Your Messages: The Sansom Family

I have just found this by accident, some I already knew but lovely to see photos. We used to visit relatives in Kingston, my father, George Henry Nelson Hirst, was the son of Alice and grew up at Berea Down. I have inherited a clock which was an engagement present from Henry to Eliza?

Thank you to all who have contributed to this, I don’t have much to add but will try to find out more.

I still like to visit Kingston and did so only a month ago with my son and took him on a mini tour pointing out to him where Alice and Wink, Rene, Hilda & Henry all lived all those years ago.

Gina Benson (nee Hirst)


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three generations
The photograph, taken in the mid-1930’s, shows three generations of the Sansom family at Kingston – From left to right are: Frederick George Sansom (1911-1994), Henry Ernest Sansom (1906-1991), William Alfred Sansom (1913-1997), Sarah Hannah Sansom neé Bartlett (1883-1939), Henry Charles Sansom (1886-1966) and Henry Sansom (1857-?) – photo courtesy of David Sansom and his mother Cynthia Sansom (neé Jeans)

Henry Sansom ‘Senior’ (1857-?)

Henry was born at Dewlish (near Milborne St. Andrew) in Dorset to Charles Sansom (1820-?) and Mary Ann Sansom nee Warren (1828-1891) and was christened at Dewlish on 3 January 1857. [Charles was born at Owermoigne, Dorset and Mary Ann at Tincleton, Dorset. They married on 16 November 1852 at Tincleton Church and moved to Dewlish c. 1856.]

Henry, who was a shepherd, had at least one brother and four sisters. Although the family were still living at Dewlish in 1861, by 1871 they had moved to Warmwell, Dorset and by 1881 they were living in East Stoke, Dorset.

Henry married Eliza Ann Vye (1860-?) at Tyneham on 25 April 1883. Eliza already had a daughter Rosa Louisa Vye (1880-1961) who was born at Egliston in Tyneham parish. By 1885 the family were living at Kingston, in one of the cottages that looks out on the panoramic view of the Purbeck Hills and Corfe Castle. In 1885 Henry made a little bit of history when he was the first shepherd in the area to transport a flock of sheep on the newly opened railway. The following year their first son, Henry Charles Sansom (1886-1966) was born at Kingston.

For reasons we do not know, the family left Kingston for several years with Henry working as a shepherd at Bere Down.  In 1891, Henry, Eliza and the two children were living at Lytchett Minster (Dorset). By that time, Henry’s father Charles was a widower and was ‘lodging’ with them. A year later their second son, Alfred Sansom (1892-1968?) was born at West Lulworth. The Sansom family later returned to Kingston. Henry and Eliza had a further four children together with two dying soon after birth: Edith Mary (1894-1977), Ernest (1898-1898), Alice May (1899-1977) and Bessie (1902-1902).

Henry Charles Sansom  ‘Junior’ (1886-1966)

Henry was born at Kingston but by 1891 was living at Lytchett Minster (Dorset) and recorded as ‘Harry’.

Henry married Sarah Hannah Bartlett (1883-1937) , known as Hannah, who was born in Wareham, Dorset. Henry and Hannah’s first son Henry Ernest Sansom (1906-1991) was born in Upper Parkstone, near Poole. By 1911, the Sansom family were once again living in Kingston. Caroline Bartlett, Hannah’s step-mother, was living with them. Later that year, Henry and Hannah had their second son Frederick George Sansom (1911-1994). Frederick married Cynthia and they had two sons.

Henry was shown as a ‘traction engine steerman’ in 1911. He is pictured a year earlier with a traction engine leaning at quite an angle after the earth beneath it had apparently given way.

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Henry Charles Sansom and stricken engine – photo courtesy of Claire Hawker

Henry’s great-grandaughter Claire Hawker tells us: “In 1915 the Encombe Estate bought a new steam traction engine, and Henry Sansom Jnr and another man were to drive it. This engine was one of the first of its kind in the area – it was built by Richard Garrett’s of Leiston and we think when new it cost about £800. It was used for threshing and hauling timber and especially for driving the huge saw in the Estate Yard at Kingston. It was called the ‘Earl of Eldon’, after the owner of the Encombe Estate at that time, and to our great pleasure it was rescued from a scrap yard in 1947 and loving restored by its new owner to good working order. Henry Sansom Jnr would recollect using it at Christmas time to collect coal from Corfe Castle Railway Station and the coal was then distributed among the tenants and workers on the Estate”.

william alfred sansom and earl of eldon traction engine cropped 0204
The restored Earl of Eldon with William Alfred ‘Winkle’ Sansom (1913-1997) and Alice Pamela Sansom nee Lemon (1912-1992) – Photo courtesy of Dave Sansom and Peter Lardner

Claire continues: “The church at Kingston played a significant part in the lives of our family during the 20th century. Here they came for marriages and christenings. It was dedicated to St James and consecrated in 1880 but for the first 30 years was for the private use of Lord Eldon. Henry Sansom Jnr was christened there when Henry Sansom Snr lived at Kingston – as a special privilege . Henry Sansom Jnr later became a bell ringer at the church and helped with the removal of the bells in the 1920’s when they were taken on the steam engine truck to Corfe Station and from there to Loughborough to be re-cast”.

Henry and Ern had two more children, William Alfred ‘Winkle’ Sansom (1913-1997) who is pictured above, and Irene Mary Sansom (1919-1973). Winkle married Alice Pamela Lemon (1912-1992) and they had one daughter and Irene married Arthur George Lardner (1911-1976) and they had two sons.

Hannah died in June 1939 aged 56 and is buried at Kingston New Church. Henry continued living in The Lane at Kingston until his death in 1966 aged 80. He is also buried at Kingston New Church just close to his wife.

Henry Ernest (‘Ern’) Sansom (1906-1991)

Ern was born on 11 June 1906 at Upper Parkstone near Poole. The family moved to Kingston and Ern started at Kingston School on 24 April 1911. The following year he was photographed with the other children there.

school 1912
Kingston School 1912 – with ‘Ern’ Sansom pictured in the back row, far left

Ern married Hilda Nellie Heath (1905-1991) at Holwell on 30 June 1934. Hilda was born at Sherborne (Dorset) on 23 January 1905.

30 June 1934 marriage of Henry Ernest Ern Sansom to Hilda Nellie Heath cropped
Wedding of Henry Ernest Ern Sansom to Hilda Nellie Heath 30 June 1934 – Photo courtesy of Claire Hawker

Ern and Hilda had one son, Colin Henry Sansom (1937-2012), born at The Lane, Kingston in 1937.

Ern served in Burma during World War 2 and he is pictured below in uniform with mini portrait photos of his son and wife superimposed.

ern, hilda & colin 2
Henry Ernest ‘Ern’ Sansom with son Colin Henry Sansom (inset left) and wife Hilda Nellie Sansom neé Heath (inset right) – Photo courtesy of Claire Hawker

At various stages during the war, 870,000 children and their teachers were evacuated from the cities to more rural areas including Kingston. The Sansom family hosted one such evacuee called Norton. Norton’s father visited his son at Kingston in the Spring of 1943 and then wrote to Ern in Burma. The letter is reproduced below.

