During an On the Rivet retreat we may spend some time down in the village of Symondsbury. It’s a picture-book pretty Dorset village, just outside Bridport, with a great pub, the Ilchester Arms, apple orchards and some incredible old houses. It’s also where to find Colmers Hill - one of Bridport’s best known landmarks.
We’ll usually head down to Symondsbury Estate which has a newly-developed bike park and skills trail, and we’ll often swing by the Symondsbury Kitchen after for coffee and cake. Our friends at YogaSpace also run classes there, which we sometimes weave into a retreat if it’s something our guests want to do.
But Symondsbury isn’t just a pretty face, it has this kind of dark and quirky side that I’ve always found fascinating. Take for example the Symondsbury Mummers. Mumming is an old English tradition, a bit like Morris dancing I guess, where young men from the village would put on a bit of a show for the locals. Symondsbury has its own ‘mumming play’ and the local group, the Symondsbury Mummers, still performs it every New Year’s Day in the car park at the Ilchester Arms. The play has eleven characters: Father Christmas, Room, the King of Egypt, St. George, St. Patrick, a doctor, four warriors, servant-man, Dame Dorothy and Tommy the Pony. (one of my pals is the King of Egypt)
I could go on but it’s the kind of thing you have to see to believe. It’s just one of the weird and wonderful things that makes west Dorset such a rich seam to explore. You can watch a homemade video here: