Shipton Gorge Parish Council

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Jim Chaplin

Jim and Irene Chaplin came to the village in the early 1960s, moving into one of the bungalows that had just been built in Gulliver's Orchard. Their youngest daughter, Hazel, lived with them and attended Colfox School.

Jim was to play an important part in investigating and recording the history of Shipton Gorge. He was an avid historian and wrote the booklet "Shipton Gorge, Some Notes from Its History"  which is a very comprehensive document on the history of the village and its inhabitants going right back in history.

Whenever you went into their home the radio was always on, but it was always the Home Service, or Radio 4 as it now is, that they listened to. They both were keenly interested in current affairs and had an insatiable thirst for knowledge of all sorts. Jim kept pigs in his field at the end of Bonscombe Lane and enjoyed his new life here as a pig farmer. He was a life long Labour party supporter and so he must have been delighted when Harold Wilson came to power in 1964. Irene had studied botany as a young woman and had a lifelong love of nature and plants, knowing the Latin names of many of them. She was also involved with the Women s Institute and always attended their meetings.

Jim was interested in archaeology as well as history and in 1969 when land was being cleared for the construction of Rockway, he found two carved stone heads. These are thought to be of Celtic origin and are now to be seen in the Archaeological Department of Dorset County Museum in Dorchester.

During the 1970s Jim and Irene built a bungalow on their land at Bonscombe Lane and called their new home The Croft. They lived there for many years and after Jim's death, Irene moved to Cumbria to be with her son Robert and his family until her death during the 1990s. Their daughter Hazel moved to New Zealand where she married and raised a family, although she did make the journey back with her family to visit her mother not long before she left the village.

Later on Jim was chairman of the Parish Council for many years and contributed a great deal to the life of the village.

The ash tree which now stands on the grJims_treeeen triangle at the entrance to  Bonscombe Lane was planted by Jim Chaplin as a tiny sapling. It has grown into a tree which is a living memorial to him, so every year as you watch it grow bigger and stronger, please remember this exceptional man who, though not born in the village, came here to live, loved the village immensely and left us the legacy of his writings.

Mary Boughton