Janet Seal

Location: Wimborne Minster, Dorset
About Janet K L Searl - Public Speaker...

Brought up in Lancashire, Jan went to boarding school in Wales then a language college in Switzerland. Ski-ing figured largely in free time, the nearest slopes a short distance from the class room! Secretarial college in London was the final tranche of education, the skill of touch typing proving extremely useful in later life. In 1990 Jan and her husband bought the site of an old manor house in East Dorset. Research proved that records for ‘Uddens’ went back to Saxon times. Using more than twenty-five years of research Jan has written several historical novels, The King’s Chalice trilogy, about the manor and towns in East Dorset published by Bretwalda Books. A non-fiction book about Colehill, the high ground above Wimborne, has just been published. Jan leads a Discussion group with Wimborne U3A, volunteers at the local community run library and teaches Local History classes.

About her talks...

Illustrated with Power point – necessary equipment can be brought but it is much apprecated if a screen and projector are available at the venue.

Fee:

£50 within ten mile radius of my home address in Wimborne Minster. Thereafter, 47p per mile travelling expenses.

My Contact Details:
Phone:

01202 886414

Dark Knights, Saxon Days

1. Dark Knights, Saxon Days 240x260

The arrival of the Saxons brought a new hierarchy to the Southern counties. Treachery, murder, sacrilege and disease all played a part as the smaller tribes yielded to the kings of Wessex. Wimborne boasted a palace and one of the largest double monasteries in England. Many people worked on the land but life itself depended on the success of the crops and the health of the animals. Disease was rife, starvation and hunger a constant threat. The church was where people worshipped, news was disseminated, marriages and trade arranged. It was also the guardian of the morals of the parish. Manors had their own courts and these too staged trials to determine guilt or innocence in the fight against witchcraft. It was a hard life in Saxon times but they had no idea that servitude would become so much harsher under the Normans.

Dark Ages, Hard Times

St Mary's Church Wimborne church (Saxon)320x

Saxon life involved dawn to dusk labour. How did they make a living when poverty, Viking raids and frequent diseases dogged every season? Many died before their teens so maturity came early. Army conscription is not new. Twelve year olds were men, took their oath, marry, serve on a jury and fight in the army. Trades and other skills were learnt early, secrets kept within the family in the days before Guilds were formed. Slaves took the place of sick oxen when ploughing had to be done but at least they were guaranteed food and clothing by the lord. Labourers had no such certainty and returned home to simple potage – again! Rent was often paid in food, the death tax or heriot was the loss of one’s best beast, a catastrophic reduction in hard times. The trades, pastimes, loves and hates in Saxon times will be explained. The conflict between Christianity and Paganism is only just beneath the surface, the line between plant medicines and witchcraft blurred.

Bell, Book and Candle

Bell, Book and Candle

Saxon life involved dawn to dusk labour. How did they make a living when poverty, Viking raids and frequent diseases dogged every season? Many died before their teens so maturity came early. Army conscription is not new. Twelve year olds were men, took their oath, marry, serve on a jury and fight in the army. Trades and other skills were learnt early, secrets kept within the family in the days before Guilds were formed. Slaves took the place of sick oxen when ploughing had to be done but at least they were guaranteed food and clothing by the lord. Labourers had no such certainty and returned home to simple potage – again! Rent was often paid in food, the death tax or heriot was the loss of one’s best beast, a catastrophic reduction in hard times. The trades, pastimes, loves and hates in Saxon times will be explained. The conflict between Christianity and Paganism is only just beneath the surface, the line between plant medicines and witchcraft blurred.

Uddens Manor – Charters to Martyrs

4.Udden Manor

Since 946 AD this Dorset manor has been lived in. The king owned all the land and gave it to reward loyalty. In the turbulent ages of the Plantagenets and the Tudors the lords often had to fight to retain it. This talk follows manor’s history with details of the families, their ambitions, crimes and punishments.

Uddens Manor– Seduction and Destruction

3.Uddens Manor-greyscale 320x240

In Tudor times there were men who took advantage of a child’s ownership of a manor. Women have little standing and need a man to take a case to court. Having a coat of arms is no protection against the ‘scams’ of the age. The manor is rented to a famous lawyer, then to a military family who buy it and the nearby hamlet acquiring titles in the process. The most famous owners are the Greathed family whose exploits in the uprising in India earned the family a knighthood. Such fame however cannot over-ride the sadness when the sons and heirs die young. The manor passes through the female line until in 1955, having been occupied by army personnel in WWII, the decision is taken to demolish the house brick by brick. Only the substantial foundations and the above ground store rooms mark the place where one of the earliest manor houses in Dorset used to stand.

Researching Quirky Dorset

Public Speaker Janet Seal talks about Researching Quirky Dorset.

Once I have found an ‘oddity’, man-made or natural, be it a curious epitaph, a little known historical fact such as the uplifting of two acres of land from Verwood to Hurn, a child’s survival of what would normally be a fatal fall or a pagan altar re-used as a Christian font, then I scour documents, web-sites, reference books and my own data base for cross-referencing. Hidden treasures found by chance or after a dream, stories of a duel or a trial by ordeal, all these pique one’s curiosity. Perhaps a visit to a manor house, a barn, church or other building has produced a puzzling story in a window or a strange carving that needs explanation. Each item holds a story, maybe strange but often true. Writing Tales of Wimborne & Dorset History volumes I and II the stories are designed to amuse and make the history of Dorset more interesting. The same methods could be applied to any county but truth is essential and the reader may enjoy the accompanying depictions drawn by the author!

Illustration – Faithful Unto Death 1642
I have written two small books ‘Tales of Wimborne and Dorset History ’ vols I and II. These both contain 37 short historical stories based on true events, oddities, historical facts, people or objects. They are designed to amuse rather than push a series of dates or kings and queens. The research for these has become the subject for my talk – Researching Quirky Dorset.