There is a tale in the small village of Corscombe, Dorset that an eccentric
eighteenth century landowner Thomas Hollis is buried beside his favourite horse.
Hollis, English political philosopher and author, is principally remembered
as a great benefactor to American colleges, especially Harvard, sending
donations and numerous books.
He had attached himself to no religion and his one abiding belief was that
had an immutable right to hold any religious belief that he wished. A rationalist who
saw the fight for a free society in the American colonies as the major contemporary
world event that had the potential to advance the human mind.
Now back to the horse...
Hollis died on 1st January 1774 (apparently after collapsing in one of his fields) and
the horse was shot shortly after. They were both lowered into a ten foot hole in
the middle of a field on the appropriately named Harvard Farm.
This followed the strict instructions he gave, down to the immediate ploughing over
of the field so that no trace should remain of his burial place.
Harvard Farm is close to the Sutton Bingham Reservoir and was at that time
211 acres and sixth in size of his properties and which he was personally managing
at the time of his death.
The names of the fields his colonial interest such as New England field, Boston,
Mayhew Cotton, Massachusetts and so on.
The field Massachusetts tenuously retains its name in away as the farmers refer to
it now as ‘Massy Field.’
Although he only spent four years in the village he has had great effect on
the area, undertaking extensive repair to the local church.
An eccentric man who when he lost his home because of a fire he walked out saving
only one thing – his portrait of John Milton.