My Love of Weymouth and Portland’s History.

P1430095I live in the quaint traditional seaside town of Weymouth in the county of Dorset. Having lived here pretty much the whole of my life, only ever having moved away twice… I missed it so much that I swore I would never leave again.

Every time I crest the ancient Ridgeway I breathe a sigh of relief, I’m home. The stirring sight of Weymouth and Portland nestled in its protective basin below me makes my heart swell with pride.

I am proud of my home town, we have so much to be thankful for on our doorstep. It’s part of the World Heritage Jurassic Coastline. We have a stunning silky soft sandy beach, historic and vibrant harbour, the rugged beauty of Portland nearby and surrounding picture perfect countryside. We are surrounded by oodles of long, and fascinating history, from invading Anglo Saxons to fierce bloody battles of the Civil War.

Having a passion for history, I love nothing better than trawling through old books and newspapers, finding stories of past residents. Those same  streets that my Victorian ancestors walked through, the quaint old shops my long past relatives frequented, what their friends and relatives got up to, good and bad!

In the process I have also managed to gather in a whole collection of Victorian books that contain thousands of beautiful illustrations…not quite sure what I’m going to do with all those though!

Consequently I’m making a start on here by combining the two.


Never having blogged (is that such a word?) before, and with nothing but a (very) hasty introduction by my youngest to the world of blogging…here I go! I live and learn.

Hope someone passes by and enjoy the tales.

Sue xxx

33 Comments Add yours

  1. Here you are, I am passing…thanks for the like on my own post which featured Weymouth. Have to say I was quite surprised by the place in a positive way. The nephews loved the beach as did The Hound. MM🍀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. suth2 says:

    Thank you for stopping by my blog and having a browse. I hope you enjoy blogging as much as I do.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 51joe says:

    Hi Sue, Would you contribute some of your memories or photos to a history project that is collecting stories of our everyday leisure activities?

    Volunteers are our recording oral history interviews and creating a new archive that will be housed at Dorset History Centre so that future generations can discover the views and feelings of ordinary people through the descriptive accounts of their experience. And selected stories will be included in an exhibition at Dorset County Museum in March 2014.

    best wishes

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sallyann says:

    Hi Sue,
    I love Weymouth, and I love stories of old so its no susrprise that I find your blog wonderful.
    I’ve researched a lot of my family history and have found a story or two to tell there too, none in Weymouth I’m sorry to say, but some really juicy gossipy ones. 🙂
    Looking forward to reading more of yours. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Sue! Was fascinated to read your story relating to my Gt Gt Grandfather, Alfred Dennis’s drapers shop in Weymouth (1895 Wheeling and dealing …). If you come across any more articles relating to him I would love to read them. I believe he was Mayor of Weymouth or a town councillor at some point. He died in 1938 aged 99.
    Thank you and best wishes, Ann

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lee Moake says:

    Hello, I love looking into my family history and have been looking into my Great Great Grandfather’s sister ..Lady Emily Groves. Our family have a lovely collection of photographs and her letters written from Rodwell Villa , Weymouth to her brother Teddy here in New Zealand. Have you ever come across any stories of the Groves family? Does Rodwell Villa still exist? Weymouth looks lovely…and I am keen to see more of your posts…thanks Lee

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cannasue says:

      Hi Lee,

      Thanks for that.

      Will do bit of searching for you and see if I can get a picture of Rodwell Villa.

      Check out this one, there is mention of the Grove family in there. There is loads about the Groves in Weymouth because they were of course large employers in the town, held positions of authority.


    2. Christine Tett says:

      Hello Sue and Lee,
      I am also interested in the Groves family, as i have been researching Rosina Groves, John Groves’ first wife (she was Rosina Kerslake before her marriage).
      I would love a copy of the family photo, even though Rosina is no longer there, but her children are and they were first cousins to my husband’s grandfather.
      I would also like a copy of the photo of Rodwell House or brochure when it was a hotel. Is it possible to purchase any of it?
      I would be very grateful for any more information.
      Thank you very much in advance.
      Christine Tett (Oxfordshire)


      1. cannasue says:

        Hi Christine,
        Sorry I’ve been a while getting back to you. I’ll ask the lady who gave me permission to use the photo if I can mail you a copy,
        I’ll also see if I can dig out a photo of the Rodwell House for you.
        Might take a few days as my kids and grandkids are all descending on us for Carnival week and it tends to be somewhat chaotic to say the least!.


