Isle of Portland, weird and proud of it
The quirky place par excellence. Only on Portland could it be virtually illegal to speak aloud the word ‘rabbit’. It’s supposedly something to do with those animals causing landslides in the quarries. It’s considered unlucky, anyway, to say the least. A few years ago a film called The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was on show locally, and somebody had the temerity to try to put a poster on a billboard on Portland to advertise the movie. The Portland locals were having none of that. You cannot possibly display a poster with THAT WORD on it, they said. Not on Portland you can’t. And down it came. You can’t get much quirkier than that.
Tower, no longer leaning (except in my photograph)
Dorset is a rich source of eccentric things and places. High on the list, in every sense, is the Clavell Tower overlooking the sea at Kimmeridge. This was built in 1830 when follies were popular landscape features, a curious round tower in the Italianate style precariously perched on a cliff top. Too precarious, as it turned out – thanks to the crumbly nature of the cliff it was in dire danger of falling smack into the sea, a few years back. But this is Britain, and we generally value our odd buildings, so it was dismantled stone by stone and rebuilt 20 metres or so inland. It is now a highly-unusual holiday cottage on its lonely cliff top (I had the good fortune to see round it when it was newly-refurbished and I’d love to stay there), cared for by the Landmark Trust.
The Amazing Serles House
Now this place certainly has a high quirky-quotient. I could say it has to be seen to be believed. Is the garden odder than the house, or the other way round? You decide – I couldn’t. Serles House, an Edwardian villa in Wimborne, Dorset, is crammed with furniture and curios. You could spend half a day investigating the contents of any one room. And the long, narrow garden is full of inventive and unusual plants, statuary and found objects. Both house and garden are wittily artistic. I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s open to the public on a regular basis, so do go and see for yourself if you can.