North Dorset and Wiltshire
The relatively nearby embarkation ports of Poole and Weymouth drew settlers and pilgrims from many areas of the West Country. News of the departures would have become common knowledge along the main highways and some notable members of the aristocracy also played a significant role in encouraging settlements in the ’New World’. Anne Arundell, daughter of the 1st Baron Arundell of Wardour played such a role during her marriage to Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore. On the death of his father, Cecil Baltimore’s title became First Lord Proprietary, Earl Palatine of the Provinces of Maryland and Avalon (Newfoundland) in America. As his wife, Anne Arundell was to encourage settlers, particularly those who shared her Catholic faith, to make the journey away from the religious persecutions of the time.
Her birthplace of Wardour Castle is now a ruin, albeit an attractive one, having been destroyed during the Civil War in 1643. This is near Shaftesbury; one of the oldest English towns, that traces its known history to its establishment in 880 AD by King Alfred the Great.
One of the main 17th century coach routes passed the town as well as Wardour towards the Cathedral town of Salisbury.
There are many connections between North Dorset and New England. Emily Dickinson traces her maternal lineage to the area and the architect Richard Upjohn, famous for his Gothic Revival churches in the United States, including Trinity Church in New York City, was born in Shaftesbury.
It is intended that the North Dorset tour will include a visit to the Sturminster Newton Mill, known to have been established during the latter part of the first millennium and one of the few remaining working water mills in the country. Aside from the usual production of flour the mill was well-known for the production of ‘swan skin’ a water resistant cloth derived from sheep’s wool. This became an important export from nearby Poole to the fisheries of the Grand Banks.