      2. Lee Moake says:

        Hi Christine, I am happy to share the lovely pic and I do have some others …Ernest etc..if you are interested as well as Sir John and his children when they were younger….I know the family still remained close after Rosina’s death as they are with Aunt Anne Kerslake on the 1871 census at Nottington and one letter Emily talks about Mabel (her daughter) staying with Anne and contracting whooping cough from children staying there……..Lee (New Zealand)


      3. cannasue says:

        Thank you Lee for replying to Christine personally and offering to share family photos, that’s so kind.


    3. Jon Carter says:

      Which member of the Groves family are you decended?


      1. Lee Moake says:

        My great, great Grandfather’s sister was Lady Emily Groves (nee Dods) ….we have letters and family pics from their corrrspondence… she had one brother in America and one in New Zealand (my ancestor)…Lee
        If you look at the article on Sydney Hall … you will see one of our pics of the Groves family


  7. cannasue says:

    Hi again Lee,
    My apologies if you’ve read the above link looking for your relative…got the two brewing families mixed up! I’m presently working on the Devenish line and their links to the Sidney Hall….will still keep a look out for your family. What dates do you have for Lady Emily?


  8. cannasue says:

    Lee, this was the link I was supposed to have put…


  9. cannasue says:

    Here we go;
    Rodwell House is still standing. It is a listed building, but has seen better days I’m sorry to say.WEYMOUTH

    873-1/27/254 (West side)
    12/12/53 No.34
    Rodwell House Private Hotel
    (Formerly Listed as:
    (West side)

    GV II

    Hotel. Late C18 or early C19. Flemish bond brickwork, cream to
    front wall, red on left gable, and painted to right gable,
    slate roofs.
    An elegant front range to a parapet and with 2 transverse
    hipped roofs; at the rear are 2 conjoined lower wings,
    probably contemporary with the main range.
    EXTERIOR: 3 storeys, 4 windows; 9-pane above 15-pane above
    12-pane sashes, all with thin glazing bars and painted plain
    reveals, under splayed brick voussoirs and with stone sills.
    The openings to bay 3 are blind, above a 6-panel door with
    radial fanlight. A broad plat band between ground and first
    floors, and a moulded stone cornice with brick blocking and
    stone parapet. There are no stacks visible.
    The right gable end, which has a central gable peak, has three
    12-pane sashes, one of these lighting a staircase, and the
    attached wing has 2 similar sashes at each of its 2 floors.
    The left gable has one 15-pane sash at first floor, and a
    lean-to glazed timber conservatory.
    The rear wing, with concrete tile roof, has two 9-pane above
    12-pane sashes.
    INTERIOR: not inspected.
    The building stands rather isolated, but is one of a small
    group of remaining earlier properties in this part of Rodwell
    Road. ‘

    If you like I can send an exterior photo of it as a hotel from a 60’s holiday brochure. Just mail me your email address.


  10. Lee Moake says:

    Thank you very much for that information. I would love to see the brochure! My email is I have looked through my scans of Emily’s letters to see if she describes Weymouth….but she mostly talks about how ill the family is …influenza must have spread through Weymouth around 1900…this family and especially Sir John seemed to have very bad health! I can show you the family photos we have of them . One in particular of the whole family is lovely – including Sidney ( Sidney Hall named after him) if you would like to see it. Emily married the widower in 1875… Her maiden name was Dods …and she was born in Spalding, Lincolnshire. I don’t know how she met John. She lived the rest of her life in Weymouth at Blackdown House ( now Chipmunks) ….thanks again …Lee


  11. Lee Moake says:

    **Emily Dods born circa 1838 to Merchant father Isaac Dads and the daughter of a stationer Jane Cutto Gilbert….. Originally from Spalding ……later…. from Notting Hill. My ancestor was Emily’s brother Thomas Edward Dods whom emigrated to NZ….cheers Lee


  12. Rebekah Maher says:

    Hello Sue
    you have a photo on here of prisoners eating in your post about Portland Quarries. Can you tell me where it’s from please!! It’s a bit urgent. Thank you so much


    1. cannasue says:

      Hi Rebekah,
      Do you mean the picture of the men at their lessons(sat on the benches)?
      I have a collection of Victorian and Edwardian books that contain some fascinating articles and illustrations.
      The pictures that went along with the article isn’t specifically Portland prison, I chose it because it represented what I was talking about.
      Hope this helps.


