Within Maiden Newton

The first thing which attracts the attention of anyone passing through the village is the remains of the old Market Cross which stands at the junction of Dorchester Road and Church Road. It consists of a square base and the lower part of a rough-hewn square stem, the whole thing standing about 5 feet high. The shaft has beaded angles and on the west face are the much-weathered figures standing on a corbelled projection. It dates probably from the 15th century.

Around this village centre are the shops, and notably the White Horse Hotel, or Inn. It is an old coaching inn, first mentioned in a deed on 16/17 January, 1698. In 1743 it belonged to John Gollop of Dorchester, and in 1754 Thomas Gollop of Burton Bradstock and Swyre sold it to George Sheppard. On 13th March, 1764, a memo endorsed that Geo. Sheppard in his Last Will and Testament, dated 9th September, 1760, bequeathed the White Horse Inn to his son, John Sheppard, which proved to be invalid for want of proper expression; but that the eldest son and heir, Geo. Sheppard, being anxious to carry out the intention of his late father, conveyed the White Horse Inn to his said brother, John Sheppard. This seventeenth-century hostelry has two stories, and had dormer windows, was thatched, had stone mullions with dripstone, and arched gateway with room over leading to the stable yard. Rebuilt in the early 20th century, it is, of course, less attractive as a building. The Royal Dorset Coach from Weymouth to Yeovil and Bristol would probably stop at this old coaching inn in the 1830’s. The White Horse is mentioned in Thomas Hardy’s novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and also in the Interlopers at the Knap, one of the Wessex Tales. Maiden Newton is ‘Chalknewton’ in the Wessex novels, and is mentioned again in the book Under the Greenwood Tree. In Chalknewton Tess breakfasted at an inn where several young men were troublesomely complimentary to her good looks. To escape any further unwelcome attention of this sort on leaving the village after breakfast, Tess despoiled her face and dress, cutting off her eyebrows and covering her hair to disguise herself. The night before she had been accosted by a man she had seen before, and hidden in a plantation for the night. Tess was on her way from Port Bredy (Bridport) to Flintcomb Ash Farm (above Piddletrenthide). The next man she met on her way out of Chalknewton rudely said to another, ‘What a mommet of a maid’. In this gloomy tale of human misery, Tess stands alone in purity and goodness. Apart from Tess and possibly her sister Liza-Lu there is not an admirable or attractive character in the book. In The Interlopers, one of the Wessex Tales, we read ‘on a fine summer day the boy came. He was accompanied halfway by Sally and his mother to the White Horse Inn, the fine old Elizabethan Inn at Chalknewton’. A footnote says in reference to the White Horse Inn – ‘It was pulled down and its site occupied by a modern one in red brick, 1912’

Once upon a time there were as many as six inns in Maiden Newton (the 1851 Census records nine, although their were reputed to have been fifteen). The only remaining pub is the ‘Chalk and Cheese’ which until recently was known as ‘The Brewery’. The Castle Inn, which never had anything to do with a castle in spite of its name and appearance and the White Horse Inn were closed during the 1990s and the Railway Inn which closed during the 1960s. Then there were inns at ‘Kingsley’ a house with lovely windows which are scheduled for preservation, once called ‘The King’s Arms, and farther east, on the Dorchester road, the ‘Acorn’, now Acorn House.

There are about a dozen buildings in the village of seventeenth century origin, including the barn behind the church, and of the eighteenth century, the Mill (now a carpet factory) and a few cottages. Cottages of the nineteenth century are commoner, and the twentieth century is well represented by council houses and modern bungalows.