28th April 1943

Dear Ern,

   I can imagine the look of surprise on your face when you open this letter and wonder who the H—- has written, so I had better introduce myself before I go further, I am Norton’s father. I have just come back from a weekend at Kingston and I feel that I must write and let you know how much we appreciate what your wife is doing for Norton. They are all well and in the very best of health including your father (Henry Sansom Jnr) and Winkle.

   By the way I had a try at drinking the Scott Arms dry but they still had some wallop left when I came away but I regret to say that it is now a shilling a pint (what a price for food) although I believe it is much dearer where you are, and I suppose much more appreciated. Winkle and I took on all comers at darts on Friday night and beat them until about 9.45pm when we got knocked off the board.

   The whole crowd of us went to Wareham on Saturday (including Colin) and we went to that super cinema of yours, the only seats available were at 8d so we got in at bargain price, six for four bob, but a good time was had by all. The film was one of Will Hay’s and Colin told me afterwards that it was different from the way he carried on at school, I expect it was. Norton and John are in the choir at Church and believe me they look as though butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths when are dressed up in surplices and cassocks. The church bells were rung on Sunday and I wandered into the belfry to watch the ringers at work, of which your Dad (Henry Sansom Jnr) was one, but I believe the effort gave him a thirst as we walked down to Corfe afterwards and didn’t do too badly. Mr Swan at the Scott Arms has a notice prohibiting singing in the bar but I believe Arthur had some singing beer as he gave us some delightful renderings during the course of the evening on Easter Monday and he finished with “Abide with me” very touching?

   I am looking forward to seeing you after the war so that we may join in the celebrations. We fully intend to spend holiday in Kingston. You would hardly know Colin now as he is quite grown up, he had me building winches, etc, with his “Trix” set, I am not sure whether I finished one or not.

   By the way when I went down my wife, who had gone down to Kingston the day before came to Wareham to meet me and at Corfe she had the three boys and when asking for tickets she pointed to Colin and said “Have I to pay for him, he’s only 4” but Colin pushed himself forward and said “I’se five Auntie” and he was quite indignant about it with the result that he had to be paid for – we tried to teach him afterwards that he was four when he had to get on a bus or train and five any other time but he wouldn’t have it at any price.

   Winkle and his wife came down to your place on Sunday after tea, we taught your wife and those two how to play Newmarket with the result that they skinned us so they hadn’t much to learn but did enjoy it. Mrs Sansom developed quite a technique of playing the last card and scooping the”kitty” all in one movement.
Well I am afraid I cannot think of anymore to say at present so must close, my wife joins in with me in wishing you a safe and speedy return.

I am
Yours sincerely

Note from Claire Hawker: I can’t make out the signature on the end of the letter but Norton still keeps in touch. The Colin referred to is my Dad – Colin Henry Sansom. Winkle is my Great Uncle Winkle – he was always called that – his real name was William Alfred Sansom and he lived in the house on the corner opposite the Scott Arms. I never knew until my Grandad’s funeral that his first name was Henry as he was always called “Ern”.

Pictured below is the telegram sent by Ern to Hilda when he was finally returning home after serving in World War 2.

Grndads Telegram 001
Telegram received 10 November 1945 bearing the Kingston postmark – photo courtesy of Claire Hawker

Hilda died at the Elmwood Grove retirement home in Swanage (Dorset) on 16 February 1991 and is buried at Kingston New Church. Ern died a few months later at Poole Hospital on 1 May 1991 and is buried with Hilda.

he & hn sansom
Ern and Hilda’s headstone at Kingston New Church

Colin Henry Sansom (1937-2012)

Colin was born on 4 November 1937 at The Lane, Kingston and attended Kingston School.

colin with ern and hilda
Colin pictured first with Hilda and Ern and then later with Hilda only – Photos courtesy of Claire Hawker

During his childhood days, Colin kept a diary and some of the entries, which are quite amusing, are shown below:

One day in the summer holidays I went to Corfe. The weather was boiling hot. Mummy told me to get the remainder of the sweet ration which was three quarters of a pound. I went by the 2.15 pm bus. When I got out at the square at Corfe it was only a few yards to Mr Hollands where I had to get the sweets. Mr Holland served me himself. I choose liquorish, clear gums and chocolate. I paid for the sweets and Mr Holland took my sweet coupons. When I was half way across the square Mr Holland called me back I had left the ration book behind. I thanked Mr Holland and caught the next bus home.

colin with friends
Colin with friends – Photo courtesy of Claire Hawker

Last Wednesday the dentist Mr Bradley paid us a visit. He brought a nurse with him. On the first day of the dentists visit my cousin who is three had to have his teeth done but wouldn’t have them done. I thought he was naughty. Most of the children in the School and their teeth done so did I but not until the next day. In the afternoon of Thursday the dentist called me sat me in a chair he numbed my gum and took a double tooth out.

The haymaking season is here again so where ever you go is the smell of the hay. Most of the farmers have started rather later than usual. Mr Palmer who started earlier than most farmers has made two or three ricks. I haven’t been to watch the hay making but I expect I soon will. Generally I go to the fields after school. Mummy packs me some thing to eat and a flask of tea or a bottle of lemonade so I can watch the men work overtime. Sometimes I go to watch the men after tea.

Last Friday morning we had our Scripture Exam. The man who was to take it arrived at 9.00 am the vicar arrived soon after. First of all he took the smaller ones then he took us he took catechism but not for very long. Then we showed him our scripture books. The inspector thought they were all nice. When the inspector had finished we had our lunch. The we tidied up and went home. Before I had my dinner I took my dog for a walk. My cousin Janet came with me so did another girl whose name is Julie Dennis. When I got home I listened to the Test Match. After dinner Mummy went to Wareham while I listened to the Test Match again. After tea I played cricket with Daddy my Uncle, my cousin and friend. We had lots of fun.

Fancy dress parade outside the Scott Arms in 1953 to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation – Colin Sansom is pictured 2nd from left – Photo courtesy of Claire Hawker

Colin married Elaine Fowler on 1 September 1962.

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Colin Sansom & Elaine Fowler on their Wedding Day at Kingston New Church on 1 September 1962 – Photo courtesy of Claire Hawker

Marriage of Mr Colin Henry Sansom to Miss Elaine Fowler –  September 1962

   Members of St James’ Church, Kingston, Miss Elaine Fowler, daughter of Mr and Mrs C Fowler of Enfield Crescent, Oakdale and Mr Colin Henry Sansom son of Mr and Mrs E Sansom of The Lane, Kingston, Dorset, were married at the church. They are also associated with the Swanage Cricket Club.

   The bride made all the dresses. Given away by her father the bride wore a full length bridal gown of Swiss white satin and carried a bouquet of apricot roses. Three bridesmaids attended her, Margaret Hawkins, bride’s cousin, wearing a blue duchess satin dress with head-dress to match; Rosemary Heath and Jeanette Heath, bridegroom’s nieces wearing lemon floral nylon over taffeta dresses with matching head-dresses and carrying floral baskets. Miss Hawkins carried lemon carnations.

   The service was conducted by the Rev James Lloyd and Mr Pond was at the organ. Mr Michael Garos of Perranporth, Cornwall, was the best man. One hundred guests attended a reception at the Church Hall, Kingston and the couple then left for their honeymoon at St Queens Bay, Jersey. The bride travelled in a lemon Courtelle outfit.

