Oddly enough our holiday home in Dorset was close to places I had lived in as a child. I moved to Axminster in 1956 (I’m pretty sure of this date as my school made a big fuss celebrating a running achievement and this, I think, was Gordon Pirie‘s success at the 5000 metres). The place was called Three Ways House and we inhabited a couple of rooms upstairs. It wasn’t difficult to find as I remembered it being close to The George which is now gutted and derelict. The town seemed shabby and down-at-heel.
Hawkchurch is nearby and we moved there from Axminster into St. Faith’s cottage (now known as Hypatia Cottage) and quite smart looking. It had two bedrooms and a living room and kitchen. Here it was I pumped the organ instead of singing with the choir at Colonel Greenshield’s daughter’s wedding. The Old Inn, where I played, is now a restaurant pub. I looked for signs of the Hayballs who were corn merchants and had a finger in every pie, but there was no sign. Sic transit. Whilst Axminster had seen better days, Hawkchurch was certainly on the up but in a smug way; there was no life in the place compared with Axminster – grimy but still kicking.
On the way home I detoured to Templecombe and found Horsington House, the Dr. Barnado’s home where my brothers and I stayed in 1959. We went into care when my father was on the run from the police. It was from here we Barnado’s boys had a holiday in Weymouth under canvas and a coarse youth thrust the Sunday Express in my face, pointing at an article and asking if that was my father. The headline read: Divinity Master Imprisoned for Embezzlement.
It was Percy Smith who arranged our being in care at Horsington House; I think he wanted the three of us to be together instead of split up between separate care providers. Percy was the vicar at Hawkchurch who founded the Pilsdon therapeutic community for troubled people. I don’t remember much about Percy, although he befriended my parents and I was in his church choir, and would have quite liked to have met him again but sadly he died in 2010.