West Lulworth

a Registered One-Place Study and part of the Dorset OPC network

The Spavins Family

Church & Choir

I was a member of the choir. In the 1930's and throughout the war years the church would be packed for the morning service every Sunday. As a child I used to look forward to the Magic Lantern shows put on by the vicar Mr Sharpe. These occurred after Evensong. The Catholics of the village came in after the service and were welcome to see the presentation. Mr Sharpe had been a missionary at some time in his life and must have been a keen photographer. Everyone must have enjoyed his presentations as there was always a good crowd in attendance.

Mrs Ironmonger played the organ and we choir boys took turns pumping the organ.

Some years ago when visiting from Canada I noticed that the vestry had been vandalised and that the beautiful window over the alter had been smashed. I believe that it has been repaired.

During the war years the army attended Sunday morning services and the military band played during the singing of the hymns. The great thing about being in the choir was the fact that we were paid every quarter. As I remember it was 3 shillings and sixpence.

On Remembrance Day the service was conducted at the War Memorial. Most of the villagers attended and the Catholic Priest was there with the Vicar. Something happened with the small steeple. It was never replaced. My father's sister Dorothy Whitlock with her husband Charles are also buried in the churchyard. Many of the notable people of my youth are also buried there but I noticed that their graves were somewhat neglected. I am reminded of the poem " And Kings and Queens must tumble down and in the dust be equal made, with the poor crooked scythe and spade."

Collecting Soft Fruit in the Retreat House Garden

As a child I remember collecting loganberries, raspberries, strawberries and gooseberries in the garden at the back of the house. My mother used to make them into jam which would last throughout the winter months. We had 5 childrens ration books and one adult so my mother had plenty of sugar to make the jam. During the evacuation of the army from Dunkirk my mother would make cakes and jam tarts for the men who for some reason found themselves at Lulworth. Ironically, my father was a survivor of the troopship Lancastria which was the greatest loss of life ever suffered by the British Army.

New Years Day

I remember one New Year's Day just before the war. There was an annual football match between the Lobsters and the Shrimps. The Lobsters were the older fishermen and the Shrimps their sons and their friends. My father was the manager of the N.A.A.F.I at Lulworth Camp and had to do some work early in the morning. On the way home he happened to come to watch the football match. As soon as some of the older fishermen saw him they pressed him to play. Well, play he did. It was a very muddy pitch and I well remember how upset my mother was when she saw him when we returned home. The games were always played in a field at the bottom of Sunnyside, owned at the time by the Yates family.

Silver Jubilee Parade 1935

I remember well the parade through the village on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee.

My mother and several other mothers dressed six of us young boys as toy soldiers and we had to march in the parade. However, the best thing in the parade that I can remember was a model of the Queen Mary. It was loaded over a car. You could not see the car, only the majestic liner floating through the village. It was a wonderful occasion for the children of the village for we had a party that evening in the Parish Hall and everyone was presented with a mug to commemorate the occasion.

At the time my family lived at 19 West Lulworth just opposite the War Memorial.

We were Church of England but my mother insisted on sending us to the Roman Catholic School in East Lulworth. She had heard the Miss Yarnitsky was the best teacher in Dorset and that was enough for her. On days that my sister and I missed the bus we had to walk to school.

Eventually, we moved to 4 Sunnyside Terrace, and finally to Lulcote. My mother died in 1943 and together with my father is buried in the churchyard
overlooking the village. As I understand it, there are still some relatives of mine living in the village. I hope that they will enjoy their life there as my family and I did. I have some photos taken in the 30s which I will send by snail mail.


One of the most wonderful times of the year in Lulworth was Christmas. The choir would go around the village and sing carols. The church was lit by candles as we had no electricity in those days. On Christmas Day itself the church would be packed and with the army band playing everyone sang the carols with great enthusiasm.

On Boxing Day came the annual football match. The Lobsters vs the Shrimps. The Lobsters being the older fishermen and other adults and the Shrimps being the sons and other youngsters of the village.

I well remember my father, who at the time was the NAAFI manager at the camp coming by to watch the game. He was dressed in a suit and tie. Someone on the Lobster side who was tiring persuaded my father to take his place. It was a muddy pitch and when Dad got home he was covered in mud. My mother was so upset that it took him some time to calm her down. I have often wondered whether or not they still play the game on Boxing Day. Lulworth had a football team in the 1930s called The Foresters. We played in the field just below the cemetery.

Some West Lulworth Memories by Albert Spavins