Colin and Elaine had two daughters, Karen born 1963 and Claire born 1967. The families now live in Somerset.

karen & henry charles sansom
Colin & Elaine’s first daughter Karen pictured, on the day of her christening in October 1963, with her great-grandfather Henry Charles Sansom at The Lane, Kingston – Photo courtesy of Claire Hawker

Colin Sansom passed away peacefully after a long illness on Saturday 22 September 2012 aged 74 years. The following is the text of the Eulogy read at Colin’s funeral:


   Colin was born on 4th November 1937 in Kingston, Dorset overlooking Corfe Castle. Colin was to have been called Henry after his father and grandfather but when asked “what the child was to be named” at his christening the Vicar didn’t quite grasp the Dorset accent and mistook “call ‘im Henry” for “Colin Henry” so Colin it was!

   Colin’s father Henry worked on the neighbouring Encombe Estate until WWII broke out when he served in Burma. During this period Colin’s Mum, Hilda, took in two evacuees one of whom, Norton, is still in touch with the family today. Colin had a happy childhood and attended Kingston School which had the grand total of 10 pupils!! Colin was also a choirboy at Kingston Church.

   Colin wrote diaries as a young boy some with very entertaining insights into his early life :

   1948 Colin wrote “My Grandad is a very nice man. When Daddy was away in the war he did all the growing in the vegetable garden of course me and Mummy helped”. In Autumn 1948 Colin proudly notes that he has stored half a hundred weight of potatoes to last over the winter and that he is looking forward to the Harvest Festival. Again Christmas 1948 Colin is very excited to have received a cannon in a very large box, flash light, pack of cards and some nuts and an orange. Typical of children Colin opened these things at 4.30 am and was sent back to bed by his parents!

   Colin’s love of gardening and the outdoors continued for as long as he was able and he could often been seen wheeling his wheelbarrow to his much loved allotment.

Colin continued to Swanage Grammar School where he was academically able and excelled at sport. Colin loved sport and was a keen cricketer, footballer and tennis player. Not only did he play these things he loved to watch them. Colin supported Bournemouth FC and has received much stick from certain areas of the family for this.

   After leaving school Colin moved to ICI Paints in Slough where he studied biology, chemistry and physics, obtaining ONC’s and a HNC is chemistry. Colin then moved to British Drug Houses in Poole to be nearer to his family. It was here that he met Elaine.

   Colin married Elaine in September 1962 and they have just celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.

   Colin and Elaine moved to Nailsea in 1964 when Colin got a job with Imperial Tobacco. They had two daughters Karen in 1963 and Claire in 1967. Karen married Nick in 1983 and they have two sons Simon and Oliver. Claire married Daniel in 1992 and they have two children Phillippa and William (or as Colin always called them Pipa and Bill).

   Colin and Elaine loved to travel abroad including trips to America and Kenya. Particular favourites of Colin’s were Tunisia and the Greek Islands. Colin also enjoyed jazz and he and Elaine would go to many concerts and jazz weekends.

   Always a good sportsman after developing Parkinson’s disease in 1982, Colin still found sports he could participate in such as short mat bowling or table tennis. With his love of sport Colin would have been thrilled to know that his grandson, William has captained his football team for the past 5 years.

   As all of you here today will know 8 years ago Colin had his accident and has spent the past 7½ years at Clevedon Court Nursing Home. The Nursing Home staff have been totally dedicated in looking after him. Elaine has remained devoted to him throughout this time.

Colin’s widow Elaine sadly died at the Bristol Royal Infirmary on 4 August 2020 aged 78.

We are indebted to Claire Hawker, the late Elaine Sansom, Dave Sansom and Cynthia Sansom for their help in compiling The Sansom Family page.

If you have any further information, memories, photographs etc. about the Sansom family then please get in touch with us.

Page last updated: 8 March 2021








2012: Obituary: Colin Henry SANSOM

SANSOM Colin Henry. Passed away peacefully after a long illness on Saturday 22nd September 2012 aged 74 years. He will be sadly missed by his wife, daughters, grandchildren, friends and all the staff at Clevedon Court which the family would like to thank. Funeral service on Tuesday 2nd October, 1.30pm at South Bristol Crematorium. Family flowers only please but donations if desired for Parkinsons UK & Crohns and Colitis UK may be sent c/o Arthur E Davey & Sons, 82 Silvers Street, Nailsea, BS48 2DS. Tel: 01275 852307

Bristol Evening Post,  27 September 2012

1991: Obituary: Ernest SANSOM

SANSOM – On May 1st 1991 peacefully at Elmwood Grove Retirement Home, Ernest aged 84 lately of Kingston, Corfe Castle widower of Hilda, father of Colin and to Elaine grandfather of Karen and Claire, and great grandfather of Simon. He will be sadly missed by all his family and friends. Funeral service to be held at St James Church Kingston on Thursday May 9th at 2.30pm followed by burial in the Churchyard. Flowers or donations if preferred for the Poole Hospital Kidney Unit c/o James Smith FD, 60a Kings Road, Swanage.

[Obituary notice courtesy of Claire Hawker, granddaughter of Henry Ernest ‘Ern’ Sansom]

1991: Obituary: Hilda SANSOM

SANSOM – On February 16th 1991 peacefully in Poole Hospital, Hilda aged 86 years lately Kingston, Corfe Castle, dealy loved wife of Ernest, mother of Colin and to Elaine, grandmother of Karen and Claire and Great Grandmother of Simon she will be sadly missed by all her family. Funeral Service to be held at St James Church Kingston on Monday February 25th at 2pm followed by burial in the churchyard. Flowers or if preferred donations for The British Heart Foundation or Parkinsons Disease Society may be sent to Tapper Funeral Service, 32/34 Parkstone Road, Poole.

[Obituary notice courtesy of Claire Hawker, granddaughter of Hilda Sansom]

1952: Recollections of a former vicar

Extracts from ‘From the crack of the pistol‘ (published c. 1952) by F.S. Horan, Vicar of Kingston from 1932-1938:

Quot Homines, Tot Amici

I found my Chilton experience of a country parish a help at Kingston. Muriel and I soon got going and found plenty to do, visiting the cottages, the school and the distant farms, of which there were several.

“What are the special needs of this place?” was a question I asked myself. It had a rather pleasant feudal atmosphere about it. Nearly all the men worked on the Encombe Estate. The polite manners of an earlier generation had not quite died out. ‘Sir’, ‘Mam’, capping and even a curtsey from an aged inhabitant, lent a nice touch of dignity to everyday intercourse; yet there was a delightful sense of cameraderie in all our relationships. The children under the care of Miss Broad and Mrs Cottrell, in our village (church) school, which I visited regularly, rose politely and gave me a cheery chorus of welcome when I appeared. Muriel, as always, was my great help in a hundred ways. She took over the Sunday School, and it was everything to me to have her opinion on the various village problems which arose from time to time. She was quick to help in any emergency of sickness or trouble.

Our great stand-bys in the village were Mr. and Mrs. Tom Joyce, and Mr. Gerald Loxton.

Joyce was the village blacksmith – a pillar of the church, and one of the nicest, friendliest, staunchest men who ever stepped. His wife was as nice as he was, gentle and refined. She had been the village school mistress. They both knew the village inside out, and were wise and understanding. It was a great help to discuss with them any plans or alterations that one might have in mind.

