Weymouth Local History
Morven House stands 150 yards from the sea near Weymouth's graceful Georgian Esplanade which leads to the picturesque Old Harbour where fishing boats, visiting tall ships, and the RNLI Lifeboat moor.
A boat trip from the Old Harbour to Portland's well preserved Tudor Castle is the ideal way to view Henry the Eighth's ruined Sandsfoot Castle and the abandoned Chequered Fort which guarded the breakwaters to the Royal Navy Base in Portland Harbour. Portland now a major watersports centre and home to the National Sailing Academy was the chosen site to host the 2012 Olympic sailing events when the Olympic Games were held in London.
Portland's numerous quarries provided stone both for London's grandest buildings and for the headstones of Commonwealth War Graves. St. George's Church at Reforne with memorials to islanders such as Mary Way "shot by a press gang on the 27th of April 1803" and William Pearce "who was killed by lightning while on duty in Her Majesty's Service on Portland Beach Nov 29 1858" is a fascinating site to explore with elaborate Georgian and Victorian headstones carved by Portland stonemasons for deceased relatives.
At the far end of the island are three lighthouses: the redundant Old Lower Lighthouse which is now the Portland Bird Observatory; the redundant Old Higher Lighthouse which was birth control pioneer Marie Stope's home; and the now fully automated Portland Bill Lighthouse which is often open to the public during daylight hours. But instead why not visit the Bill after dark to see the lighthouse's beam actually shining twenty five miles out into the Channel or to look for glow worms? The lights of Weymouth are especially beautiful at night when viewed from the Verne Citadel.
The 10 mile long Chesil Beach links Portland to the mainland at Abbotsbury, an extremely picturesque village famed for its 600 hundred year old swannery, tithe barn and sub-tropical gardens. Other scenic Estate villages close to Weymouth are Briantspuddle built after the Great War by the Debenham family, Little Bredy, Farnham, and Milton Abbas. To see a modern version of a Model village visit expanding Poundbury on the outskirts of Dorchester where the Prince of Wales indulges his architectural taste on what used to be farmland under the gaze of Maiden Castle, North West Europe's largest hill fort.