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possession of the Crown after the Conquest, and King Joho resided here some time, and is said to have confined in its dungeons 22 prisoners, principally nobles of Poitou, whom he caused to be starved to death; here also Peter of Pontefract was imprisoned for prophesying the King's deposition; and although this prediction might be said to be in some measure fulfilled by John's resignation of his crown to the Pope's Legate, the unfortunate prophet had little reason to congratulate himself on his acquaintance with futurity, if it be true, as related by some historians, that “ he was dragged through the streets of Wareham, tied to horses' tails.” Edward II was imprisoned here a short time, previous to his removal to Berkeley.
After this period we do not meet with any historical event connected with Corfe Castle, until 1643, when the Lady of Lord Chief Justice Bankes, assisted only by a few soldiers, her children, and servants, bravely defended it against the attacks of a numerous body of the Parliamentary forces, from May until August, at which time, upon the approach of the Royal troops, under the Earl of Caernaryon, the assailants decamped with precipitation, abandoning their horses and baggage. In 1646, however, the Castle was again besieged by the Parliamentarians, who at length obtained possession by the treachery of Col. Pitman, an officer of the garrison. Its demolition was immediately ordered, and this was in a great measure accomplished by undermining and blowing up the towers and walls. Its ruins now afford one of the grandest and most impressive specimens of the kind in England; the Keep, or King's Tower, particularly commands attention, from its situation and the magnitude of its remains.
At a short distance eastward from Corfe Castle, is Nine Barrow Down, an extensive eminence, the highest point of which is 642 feet above the level of rows, supposed to be of British coustruction, which are situated upon it, nearly in a line; beside these, are several others in various parts of the Down; the prospect from hence is extensive and beautiful.
It derives its name from nine large Barcan show) was canonized, and received the title of Martyr; and the Queen, detested and shunned by every one, and having gratified her ambition by raising her son to the throne, founded two Nunneries, one at Ambresbury in Wiltshire, another at Whorwell in Hampshire, in the latter of which she passed the remainder of her days, atoning, according to the fashion of the times, for a long life of crime by years of superstitious devotion.
CRANBORNE, a neat but small market-town, near the north-eastern border of the county, and 93 miles from London, is of great antiquity, although it is not connected with any event of importance. The parish is the largest in the county, being 30 miles in circumference, but the population of the town is only 1823 persons, most of whom are employed in agriculture. The Church, dedicated to St. Bartholomew, formerly belonged to a small but ancient Priory, which at the Dissolution maintained no more than two monks and the Prior; it is a spacious and venerable building, containing several monuments. A weekly Market is held on Thursday, and an annual Fair on December 6th. On Castle Hill, in this vicinity, the remains of a circular Fortification are still visible; and many barrows are scattered over the adjacent Downs, which has induced some antiquarians to consider this place as the theatre of a great battle between the Britons and the Romans.
At Cranborne, in 1635, was born Edward Stilling. fleet, Bishop of Worcester; he was educated at Cam. bridge, and, taking orders, soon distinguished himself by his writings, and obtained various prefer. ments. In 1685, he published his “ Antiquities of the British Church;" and, having signalized his attachment to the Protestant religion by several publications during the reigns of Charles and James II, was, soon after the Revolution, appointed to the See of Worcester. He died in 1699, and was interred in his Cathedral, where a monument to his memory was erected by his son: his works were collected, and published in six volumes folio, and many of them are still read and admired.
DORCHESTER, The county town of Dorsetshire, is pleasantly situated about six miles from the sea; on the north runs the Frome, and on the south and west are extensive Downs, partly occupied as sheep-walks, and partly arable. This town is supposed to be of British
origin, and its Roman name, Durnovaria, is derived from a British word signifying the passage of a river. Their road from Sorbiodunum (Old Sarum), to Isca (Exeter), passed through this town; and numerous coins, rings, and other antiquities, found here, as well as the ancient walls, which existed to a recent period, and the extensive Amphitheatre, called Maumbury, evince it to have been of considerable importance under those conquerors.
It continued in a flourishing state during the Saxon government, and Athelstan established two mints here. In 1003, it was besieged, taken and burnt, by the Danes, under Sweyn, who also threw down a part of the walls, and demolished the Castle.
During a considerable period after the Conquest, no event of importance is connected with this town; in the latter part of the reign of Elizabeth, six Catholic priests were executed here; and in 1595, a dread
ful plague almost depopulated the place. In 1613, 300 houses, two churches, and property valued at £200,000, were destroyed by an accidental fire. At the commencement of the Civil War, Dorchester distinguished itself by its opposition to the King, and is styled by Lord Clarendon,
“ the magazine whence other places were supplied with the principles of rebellion." In 1643, the inhabitants exerted themselves with great diligence in fortifying the town; but on the approach of the Royal forces, surrendered 'without resistance, when the works which' they had erected were dismantled, and during the remainder of the war, it was possessed alternately by both parties. In 1685, Jefferies made this town one of the principal places in which he tried, or rather condemned, the unhappy followers of the Duke of Monmouthi on the first day of the assizes (having ordered the Court to be hung with scarlet cloth) he went through the cases of 30 persons, of whom 21 were found guilty; the next morning he intimated that if the remaining prisoners would plead guilty, they might expect to be mercifully dealt with; but if they persisted in giving the Court trouble, they might depend on being convicted, and must expect no quarter: 292 persons accordingly availed themselves of this benevolent hint; of whom he immediately ordered 80 for execution; how many of them suffered is
uncertain: many others * were imprisoned, whipped, fined, or transported.
Dorchester has long been incorporated, and has returned two Members to Parliament ever since 1295: the electors are all persons possessed of real estates within the borough, and paying church and poor rates, whether resident or not. The Charter by which it is at present governed was granted by Charles I, and the Corporation consists of a Mayor, two Bailiffs, six Aldermen, six Burgesses, a Governor, and twentyfour Common-Councilmen. It has a separate jurisdiction; the mayor and some of the burgesses having the power to hold quarterly sessions, and a court for the
recovery of small debts. This town principally consists of three spacious streets, meeting near the centre, and crossed by several others, all of them being well paved, and the houses and other buildings neat and handsome. Here are three Churches; St. Peter's, although but a Chapel of ease to Holy Trinity, is considered the principal, and is situated near the middle of the town; it is a large and handsome structure, with a lofty tower, adorned with pinnacles and battlements: it contains some monuments, the most remarkable of which are, one in memory of Denzil, Lord Holles, a distinguished statesman, who died in 1679; and another, to Sir John Williams, 1617; both these monuments are adorned with full-length effigies of the deceased; and the inscription on the latter states that he and his wife (whose statue also is placed on the tomb) lived together fifty years, in which time they had eleven children. Several other effigies are found in this Church, some of which are of considerable antiquity. The other Churches are respectively dedicated to the Holy Trinity and All Saints, both were rebuilt after the conflagration of 1613, and neither of them possesses any claims to particular notice: in the former is a marble tablet, in memory of Dr. Cuming, an eminent physician of this town, the inscription on which states that he was buried, at his own desire, in the Churchyard rather than the Church, “lest he who studied whilst living to promote the health of his fellow-citizens, should prove detrimental to it when dead."
* Among these unhappy wretches was Johu Tutchin, author of the Observator, who was sentenced to be imprisoned seven years, to pay a fine of 100 marks, and to be whipped through every town in the county once a-year, which would have subjected him to a whipping every week. He petitioned to be hanged rather than undergo this barbarous sentence, which the King afterwards mitigated.
The Town Hall, near St. Peter's Church, is a spacious and handsome building, erected in 1791, having a market-place beneath. The Shire Hall, in which the Assizes for the County are held, is a neat edifice, fronted with Portland stone; its interior arrangements are commodious and appropriate. On the north side of the town is the New Gaol, erected about thirty years ago, and comprising a County Prison, Penitentíary, and House of Correction. This building was constructed on the plan of Mr. Howard, at an expense of more than £16,000; it has a Chapel, an Infirmary, distinct rooms for the confinement of debtors and felons, and separate sleeping-cells. A tread-mill has been recently introduced; and the regulations for the management of the prison are said to be highly creditable to the magistrates by whom they were framed.
Dorchester had anciently some religious and charitable establishments, which were swept away at the Reformation; it has now two Alms-houses; two Free Schools, one founded by a Mr. Hardy in 1569, and the other by the Corporation in 1623; and some donations for the benefit of the poor. The population, in 1821, was 2743 persons, many of whom are employed in the breweries, whose produce is so justly famous. The woollen manufacture formerly carried on here is nearly extinct, being now confined to the production of a small quantity of serge. The town derives its greatest advantage from the weekly Markets which are held on Wednesday and Saturday, and from four annual Fairs, at which vast numbers of sheep and lambs, fed on the neighbouring Downs, are sold. Many persons are also induced to make Dorchester their residence by its proverbially healthy and agreeable situation*. A little to the west of the town, Cavalry Barracks were erected in 1795, at an expense of nearly £25,000.
In the neighbourhood of Dorchester are many relics
* As illustrative of this subject, it is related that Dr. Arbuthnot, the friend of Pope and Swift, settled here as a physician, but meeting with Jittle practice, he determined to quit the town, because, as he facetiously observed, a man could neither live nor die there.".