The meeting of the Tarrant and the Stour

13 June 2015

Anne-Marie Edwards informed me in Waterside Walks in Dorset that: “From an attractive village raised footbridges cross the gardens of an old mill and field paths lead over the Stour water meadows to the Tarrant valley. Here, in an idyllic setting beside the river, stands a 12th-century church with medieval wall paintings and close by are the foundations of an ancient abbey…” What more could a family (me, Ma and Pa FWL) want for a Saturday afternoon in Dorset? Well, lunch first!

We began our day on hand deliveries actually. Personal service is our forte at FWL and this morning saw not one, not two but FOUR letters being driven to people’s front doors. I met with two beneficiaries to return their ID and contracts and explain the process of intestacy claims in person. What better service could a client want, and on a Saturday!

After our morning’s travels in the Bournemouth direction, we partook of a smidgen of lunch at what was the Drax Arms and now, the Woodpecker at Spetisbury …. Lovely JP with beans and cheese, and the Prawn Marie Rose sandwiches went down a treat too! My dream, of course, on any walk is to have a church halfway round. Today, my wish came true.

The Church of St Mary the Virgin at Tarrant Crawford is under the care of The Churches Conservation Trust, the national charity protecting historic churches at risk. The church is separate from the abbey and served the village and parish of Tarrant Crawford. The detailed publication by the Trust gives a history of the church: “Consisting only of nave, chancel, slim west tower and north porch, it is relatively small and gives no hint that there was once an important monastery close by … The series of wall paintings dating mostly from the 14th century, which are the outstanding feature of Tarrant Crawford church, take full advantage of the largely unbroken expanse of wall.”

I checked out all of the graves and memorials and sadly, there were no names registered with The Surname S0ciety. However, there was an interesting plaque in the floor near the altar, where Reverend Alfred Francis Smith fell asleep ‘on this spot’ July 15th 1877.

A lovely afternoon in the sunshine and wind and, despite certain parts being slightly overgrown with nettles, we returned unscathed to the Woodpecker and to the home of Ma & Pa FWL. There is never a non-genie/non-history day in my life, but this is about as close as it gets!

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