The country clergyman who eloped with a parishioner’s wife… the stranded
whale that became a tourist attraction on a Dorset beach… the spinster who kept
her companion’s body for almost three years without reporting her death. These
are just three of more than thirty eyebrow-raising tales selected by Roger
Guttridge for his latest book on his home county.
Some of the tales are well known but given a new treatment by the author – such
as the stories of the ‘fossil lady of Lyme’ Mary Anning, Winston Churchill’s near fatal
fall from a bridge near Poole and the mysterious skull that has sat in a west
Dorset manor house for 200 years.
Other stories will be less familiar – such as the
hushed-up royal birth in a seaside town, the squire’s son who used a coffin filled
with stones to fake his own death and the county’s link with the Russian Revolution,
the ‘Father of Chemistry’ and ‘the man who could have been Darwin’.
The book includes spooky mysteries like the Durweston poltergeist and the
Beaminster ghost of John Daniel, murder cases such as the Sherborne poisoner
and Captain Burdett of Wimborne and tales of great Dorset characters such as
the lecherous squire of Woodlands and the reformed horse-thief and highwayman
who became a poet, doctor and lawyer.
Forty-five years as a Dorset journalist, author and historian have given Roger
Guttridge an unparalleled knowledge of the county’s past and a rare ability to tell
Roger Guttridge was brought up in the Sturminster Newton area of North
Dorset and educated at Blandford Grammar School before beginning a
career in local journalism. Dorset - Curious and Surprising is his nineteenth
book as author or co-author. He has also edited several books by other
Roger’s other journalistic speciality is swimming. He is a former press
officer with the Great Britain swim team and has written about the sport for
many publications, including the Daily and Sunday Express and Swimming Times magazine.
Imprint: Halsgrove, ISBN 978 0 85704 297 2, hardback, 210x148mm, 144 pages. Published October 2016.