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Tolpuddle and Puddletown

In the rural heart of Dorset, on the small River Piddle, are the two villages of Tolpuddle and Puddletown. Tolpuddle is the lesser of the two villages, being little more than a small collection of houses, however its name is etched in English history as a result of events that took place there in the early 19th century.

The gallery shows the two villages as they appeared on a day early in November 2001, the bright clear sky leaving deep shadows. The pictures follow the route of a short walk starting at the cottage in Tolpuddle where the martyrs were said to have met, then following the Piddle upstream to the nearby Puddletown.

100-01 Tolpuddle and Puddletown 100-02 Tolpuddle and Puddletown 100-03 Tolpuddle and Puddletown 100-04 Tolpuddle and Puddletown 100-05 Tolpuddle and Puddletown
100-06 Tolpuddle and Puddletown 100-07 Tolpuddle and Puddletown 100-08 Tolpuddle and Puddletown 100-09 Tolpuddle and Puddletown 100-10 Tolpuddle and Puddletown
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At the turn of the 19th century high corn prices and low labourers' wages led to a several years of unrest, with incidents of rural sabotage and numerous uprisings. Trades Unions had been made legal in 1824 but when, in 1834, labourers from Tolpuddle met to form a 'Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers' (albeit in secret) the general climate of unease throughout the country had reached such depths that the six ringleaders were arrested and sentenced to seven years' transportation. The harshness of the sentences shocked many. The men were soon known as the 'Tolpuddle Martyrs'. Two years later the then Home Secretary – Lord John Russell – granted pardons to all, but it took a further three years until all of the six had been brought back from New South Wales and Tasmania.


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In the top row of pictures:

  • Cottage in Tolpuddle where the Martyrs are said to have held their meetings (picture)
  • Shelter on the village green, erected by Sir Ernest Debenham in 1934 (picture)
  • Church of St John Evangelist, Tolpuddle, parts of which date back to the 13th century (picture)
  • The churchyard, Tolpuddle (picture)
  • On the track from Tolpuddle to Puddletown, looking east down the Piddle valley, Tolpuddle hidden by the trees on the left (picture)

In the bottom row of pictures:

  • Ilsington House, on the eastern side of Puddletown (picture)
  • Looking across the churchyard, church of St Mary, Puddletown (picture)
  • Puddletown (picture)
  • The Reading Room, 1870, church of St Mary in the background (picture)
  • Church of St Mary, Puddletown, mostly 13th–15th century (picture)

Nearby locations that also feature in galleries on this site:

directionPlush and Dorsetshire Gap

directionBere Regis

directionMoreton and Wool


More views of Dorset in November

Other sites on the web

The Dorset Page:   Tolpuddle, Puddletown – local information and links to further resources on the web

Maps of the area on streetmap.co.uk (Tolpuddle):   1:50,000 – detail, 1:250,000 – locality and route to get there

Maps of the area on streetmap.co.uk (Puddletown):   1:50,000 – detail, 1:250,000 – locality and route to get there

picture resolution
The pictures of Tolpuddle and Puddletown in this gallery were captured at medium resolution.
This is images of dorset stock photography gallery 100
All photographs copyright © 1998–2003 John Allen

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