The first in a series of benches dedicated to one of Dorset’s most famous and loved poets, William Barnes, has been unveiled in the village of Whitcombe, near Dorchester.
Following an anonymous donation by a member of the William Barnes Society, numerous benches will be installed in a number of towns and villages across the county to highlight the poet’s contribution to the culture of Dorset.
Barnes penned over 800 poems throughout his lifetime, with some even penned in the Dorset dialect, capturing the way we used to speak for the rest of time.
Whitcombe was deemed as an ‘appropriate place’ to place the first bench by chairman of the Society, Brian Caddy, as it was the village in which Barnes started and ended his church ministry. It is planned to be the first of several that will be put in various places throughout the county where he played a significant role during his life.
Society members first visited the church at Winterborne Monkton, where Barnes’ son was a rector, before heading to Whitcombe Barn to be treated to a summer tea in celebration of unveiling the bench. The bench was then revealed, accompanied by a reading of one of his poems.
Born into a farming family near Sturminster Newton in 1801, Barnes first worked running schools in Dorchester and Wiltshire before being ordained into the church at St John’s College, Cambridge. He then returned to Dorset, taking up his role at Whitcombe before served as a rector at St Peter’s Church in Dorchester, Winterbourne Came and Winterborne Farringdon.
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