Quiet Woman House
Quiet Woman House is a fine period property built c1700 of stone elevations under a pitched slate roof. It is set in an area of outstanding natural beauty in the West Dorset village of Halstock. The house was originally a single storey building with a thatched roof, but at some point in the past the second storey was built & the thatch was replaced with a slate tiled roof as it is today.
For most of it’s long life, the building has been either a coaching inn or a pub. In the early 1990s, the pub was closed and the name changed from ‘The Quiet Woman’ to as it is today and was turned solely into a Bed & Breakfast residence. Today, this Bed & Breakfast accommodation offers some of the best facilities for the discerning tourist & business person alike.
The Quiet Woman
The church of St. Mary in West Dorset has a 15th century tower, while the famous Gothic revivalist architect, Pugin, designed the nave in 1845. The chancel was added in 1872. The chapel is dedicated to St. Juthware, (Judith) a Saxon saint, who has taken her due place in the Christian calendar of Saints (July 13), inspite of her well-known fate. Surprisingly, very few people outside of Halstock are aware that this is the site of her death and martyrdom.
Judith is said to have been a very pious Christian and befriended any pilgrim who came near her home in Halstock. She had a brother and three sisters, (the sisters later became saints in Cornwall). After her mothers’ death, her family continued to live with their father even after he remarried. It is said that Judith's new stepmother was very jealous of her stepdaughter, and was always seeking to cause trouble for her.
One day Judith complained of chest pain. Her stepmother suggested that the application of a freshly made cheese to her chest would alleviate the symptoms and Judith followed her advice. Her stepmother then informed Judith’s brother Bana, reputed to have a short temper that his virtuous sister was pregnant. Bana immediately challenged his sister as she was leaving church. She of course denied the accusation, but with the evidence of milk, (from the cheese), on the front of her undergarments, was not believed. Bana in his rage drew his sword and beheaded Judith.
At this point the body of Judith is said to have picked up her head, walked back into the church and placed it on the altar as an offering to God. She was buried in the church at Halstock, but in the 10th century her relics were taken to Sherborne for final burial. Many miracles are said to have occurred at her tomb. (Sherborne is an affluent market town in North West Dorset, steeped in history and famous for its castles and scenic views.)
Judith's memory remained in the village for many years, most obvious in the name of the local inn, The Quiet Woman, whose Inn sign depicted Judith carrying her own head.
The Inn is now called Quiet Woman House.
The name Halstock is believed to have been derived from Halgan Stone or Holy Place, and by the 6th century, there was evidence that it was visited by monks who found a few devout Christians gathered there, giving instruction in the new faith of Christianity, which was just starting to gain a tenuous hold in England. The small community taught handicrafts besides giving religious instructions. Thus, Halstock is reputed to have become a place of pilgrimage by the time of Judith.