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Wincanton journalists invite you to discover Deepest Dorset

Tuesday 1 November 2016, 16:17
By Fanny Charles

Fanny Charles and Gay Pirrie Weir are pictured with the designer Briony Hartley, and photographers Philip Hartley and Katharine Davies

How well do you know Dorset? Journalists Fanny Charles and Gay Pirrie-Weir, who live in Wincanton and have worked in Dorset for most of their working lives, thought they knew the county pretty well before they started to research and write their new book.

Deepest Dorset explores what is special about this diverse county, described as “England’s Tuscany” by Italian-born sculptor and collage artist Marzia Colonna, who lives at Portesham and made the sculpture of St Aldhelm in Sherborne Abbey.

From the country’s oldest post-box in continuous use, near Sherborne, to wreckers on the Jurassic Coast, they discovered many fascinating facts and stories.

The scope is wide, from farming to fossils, brewing to boat-building, architecture to the oil industry, painting a portrait of Dorset in the 21st century. There are expert contributions on the landscape, historic food, cheese, museums, Dorset’s folk traditions and literary heritage, photographs by Sherborne-based Katharine Davies and Philip Hartley and a front cover wood engraving of Winspit, by Howard Phipps.

Photos from Deepest Dorset, by Katherine Davies
[Photos from Deepest Dorset, by Katherine Davies. Left: Jyoti Fernandes, an international campaigner for the rights of smallholders and indigenous peoples, milking one of her Jersey cows at Fivepenny Farm on the Dorset-Devon border. Centre: A student boat-builder at the Lyme Regis Boat Building Academy. Right: Marzia Colonna, an internationally known sculptor and collage artist, who made the statue of St Aldhelm in Sherborne Abbey, pictured in her Dorset studio.]

We have tried to capture some of the voices of Dorset in the 21st century”, says Gay, who was the Western Gazette’s Wincanton reporter for some years before going freelance. Contributors – all Dorset residents – include Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, broadcasters Kate Adie and Valerie Singleton, doyenne of Italian cookery writers Anna del Conte, food writer Rose Prince, Broadchurch writer Chris Chibnall, novelist Tracy Chevalier, musician and folk historian Tim Laycock, poet and historian James Crowden, Shaftesbury-based travelling chef Philippa Davis and landscape photographer Charlie Waite.

We don’t suggest it is an exhaustive study of contemporary Dorset, but we hope that readers will discover places and people that are new to them, food for thought and the dinner table, stimulating facts and a few surprises.

Deepest Dorset, published at the end of September, is raising funds for Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance, Weldmar Hospicecare Trust, Dorset Community Foundation and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

The cover of Deepest Dorset; front cover, Winspit, wood engraving by Howard Phipps

Deepest Dorset was officially launched at St Giles House, the ancestral home of the Earls of Shaftesbury, with a spectacular party. Fanny Charles and Gay Pirrie Weir are pictured (top) with the designer Briony Hartley, and photographers Philip Hartley and Katharine Davies. Gay’s headdress was made by Emma Smith, the brilliant artist wife of Dave Smith, who runs the Wincanton Window. The headdress shows a famous West Dorset landmark, Colmers Hill with its hilltop trees (based on a painting by artist Marion Taylor).

Deepest Dorset is published in hardback by Deepest Books, price £20; for more information visit or telephone 01963 32525.

You can buy Deepest Dorset direct from the authors, or pop into Papertrees on Wincanton's High Street. Thanks to Adrian and Phil for supporting us and the charities we are raising money for.


Posts: 1
Deepest Dorset
Reply #1 on : Wed November 09, 2016, 17:09:16
It's a great read - very up to date and giving a fascinating insight into Dorset's past as well as everything that's going on in 2016.

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