On Shrove Tuesday it used to be the custom that the children would go shroving, calling at houses in the village and singing:

Here we come a-shroving

For a piece of pancake

Or a piece of truckle cheese

of your own making.

Hot pot the pans hot

The butter door is open

Pray Missus, good Missus,

If your heart be open

here we come without our bags

Afraid we won't get nothing.

They were usually given a few sweets, an apple, a piece of cheese or a few coppers tossed on the grass. They all scrambled for them and the strongest got the most. Miss Drake at her shop in the High Street would throw a few sweets out of the door.


as reported in The Dorset County Chronicle 2 February 1937

"Famous Gypsy Families at Wedding"

"Villagers saw a novel sight on Monday morning when Alice White, beautiful member of a gypsy family famous in the South of England, splashed her way through floods to the parish church for her wedding. The groom, Mr Stephen Button of Lytchett matravers, cycled the 20 miles from his smallholding, and arrived in time for the service. The bride was dressed in a vivid scarlet and green outfit, and rode to church in a dog cart. The ceremony was attended by many members of the Romany tribe, including such noted families as the Hughes, Benhams and Coopers.

Guest of honour at the camp on the hill at Lackington was Mrs Benham, widow of "Wold Ben", uncrowned gypsy king whose burial at Dorchester recently attracted so much attention. With her were three sons, including Tom the 18 year-old acrobat dancer. Also there were members of the Cooper family who took part in the tragic trek to Dorchester to the funeral of Arthur Cooper, which took place in a blizzard a fortnight ago.

The camp, which consisted of six caravans, was dangerously close to the flooded area, and the van wheels were embedded in thick mud. The bride had to pass through more floods on the Puddlehinton - Charminster road before reaching the church. The couple were married by the Rector, the Rev. W.G. Newman, who told a reporter that he was greatly impressed by the conduct and system prevailing in the camp, which he had visited several times during the period spent complying with the residential qualification.

The church entrance was surrounded by crowds of villagers, and to make the occasion more festive, left-over Christmas decorations had been brought from the Post Office, and these were draped on the archway.

A huge cake had been baked and iced by Mr Davies, the local baker. After the service, the couple went on ahead of the others, the groom on his bicycle, and his bride by his side on foot. The other members of the party, Maurice White, Robert Hughes (who gave the bride away), Robert Wood, Sidney Cooper, Alice Hughes, Rene Hughes, Georgina and Mary Ann Cooper, left by a dog cart. A celebration was held in the evening at the Green Dragon, Puddletrenthide, when many more members of the Romany clan came to wish the couple happiness."


In 1934 the Trades Union Council celebrated the centenary of the deportation of the Tolpuddle martyrs by erecting a row of Memorial Cottages at Tolpuddle. These were to have all the modern conveniences of the time, including electricity. As Piddlehinton lay on the route chosen to bring the power cables to Tolpuddle from Bristol, the village also benefited from the centenary by being connected to the national Grid. Until then, lighting had been by oil lamps in every village home.

The village was first connected to the telegraph in 1898. In 1922 the clerk of the parish council reported that the telegraph office was not paying its way, and the Post Master had written stating that the guarantee could be charged on the parish without being challenged by the district auditors. He also reported that the Puddletown and Piddletrenthide telegraph would not be closed. After discussion it was proposed that the council regretted that they could not see their way clear to accept the terms offered either by paying the guarantee or by making a charge in the rates. It was pointed out that if the office was closed telegrams would have to be delivered from Piddletrenthide thus increasing the working expenses of that office which was within the free delivery distance.

Presumably the parish council's view prevailed because in 1948 a telephone kiosk "has appeared in the village" wrote the rector, the Rev J.C. Chute, "no need for people to use the rectory phone any more!" but the kiosk was not the advantage that was expected. There were many complaints, because it was on a party line and villagers often had to wait a considerable time to get through as the line was a busy one. It stayed on a party line until 1961, when villagers complained strongly to the parish council.


In the early 1920s there was a great drought when all the wells dried up and water had to be carted from Morning Well in Piddletrenthide, a source of the River Piddle. It was sold to villagers by Mr Lovelace at 1d a bucket and they had to take double on Saturday to last through Sunday.

Ted Dyke at the pump by the playing field, West Lane.

