Unusual Wedding Venues in Dorset

Weddings are always such fun.

They’re a bit like busses in a way, you wait round for ages with none at all, then suddenly you have a whole load of the come along all at once.

Although each invitation brings with it the not so welcome reminder that I have yet to tie the knot myself, I’m always keen to open up the envelope and see what part of the country I’ll be driving to next – even if it means spending a weekend away from my precious Dorset.

After having the pleasure of attending a glorious wedding on the weekend, I’ve found myself thinking about all the wonderful places that you could get married in Dorset. When you’ve lived and travelled round Dorset for as long as I have, you tend to get a little blinded by the amount of idyllic places that litter the county – but there are loads of great venues hidden around that only a local like me is aware of!

Props go to Nigel and Angela for putting together such a wonderful, unusual wedding day over in North Wales (check it out here).

Now, without further a do, here are my top 5 unusual places to get married in Dorset:

Farmer Palmers, Organford

Don’t be put off by the schticky name (its full name is Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park, but you don’t need to mention that on the invites), this is a riotously left-field option for a wedding day that would be hard to forget. A clearspan marquee is provided for receptions, kids can pet animals and everyone’s welcome to camp underneath the stars.


The RLNI College, Poole

With unparalleled views of the gorgeous Poole bay, the RNLI College is a surprisingly modern building nestled in the heart of this quaint coastal town. They are licensed to hold marriages and civil partnerships, in addition to offering their own on-site wedding coordinator and team of chefs.


Stockbridge Farm Barn, Sherborne

The centuries old barn, found at Lower Stockbridge Farm, seats 180 people and remains largely unchanged, despite its age. This makes it a perfect venue for those seeking an uber-traditional Medieval style wedding day – they even have a recommended list of suppliers to help you out!


Larmer Tree Gardens, Shaftesbury

Opened as one of the first examples of Victorian Pleasure Gardens back in 1880,The Larmer Tree offers 5 truly unique venues within its grounds that will appeal to all tastes. From the shabby chic ostentation of the Roman Temple to the smaller civilised General’s Room, this location has something to offer anyone looking for a truly unique wedding venue.


Mortons House Hotel

The oldest building on this list by a long shot, Mortons House was built in the shape of an ‘E’ as a tribute to the then ruling royal, Queen Elizabeth I, back in 1590. Its been wonderfully preserve and is now an intimate wedding venue for those looking for true history. The gorgeous oak-panelled drawing room is perfect for Civil Ceremonies, just bear in mind that only seats 60 guests!

Whether you choose to hold your Wedding in North Wales or Dorset, I wish you all the best – don’t forget to send me an invite!

A Day in the Life of a Dorset Day Tripper

forest-floorThis month’s blog comes from long-time reader, first-time writer Jessica Longhorn. 20 years after her last visit to lovely Morden Bog Reserve, Jessica decided to take a trip down memory lane and remind herself of a rather peculiar summer’s day in Dorset…

A fat gob of phlegm rested just inches from my manicured toenails, wobbling ever so slightly and glistening in the noonday sun that filtered through the slowly undulating forest foliage.

“Ever so sorry, my love, I swear I didn’t even see you there!”

The farmer, who had been ambling by the clearing I was resting at, said all the right words that formulated a traditional apology – but something in his tone of voice made me doubt his sincerity.

“That’s OK, have a nice day.”

In the countryside, I’ve learnt, its prudent to act as polite as possible.

broken-twigs-hakon-soreideAs a native to London, least polite city on the planet, it’s been a rather steep learning curve for me.

Walking down a West Country town High Street, you’re more likely to be stopped for friendly conversation rather than a casual mugging. I’ve only been here a week, but I’m think I’m starting to get an idea of what this place is about.

Under 3 hours from my home city lies Axminster, the first destination in my tour of the West Country, home of the (apparently ‘World Famous’) Axminster Rug this small little town actually lies just outside of Dorset – so I shan’t mention it any further.

My plan was to travel from *****ster all the way to Bournemouth, stopping off in a Nature Reserve I’d once visited as a child.


I had until Sunday at 6:50pm to catch the last train back to London. With a decent two day’s grace period to travel around 56 miles, I’d plenty of time to enjoy the sights and sounds of Dorset proper.

dead-flowersWhich brings us hurtling back through time to my current situation, remember? Glob of phlegm? Perfectly formed toenails? Undulating forest foliage?