Sir Ernest was the Vicar’s warden, and Gerald Loxton, the People’s warden. Gerald could see further through a brick wall than most people and had a delightful, dry, Dorset sense of humour. I was very fortunate in having such men as Joyce and Loxton. They are proofs of what wonderful help laymen can be in a parish.

They weren’t the only ones I learnt to value and love at Kingston. We had so many willing helpers in all our plans and schemes for the good of the village. There was a keen spirit of co-operation – nearly everyone was glad to pull his weight in the village life. Some have passed on: I can see them now. Gilbert Dorey, the Estate woodman, with a natural musical talent and a wonderful mastery of the beautiful organ in the church, that he loved and played so well. Mrs. Orchard, the postmistress, our untiring helper in the W.I. and in all our socials, and in every project. Bill Hooper, our most reliable Captain of the Bells. George Hunt, always ready to help in anything, a very kind, open-hearted fellow. I salute them all!

There were a good many young men in the village who seemed rather at a loose end. I was keen to get into touch with them, and found the Boys’ Club Room helpful for this purpose. There we played games of an evening, and arranged cricket club fixtures and so on.

The Kingston Cricket Club was quite a going concern. A certain Ernest Hixson was Captain – a tricky left-hand bowler; and we had a redoubtable demon bowler in one of the Dorey family – Arthur. With a long run and a hop, skip, and jump, he would deliver a ball calculated, on a rough village wicket, to strike terror into the most intrepid batsman.

Ken Orchard (son of Charley Orchard and Mrs. Orchard the postmistress) was our champion heavy-weight slogger. He used to stride up to the wicket with his bat over his shoulder, a broad assured grin on his face – a Hercules, but for the leopard skin. Fielders fell back – he took his centre – and then with every ball bowled it was “six” or “out” with him. Ken certainly didn’t believe in slow cricket – he quickly brought any match to life. We had fixtures with most of the villages round and our Kingston boys generally gave a good account of themselves.

When the cricket season was over, I suggested play-acting during the winter months. How would they like to try a One-Act play as a start? At first they were shy; but I got them going. We started with Shivering Socks, an appropriate title for us at the moment! They came and rehearsed, undisturbed, at the Vicarage.

On a given day we gave the performance. The only place we had for such an outbreak was the small village schoolroom, where all socials and functions – even dances – had to be held. The audience, packed like sardines, too perspiring even to boo or cat-call – took it well on the whole and let themselves go at the end with a round of applause. Thus a Kingston Dramatic Society was started and on we went to further triumphs!

We found much unexpected talent among young and old. Little did we think that before long England – and even Canada – would lend an ear to us – that, in fact, we should broadcast! But so it proved.

We couln’t have done it without outside help. The person in the village to whom we owed most was Mrs. Fenwick-Owen. She and her daughter, Morvyne, were very keen on the dramatic effort: they loved acting, and realised what a good thing it is for a village to get people out of their shells and give them a form of self-expression combined with lots of fun. “Mrs. F-O” was untiring in the help she gave, and was always so jolly about it – rehearsing, producing and suggesting plays.

We were greatly handicapped at Kingston for want of a village hall for social activities. When I went there I saw this was an urgent need. There were two churches – the new and the old. The old church, though it bore signs of its Norman origin in the walls, and had an Elizabethan bell, had been re-built only some fifty years before the new one arose.

The new one was almost a miniature cathedral, and stood upon a hilly eminence. It was built in 1887 by Lord Eldon (the father of Sir Ernest Scott), of Purbeck stone and marble, in the Gothic style. Street, the architect, was given carte blanche and made a wonderful thing of it. Grand and imposing, it cast the little old church – a stone’s throw away – into the shade. Our services were held in the new church: the old church was hardly ever used.

What a pity I thought, not to make some use of the old church? Could it not still serve a good purpose? Could we get leave to turn it into a Village Hall? I talked this idea over with Sir Ernest Scott and members of the Church Council, and they were quite willing for me to approach the Church Authorities at Salisbury with the suggestion. This I did, with the welcome result that permission was granted. The Union of Benefices Measure allowed such a change to be made where there was a redundancy of churches: so we obtained leave to transform the old church into a Village Hall.

It took time and effort to do this; but the great work was accomplished at last, thanks to the many willing workers in the village who came forward to give their voluntary help – especially the young men of the Boys’ Club. They took off their coats and slaved away in their spare time – reflooring the building, making a platform and doing a hundred things. So, by its own voluntary labour, Kingston had a village hall.

Some other places besides Kingston benifited from our labours. ‘Chaddy’ [Revd. R.M. Chadwick] was thankful to purchase the pews, stained oak, plain and good, for the chapel at Forres. He had them scraped and now they look beautiful in their new setting. The altar and fittings were given to the Infirmary Chapel at Wareham. The attractive candelabra now hang in Arne’s tiny church which survived the bombing there. Memorial tablets were transferred to the new Kingston Church.

The Village Hall has proved an untold boon to Kingston. Scouts and Cubs and Brownies, which we started, have functioned there. A flourishing Kingston W.I. which we also started, has had it for all their meetings and doings ever since. It has served for village dances, concerts, whist drives and shows of all descriptions.

When the Second World War came, I don’t know what Kingston would have done without it as a place for the flood of evacuated school children that descended on the village to be schooled, helped, entertained and catered for in all conceivable ways. Indeed, it came just in time for Hitler’s outbreak and its consequences!

The Village Hall was not only used for secular purposes. We sometimes had religious services there – especially in Lent – and lantern lectures on various subjects. It was quite invaluable to us. Through this strange metamorphosis the old church had come to life again and was able to do something for the new church which greatly needed help for there was no endowment for the upkeep of that majestic building. It wanted a better system of heating and lighting and the organ was crying out for repairs. Where was the money to come from?

The old church by becoming a village hall, where funds could be raised throughout the year by shows and sales and other things, was able to make some welcome response to the appeal of its new neighbour. More was needed however than it could manage so I got busy and staged a Fete on a large scale in the beautiful grounds of Encombe, by permission of Sir Ernest Scott.

Sir Ernest was dubious about it at first; thought it was a big undertaking and felt people would never want the long walk from Kingston down to Encombe and back again. But I advertised it terrifically. Went down to Swanage to broadcast it. Booked buses to run right down to Encombe. Went to great trouble with George Bartlett, the proprietor of the Eldon Arms, to get a licence to have a bar on the Fete grounds to give the villagers a chance of having their pint down at Encombe instead of leaving the side-shows to go back to Kingston for a drink.

The W.I. arranged for large numbers of teas (and how well they organized them!). We got a Band to play for us and to wind up the Fete with dancing on the lawn by moonlight.

The day came. It was August: there were many visitors about – and posters on all the hoardings. People came in flocks from Swanage, Langton and Worth Matravers, Corfe Castle and Wareham – from all round the countryside – had a great time and emptied their pockets for the benefit of our Church Fund.

We raked in £170, and the fete was such a success that it has become an annual affair. In August 1937 it was opened by Leslie Banks who had a holiday cottage at Worth Matravers, the charming little village on the coast near St. Aldhelm’s Head. He was always ready to do a good turn.

