Moreton is anattractive and character-filled village as many in Dorset are. However, it setsitself apart with a number of unusual associations of international reknown.Quiet, peaceful, off the beaten track, Moreton is a mixture of village styles -linear in part near the ford with a little thatched street, dispersed in otherareas reflecting a time when occupants would have their own field patches tocultivate.
Essentially, Moreton centreson the large Georgian house, home to the Frampton family since at least the14th century. Nearby, and close to the site of earlier Frampton houses, thevillage church and the thatched-roofed street form the recognisable part of thevillage and further afield lie the farms making up what Thomas Hardy describedas the 'vale of the great dairies'.
The old wooden village halllies a quarter of a mile to the west of the street yet represents the centre ofthe dispersed part of the village. The village hall and two Nissen huts (one ina farm yard, another in a field) are the last remnants of the locally billettedUS Army stationed here and elsewhere in preparation for the invasion ofmainland Europe on D Day.
Dorsetis full of lovely villages similar to Moreton. However, various elements ofMoreton set it apart - the amazing windows in St Nicholas' and St Magnus'Church; the longest ford in the south of England; the grave of Lawrence ofArabia and the seat of James Frampton who, as High Sherriff of Dorset (and alsothe landlord) arrested the Tolpuddle Martyrs.
The St Nicholas' and StMagnus' Church windows are engraved or etched glass - the original standardstained glass was destroyed (as was half the church) by a stray bomb from aGerman WW2 aircraft. Over the next three decades local fundraising anddonations allowed the church to become the most complete work of the famousLaurence Whistler. A visit to this lovely bright and peaceful church is a must.
T.E.Lawrence was stationed atnearby Bovington and rented (then bought) his cottage, Clouds Hill, from hiscousins the Framptons. They were the landlords of Moreton Estate. On hisuntimely death his mother, who was abroad at the time, asked the Framptons ifLawrence could be buried in the graveyard. This request was granted andphotographs in the village tearooms show the great and the good attending hisfuneral. These include Sir Winston and Lady Churchill and Seigfried Sassoon, aswell as the choir boys from the village school (now the tearooms). Hisgravestone lies not at the church itself but in the removed churchyard near thegarden centre. The portico structure marking the churchyard has moved from itsoriginal location opposite the tearooms. Lawrence's grave is under the Cypresstree at the far end of the churchyard.
Geology has blessed thevillage with what must be one of the longest fords in the country - at least 70yards across, frequently traversed by horses heading off into the forestry tothe north. The ford is paired with a narrow footbridge and is another tranquilspot for the visitor to enjoy.
The association withthe Tolpuddle Martyrs is less well known, though in his time sherrif JamesFrampton was widely linked to what became an internationally renowned incident.While it is generally acknowledged that the Martyrs were treated badly, it isless well understood that Frampton's actions were a product of his youth. He isheld to have been one of the pimpernels liberating the French aristocracy fromthe guillotine and he saw the barn burning, rioting and destruction ofagricultural machinery as a deeper threat. Most of the Martyrs returned and itis interesting to note that the descendants of both the Martyrs and Framptonsare still to be found in Moreton and Tolpuddle!