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  • Haydn Wheeler

And Where is Gore-Hedge Corner?

"The Desires and Resolutions" demands made by the Clubmen were agreed and penned at Gore-hedge Corner" which has become a place in the mists of time and somewhat of a holy grail in the search for. (speaking for myself)

The account we have of the Clubmen of Dorset and Wilts, the written declaration of their places of birth is one of those frustrating historical place names, which could have many probable locations or none known now, and which maybe lost in history.

A large body of Clubmen had gathered at Gore-hedge Corner on the 25th May 1645 where they agreed on terms, desires and resolutions, then wrote these terms down as demands. These demands were then read out at a mass meeting of an estimated 4000 Clubmen at Badbury Rings.

What we do know is the meaning of Gore as a pointer in respect to the shape of the location. Described as a "triangular piece of ground," Gore in origin comes from the Old English word gara, related to gar "spear," hence the word "triangular". The ancient medieval open field system when not able to be made into acre or half acre strips due to restrictions in the lay of the land, were made into triangular strips called gore or gore acres. We also have Gore as a reference to gorse in a loose sense, for as we know the spellings of the 17th Century could take various forms.

Looking back through history for a reference to a place of meeting, it is well worth looking at some excellent work by Stuart Brookes and John Baker relating to place names . It gives a close look at the wording of Gore as a place name. It also describes the early medieval meeting places. Some of these meeting places still exist, are kept and known through folklore or based around the content of shires and their divisions in the hundred. A quote from the published work states. "Within each hundred there was a meeting-place where during the Anglo-Saxon period the men of the hundred discussed local issues, and judicial trials were enacted. The role of the hundred court was described in the Dooms (laws) of King Edgar (943–75). Click on link below.

On the trail of Gore-hedge Corner at Holt Heath, near the Cross Keys Pub. Click on picture to take you on the looking for Gore-hedge Corner video.

A place called Gore, with his thoughts on this being the meeting place of the Clubmen, was referenced by the historian English antiquarian and archaeologist Charles Warne in his volumes of Dorset Antiquities 1872, he states that , Gore is a spot on Holt Common near Lower Mannington on Mr Bankes' estate and six or seven miles from Badbury. A wild district and as such the probable rendezvous.

Holt Heath and Forest had in 1645 been part of the Kingston Lacy Estate in the ownership of SirJohn Bankes' The woodlands were also part of the Royal Forest early on, which in 1323 extended to 84,000 acres.

Charles Warne's idea of this place of Gore-Hedge at Holt Heath and near Lower Mannington is placed in a time period 150 years nearer the event than us. As such, some local knowledge may come into play from his days spent looking into the subject. His accounts of the Dorset Clubmen are quite extensive, and his interest in the Clubmen, is apparent.

Holt and Holt Heath also have a scattering of 17th Century buildings. What is now "The Cross Keys Inn" dates back to the 16th Century. A reference to a building being on the same spot as the Cross Keys talks of a resting house for travelling monks. On a recent visit to explore Charles Warne's theory of location I took note of how the point where the Keys is placed is triangular in nature with pathways leading into it.

A place of particular interest for the location of Gore-Hedge and what is a strong contender for is near Summerlug Hill (the neolithic tumulus). Shaped very much like a spear head (gore), the corner of this piece of land on Holt Heath is wooded and the land slopes off into a deep trench opposite Mannington Farm. With it closely following Warne's description of the location, an argument can be made as this being the best case for the home of Gore-Hedge Corner.

The Neolithic tumulus known as Summerlug Hill on Holt Heath near Mannington Farm.

A map showing the spear head shape (gore) in green at the corner of Holt Heath., a strong contender for location of Gore-Hedge Corner. Red dot is the location of Neolithic tumulus.

A little note of interest to go with Holt Heath of a horticultural nature, is that it is one of the strongholds of Clubmoss. A nice touch if this was the site of the Clubmen gathering in 1645.

A reference also to a an area near Gore Hill on Holt Heath Corcess-lorcess corner, is another place which could be a contender for Gorehedge Corner. As can be seen on the historical map:

Manor of Kingston Lacy, 1773-1774 Cartographer: William Woodward

Image courtesy of National Trust. Creative Commons licence.

A connection with Oliver Cromwell himself is associated with Holt. The common green known as Gods Blessing Green. In 1646 Cromwell blessed his troops there, when he was passing through the area.

Another place of interest is found in the names of Gore Clump at Compton Abbas where a signpost directs you to a place near Clubmen Down.

The woodland on the edge of Clubmen Down and near Compton Abbas airfield goes under the name of Gore.

The looking for the location of the written origins of the Desires and Resolutions is a work in progress and somewhat of a joy in walking all these maybes. What is of importance really is the voice heard from these declarations of the Clubmen which resonates today in the message of "an association of all binds you to the one", a harder hitting word in its obligation to commit to rather than be part of the community. Necessities of the day in 1645.

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