Our first ambitious venture in the acting line was a performance of the Morality Play, Everyman. We were fortunate in getting a talented actress, Miss Joyce Bailey, as our producer and to play the part of ‘Everyman’. Two artist friends of ours – near neighbours – Miss Jane Welsh and Miss May Wilson were our mainstays. Miss Welsh was assistant producer, and Miss Wilson was mistress of the robes – and much more besides. These two gifted people provided all the dresses and props and, with a wide experience of producing and acting, helped us in all our doubts and difficulties. Without them, our production could never have reached such a high pitch.

Everyman has a big cast, so that friends from round about and many of our own villagers were roped in for the parts. I was ‘Death’. Muriel, ‘Faith’. Skrimmy was ‘Goods’ and was brought onto the stage in a wonderful chest, out of which he emerged with arms and face covered in gold paint – from which he suffered afterwards. Sir Ernest Scott started the play off by reading the prologue from the stage.

It was a great success at Kingston and also at Swanage where we played it for two nights at the Mowlem Theatre. It was felt to be an exceptional production for  a small village. So the Kingston Players had made a good start.

This was only the beginning of many plays that village talent provided. Those who didn’t act themselves were only too ready to help behind the scenes. Ken Orchard (the Hercules of the Cricket Club) was our lighting expert and he never failed us. The plays we did after Everyman were generally produced by Mrs. Fenwick-Owen and gave scope for all and sundry, both male and female, to show their capabilities.

We were keen to do a Dorset Dialogue play – so one day Mrs. Fenwick-Owen and Muriel returning from a W.I. meeting in Dorchester, called on Mrs. Thomas Hardy at Max Gate to ask if her husband had ever written a short play suitable for village acting. She at once gave them a privately printed copy of The Three Wayfarers – a play adapted from one of his Wessex Tales which, she said, was very dramatic and would be most suitable. So we got going on that and performed it with success both at Kingston and at the W.I. Drama Festival at Dorchester.

This was the play we were asked to broadcast. Francis Dillon of the B.B.C. Western Regional saw us do it at the Dorchester Festival  and arranged with Mrs. Fenwick-Owen, who produced us, to broadcast it from our Village Hall. We were naturally elated.

Francis Dillon came and stayed in Kingston for a week, and put us through our paces for the broadcast. We were tremendously interested in the arrangements for it, especially for the “noises off” which were done direct from Bristol and made to synchronise exactly with our spoken words. It seemed wonderful! We had many rehearsals through the week. On the day, it went without a hitch and, so far as we know, was heard by listeners from John o’Groats to Lands End, and certainly in Canada by the relations of some of our broadcasters. It was a Red Letter Day for the Kingston Players.

We once made a new departure, and tried our hand at a … Minstrel Show – male and female … It took some doing to collect good jokes and patter. Muriel went about with a red note-book and wrote down all she could get hold of. Then we had to fit them in with the songs and dancing. We had full audiences at Kingston, Corfe Castle, Langton Matravers and Swanage. Sir Ernest, in the audience at Kingston, was absolutely convulsed with laughter. He himself supplied one of our best jokes.

For a time much interest was taken in Folk dancing. Miss Ruth Dawson came over from Langton Matravers to teach us. Several of the older people were beautiful dancers – George Hunt and Mrs. Senneck especially.

I could count on those who helped most in social activities to help in religious activity too – as sidesmen, choirmen, bell-ringers or anything connected with the Church. We were all good mixers. I think our strenuous work in creating a Village Hall had helped us in this: it had drawn us together in a very matey way.

One Lent we had a Village Mission taken by the Diocesan Lay Missioner, Mr. C. S. Agar. It was very well attended and we had special meetings for men, women and children, besides the daily Mission Services. The Mission was a help to many. It was to Muriel and me.

On Good Fridays we generally had a Sacred Cantata in the evening, such as Stainer’s Crucifixion, Maunder’s From Olivet to Calvary and Darkness and Dawn. These were arranged by our good organist, Gilbert Dorey, who took infinite trouble over the practices. We had an augmented choir for them – Muriel, and Morvyne Fenwick-Owen (who had a charming voice which she later took on stage proper), and several other women from the village were in it, as well as extra men. The Cantatas were very much appreciated by the village and many who came from outside.

One Good Friday morning we had a Procession of Witness through the village, with hymns and a short address, which I have on the rising ground opposite the Post Office. Sir Ernest Scott, the Choir, and a number of others joined us in the witness. Our Easter services were always delightful, full of life.

After his ordination ‘Chaddy’ came up several times of a Sunday and preached at Evensong. Sometimes we exchanged and I went to Forres Chapel.

Muriel found some good helpers among the girls for her Sunday School work – especially Irene Sansom (now married with two little boys of her own). For a time Miss Joan Muspratt kindly came up from Swanage to take the class of older girls.

I was anxious that, with all our considerable social activities, we should put first things first, and I think that everyone knew I was keen on this: while at the same time I did not wish to draw a hard and fast line between secular and sacred – bearing in mind the words of Archbishop Magee: “There is nothing secular but sin”.

We had a strong British Legion contingent in the village, and we made much of every 11th of November. On the Saturday evening before Remembrance Sunday, we assembled in force at the Eldon Arms (now the Scott Arms). There we had a truly wonderful Dinner – with Sir Ernest Scott in the Chair. With speeches and a sing-song we kept it up pretty late. My usual song was Father O’Flynn. It was a most enjoyable re-union. Mrs. Bartlett, the Proprietress, excelled herself each year with her marvellous Roast beef, roast fowls, plum pudding and apple tart and other things. She was a striking old Victorian character immensely respected and very dignified in her glossy black silk; rather grim till you got on the right side of her – but she certainly delivered the goods.

On Remembrance Sunday we always had a packed church for the Service. Our British Legion men came in force, and the Swanage Legion Band. They were marshalled and paraded to church by our Charley Orchard, who had served in the Dorsetshire Yeomanry, and now marched in front of the Ex-servicemen like a Drum Major.

Inside the Church we had a moving Service – the Silence, the special hymns, the Bugle Calls sounded by Gerald White (our gardener), the placing of a wreath against the War Memorial Tablet, and at the close, the March off to the tune of “Onward Christian Soldiers” played by the Band.

The congregations at our usual Sunday morning Services were greatly helped by Oldfield (Co-educational) and Spyway (Preparatory) Schools, who came along and added considerably to our numbers. When Forres Chapel was built, Oldfield missed the schools’ service I had taken at All Saints’, Swanage, and which was discontinued; so they came up to Kingston in buses on alternate Sundays all the time I was vicar there. The Hicksons of Oldfield and the Warners of Spyway, were long-standing frends and we were always very glad to see them with their bus loads of boys and girls whom they brought along because they liked our simple short service.

St. James was our patron Saint – one of the “Sons of Thunder”. Our Cathedral-like Church, dedicated to him, lent itself well to services on special occasions, such as the Remembrance Service and Harvest Thanksgiving and the big Festivals.

In the Summer months, too, it came into its own with Summer visitors, and Scouts and Guides from camps near by. So then we had very good morning congregations and hearty services and were glad of the size and beauty of St. James’s Church. It was an impressive and worshipful place.

