May 2018

1919 Village Sale

A dozen Society people are involved in researching various aspects of Cerne’s history around the time of the sale of much of the village in 77 Lots at auction on September 24th 1919.  Through the deeds from some of the Lots involved, we are finding out more information on the properties and people involved.  Contemporary newspapers are revealing stories of what was happening in Cerne at this time just after World War 1, including what  people were doing, their social lives and their misdemeanours.  Old photographs can show what has changed and what looks much the same.  If anybody has information or photographs relating to the period, we would be pleased to see them. With your permission, we can copy any originals and return to you.

We are delving into the history of the Pitt-Rivers family and a talk in our 2019 programme will look at the life of Augustus Lane-Fox Pitt-Rivers, regarded as a founder of the discipline of archaeology in the UK. This will be given by Adrian Green, curator of Salisbury Museum.

We plan to trace changes in village trades and industry and the way farming and land use has dramatically altered with the disappearance of most of the farms which were situated in and around the village.  We hope to tap into the collective memories of villagers whose family have been residents for the last 100 years.  Anthony Pitt-Rivers, currently the most senior family member to bear the name, has agreed to meet with us to help complete any gaps in our knowledge.

Some proposed activities are beginning to take shape around the centenary date of the sale.  We would like to stage a re-enactment of the auction exactly 100 years on from the original.  Garry Batt, who many will know is a partner with Dukes Auctioneers, has agreed to become involved in this.


Our May programme date

Following the recent death of Lord Digby, we have had to cancel the planned talk at Minterne House from Henry Digby who was going to talk about the colourful history of his aunt.  This will now take place in the same month next year. Instead, we are holding a tribute evening to Lord Digby in the village hall at the usual time here in Cerne.  A few years ago, two conversations were recorded between Kate Adie and Lord Digby.  We will be showing excerpts from these and reflecting on his life with the addition of some personal recollections.


Summer Outing

We normally arrange a visit during July or August but we have had trouble getting our act together this year.  We are intending to visit Portland which is rich in archaeological and historical interest and not just a bleak and windswept peninsula sticking out into the English Channel.  For a start, it is the driest place in Dorset. Hopefully, more details soon.


Mike Clark



April Talk

 Our next talk on 26th April is from Steve Wallis, an archaeologist employed by Dorset County Council.  The Romans have always been an interest of Steve’s and he is talking to us on ‘The Romans in West Dorset: What we can still see today.’


For those of you with a particular interest in archaeology, the County Council runs a programme of visits to sites of archaeological interest throughout Dorset in the spring and summer months.  A programme leaflet is usually available from about now from libraries and tourist information offices.  Alternatively, look on the County Council website under Dorset Archaeological Days.  Steve Wallis will be leading a walk on 19th July, meeting in Thorncombe Wood, Dorchester, to explore a former Roman Road.  I have done many of these days over the years and they are re excellent value at only £3 if you pre-book.


May meeting

Because of the recent sad death of Lord Digby, our May meeting at Minterne House has had to be postponed until next year. In our own tribute to Lord Digby, we will show parts of the conversations he recorded a few years ago with Kate Adie. These will take place in the village hall on the same date as our Minterne visit would have taken place, 24th May.


General Data Protection Regulations

 A new EU initiative aimed at tightening up how organisations use and store personal data on their members, applies even to small village societies like our own.  Even with the pending leaving of the UK from the EU, we have to comply with the regulations by the 25th May.  It has been a real pain trying to work out what we need to do, largely because of a lack of understandable guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office.  This will explain why other local groups and organisations to which you may belong, may have adopted a different approach.  No size fits all.  However, after considerable head scratching, advice sought and time spent, we have worked out a response, which is attached and which we are confident meets the requirements.  Please do read this which should be self-explanatory and let me know if you think any information we hold about you is incorrect, or you prefer we don’t record.  It is particularly important to let us know of any change of e-mail address so we can keep in contact.


Chalke Valley History Festival

 Every year I give this a plug.  Only an hour’s drive away, this event is spread over a week from 25thJune to 1st July and features a huge range of talks given in a cluster of marquees.  It seems that every popular historian will have appeared here over the years, including a host of names made famous by their television appearances.  This year’ programme is no different and features among many others, Dan Snow, Helen Castor, Tom Holland, Simon Schama, Julian Richards, John Julius Norwich, Anthony Beevor and Charles Spencer.  The website is

Mike Clark   

You can get in touch with Mike via the Contact Us form on this site.