  13. Annie Barrows says:

    Hi Sue,
    Your site has been quite a find, as I am (much to my surprise) seeking information about nineteenth-century Weymouth and Melcombe Regis. However, I’m seeking some information from a slightly pre-Victorian era, specifically, what year Stacie’s Hotel opened for business. Have you any idea? If not, can you direct me to a resource? Thanks so much.


    1. cannasue says:

      Hi Annie,

      I think I have quite a few notes on Stacie’s, and a couple of illustrations somewhere.
      When do you need them by? I am fairly tied up for the next few days, then have the family descending for Christmas, but if of any use to you, I will attempt to look them out after that. It depends how in-depth and what sort of thing you’re looking for, I think local historian and writer Maureen Attwooll mentions it in a couple of her books.


      1. Annie Barrows says:

        Hi Sue,
        I am in exactly the same boat with regard to the next few days and the Christmas swarm, so time is not of the essence. I will be delighted to get any information whenever you get around to it. I’d be glad simply of the date Stacie’s opened, but ultimately, what I really need is the name of the most elegant lodging in Weymouth/Melcombe Regis in 1831. If you have any ideas, I’d be thrilled.



  14. cannasue says:

    Once peace reigns in my household again I will get on it for you.


  15. Hello Sue,

    Thanks so much for the effort you have put into this blog. My RODWELL ancestors came from Salisbury Wiltshire, not too far away from Weymouth. Of course, Rodwell is the name of the Trail, the pub, road, and disused train station. I would be very interested if you could supply or refer me to any history on the Rodwell name in Weymouth. For example, who was the prominet Rodwell so many things were named after?

    Warren Rodwell


    1. cannasue says:

      Hi Warren,
      Thank you for your kind words.
      I will do some digging, I enjoy nothing more than an excuse for researching Weymouth’s history.
      Will reply on here as soon as I have something concrete.


  16. cannasue says:

    Hi again Warren,

    Seems the name arises from the type of place where your ancestors once lived rather than an actual person.

    A quick peek into our local historian Maureen Attwooll’s book “The Bumper Book of Weymouth” reveals the answer which I had sort of suspected, but wasn’t certain of.

    RODWELL as a place name dates back to the 17th c and is thought to indicate ‘a reedy spring or stream,’ derived from the old words ‘hreod’ and ‘wells.’ The development of Rodwell (Weymouth), began in the first half of the 19th c, with large houses being built along Longhill Road, (today’s Rodwell Road).

    Rodwell Road runs from the lofty Wyke Ridge down to the present day harbour, so presumably at one time it was in fact a ‘reedy stream.’

    On Ancestry “English, (chiefly East Anglian):apparently a habitational name from an unidentified place, perhaps named with the Old English personal name Hroda (see Rodney),+ Old English well (a) ‘spring’ ‘stream.”

    Hope that helps.




    Hello Sue

    I am looking for images of a Victorian Christmas and stumbled across your fascinating blog.

    Weymouth Community Christmas CIC are organising a Victorian Christmas Fayre and I am projection mapping Victorian Christmas scenes onto the Palm House Play Cafe over 2 days. Do you have any Weymouth Christmas images or even the more generic ones I’ve seen on your blog that I could use please?
    Very happy to credit you in the programme and will try to credit you on the projection itself.

    Wonderful work by the way.


  18. cannasue says:

    Hi Gavin, will message you, Cannasue


  19. John Kirwin says:

    Hi Cannasue, I found your site while researching my family history. My 4 x great grandmother Mary Jerrard, gave birth to her daughter, Selina Victoria, in Weymouth Union Workhouse in 1839. Mary then married Samuel Edmonds in 1846 and they were shown in the 1851 census as living in Weymouth high street, with Samuel as Publican Innkeeper. I see that there are tabs on the site for both Mary and Samuel, but they don’t lead anywhere. They were probably living at one of the pubs in 1851. Do you know which one by any chance? Many thanks, John.


    1. cannasue says:

      Morning John, well…that certainly is a mystery, they seem to have upped sticks and vanished from the pages! A search takes me to Old Weymouth High Street but for the life of me I can’t find them there. all very bizarre.


  20. William Napier says:

    Sue. Greetings from the USA. In your Park St. piece you wrote about Meta Weygang and family in the early 1900’s. She was my grandmother. If there are any blanks you would like filled in, I could supply some basics. She died when I was very young.


    1. cannasue says:

      Good morning William from across the waters. Lovely to hear that one of my characters has found their relatives, it’s so nice when that happens. I’d love any more info that I could add to the post, particularly if you had a photo of her and her family. It’s great to be able to put a face to a name.


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