Monday, 11 April 2011

OSMINGTON MILLS

It was while John Constable was staying in the Osmington area for his honeymoon that he painted the Bowleaze Cove painting referred to in the previous post. He also produced another painting around this time called “A View of Osmington Bay, Dorset”. This little village, nestling in a wooded valley, dwarfed by the surrounding hills, must have been an idyllic, peaceful spot in those days. Lately though, that peace has been shattered due to extensive work being done on the holiday park in the locality, causing tension among the locals living there. According to the local press in May 2010, local residents were threatening to chain themselves to trees and blockade the roads in protest at plans to cut down or reduce the size of around 100 trees at the holiday park. They were also deeply unhappy with changes which had been made to the park, giving it the look of a “concentration camp”.

There is an ancient pub in Osmington Mills called the Smugglers Inn, parts of which date from the 13th century. In the early 19th century, the landlord of the pub was the leader of the area’s most notorious gang of smugglers, Emmanuel Charles. It was said that the brandy imported by Charles was so disgusting that the locals refused to drink it, so it had to be transported inland to be redistilled. Charles had a sidekick nicknamed French Peter, real name Peter Latour, who used to anchor his ship, the Hirondelle, in the bay below the pub. One day Charles received a visit from an officer of the Preventive, the anti-smuggling force of the time, and plied him with drink, then told him terrifying tales about the ferocious nature of French Peter, so that when the latter turned up at the inn the Preventive was persuaded to hide in the chimney, only to be smoked out when the two smugglers set about lighting a fire in the grate, upon which he was sent back to Weymouth, still drunk and reeking of smoke.

Map of the area.

Ringstead Bayphoto © 2006 Jim Champion | more info (via: Wylio)

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