The farmer’s heavy footfalls receded into the forest, along with the grating sound of his incessant hocking. I tried to find the centre of peace and tranquillity that I had been so utterly lost in before, but the moment had passed. Lying amongst the leaves, I must have looked strange. Arms and legs spreadeagled, my hands fiddling with some daisies I’d picked up along the way. I blinked twice, repeated my mantra and brought myself back.

boysSlipping my feet back into the wellington boots, that I’d bought especially for the trip, I stood up and tramped off in the opposite direction.

I was somewhere in the middle of Morden Bog National Reserve. After hitching rides through Lyme Regis and Bridport, I’d spent the night in Dorchester at a quaint B&B. My host was delightfully rural, complete with pink pinafore and chubby pink fingers. She must have been quite the matriarch in her time, judging by the wall of children’s faces that stared down gormlessly from her walls. Her guesthouse was rammed full of idyllic scenes of forest glades and circlets of dried dead flowers, I almost asphyxiated in the twee.


From there, I’d decided to hike my way to Morden Bog.

I still had the whole of Saturday and half of Sunday to get to Bournemouth. The six hour hike had taken it out of me, hence the brief lie down. I’d set out late, and the sun was beginning to set. Lifting my satchel round my shoulders, I set off in what I hoped was the direction of Poole: my Saturday night destination.

loamAs my feet crackled through the undergrowth, I breathed in the rich scent of the decomposing forest floor. It was sweet and acrid, all at the same time. The deeper I travelled into the woodlands, the stronger the scent became. The light was beginning to fade behind the trees and, although I knew I couldn’t be much further from a main road, I was beginning to worry that it would be too late to hitch a ride to Poole.

The ambient sounds of the forests, ever present during the day, had now become a cacophony of natural foley; clamouring to be heard. Although I was climbing steadily uphill towards a summit, my boots felt as if they were sinking further into the underbrush with each step I took. My breath rattled hard through my ribs, the fashionable Dukan Diet I had committed to some years ago worked wonders for my figure but did not give me much endurance.


With each laboured breath drawn through my dry nose, my nostrils recoiled with a new kind of smell. The sweet, comforting loamy aura that had first enraptured my senses now threatened to suffocate me. A sour, toxic invisible cloud had descended upon the forest, filling my lungs with a scent that I’d hoped to never smell again: the stench of rotting flesh.

The darkness threatened to swallow my thoughts. My hastening steps crushed the fragile twigs that clawed at the rubber of my boots. Like so many precious little fingers. With gormless faces they stared but didn’t see. But I saw them. Whilst I was running in the forest. I found them in a circle with a light scattering of autumn leaves barely covering their little knees. Joints, elbows, knuckles and wrists all stiff. Their wrists as brittle as the flowers that linked their cold stiff fingers.

The grey little fingers of the children I found.

Fan Of Broadchurch? Well Then Get To Dorset!

Itv has had a hit with its police murder drama ‘Broadchurch’ with both season 1 and 2 securing critical acclaim, high ratings and a fair few awards. The show uses it’s location a lot, with many great drone shot over the beautiful Dorset coast line. Dorset is an untapped location in terms of TV for the most part, but Broadchurch is righting that wrong will be continuing to right that wrong into the future, with season 3 scheduled to start filming this summer!

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The cast clearly love it here, Charlotte Rampling recently told us that “It was a really great experience to film there. I find it an extraordinary coastline, very inspiring country and a beautiful part of England.”

Go Dorset!

 

 

Winter In Dorset

 

Common beech (Fagus sylvatica) Beech boughs covered in snow against a white sky Beaminster Down, Dorset, England March 2004
Common beech (Fagus sylvatica)
Beech boughs covered in snow against a white sky
Beaminster Down, Dorset, England
March 2004

Winter is approaching here in Dorset, and that is no bad thing. Here in Dorset. Because Dorset is beautiful in the winter! I mean, let’s be honest, Dorset is beautiful all year round, it is beautiful in the Spring when green spreads across the land, when the Dorset flowers start to leap out of the ground and we all start emerging without quite so thick coats and hats and gloves. It is beautiful in the summer when the sun is shining and the flowers and the trees are in full bloom, when we all rejoice and run through the beautiful hills and round the lovely trees and embrace life and love.

