statues-legacyA new book about Dorset's statues has been published by West Dorset author Michael Russell Wood.

Dorset's Legacy in Public Statues features some well-known figures such as Thomas Hardy in Dorchester and George III in Weymouth alongside lesser-known pieces including a skateboarder by the sculptor Greta Berlin in the garden of Wimborne Library and Eric Gill's obelisk in Briantspuddle.

The book, which is illustrated with colour photographs, is the fifth in the Dorset's Legacy series.

Sir George Somers

I was inspired to write it after seeing the one of Sir George Somers in Langmoor Gardens at Lyme Regis,” says Mr Wood, who lives in Uploders near Bridport.

Somers was the founder of Bermuda and the statue by Ron Mole was unveiled in July 2016 to mark the twinning of Lyme Regis with St Georges, Bermuda.

The book illustrates statues in public view in the county as well as some oddities, telling their stories and the myths surrounding some of them.

Eric Gill Obelisk

For example, the obelisk by Eric Gill, known for his typeface design (including Gill Sans), is reputed to have been brought to Dorset on a horse and cart from his studio in the south east, with the sculptor subsisting on ham, bread and cider.

The Chideock Martyrs memorial

The Chideock Martyrs memorial at the eastern end of South Walks, Dorchester, is by Dame Elizabeth Frink. It marks the spot where the gallows once stood and shows two of the Chideock Martyrs in front of the hangman. It symbolises the hundreds of people who were persecuted for their religious beliefs during the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

St Aldhelm's statue

St Aldhelm’s statue sits in a niche on the front of The Digby Memorial Church Hall in Sherborne, which was built in 1910. At the time, a master of Sherborne School described the statue ‘as one of the very worst specimens of cheap modern Gothic extant’.

St Aldhelm, who died in AD 709, was a scholar who built churches and schools. He was also famous s as a writer and one of his noted works was De Virgintate (About Virginity) written for the Abbess and nuns of Barking. The author tells us that when Aldhelm was Abbot of Malmesbury ‘he would often stand in the icy waters of the nearby stream in order to subdue the desires of the flesh’.

The Five Legged Deer

The chapter on animal statues includes the real story of the five-legged deer on a disused entrance arch to Charborough Park, the home of the Drax family for over 400 years.

About the Author

mrw15311015Author Michael Russell Wood has lived in Dorset since 1955 and is well versed in local tradition and countryside, having brought out books in the Dorset Legacy series about bridges, rural shelters, corrugated iron buildings and stone and iron tablets and inscriptions.

He says: “I love the countryside and all these quirky little things that people pass by without generally looking at. They have all got so much to say.”

Dorset's Legacy in Public Statues is available from The Book Shop, Bridport, and all local booksellers. You can buy direct from the author via www.dorset-legacy.co.uk for £12 including postage.

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