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Thursday, 22 September 2022

Women's Land Army in World War II

Recently released records from World War II have allowed historians to see the registration cards for the Women's Land Army for the first time.

The Land Army had a massive responsibility to take on farming activities, and keep the population fed whilst male workers were away at war. The work has hard and physically demanding. By 1944 there were 22,000 women working on the land, often staying in hostels far from their homes.

The following ladies, unsung heroines of the war effort, were listed as recruits to the Women's Land Army in Osmington and the surrounding area.

Miss Kathleen Mabel Watson (married name Chaffey) aged 25.

She was in the land army until November 1944 and lived at 'Melcombe', Stone Lane Osmington.

Her profession was a dog breeder.

Miss Margaret Ellen Parker aged 36.

She was in the land army until February 1940 and lived at the Phoenix in church lane Osmington. 

Her profession was a servant.

Miss Augusta Noreen Bugler aged 33.

She was in the land army from May 1939 until December 1942 and lived at Sunnybrook Poultry farm, Owermoigne.

She was a whole time poultry farmer and looked after 1000 chickens.

Miss Stella Beatrice Hoerter aged 26.

She was in the land army from May 1939 and lived at 1 Cottage, Broadmayne. 

She had no previous farming experience.

Miss Sophia Ella Peck aged 21.

She was in the land army from May 1942 to January 1946 and lived at 41 Littlemoor road, Preston.

No profession listed.

There are a further 981 records for women who were based in the Women's Land army during the war in Dorset (about 70 of which were in Weymouth) and they came from all walks of life, all professions and all age groups.

Sunday, 11 September 2022

Osmington Lodge


Osmington lodge on the main road in Osmington was formerly the home of the Hall family.

The history of the building has been very much influenced by military ownership and war time conflict; this has resulted in it changed hands many times.

Charles Thomas Hall was a retired Lieutenant Colonel who owned a large amount of land in the village, which he had inherited from his father Charles Hall who was a wealthy farmer. Records show him living at Osmington Lodge with his family from at least 1876 until 1899.

Charles Thomas Hall was born circa 1833 and married Sarah Anne Shepheard in St Osmund’s church on 11 June 1862.

They had two sons – Charles Lillington Hall b.1865 and Robert Lillington Hall b.1872. Sadly Robert died aged 15 years and was buried in the churchyard.

Sarah Anne died in 1891 and was followed by her husband Charles Thomas in 1899. They have a large shared ornate gravestone in St Osmunds church on the left-hand side at the top of the path nearing the south entrance to the church.

Their son Charles Lillington Hall inherited Osmington lodge from his father, Charles Thomas in 1899 and lived there with his Danish wife Irena Maria Di Plenge until his death in 1910.

In November 1899 Reginald Joseph Weld of Lulworth castle proposed the creation of a railway from Lulworth to Osmington under the 1896 Light Railways Act.

The intention was for the railway to travel between Arne, East Holme, East Stoke, Tyneham, East Lulworth, West Lulworth, Chaldon Herring, Owermoigne and Osmington. If it had gone ahead Mr Weld's railway would have terminated very close to Osmington lodge!

Shepton Mallet Journal 07 July 1916

Irena was considerably younger than Charles Lillington and was widowed at 38 years old.

She had no children and remained living alone at the lodge until 1913. Under Charles Lillington’s will the property passed to his male relative, Major Robert Hall Brutton of the brewing firm Brutton and sons (Yeovil).

Irena had departed from the Lodge by 1915 and was replaced by Colonel John Gibb. In the same year Major Robert Hall Brutton died in India; his property, including Osmington Lodge, and fortune (over £3m in today’s money) passed to his many siblings.

In 1919 Osmington Lodge was occupied by Daisie Dixon and the Lodge was described as a 'business premises'.

In 1920 she had been replaced by George Lane.

The property continued to change hands regularly, possibly indicating that it was being let out to wealthy military gentlemen. By 1931 the Lodge became the home of D.S.O (retired) Rear Admiral Wion de Malpas Egerton.

Rear Admiral Egerton was a British Royal Navy officer, who served in World War I and was Deputy Director of Torpedoes and Mining from 1921 to 1922. Egerton was killed in the Second World War as commander of a North Atlantic convoy. He was convoy commodore of Convoy ON 154 aboard Empire Shackleton and picked up by HMS Fidelity after his ship was torpedoed, but he died when the rescue vessel was also torpedoed. He left a widow and three children. 