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It is beautiful in Autumn, when the leafs turn golden and fall at our feet. When we walk through the leaves kicking them freely and enjoying the colours. Such joy, such unrelenting joy. And now we find ourselves in winter, borrowing down and getting ready for the cold months ahead.

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You got to get warm! I’ve been starting with the wardrobe personally. I’ve bought some beautiful winter bobble hats so I can look good in the cold snow. I’ve bought a new beautiful sheep skin coat so I can look more like Bane in the winter snow. I love the winter because I like big coats and hats and hoods. I think i like hiding myself, it is perhaps a confidence thing. I recently went through a bout of anxiety and I constantly found my self pulling the strings on my hood to close it around my face until all that was visable was my mouth. A bit like…

Mouth_of_Sauron

“A tall and evil shape, mounted upon a black horse… The rider was robed all in black, and black was his lofty helm; yet this was no Ringwraith but a living man … his name is remembered in no tale, for he himself had forgotten it.”
—The Return of the King

Which can’t really be a good sign. The Mouth Of Sauron is a man who had fallen so deeply into darkness that he had forgotten his name, forgotten himself completely. He was merely the weapon and extension of another. The body of a body-less evil. I hope not to become that at any point in any way.

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I hope to enjoy Dorset in all its beauty. And do it all in peace and happiness.

Merry Christmas. Almost.

What Does Dorset Need?

For such a flawless county I feel that Dorset receives a criminally low amount of visitors. We obviously don’t figure on any list of most visited cities (because, well, we have no cities) and we don’t feature on any lists of most visited counties or most popular counties, because I couldn’t find those lists.

STILL NOT

LOVE ME!

So what do we have if we don’t have cities? Well, we have nature, we have sea, we have beaches, we have fields and forests, we have rolling landscapes, we have trees and hills and long walks in the country side, we have national parks! In Dorset we are blessed with Durlston National Nature Reserve, Durlston Country Park, Studland Beach and Nature Reserve and many other gems! But are we making the most of these resources? What are we doing with these parks? Are we making the most of what we’ve got? I don’t think so! Let’s have a look.

In other counties that are getting more visitors they pack their Nature Reserves and National Parks with things! My mama went up to Yorkshire and visited their Bowland Fell Park and stayed in a static caravan. She loved it there and was happy to spend a whole week in the park! She walked around and enjoyed the beauty of nature but also she had activities to do! She could spend time in her lovely static caravan and just generally enjoy her self. There where also other people around in the other caravans.

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So, my question is, why have we not got this kind of thing going on here in Dorset? Well? Why? Do we not care? Do the people in charge not care? Because I care, so maybe I should be in charge? Well, that’s not for me to say but I agree that it’s certainly an interesting idea. A very interesting idea. Your a genius.

Dorset: The Untouched, Unseen and Undiscovered

“Thousands of years ago, all this land was trees. Tree’s, interrupted only by water or strutting hills. From coast to coast, the land grew free and far. And look at what we have done with that wilderness: cut it up, sold it off, covered it up. We’ve held this land so close we’ve squeezed the life out of it.” Greg Grassguard, of Dorset Environmental Action Theory House (D.E.A.T.H)

But Dorset still breaths. And will always breath while there are people left to fight for it. I will always fight for it. Because while nature is massive and mighty, humans have proven themselves to be stunningly destructive. Quite mind blowingly destructive. Far more destructive than maybe we ever imagined. You sometimes here people say ‘You know, nature will be ok, it’s us who have something to fear. We are the ones who will be destroyed, mother nature will eat us up on a moment and be done with us. And then you know what the world will do? You know what it’s reaction will be to our complete eradication? It will simply keep spinning. Keep being. Keep growing and living.”

durdle-door

Well, that is true, but what does that mean? Does it make you feel powerless? Does it make you feel small and weak? Just another tiny speck of nothingness in a universe that doesn’t care, a universe that doesn’t even know, a universe so vast and endless that your little life is almost squeezed out of existence by virtue of its unimaginable smallness when seen in the whole.

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There you go. There is the universe. It is yours and you are its. It belongs to you and you belong to it. Well…. you don’t and it doesn’t. There is no belong. There is no ownership. There is only everything. You are part of it and it is part of you, that is the truth. Well, that is a truth.