Monday 26 November 2012

Day Off in Dorchester

I took the train to Dorchester today to meet some intrepid friends who braved the flooded roads to get there from North Somerset. On route to the lunch hostelry where we were to meet, I managed to buy one more Christmas present - this one for my great nephew. And I walked past this old building in the main street.
pic by Jim from London at Wikimedia Commons

The Judge Jeffries restaurant was the lodging house of The Hanging Judge when, in 1685, he presided over the Bloody Assizes at Dorchester. He got his nickname because of the brutal sentences he handed out to the supporters of the Duke of Monmouth' failed rebellion against the monarch. After the Assizes, there were 74 executions in the Dorchester area and 175 people were transported to Britain's American colonies for penal servitude. Only three years later, King James II left England and Judge Jeffries was himself locked up in the Tower of London, where he later became ill and died.

But today, my friends and I had happier things on our mind. I bypassed the Judge Jeffries to meet them at the Kings Arms in the other side of the street, which has its own history as a traditional coaching inn, and was  featured in Thomas Hardy's books, Far from the Madding Crowd and The Mayor of Casterbridge. It still looks much the same as in the ancient drawing on this web page

There we had an excellent, long, leisurely lunch catching up with what's been going on in our lives since out last meeting over a year ago. When they realised their car park ticket was about to run out, we paid up and legged it, and  I managed to get the next train and be home before it was truly dark.

A great day off that I'd earned by working all through my Sunday afternoon and evening.


aw said...

There are some fascinating buildings in Dorchester and it is one of those places that is easy to explore. Quite a few links to the Tolpuddle Martyrs story, too, and the village itself isn't too far away with lots to explore there.

Unknown said...

You're right, Ann. I'm lucky now to live within easy reach of all this.

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