Major General David Egerton

“Rear Admiral Wion de Malpas Egerton’s son, David Egerton, had boyhood hopes of becoming a civil engineer, but was persuaded to join the Army. While he was marking out a promising future on active service during the Second World War, a shell deprived him of his left leg above the knee and severely injured his left arm. These disabilities led him to qualify for the technical staff, for which he showed great aptitude, contributing significantly to the development of weapons and munitions during the battlefield capability rivalry of the Cold War. He was made Major-General, to the inter-Service working party on the air threat to ground forces in limited war. This produced the Rapier and Blowpipe ground-to-air guided weapon systems that proved their value in the Falklands conflict of 1982.

He was vice-chairman of the Dorset Association for the Disabled and participated in the work of the Royal British Legion and many other national and local charities. In 2008, at the age of 94, he inherited the family baronetcy — created in 1617 — from his cousin Sir John Grey Egerton, 15th baronet. He declined to use the title and made inquiries as to whether he could formally renounce it”.  The Times

Major General David Egerton died in Weymouth in 2010 at the age of 97. His family is not linked to the well-established Egerton family from West Stafford.

The property passed into the hands of the Harper-Smith’s and then Osmington Lodge became a care home and was sold again in 1982 and 1997. More properties were built on the original grounds and it is currently home to four private residences.

(If you have any further information on the house, we would love to hear from you). 

Saturday, 23 July 2022

Osmington Graveyard

By Jack Akin

The graveyard in Osmington is a mournful place, but is also a place where the lives of Osmington's most beloved people are celebrated and their impacts and the work they did on the village will not be forgotten as they forever helped Osmington become a joyous and wonderful place.


Pictured here are three crosses - the Foot family memorials.

The graveyard is placed looking over the village, with the sun forever shining down on the tombstones like a beacon of hope reminding everyone of the soldiers who gave their lives fighting for their home or the admirable people who helped Osmington become a beautiful place to visit.

A great deal of effort has been put into managing the graveyard so that it is not a place of sorrow, but a place to cherish the history and memories of those who helped make Osmington the place we know today.

Friday, 18 February 2022

Mary Kempe


Many people who know the village of Osmington, will also know long-standing resident Mary Kempe. She lived in the village for forty-seven years and her family had owned land in the village since the 1700’s. She described it as a special place, and though she had travelled the world extensively in her 91 years, she always considered Osmington to be home.

“I like this place enormously; I love this place. I think it’s beautiful country. I have a sort of sense of responsibility about the place because of my history. I want to see it remain as a strong community. I think communities are very important and this has been a very good and strong community. I’ve been very fortunate and very privileged to be associated with this place. I’m always so pleased to see youngsters in the village and a family living in a house. I like a well-balanced community”.

Mary’s ancestry paid a huge part in the formation of modern Osmington. Following the dissolution of the monasteries by the Tudors, Elizabeth I gave the manor of Osmington (including Osmington mills) to Sir John Ashley, whose wife, was the Queen’s governess.

The farm in Osmington was given to Sir John Watkins by Elizabeth I and then passed to Lord Petry and then to the Sheldons’ of Warwickshire. Daniel Sheldon in 1695 sold his lands to Awnsham Churchill, a bookseller in the reign of Queen Anne. He owned land in Osmington, Ringstead and Poxwell.

Osmington then passed through the Churchill family to William Churchill Esq of Henbury. He decided to sell the farm to Mr Hitt of Beaminster. This became known as Hitt’s farm and remained a separate entity from the rest of the manor.  Latterly, William Churchill sold the rest of the village lands to Robert Serrell Wood in 1745.

Robert Serrell Wood I was Mary Kempe’s 3 x great Grandfather. The son of Robin Wood and Elizabeth Serrell from Broadmayne, he was born at Osmington house, which at that time was a Tudor building at the bottom of Roman road in the village. It is this house that John Constable painted in his well-known view of the village.

Robert Serrell Wood I had a son Robert Serrell Wood II who after studying for his MA at Oxford, became the Vicar of Maidstone. Reverend Robert Serrell WOOD II married Caroline Bray (1789-1812) of Tavistock. Her brother Edward Atkyns Bray married Anna Elisa KEMPE, she was an accomplished novelist and friend of Wordsworth’s. Edward Atkyns Bray later became the Vicar of Tavistock.

