Intriguing tales and Aussie connection with a tiny English village

The tiny English village (one pub, one church, no shop) of Tichborne deep in the Hampshire countryside has a curious connection with our home country, Australia. It was the centre of a cause célèbre that had captivated Victorian England in the 1860s and 1870s.

Daguerreotype photos of Roger Tichborne (left) and the claimant (right) superimposed (middle) Show that the claimant could possibly be the Baronet!

The affair involved a butcher from Wagga Wagga who claimed to be Roger Tichborne, rightful heir to the title and fortunes of the Tichborne Baronetcy. He claimed to have been rescued from a ship wreck off the Brazilian Coast and taken to Australia. The mother of Roger, Lady Tichborne believed his story but many others didn’t and he ended up being imprisoned in a British jail for ten years!

Such an intriguing tale to come out of this tiny village that we just happened to stop in!

What was once the post office…
…with an old telephone box outside

The Tichborne Church also has a fascinating story to tell. Apart from the fact that parts of this Anglican Church date from the 11th-century, it is also remarkable for having a Roman Catholic Chapel on the north aisle.

The Parish Church, Tichborne
The church still had old box pews

The chapel is a rare Roman Catholic chapel inside a pre-Reformation church. Its survival is incredible and there are only another two in the whole of England.

The Ronan Catholic Chapel in Tichborne Church

How did the chapel survive when other Churches in England became wholly Anglican by order of King Henry VIII?

The tomb of Sir Benjamin Tichborne (1542-1629) and his wife Amphillis (1552 -1629)

All through the Reformation, the Tichborne family clung to their Roman Catholic faith. So did many others and were persecuted for it. Any hint of Catholicism in parish churches was removed and that is why the Tichborne Family Chapel is such an extraordinary thing. The explanation is that the powerful Tichborne Family were in high favour for their support of the monarchy.

Ancient gravestones
This part of the Church dates back to the 11th Century
It was such a pretty village….
…it looked like the set of Midsommer Murders!

Tichborne is a great place for hiking. In England there is a a huge network of “rights of way” that often date back to ancient times. This means that there are many wonderful paths that you can walk along, through farming and other private land regardless of who it belongs to.

We caught sight of Tichborne Manor house on a wonderful hike over the fields

In Tichborne we were spoilt for choice as to where to walk and enjoyed a wonderful tramp across the fields and along country lanes to another small village called Ovington.

This way to the delightfully named River Itchen
Look out for those fierce critters!
They looked very scary!
There were many gorgeous views
It was great to be off the beaten track
Conkers! Must be autumn.
Peering over the wall to see how the other half live.

We stopped to have a look in the Church there which was relatively modern (it was entirely rebuilt in 1865–66 but had a list of rectors of the parish dating back to 1290! A Norman arch from the original Church which can be found in the graveyard dates back to the 11th Century.

Ovington Parish Church
The flowers were beautiful – harvest festival time!
The church building might not be that old but there had been one on this site since at least 1290.
The 11th Century arch in the churchyard

We walked on through glorious countryside and fortuitously came upon a lovely pub called the Bush Inn where we enjoyed some liquid refreshment before pushing on back to our camping spot in the carpark of the Tichborne Arms.

A “cottage” In Ovington
So lucky to come across this pub
It had a lovely garden
The lovely River Itchen
There were so many cute cottages in Tichborne

After a very enjoyable couple of days we moved on and ended up in an interesting and historic town in Dorset called Wareham.

This car in a local car showroom set the tone for the rest of Wareham
This reminded me of an elegant doll’s house

Walking through the Main Street was like a walk through time. The shops were straight out of a movie set in the 1950s – a gentlemen’s outfitters selling tweed jackets and deerstalker hats and everything a country gentleman might need. There were old fashioned sweet shops with bottles full of sherbert lemons and creamy whipped bonbons, chewy caramels and highly coloured gob stoppers.

Traditional sweet shop in Wareham

There was a lovely bakers with many lovingly made home made Dorset apple cakes, light as a feather scones and slabs of chocolate cake. Then there was an “olden day’s” hardware store smelling of paraffin and mothballs where you could buy anything from mouse straps to candles, loose screws to drain plungers.

There were also many old pubs and interesting buildings such as the tiny little Church perched high up on the old city walls.

The tiny little church perched on Wareham city walls
More cute cottages
A luxury hotel with lovely grounds and a great menu
One of the old pubs in Wareham – there were lots of them!
Alms houses built for “the maintenance of six ancient men and five women” endowed in 1418 and rebuilt in 1741

These walls, are actually ancient earth ramparts that surround the town, and were likely built by Alfred the Great in the 9th century to defend the town from the Danish marauders.

These might look like random hummocks but these earth banks are part of the Wareham City wall
Walking along the Wareham city wall
In the distance you can see more of the city wall that has existed since the 9th Century!

We enjoyed a wonderful walk round the walls and another highlight was a visit to the local museum. Many small towns have a museum and they are always especially fascinating because of the idiosyncratic displays. For example, a dinosaur foot print next to a Saxon sword pulled from a lake and photos of Laurence of Arabia side by side with items from a traditional “caravan and wagon works”. Marvellous!

This precious sword was made in the late 900s and was found in Wareham’s River Frome in 1927
A representation of what the sword might have looked like below the real thing
A dinosaur footprint in Wareham Museum
T.E. Lawrence who spent his last days in Wareham before being killed in a motorbike accident
Paraphernalia from a caravan and wagon works

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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