PREFACE A few years ago the Dorset Federation of Womens Institutes organised a Local History Competition. Forty- nine Institutes responded and sent in contributions ranging in length from a few paragraphs to more than a hundred pages, The late Canon Sanctuary, who acted as one of the judges, was struck by the amount of attractive material produced, and urged its publication in book form. Largely as a result of his interest the cause of local history was not allowed to fade from the minds of Institute members. They were asked to send in further items as they discovered them, and a fair amount of extra information has been collected since the close of thc competition. In editing this little book I have relied predominantly upon the material thus presented to me. For instance, Roman roof-tiles are frequently unearthed in different parts of the County, but the Corscombe and Halstock Institute mentioned such a discovery, and it is that example which has therefore been quoted. In some cases, for reasons of space, I have been obliged to choose for quotation only one or two from among a number of given instances of similar discoveries, customs or events. Naturally it has been impossible to deal comprehensively with any of the subjects touched upon in these short chapters. I have aimed only at offering some kind of explanatory sequence, showing local events against a general background. It is hoped that all Institutes will be thus encouraged to work further along various simple lines of research, and to piece together the story of their own villages. The history of the towns has, I fear, received very little attention-and this for two reasons. First, the Womens Institute movement is primarily concerned with the people of the country-side. Secondly, in comparatively recent years, a good many monographs on particular towns have been published, and these books can be easily obtained from the County Library, as well as from the bookseller. Where the towns provide links in the story which would otherwise be missing, then references have been made to them, but adequate accounts of town history must be looked for elsewhere. Again, the subject of architecture has been entirely omitted, because this book is not attempting to take the place of the ordinary guide book. But any compiler of a village history should regard it as of first importance to collect all possible information about old buildings within the parish, and old barns and cottages should receive as careful investigation as old churches and manor houses. Among many people who have given most willing help I should like to thank particularly Mr. Richard Hine, of Beaminster, for reading through many of the chapters in manuscript, and for giving me some delightful fresh material Colonel C. D. Drew, Curator of the County Museum, who in the midst of a very busy season of excavation at Maiden Castle, found time to read the archaeological paragraphs and to offer most valuable suggestions thereupon and Miss M. Caine, chairman of the D .F. W. I. Education Sub-Committee, who has given much general help and has also made the index.