Holidays -Part 3

Day 3 saw me on a walk in the local area. I’d decided to go and visit Old Harry, his wife and the pig. Now in case you’re thinking of an old man and his wife living in a tumbledown cottage and keeping a pig somewhere on the nearby downs, you’d be mistaken; all will be made clear later. I set off from the road straight along a footpath which led up a hill where I came to this sign:


I hope you can see the writing – sorry the light was bad and it didn’t come out very well.

A little further on I came to this obelisk. At a distance, I was imagining probably a war memorial of some kind but I was wrong. In fact it is there to commemorate the coming of clean water to Swanage:


It was erected in 1892 by local businessman George Burt.


There is some confusion over the date because, as you can see on this stone right next to the obelisk, it has the year 1883. I thought I’d try and find out a bit more. Tourist Information directed me to the local museum and I ended up sending an email to them as I thought they might know the answer. After sending my query almost on closing time on the Friday I was pleasantly surprised when, on Monday morning, I got a reply from the (hon) curator David Haysom. Well done Swanage Museum! The answer folks is that the 1883 refers to when the Act of Parliament was passed saying to Swanage Council that they could go ahead with their plans; the 1892 date is when the town actually got connected to that new water supply and George Burt put up the monument.

Incidentally if you’re not familiar with the building trade Burt was a nephew to John Mowlem (founder of the company Mowlem, Burt & Freeman which eventually became just Mowlem – now you may have seen the Mowlem name around the country at various building sites) and Freeman was Burt’s brother-in-law. Talk about keeping things in the family!

The interesting thing about the monument is that the stone for it didn’t come from the local quarries: in fact the whole obelisk was dismantled from outside a church in London – St Mary Woolnoth at the junction of Lombard St & King William St – and was rebuilt on the present site by George Burt.

The path carried on round the top of the cliffs and bearing left at Ballard Point I passed through an area called Old Nick’s Ground: the name being an obvious allusion to the Devil.


Now remember Old Harry & his wife well here’s a pic.

These cliffs at one time stretched as far as the Isle of Wight where today we find what are called The Needles, a row of chalk cliffs stretching out into the sea similar to Old Harry. (You can see the Isle of Wight from these cliffs so it’s not hard to imagine a time when they would have been joined.) In The Needles one of the pillars, which collapsed in 1764, was called Lot’s Wife: obviously referring to the Biblical story of the woman who was turned into a pillar of salt.


The second patch of green in the distance is a separate stack but you can’t tell from the angle unfortunately. The main part of the chalk cliffs is a kind of L-shape. The “wife” apparently collapsed some years ago and only a stump is left so it’s not visible in this pic. However another smaller stack has been called Old Harry’s (latest) wife and presumably if that collapses they might have to look for another one or maybe he’ll just be a widower then.

Here’s a better pic than mine as it shows a side on view.

There is a path which goes out on to the top of those rocks but as you will see from the pic, with no side or end protection, it would be unwise to venture too far along it as there is a sheer drop on both sides and at the end!


Further on round again and I came to a village called Studland and on the coastal path was this.


Any ideas? Looks like a concrete slab doesn’t it?

Well here’s the view inside


This is Fort Henry: the place where, in 1944, Winston Churchill along with George VI, Eisenhower and Montgomery came to watch a rehearsal for the D-Day landings. It has been given a Grade II listing by English Heritage. Well after having walked along the platform where Queen Victoria & King George V had walked (last year, see post 28.8.2013) now I had been in the same bunker as King George VI & President Eisenhower! (Maybe LLM’s latest trip walking down the actual corridor where HenryVIII walked – in Hampton Court Palace – might just beat my own delusions of grandeur!)

Then I came to this sign.


Can you see the 3rd sign down pointing right? Yep it says that’s way to the pig and a little bit further on I came to this

That’s right The Pig is a hotel & restaurant. There was a wedding function on so I couldn’t go in and look. So now you know what OldHarry, His Wife & The Pig are. And from there it was a short car ride back to the flat and as per the typical LLM end of a great day out scenario – “a nice cup of tea”.

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