Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Wareham and the River Frome

Wednesday 25 June. From Lyme Regis we motored quite a way. Past the huge ramparts of Maiden Castle. Out towards the great natural harbour of Poole. But we stopped a little short of Poole at Wareham.

This ancient village sits on the River Frome which flows down to Poole Harbour. It was probably one of King Alfred's burghs and is one of just a very few walled towns in England where the walls are earthwork rather than stone. King Alfred (he of "the Great" and of the burnt cakes) was desperately trying to keep Saxon England er... Saxon England...

This is a view of Wareham as it would be seen by those trying to stop King Alfred from keeping it Saxon England. The Vikings. Vikings is a bit of a misunderstood term these days. A lot of people think that was the name of the people from Norway, Denmark and all points cold. It wasn't. They were Norsemen. And presumably Norsewomen... Vikings were raiders. It's what they did rather than who they were. But then those who went sailing off for a spot of raping and pillaging and looting without (here's the defining crunch) settling became known as Vikings. It probably started out as a misunderstood answer to the question:

"Hello, nice boat... what do you want?"
"We're viking!"

Anyway, Vikings began to refer to the people. They were eventually followed by Norsemen who wanted to settle. You know... no ice, lots of grass and good farmland, internationally famous benefits system...

The Norsemen also settled in Germany and what would become France where their name Norsemen became shortened to Norman and then they invaded all over again. What goes around comes around...

We were on the river on this little whaler. There actually are not all that many whales splashing up and down the River Frome, so instead of watching them we sat looking at the reeds that line the river. They were harvested for thatched roofing until there was a great fire one year. The decision was made that all rebuilding should be done with tiled roofs so to reduce the risk of fire spreading so quickly again. That had two effects.

The only thatched roofs to be seen now are outside the area devastated in the fire. And two: the reeds started to choke the river which silted up and is now unnavigable to large boats except for a short length. Stops any Vikings in their tracks now...

An old Viking longboat sitting abandoned in the river...

This is the spot from which we got on the boat. It is a lovely spot on a warm sunny day with a couple of pubs and benches. We sat and watched the boat load up again for its last trip of the day. We decided we would have a bit of a wander to look at the church and old part of the town.

We obviously wandered outside the area of the fire! This gorgeous little cottage sits facing the churchyard, with upper storey windows right up in the thatch.

It was immensely hot. We glanced, rather than looked at, the church. We admired the old blocked doorway, designed to ensure you bowed your head humbly before entering the House of God and decided we would head back to the river and find a drink.

Which we did! Cheers!

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