Quiz Rage!

A glorious day! Blue skies and wispy clouds. A perfect day for a walk along the cliff edge, which I promptly did. It was lovely.

We decided we’d pop over to Wimborne Minster today as there’s a NGS garden open in nearby Edmondsham. What a lovely little town! That’s Wimborne not Edmondsham though that’s quite nice too. And it has a Costa! Excellent, a latte at last. Mind you, typical Costa, they’d run out of hazelnut syrup so I had to have caramel. Just not the same. Still, I soldiered on.

The Minster itself is beautiful. Originally dedicated to St Cuthburga who was presumably some distant relative of St Ethelburga of Lyminge. Part of the famous Burga clan of Saxon England I guess. Anyway, the Minster started off as a nunnery in around 705AD. A Saxon wooden church was probably on the site before the Minster. Ethelred, brother of Alfred the Great and not the unready one, was buried in the Minster in 871.

There’s an amazing astronomical church which is attached to a little soldier up one of the exterior towers who whacks a couple of small bells every quarter hour. He is called a Quarter Jack for this very reason. Originally he was a little monk but then, when Napoleon was threatening to attack the British mainland, he was changed to a little soldier in a bright red tunic.

A few lovely and very old memorials dot the church. As well as a horned Moses. There are quite a few horned Moses representations. The reason for this is quite interesting. It stems from a mistranslation of a particular passage from Exodus. When Moses returned from his meeting with God and was carrying the ten commandments down to his people, his face shone with rays of heavenly light. In the original Hebrew, this ‘rays of light’ is written as ‘qaran’. Unfortunately, ‘qaran’ can also mean ‘developed horns’. When the Hebrew bible was originally translated into Latin, the guy who did it decided that Moses had grown horns after talking to God and it was written so in the bible. Therefore when people made representations of Moses for churches, they gave him ram’s horns. Hilarious!

Moses with horns, Wimborne Minster

We spent a while wandering around the Minster. Sadly the chained library was closed but we managed to get our fill. Having seen Wimborne, we decided it was about time we saw the same thing only at 1/10th the size!

In Wimborne there is the ‘World Famous’ Model Town! It’s brilliant. It’s a faithful model of the town in the early 1950s. You can wander the little streets and cuddle the towers of the church. It’s excellent. It was planned back in the late 40s when a group of chaps thought it would be a great idea. They took lots of photographs of the buildings and drew up some scale plans.

Little shops in model town, Wimborne Minster

Using concrete and beech wood, they built the town in sections. It was a massive hit and attracted people from all over. Then, over the years, the property on which it was built changed hands until, eventually, a developer bought it. By this time the model town had become a haven for vandals and was looking a bit sad and ghetto-like.

A big volunteer group of townsfolk banded together and convinced the developer it would be a great idea to let them move the model town to another location before he bulldozed it for development. He agreed.

A rather nice chap (Sir Michael Hanham) then gave the town a small corner of one of his fields on which to rebuild the small town. It was a tough and long job but eventually everything was rebuilt and a lovely garden included at the edges. It has been opened to the public in its new spot since 1991 and is wonderful. We recommend it.

As we paid our entrance fee, the kindly white haired lady asked if we’d like to ‘do the quiz’. Mirinda chuckled and said no. She was wise. There is a rare condition prevalent in many properties and sites throughout this country called Quiz Rage. It starts when the nice lady at the door hands the two children a clipboard with a list of questions, the answers to which can be found about the place. From this point on it becomes a competition.

Woe betide the sister who gets one more than her brother and gloats about it! Beware the wrath of an aggrieved and maligned lad. It’s certainly not pretty and adults are merely obstacles to be moved with anything that’s to hand. It’s bad enough in the cramped and priceless environs of a National Trust property but on the open streets of a miniature village, it’s a bloodbath. It’s an interesting social phenomena that the daughters tend to align themselves with the mother while the son doesn’t care and will take advice from anyone.

Having walked (and dodged) around both the small and full size versions, it was time for lunch. There’s a gastro-pub in Wimborne called the Olive Branch. Now generally I’m not that keen on gastro-pubs. I’m of the opinion that a pub should be a pub and a gastro should remain in a restaurant, however, this place is great. From the odd but funny Latin quotes around the walls to the brilliant food served in amusing ways.

Oz gets the Latin treatment

I recommend the beef burger with gorgonzola and fries. Excellent. And Mirinda recommends the ham and chicken pie.

Edmondsham is a little village not far from Wimborne Minster. It has a few houses in it. One of them is, oddly enough, Edmondsham House. Today its gardens were open for the NGS. The house is also open and we had a delightful tour given by the present owner.

The house is a Tudor Manor House with Georgian additions. Originally, on the same site, was a manor mentioned in Domesday and given to Mathilda by old Bill the Bastard. The Saxon owner was some guy called Dodo. I don’t think anyone knows who the original Edmund was. Anyway, the house that stands there today was started by Thomas Hussey in 1563.

Edmondsham house, Dorset

The house went through many hands of assorted related people until it ended up belonging to Hector William Bower Monro who married the daughter of the man who founded Bournemouth! The present owner is descended from all of them in a strange unlikely way.

She was a lovely lady who took great pride in telling us about each of the rooms. I was a bit perturbed when she roughly handled what appeared to be a first edition of Alice’s Adventures Underground and claimed she didn’t much care for it as it reeked of nightmares. Good God! The woman had a porcelain statue of a tiger eating a man’s head on the dining table! While it was still attached to his body! Now that’s nightmarish.

Within the grounds of the house sits the little church of St Nicolas. Dedicated to St Nicolas in 1644 it was built a long time before then but no-one knows when or why.

After our tour we wandered the grounds for a bit, admiring the octagonal dairy and the wonderful walled garden before climbing once more into Sidney for the long journey back to Burton Bradstock. A lovely day of exquisite weather and friendly touristy things.

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