Ted Dyke at the pump by the playing field, West Lane

There were anxieties over water shortages each year. If it was a dry summer, men had to be lowered in buckets down the wells to dig out deposits and deepen them all in the hope of improving the water supply. Water was collected by bucket from the mill leat for wash day.

In many winters there were bad floods in the village. People sometimes had to be taken by horse and cart from the Cross to near the Rectory.

"A Suggested Water Supply" from a newspaper cutting dated January 1935, reports:

"A parish meeting called at the request of the Piddlehinton Women's Institute was held to consider the provision of a water supply. The Sanitary Inspector was in attendance. After discussion, a committee of three, Commander Churchill, Colonel Belgrave and another, was appointed to canvass the village to find out how many people would be prepared to take a water supply. The conditions were that the village should pay a shilling a year rate, and water users pay a charge of 12.5% on the rateable value of property rated at £4 and over and a minimum charge of 10/- per cottage of rateable value £3 or under. Rev. Newman said that one of the pumps was very unsatisfactory and it took seventy strokes to fill a bucket the previous night."

Florrie Jeanes, Mabel Gerrard and Tom Jeanes skating

The Great Snowdrifts

The bad weather of 1928:

In 1928 a very bad winter brought a great snow drift by Snowdrop Corner and over Waterston Ridge, cutting off the village. Men from the village, working as a team, gradually dug a way through.

Others enjoyed themselves skating on Gaskins water meadow

Travellers through the village:

Lots of travellers used to come through the village and these included the onion man from Brittany on his bicycle and the Indians with their suitcases full of silks. There was also "the pots and pans man" with his cart covered in saucepans, frying pans and everything else that was used in the kitchen. The gypsies came with their clothes pegs and paper flowers; they always wanted some water and a bit of bread and everyone had a "lucky face". It was a lovely sight when they were on the move, children, dogs, chicken and horses following the caravans.

A broadcast

The Dorset County Chronicle of February 1937 reported:

"Piddlehinton was introduced to thousands of people last Wednesday by Gypsy Petulengro who in "the World goes by" radio feature gave his impression of Dorset. During his tour he had passed through the village and noticed many happy children playing in the street. It is a pity that he did not call on Friday when he could have chatted to a group of Graybeards who always hold their weekly rendezvous in the New Inn. Piddlehinton boasts of a large number of octogenarians all in the best of health and spirits".

1948 The Bere Regis bus service through the village began.

The Witch of Piddlehinton:

There have long been stories in the village about the village witch with many variations, most of which include a hare which does not die.

A story taken from Udal's Dorsetshire Folklore reads thus:

Walter Churchill, General Astell's coachman, "an honest, honourable, god-fearing man" recounted:

"When I was a little chap 'bout eight, I and Jack Wolfral was taking a bit of a walk, and as we comed down drove we seed, both o'us, a hare sot by the stile of the churchyard, where sure, never a hare were seed before nor since; but 'twere this way. We were living to Bourne then, and a neighbour that had the palsy so terr'ble bad he couldn't walk nor guide hisself, and said as he were overlooked, and twold it to a travelling man (a pedlar), and he said if we could say who 'twere as doned it he'd cure 'un. So the poor man said 'twere a woman as lived a long way off. 'Never mind', says the travelling man, 'I'll bring her here in the form o' a hare, and make her cure thee.' So he bid un get a odd number o' folk, and my father were one, to sit up at night and do what he twold un. And he did say as there was a bottle o' summat hanged up in chimney. And the fire were blinded off, and the travelling man were a-reading verses out of the Bible backward, when just as we was outside the string broke, and the bottle fell, and it broke, and what come o'the hare I can't say. The travelling man was for coming another night to finish the cure, for the man were a sight better already: I seed him myself stand and kick out his lag; but the passen heard o'it and put un off."

The story was told in the 1920s of an old woman, then living in London Row, who was known as a witch. She turned herself into a white hare and ran about the village street at night when the moon was full. One time farmer Lovelace splashed her with mud when he rode through a gate out hunting. She cursed him and overlooked his cart horses which were found dead in East Farm stables next morning.

"The Witch of Piddlehinton was the subject chosen for a musical written by Mrs Ionae Banner which was performed by the Brownies as the first item on the programme of the "Evening of Village Entertainment" held in the village hall, the night before the opening of the historical exhibition "The Story of Piddlehinton" in March 1988.

The legend lives on.