Visit Dorset Business Support Hub Dorset's historical figures

Figures from history with an interesting Dorset connection.

Mary Anning

Fossil collector who put Lyme Regis on the map as one of the best places in the country to find fossils. Born in 1799, she became a highly respected fossil hunter and was the inspiration behind the tongue twister “She sells sea shells on the seashore”.

Enid Blyton

Spent many holidays in the Purbeck area as she and her husband owned a local golf course; many of her novels include locations directly inspired by places in the Dorset – Whispering Island is based on Brownsea Island for instance.

John Constable

A friend of the rector of Osmington, Constable spent his honeymoon and other holidays in the village. His best known painting of the area is Weymouth Bay that now hangs in the National Gallery.

Montague Druitt

Born in Wimborne Minster, he was one of the prime suspects in the Jack the Ripper murder cases; the murders stopped after he drowned in the Thames.

Edward the Martyr

Killed at in mysterious circumstances at Corfe Castle in 978; his bones were interred in Shaftesbury Abbey, which then became an important place of pilgrimage.

Thomas Hardy

The county’s most famous author; spent most of his life in Dorset; his cottage and home of Max Gate are now owned by the National Trust and his heart buried at Stinsford Cemetary.

Thomas Masterton Hardy

Nelson’s captain on board HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar; he is commemorated by the monument at Portesham.

Pamela Churchill Harriman

Born at Minterne House, married Winston Churchill’s son and became US Ambassador to France.


Lived at Clouds Hill near Bovington and is laid to rest in the village of Moreton.Find out more on the Lawrence of Arabia trail.

Marie Stopes

The pioneer of women’s rights and birth control, founded Portland Museum and lived at Old Higher Lighthouse in Portland.

Sir Frederick Treves

The doctor who treated John Merrick, known as the Elephant Man, was born in Dorchester.

Alfred Wallace

He originally proposed the theory of evolution which inspired Charles Darwin and is buried at Broadstone.

Sir Christopher Wren

Architect of St Paul’s and one of Britain’s most acclaimed architects, he was elected MP for Melcombe Regis in 1702 and was born in East Knoyle in Dorset. But he was more than that. A founder of the Royal Society, he mapped the moon and the stars, investigated the problem of longitude and the rings of Saturn, and carried out ground breaking experiments into the circulation of the blood.

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