Friday, 4 April 2014

D is for Dilton Marsh

Here are today's dialect words.  Do you know what deedy means?  What is a doddler? What is a dumbledore?

 The village of Dilton Marsh is about 9 miles south of Trowbridge.  It is a lovely place , lots going on with a proper village atmosphere.  It's large enough to merit a railway station ... well it is officially a Halt. To catch a train from this station you have to wave to hail the train (like hailing a taxi) and get it to stop. 
In the days before on-board ticket sales there was a notice telling you to buy your ticket from the 7th house up the hill where a Mrs Roberts was employed by British Rail to sell their tickets.  I love this - a glimpse into a lost way of life.

When catching the train to Dilton Marsh Halt you have to get in the correct carriage as the Halt is only one carriage long;  my mum got it wrong once and they had to back the train up to the Halt so that the carriage she was travelling in was alongside the platform. 

Dilton Marsh Halt is the subject of a poem by the late Poet Laureate, Sir John Betjeman.   British Rail wanted to close the Halt but met with opposition from the locals.  Betjeman penned his poem in support of their campaign. 

Dilton Marsh claims enough ghosts to merit an annual ghost walk.  These range from black dogs (more about that later), old women seen sitting by the bar in the local pub in the early hours of the morning and a gentleman wearing a top hat who was seen walking through the churchyard .... until he just disappeared!

Now in Chapmanslade, but originally in the parish of Dilton before the borders were changed, is the gruesomely named Dead Maid's crossroads and Dead Maid's Farm.  The story behind these names is that the farmer's daughter was seeing two men, neither man knowing about the other.  When they did eventually discover what was going on they fought to the death.  The first man to die owned a black dog which then killed the man who had killed his master.  On losing both her suitors, the farmer's daughter committed suicide and was buried in unconsecrated ground at the crossroads.

The black dog is said to haunt the nearby woods, appropriately named 'Black Dog Woods and part of the A36 is called Black Dog Hill.  However, another explanation for these names is that the black dog in question was owned by a highwayman who used to attack the coaches on what is now known as Black Dog Hill.  Although this is now a straight road it used to wind its way up the hill and the many bends provided ideal places for the highwayman to wait.  His black dog was trained to leap onto the stagecoaches and attack the driver in the neck and so make the coaches stop.   

 And to finish, the answers to the dialect words:
  • deedy - industrious/busy or can also mean intent/concentrating
  • doddler - a small boy
  • dumbledore - a bumble bee 
Hope to see you again tomorrow for the letter E.


  1. Another word I knew - dumbledore. I still can't work out why JK Rowling chose that word for the headmaster of Hogwarts!
    Julie xxxxxxxx

    1. J K Rowling's choice of name for Dumbledore is explained in the third paragraph of this Wikipedia article:

    2. Thank you, now I know! For an ex-Essex girl I know quite a few West Country words!
      Perhaps my heart is in the West Country!
      Julie xxxxxxxxxx

  2. I keep on being amazed on a daily basis, learning all about the area and the local language. I had wondered about Black Dog Hill, which I think I mentioned in one of my blog posts back-along.
    joy x x

  3. Fabulous, see you next time!

  4. Fascinating folklore here.

  5. A halt - interesting. Great post! I love learning local words.

  6. The poem, the ghost stories, the dialect--all of it, really give a sense of what it is like to live in a place rich with history. I live in the Pacific Northwest (U.S.). We are so new in comparison!

  7. That is interesting. I wonder if anyone has been able to get photos of the ghost dog?
    "Things My Husband Has Broken" AtoZ

  8. That is so cute that Dumbledore is bumblebee. How appropriate.=) I hate ghost stories and ghost walks! But I love old things.=)

  9. I love this series! This explains Beershorn Halt in Cold Comfort Farm.