This association between the two families had a lasting impact on the village’s fortunes. When Robert Serrell Wood II predeceased his father, there became an issue of who would inherit the village. Robert Serrell Wood I decided to leave his lands equally divided between his grandsons Robert Serrell Wood III and Major Edward Atkyns Wood, who was the deputy Lieutenant of Dorset. They basically divided the village in half with the Tudor manor house, Chapel lane houses, Roman road, and the mills going to the eldest brother Robert Serrell Wood III and the Church, and church road side with associated buildings including shortlake lands going to Edward Atkyns Wood.

Robert Serrell Wood III was a forward-thinker and an author of papers regarding electricity.  He wrote about his experiments introducing electricity into farming to improve agricultural yield. He decided to leave Osmington, entrusting his brother Edward with his lands, and moved to Pennsylvania  in the 1840’s to study at the University. He took with him, two agricultural labourers, the eldest son of the smuggler Emmanuel Charles, and a boy called William Hatcher. They were both just 15 years old.

Robert invested in land in Pennsylvania and the three men built a successful farm.  The move created social mobility for both young men who lived with the Serrell Wood family, even after Robert died. Both men married and settled in America, gaining farms in their own right.

Robert Serrell Wood III

Robert and his brother Edward also influenced the improvement in farming in Osmington by establishing the Allotment society, which encouraged local farm hands to grow vegetables to show. They were encouraged to participate by awarding prizes, this formed the foundation of the Osmington village show.

Edward remained living in the village, forging through a number of developments to modernise the community. He establishing safe water supplies for the local village residents to use from the springs located on his farm land. He was responsible for building Osmington House in the 1850’s and demolishing the old Tudor manor house that was no longer fit for purpose. He also built Osmington Cottage on the main road for the invalided sister of his second wife. He was also instrumental in the building on the main road – now the A353 – to link Weymouth to Wareham, following a dispute over land access with the Trenchard family at Poxwell.

Edward Atkyns Wood was buried in St Osmunds church in 1872 and there is a plaque in the church in his memory. Having no children of his own, he left his land in Osmington to his nephew, the son of Harriet and the Rev John Edward KEMPE, whom was a great friend.

Mary always spoke of the Reverend John Edward Kempe, her great grandfather, with great affection.

Rev John Edward KEMPE is buried in St Osmund’s church, which is unusual as he lived in London. He was rector of St James Piccadilly and Chaplain to the Queen. He knew everyone in London society and was the patriarch of the KEMPE family.  His great grandfather was Nicholas KEMPE whom in 1756 was appointment by the Treasury to be porter of His Majesty's Mint, within the Tower of London.

John Edward Kempe

Mary’s grandfather the Reverend Edward WOOD KEMPE MA (b1844 – d.1912) was the eldest son of Harriet and John Edward, he inherited half of Osmington from his uncle Major Edward Atkyns WOOD. He married Margaret Miller Challis (b1853- d.1909).

His family were very well connected in society and his brother Sir John Arrow KEMPE KCB (b1846 – d. 1928) second son of Harriet and John Edward was Private Secretary to the Treasury during Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli’s first premiership and Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for 6 years in Disraeli’s second premiership. He ultimately controlled the civil service.

Another brother Sir Alfred Bray KEMPE Kt MA FRS (b1849 – d.1922) was a fellow of the Royal Society of Mathematicians and married Mary BOWMAN (d.1893), who was the daughter of Sir William BOWMAN a famous surgeon who was the first person to discover the kidneys. Alfred married again to Ida Meadows WHITE (b.1863 – d.1950).

While the Kempe family kept their ownership of land in Osmington up until the 1930’s, the other side of the village owned by Robert Serrell Wood III soon passed out of their control, including the ownership of Osmington house.

When Robert Serrell Wood III passed away at 53 years old, his American born son, Jefferson moved to Osmington to take ownership. A Colonel in the border regiment, he also died relatively young and his wife remarried; the ownership of her lands then passed to her new husband and were subsequently sold off. This led to more homes being built in the village.

The remaining lands in the Kempe family passed to Mary’s father, the Reverend Edward Chalice Kempe who was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge and served with the Royal Army Chaplains' Department during the First World War.

He first travelled to Australia in 1909 and returned again after the war, where he helped establish the first Anglican religious community for men in Goulburn, New South Wales in 1921. He lived there from 1921 – 1928 until he met Ethel Lucy ATKINSON b.1901 from Queensland. He and Ethel moved to England in 1928 and married. He became a Vicar in Nottinghamshire before retiring from the clergy in 1951/2 when he and Ethel moved back to Osmington, first living at Osmington Cottage until 1956 and then at the Beehive. He died at Warmwell House in 1965.

Mary’s father gave her mother the Beehive as a wedding present, so that she had an independent income of her own. It had been condemned unfit for human habitation in about 1930, so they had to initiate a major refurbishment to completely modernised it.

They raised the roof quite substantially by about eight feet. It was previously two cottages. Beehive cottage was the front cottage and the kitchen was Homer cottage and the hall was an outhouse.

The Beehive before renovation

Between 1967 and 1982 Mary travelled extensively, firstly travelling to Australia. She then spent a further ten years living and working in Africa and became passionate about community development and social justice.

She returned to the village in 1982 and when her mother passed away in 1988, she inherited the Beehive. She has been an integral part of the local community ever since, involved in most community developments and initiatives, and as a source of great knowledge and wit. 

(A copy of this article features in the March 2022 edition of the Register magazine)

Saturday, 6 November 2021

Armistice Day 2021


Osmington History Patrons pay tribute to those who served their Country from the parish of Osmington and Poxwell.

(Mobile users if video is not visible please use this link Armistice 2021 Osmington History - YouTube )

Friday, 29 October 2021

The Reverend Henry Cecil Franks - Vicar of Osmington

 Last year I was loaned a copy of a small book written by Dorothy Franks about her time living in the village of Osmington.

Her husband, Henry Cecil Franks had been the Vicar from 1952 to 1955 and they lived at the Vicarage on church street.

Further research uncovered the past career of our Vicar in this short video, Jean Wyman narrates.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Sharing your memories of Osmington life

This last year has been difficult for us all during the pandemic and we have had to postpone our activities interviewing village residents, to keep everybody safe.

We have been fortunate however, to have received some wonderful contributions of written memories that residents have kindly given us, which are helping to continue to build a picture of the social history of the village.

Here are just a few snippets

"On a board in the Vestry, there is some interesting writing. It reads thus: Mrs Susanna Toogood, Relict of the Revd. C Toogood, late of Sherborne in this County by her Will dated 6 May 1826, left the sum of 200 pounds to the Parish of Osmington; the interest therof to be annually laid out by the Minister and Churchwardens of the said Parish; the one half part in the purchase of long warm cloaks, for such women of Osmington as they shall think most deserving; and the other half part, in the purchase of coats, blankets or rugs for men, as they shall also consider most deserving of the same. Such distribution to be made in the month of November every year".

"Yes, Osmington is a lovely place. The snug charm of its thatch, the houses all with their delightful names - Charity farm, Shell cottage, the Old Barn, Tudor 'Stone Lane Cottage', The Bee-hive, Little Orchard, The Garden House, Sunny Hill and the people match their village. In Summer it is just a riot of roses".  Dorothy Franks 


"We moved to Osmington village in the winter of 1948, I attended Osmington school in September 1949.

We lived in the last house in the village beside the lane that led to the drove and White Horse hill.

The Parker family lived next door, they had six children, the youngest was Michael who was 14 and I was 6 at the time. He was my hero , he rode his bike with no hands and whistled a lot, he taught me how to whistle, make a bow and arrow and make and fire a catapult. I progressed to whistling with two fingers!

I tried to follow him wherever he went - usually rabbiting, he would have none of it, however we did seem to eat an awful lot of rabbit pie and stew in those days. My aunt Lucy who was a country lady would take us foraging according to the seasons. Snowdrops in February, later cowslips, celandines, buttercups. Iris's from the wetlands of Kenny's fields, bullrushes for arrangements and later sloes, blackberries and mushrooms which were very plentiful in the top fields near to the White horse.

The lane leading to the White Horse was an assault on the senses, cowpats, honeysuckle and sweet briar resulting in a very sensual fragrance; the memory of which stays with me to this day".

Pauline Armstrong

Your memories

Please can we ask - as the autumn nights draw in on us - that you take some time to reflect and possible write or type out some of your memories of living in the village to share with us.
We all have unique personal memories and these create a richness to social history that you cannot find anywhere else.

You can email contributions to lucy at osmington-history dot co dot uk or post to me at Franconia.

We intend to gather these collective memories together to share as a community to show why living in the village is so special to so many of us.

Many many thanks to those of you who have contributed so far. It's been really lovely reading your stories, and as life gets back to a bit more normality, we hope to be able to meet up with you again soon.