In Hardy's novel Beaminster was the village of " Emminster".
Angel Clare, the son of the Vicar here, had married Tess, unaware of her previous liaison with the cowardly Alec.. On hearing her confession he left and returned to is family home. Tess followed and arrived after a long walk to find a service was in progress so made her way to the church. It was here Tess arrived in a distraught state to plead for a reconciliation with her husband.
It was a strange feeling to walk through the gate at the side of which Tess hid her muddy boots in the hedge before putting on her clean shoes to enter the church.
I was told the former vicarage is now a beauty salon but did not seek it out.
The impressive church has a beautifully carved tower which we spent some time studying and photographing while waiting for a childrens pre-Easter concert to end inside the church.
The tower is said to have been built within a year or two of 1500 and the carvings are amongst the most beautiful and well preserved that I have seen anywhere.
We would have liked more time to spend inside the church and will make another visit when we next return to the area.
The Vicar very kindly gave us a quick tour of the interior and invited us to remain after he left but we felt we were holding up the parishioner was was to lock up - so left that treat for another time.
We looked as usual for a light lunch and nearly missed this little gem.
I stopped to look in the window of what I thought was an antique shop, my eyes caught by the lovely collection of art deco china tea ware. Meanwhile John had moved on a few paces and was busy reading the lunch specials boards, and beckoning me inside.
It was quite small,most unsual in layout and design, a bit "quirky" in a charming way. A friendly waitress showed us to the only unoccupied table in the window where I had an even better view of the china!
This is obviously a very popular place with locals and visitors alike. We were disappointed that the seafood special of the day had already sold out. We chose instead two ploughmans - ham for me and cheese for John. Two large full plates,freshly prepared and tastefully presented were accompanied by delicious bread, salad and chutneys. Without a doubt we were agreed they were the tastiest, the best ploughmans we had had anywhere, and exactly the kind of lunch we prefer.
The website has more examples of the dishes served there.
Please note - cash only here.
Note for Gourmet Diners
We decided against the 2-course £25 lunch offered at the gourmet restauant on the square -"Wild Garlic" prefering that kind of meal as an evening treat. The chef who opened this restaurant, not so long ago, did so after coming first in a TV Masterchef competition and has quickly built up a high reputation.
You will find most essentials here in small shops like those pictured, in the mini Co-op supermarket in the square and in the the old White Hart Inn complex in Hogshill Street.
I spotted a branch of "Retail Therapy" on the corner of the square - a small west country chain selling ladies designer fashions at discount prices. Very smart too!
There are quite a few very well stocked charity shops which often means the premises were previously occupied by independent retailers who have closed down. I did not see a Book shop but the charity shops all had an excellent selection of donated books. The charity shop situated in the old White Hart is run by a local Hospice Welmar - their window display was so professional I thought at first it was an upmarket boutique. Further down Hogshill St. from the Ann Day Cafe the charity specialising in the care of brain damaged children has a well laid out shop with a good book section.
No need to run out of cash here - Banks and ATMs around the Square.