The Church Tower commanded a grand view towards Corfe and Poole Harbour beyond. It had a fine peal of eight bells, and we had a hefty team of keen bellringers under the Captain of the Bells, Bill Hooper.

Every New Year’s Eve was the occasion of another dinner at the Eldon Arms, with Mrs. Bartlett going strong as ever in the matter of beef, puddings and apple tarts. This was the Choir and Bellringers’ Dinner. It was kept up with song and merriment till about 11.15pm when we all adjourned to the Belfry where we rang the Old Year out and the New Year in, had a prayer, and then closed with the hymn “Father, let me dedicate all this Year to Thee”.

During my time at Kingston I was much indebted to the Agent of Encombe Estate, Mr W. E. Candy, who invariably gave his willing help and co-operation in all that was undertaken for the good of the Village. He was one of the School Managers, served on the Parochial Church Council and on the Village Hall Committee; and gave valuable help as Hon. Treasurer of the Fetes we had at Encombe. If I was ever in any difficulty I could always count on his sound advice.

Mr. Candy had entered the service of the third Lord Eldon (Sir Ernest Scott’s father) as long ago as 1890, and continued to serve the same family when Sir Ernest Scott became the owner.

Sometimes in the summer we let the Vicarage and trekked off for a holiday. In 1935 we let it for some weeks to a Mr. and Mrs. Milligan and their young family. We went to Chagford first for fishing … From there Muriel and I set off for the Shakespeare Festival at Stratford-on-Avon. We did some sight-seeing too …Then we turned our faces towards home and this time, as the Vicarage was still let, we parked ourselves in a wizard little stone cottage on the cliffs above Dancing Ledge , called “Sea Spray”. This enabled me to do the duty at Kingston and make arrangements for the Encombe Fete and Flower Show.

Here we were joined again by Editha Roupell … She brought her young nephew and niece … They brought a tent with them … and pitched alongside “Sea Spray” … We mealed together in the cottage – or more often on the terrace, and had a great time, lots of fun. So did the two Kingston girls, Margaret Senneck and Edna Turner, whom we brought along to work for us.

The Encombe Fete and Flower Show was again a huge success. We had lovely weather. All the entrance tickets were sold, and about a thousand people came, including many Scouts and guides. Our Church Funds benefited very considerably. We were fortunate in having many good helpers …

Towards the end of 1936 we were much saddened at Kingston by Tom Joyce‘s failing health – he had been such a good friend to us. Some internal trouble developed and caused him a good deal of discomfort and suffering. He was taken to the West Hants Hospital at Boscombe, where I visited him several times. I remember him smiling up at me after a talk – it was my last visit, I think – and saying, “I’m having a rough passage, Vicar”. It was over for him just after Christmas. His wife did not long survive him. She passed on the following summer. In them we had lost two whom we could ill spare.

Dr. Dru Drury of Corfe Castle and his daughter were special friends of ours. He has an extensive practice there and in the surrounding villages, including Kingston. He is a man of many parts, a great supporter of the Church and a keen archaeologist.

Janet, living in such surroundings, could not fail to have both the historic and histrionic sense. She roped in many of us at Kingston for various plays and pageants. She now runs an amateur troupe known as “The Purbeck Players” and regularly carries off bouquets at the annual Dorset Drama Festival.

She produced The Tempest at Corfe Castle, and Kingston, and in the grounds of Encombe. I played ‘Prospero’ which meant much memorizing, but was well worth it. A Kingston girl – Dulcie Curtis, made a charming little ‘Ariel’, and Morvyne Fenwick-Owen played ‘Miranda’ with much feeling. … Encombe afforded a beautiful outdoor setting and we had a large and appreciative audience there.

Janet, now Mrs. Wilson, is an exceptionally able and imaginative producer and gets the best out of a cast. Her “Purbeck Players” today are highly skilled. They have performaed a variety of plays .. Some outstanding acting has been shown in these productions by Dulcie Curtis as ‘Velvet’, Syd Payne as ‘The Farmer’, Gerald Loxston as ‘Churdles Ash’, Mrs. Elford as ‘Araminta’ and Mrs. John Lawrence in several parts, to take but a few instances.

In July 1939, just before the awful cloudburst of World War II, a wonderful Dorset Pageant was performed in the grounds of Lulworth  Castle (by permission of Colonel Weld). Many Dorset W.I.’s contributed episodes to illustrate historic events in Dorset from earliest times. It fell to the villages of Worth Matravers, Kingston and Corfe Castle to act an episode entitled Benjamin Jesty, the discoverer of the use of cow-pox injections against the small pox. For Jesty lived at Dunshay in the parish ofWorth Matravers, and his tomb is in the churchyard of Worth’s ancient and lovely little church.

Janet Drury produced our episode. My part in it was to make a speech in honour of ‘Jesty’. A Mr. Drew drove on with Muriel in a dog-cart as “parson” and “parson’s wife”!

A date that stands out in my Kingston period is May 12th, 1937 – the day of the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. In the morning , we assembled in the Church to listen to the broadcast of the Service from Westminster Abbey – very moving and impressive.

For the rest of the day we flag-wagged, junketed and racketed: sports and races for both children and grown-ups; a fancy dress procession; ‘cakes and ale’, tea and buns for anyone and everyone; fireworks and a bonfire after dark; a dance in the Village Hall to finish with. A day to be remembered!

In August this same year a word began to echo in my mind, and a wish in my heart – “Retirement”: not from active service as a “Sky Pilot”, but from being restricted to one place for my efforts. I had now been forty years in orders, and I began to feel I should like to cut adrift from the daily humfdrum routine of parochialities and be a free-lance – free to give what clerical help and assistance I could in the neighbourhood and diocese, unfettered by a parish.

When I sent my resignation to Sir Ernest Scott, I received a charming letter from him, regretting my decision, thanking me for my work at Kingston, and saying how sorry the people would be to hear that I was leaving, for it was, he said, ‘a case of Quot homines, tot amici‘.

I could not have had a nicer nor kinder patron than Sir Ernest – always willing to help and co-operate in any way he could. He was a good sportsman, a most considerate landlord to the people on his estate and a friend to all.

My last Sunday as Vicar of Kingston was July 10th, 1938. For some weeks previously Muriel and I had been busy paying farewell visits, always a sad business: but we were cheered by the thought we were only going to live a short distance away and would often see our Kingston friends. We had an extremely happy and interesting time there and were genuinely sorry to leave. I was succeeded by the Rev. M. de Burgh Scott, long well-known to us in Swanage.




1938: Dorset R.A.F. Crash

Disaster in Coastal Fog – Three Men Killed near Corfe Castle – Aircraft in Flames

The three occupants of an R.A.F. aeroplane, a Fairy Swordfish, bound from Gosport to Roborough, near Plymouth, on Friday afternoon, were killed when the machine, after hitting some trees, crashed in a coastal fog, near Encombe House, the Dorsetshire residence of the Hon. Sir Ernest S. Scott, K.C.M.G., M.V.O. Hearing the noise of the crash, Sir Ernest went to the scene with some of his employees, but was unable to render assistance owing to the flames which burst from the wreckage.

The dead men were Pilot-Officer Frederick Edgar Williams, Corporal Cyril John Coles, and Leading-Aircraftsman David Samuel Hurrell.

Eye-Witness’s Story

Mr. E. Hixon [Hixson], of the Encombe Estate Office, who, with others, heard the crash and rushed to the spot in a motor-car, told a representative of this paper that the ‘plane was flying in the fog over the coast line at 2.45 p.m. and must have hit some tree on the road to Swyre Head, just outside the village of Kingston, near Corfe Castle. When he arrived the aeroplane was in flames. “There were three men in it, but we could not get near them owing to the great heat. I think the men must have been killed when the plane crashed.” The aeroplane had rolled down through the trees and then down the hill-side in the vale. An overcoat of R.A.F. blue, was thrown out of the aeroplane, and in the pocket was a handkerchief bearing the name ‘Williams, Gosport.’”

The bodies were subsequently removed to the mortuary at the Poor-law Institution, at Wareham, pending the inquest on Tuesday by the Coroner for East Dorset (Mr. R. N. Neville-Jones).

“Flying Too Low”

Coroner and Cause of Accident.

Graphic stories of the disaster were told the Coroner by witnesses and the jury, of whom Mr. S. W. Roshier was foreman, returned a verdict of “Accidental Death.”

The Coroner, reviewing the evidence, observed for some reason or other the aeroplane was flying very much too low round the Purbeck Hills, and one of the probable reasons for that was that there was a good deal of low cloud about, and the pilot, having lost sight of the ground, came down to see if he could see it again, and in doing so, unfortunately, came down too low and had the very great misfortune to strike some trees. Had he been a very few feet further up he would have missed them altogether and got out to sea quite safely.

How Men were Identified

Leading Aircraftsman Gwyn Lewis, of the R.A.F., stationed at Gosport, identified Pilot-Officer Williams (aged 21 and single) by his flying overalls, and Corporal Coles (married, aged 32) by his name on a piece of his trousers, which was not burned. Hurrell was aged 21 and single.

Squadron-Leader John Goodenough Elton, commanding the R.A.F.  training squadron at Gosport, stated Mr. Williams was a pupil on torpedo training course, and was on a cross-country training flight to Roborough, which witness had authorised. Williams had had just over 200 hours flying as a pilot, and he was considered one of the best pilots, being qualified in all respects. The two passengers were both members of the training squadron and on a pilot course.

Flying Low Regulations

Coroner: What are the regulations about flying low?

Witness: In the normal course of events a pilot is not supposed to fly lower than 1,000 feet, but he is occasionally forced lower by the weather.

The Coroner: The visibility in places was very good apparently that afternoon, but over the Purbeck Hills and the particular spot where he crashed there was fog.

Witness observed it was supposition, but he thought probably the aeroplane was flying under a cloud and keeping sight of the ground, which a pilot would often do. “They should actually keep up high and wait until they came out of it,” added witness.

The Coroner pointed out that this was the second fatality which had occurred in his district within the last few months due to almost exactly the same cause – fog and low flying, and there was an instruction the pilot should keep up.

Witness: Pilots are definitely instructed not to fly low when they get in bad weather, but remain at a safe height and turn round and trace their way back into the fair weather again. The machine was completely equipped with instruments which showed its height.

The Coroner: What it really amounts to was inexperience and he was doing what he ought not to do – a dangerous procedure? – Yes.

Witness: Oh, yes. In this particular case I instructed the pilot to return if the weather deteriorated after leaving Gosport, where it was quite fine. There were special orders about low flying.

The Coroner: Which are honoured in the breach apparently.

Eye-Witnesses’ Stories

Stories of the disaster were told by witnesses – Misses Bessie Beatrice Marsh, of Orchard Hill Farm, Kingston, Mr Ernest Albert Hixon [Hixson] of Rabling-road, Swanage, a clerk employed at the Encombe Estate Office, Kingston, and Mrs. Alice Pamela Sampson [Sansom], of Encombe.

Mrs. Marsh said her husband remarked, “He is going to hit the house,” it was flying so low – within another foot it would have touched the chimney. There was a very thick mist and she was only just able to make out the outline of the ‘plane as it passed straight over the house. A few seconds later she heard a loud crash in the direction the ‘plane had gone, followed by a loud bang or explosion. She went in a lorry with her husband and found the machine in flames. It had torn right through Polar Wood and was burning fiercely on the hill-side – the sea side of the wood – just below.

Mr. Hixon [Hixson] stated there was a very thick fog. He heard the roar of a ‘plane which seemed directly over-head and apparently travelling at a very fast speed. Next he heard a crash of splintering wood.

From her upstairs window, Mrs. Sampson [Sansom] said she saw the ‘plane fall in flames half-way down the hillside, and she observed an object – what it was she did not know – roll down the hill.

Replying to Mr. R. C. Hockey, Air Ministry Inspector of Accidents, witness said she could not quite remember but she was under the impression the aeroplane hit the hillside before bursting into flames.

P.C. Cutler produced the overcoat of an R.A.F. officer, singed but not badly burnt., which he said he found near where the ‘plane crashed. Parts of the aeroplane were scattered all over the hillside, and trees in polar Wood had had their tops cut off by the plane. Later, with the assistance of other policemen, he recovered the bodies from the wreckage.

The Coroner, on behalf of himself and the jury, expressed to the relatives of deceased, the sympathy which they all felt for them in this “most unfortunate tragedy.” – Inspector G. E. Burt, on behalf on the police, associated himself with these remarks.

Western Gazette, 25 March 1938

1936: ‘’Witnesses deny there was any undermining’’

Inquest at Encombe House.

Denials that there was any undermining of the face of a gravel pit to cause a fall which buried Andrew Dorey, aged 57, of Encombe, Corfe Castle, with fatal results, was made by witnesses when the occurrence was investigated by the Coroner for East Dorset (Mr R Neville Jones) at the inquest held on the victim at Encombe House (the residence of the Hon. Sir Ernest Scott) on Monday evening. A graphic account of the tragic incident was given by Charles Stephen Dorey, a 26yrs old shepherd in the employ of Sir Ernest Scott, residing at South Street Kingston. He related how he went to the gravel pit at Encombe on Friday morning last, to assist in drawing gravel. His uncle, the deceased, and William Sansom were already working there. Witness went back to the pit at 2pm, after dinner, and with his companions he was engaged in sorting the gravel and loading it on the lorry. He was on the left of the lorry with his uncle and facing the cliff. The lorry was loaded and they were discussing whether they should load anymore, witness continued. Just then I looked up at the face of the cliff and saw a trickle of dirt and gravel falling on my left. My uncle was standing to the left of me. I thought I saw a movement on the face of the cliff and I think I shouted “we are going to have a fall,” but I am not quite sure. I shouted some warning or other and jumped to my right to give my uncle a chance to get out. At the same time a large quantity of dirt and gravel fell and tore off one of my shoes. I looked round to see where the others were and couldn’t see my uncle. I ran to the fall and heard a faint groaning under the gravel. The lorry driver, Fred Sansom helped me to scramble away the gravel with his hands. We uncovered his right shoulder and worked to his face, this was blue and he was silent.

Straight cliff.

Witness added that this was about ten minutes after the fall, other help then came. Deceased was lying on his left side with his head down hill, furthest away from the cliff. The face of the cliff was not undermined at this point-

The cliff was straight faced at the point of the fall.

The Coroner. Had there been any previous falls there?

