ROBIN HILL STORES

Robin Hill Stores  2010 :                Burton Street, Marnhull, Dorset, DT10 1PH.           Tel: 01258 820266                  Proprietor : Bob and Sue Young  

Robin Hill Stores lies in the heart of the village of Marnhull, Dorset, in an area of outstanding natural beauty - The Blackmore Vale.

By area Marnhull is the largest village in Dorset and has a population of approximately 2,000. The Parish is made up of 7 Hamlets – Gannets, Hains, Moorside, Nash, Pilwell, Pleck and Walton Elm, all of which remain identifiable. Marnhull has a good stock of buildings and homes dating back over 800 years right up to modern day developments.


The village Post Office has had a number of locations in Marnhull. The last prior to Robin Hill Stores was Dial House, also in Burton Street. Before this the Post office had been in Orchard House and Tenny’s Court (or White’s Stores as it was then).


Burton Street runs through the lower centre of the village, where can be found a row of stone cottages dating back to the late 1600’s. Now combined into one building, and having been added to over the years, it is these cottages that have for many years played host to a village shop. In the past it was known as Michael Hardings Stores, but of course it is here where we now find  Robin Hill Stores and Post Office.


One of the original cottages, now the present card room, has the original stone floor dated 1690, and a wooden ceiling beam that has become so hard as to be termed petrified, such that it is impossible to drive a nail into it.

During wall repairs in this room, a small inglenook fireplace was discovered. This has now been renovated to show the cast iron fire with two small ovens and a hob for a kettle. This range was in fact in use until fairly recent times. One of Marnhull’s more senior residents remembers that part of the dwelling, recalling that the lady of the house often had pie or rabbit stew on the go in one of the ovens and a pan of potatoes on the hob during shop open hours. The stockroom passage still retains an old lead or pewter sink which drains out freely into the garden.

Upstairs the previous owners, Paddy and Ray Davis, discovered traces of thatch still adhering to the loft beams, some of which are oak and some eight inches in diameter.


In the late 1920’s Mrs Marks together with her son Fred and daughter Rosie lived in and ran  the stores, but also took in lodgers to supplement the family income. In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, the store was run by Violet Gordge. In 1953, a Mr and Mrs Walshe, with their daughter Mary ( now Mary Extance of nearby Hinton St Mary) moved down to Marnhull from London. They bought the stores, and in their sitting room alongside the shop they had a small television with which, notwithstanding poor reception, villagers were invited to watch the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Although too young Mary Walshe, in addition to helping in the shop, became the relief postman, albeit in her fathers name, as she undertook the deliveries when her father ‘was too ill’.


There is a noticeable flat area at the end of Robin Hill Stores, and a large secluded garden. Evidently there used to be a small room attached to the building which was used as a barbers shop. A local barber from Sturminster Newton came in for a few mornings a week, sometimes with his assistant Brian Lane. Brian now has his own barbers shop in Sturminster Newton. The small barbers shed was also used for the repair of bicycles and motorbikes and although it may have had many other  uses, it was never formally used as a cobblers. However, many of the elderly locals claim that they can still hear the sound of tapping on a last, as if from a cobbler. Many in the village were quite convinced that it was the previous owner, Michael Harding, getting his own back for some reason. No one can explain the restless spirit, nor as far as is known, has there ever been a cobbler here.


Bob and Suzanne Young moved into Marnhull on 22 March 2007, taking over the store and post office. They have made many improvements, including updating the refrigeration and installing air conditioning, but not least uncovering once more the fireplace in the card room that had again been hidden, this time by furniture, for a number of years.


Bob and Sue welcome any further information about the history of Robin Hill Stores.



The above includes extracts from   “MARNHULL   A Dorset Village at the Millennium”  Published 2001, edited by Andrew Bailey. This book chronicles Marnhull history from early origins to modern day. It is available to purchase in Robin Hill Stores at £7.00.

ROBIN HILL STORES AND POST OFFICE

Burton Street,  Marnhull,  Dorset,  DT10 1PH.




A  brief history ......