses on this website for Towns and Villages listed below:
ABBAS & TEMPLECOMBE
BAGBER (No WM)
CLIFTON MAYBANK (No WM)
FIFEHEAD MAGDALEN (No WM)
HANFORD (No WM)
HINTON ST MARY
MARGARETS MARSH (No WM)
STOKE WAKE (No WM)
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)