Witness : No Sir; None while I have been working there.

Coroner: You knew it was dangerous to undermine, didn’t you? Yes Sir.

Mr P N Saddal (HM Inspector of Mines) You know that there is a piece at the side which is undermined? Yes Sir.

When was that done? Before we went there Sir.

The Coroner: Had you been working anywhere near this spot? We hadn’t been working opposite the spot.

Inspector of Mines: You are sure that no undermining was done during the time you were there? None Sir. We moved a large heap at the bottom of the cliff and scraped some loose stuff off the face.

Replying to other questions, Witness said that he believed instructions had been given that there was to be no undermining.

Another witness, William Alfred Sansom a labourer, employed by Sir Ernest Scott and living at Encombe, said that he saw a movement of dirt and gravel and shouted “look out!” He was standing on the platform on the right of the lorry, and as he shouted there was a big fall of gravel. He looked round but couldn’t see any sign of deceased, so ran for help.

Estate order.

The actual fall, the Witness said, took place where they had been working for a fortnight. He knew it was dangerous to undermine and there was an estate order not to undermine.

Walter Emmanuel  Candy, agent for Sir Ernest Scott, of Kingston, said that deceased was engaged with three other men in drawing gravel at a pit, the face 16ft high. He had previously warned the men not to undermine. Deceased had worked in this pit for some time past at intervals. I had reliance in him, he was a most experienced work man one of the most experience on the estate and “I had great confidence in him.” Mr Candy said, adding that he would be in charge of the gang, and had been employed by Sir Ernest Scott all his life.

In reply to the Inspector of Mines, Mr Candy agreed that it rained exceedingly hard on the night before the occurrence.

Dr. G Drury, Corfe Castle, said that the actual cause of death was suffocation. When he arrived on the scene he examined deceased and found that the right leg was shattered below the knee, both bones of the leg being fractured, and the left humerus was fractured high up. Witness tried artificial respiration for a short time, but without effect.

Evidence of identification had earlier been given by Arthur Harold Dorey, a son of the deceased and a chauffeur employed by Sir Ernest Scott, who said that he last saw his father alive at 1.50pm on Friday when he was in his usual good health. He next saw him about 3.30pm. He was then dead and partially buried under about 18inches of gravel.

Inspector’s opinion.

At the close of the evidence the Inspector of Mines, at the invitation of the Coroner pointed out that the face of the cliff was now vertical, and a stranger going to it would say that it had been over hanging, for where did the fall come from. In the face of the evidence he couldn’t say anymore.

(Under the Quarry Act it was an offence against the law to undermine, but on a private estate the Quarry Act didn’t apply.)

Recalling Charles Stephen Dorey the Coroner asked him : Before the fall occurred was there any undermining at this particular spot? No Sir.

Did you see the fall occur? Yes Sir.

Did the whole face slide down? Yes Sir. It looked as though the whole face came down from top to bottom.

You have no doubt about that? No doubt whatever.

You have heard the suggestion of the Inspector that the face is vertical now and it must have come from the top it came right the way down.

The Inspector observed that the accident would be a warning that it was dangerous practice to undermine, or even to work in some instances where the face was practically vertical.

The Coroner addressing the Jury, said that there was no question but that this was a pure accident, and he was certain all their sympathy went out to the widow and family in the tragedy. He was told that the deceased was a most esteemed workman on the estate where he had worked all his life, and was respected and liked by everybody in the district.

A verdict of “accidental death” was returned by the Jury, and they expressed sympathy with the widow and family, expressions with which Inspector G E Burt, on behalf of the police, and the Inspector of Mines joined.

Dorset County Chronicle, 24 September 1936

Transcription courtesy of Carol Brown whose late husband Ken was the grandson of the deceased Andrew Dorey.




1936: Obituary: Funeral of Mr. Andrew Dorey


The beautiful little village of Kingston was in mourning on Tuesday  for the loss of Mr. Andrew Stephen Dorey, aged 57, who (as reported in another column) met his death in tragic circumstances on Friday, when he was killed by a fall of gravel in the course of his work on the Encombe Estate. Mr. Dorey worked from his boyhood on the Encombe Estate, and was for many years shepherd, but during recent years, since Mr. and Mrs. Dorey have been resident at Encombe House, where Mrs. Dorey is housekeeper, he has done general work on the estate. He was known and highly respected throughout the neighbourhood, and his lossis very keenly felt. He was a staunch churchman, and a chorister and bellringer for many years, also a bandsman in the Village Band. Mr. Dorey leaves his widow, one son and two daughters to mourn their loss.

The Vicar, the Rev. F. S. Horan, conducted the funeral service, during which he paid tribute to the character of Mr. Andrew Dorey who, through a life well lived, was leaving a happy memory for those who loved him. He was a friend to all, his cheery smile will always be remembered, and he leaves the village poorer for his loss.

Sir Ernest Scott was among those attending, and the large congregation included estate employees and parishioners. Mr. E. A. Hixson represnted Mr. W. E. Candy, the agent, who was prevented being present, and Mr. F. Pond represented the Swanage Town Band, deceased having been a member of the Kingston Band. Estate employees – Messrs. G. Hunt, H. Sansom, C. Brown, and C. Orchard – acted as bearers.

The chief mourners were the widow and family.


Beautiful wreaths were sent by the following: His loving and sorrowing wife; Art and Gladys (son and daughter-in-law); Irene and Percy (daughter and son-in-law); Olive (daughter); Charlotte, Mabel and Bill (sisters and brother-in-law) and Philip (nephew); Bessie (sister) and family; Jennie and Ernest (sister and brother-in-law); Walt and Gertie (brother and sister-in-law) and Marjorie (niece); Gilb and Frances (brother and sister-in-law); Alf and Rose (brother and sister-law); Fred and Iris (nephew and niece); Bob and Bet (brother and sister-in-law); Grace and Betty (nieces); Mabel, Will, Winnie and Gilbert (nieces and nephews); Jim and Kath (nephew and niece); Cecil and Ron (nephews); Lottie, Annie, Rose, Amy, George and Jennie (cousins); Ern (cousin); Aunt Fan, Bert, Fred, Win, Nancy and Len; Fred and Em; Bob; Cousin Poll (Ellen); Jim and Kate; Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hann; Mr. and Mrs. W. Barnes and family (East Holme); Mr. and Mrs. D. Barnes (Arne); Mr. and Mrs. W. Cooper; Charlie, Nellie and Ken Orchard; Percy and Ada Damer; Mrs. Robert Damer and Dawson; Jack and Elsie; Joan; Mr. and Mrs. Seymour and family; In memory of our comrade and workmate, from men of Encombe Farm and Estate; From Garden staff, Encombe; Churchwardens, sidesman, choirmen and bellringers; Mrs C. Bartlett and Mr. and Mrs. G. Bartlett; H. Sansom and family; Mrs. Joyce; The Rev. and Mrs. F. S. Horan; Charlie and Beat (Creech); Bill and Maud; Mrs. Loxton; Mr. and Mrs. P. Churchill; Mrs. Pooss (Preston).

Mrs. Dorey and family wish to thank all who gave their assistance, also for sympathy in their sad bereavement, and floral tributes sent.

September 1936

Our thanks to Carol Brown who provided this cutting