William Barnes is buried in St. Peter's Churchyard, Winterborne Came,
(Winterborne Came is a deserted village and the church is difficult to
Grave of William Barnes (Photo by
His grave lies close to the church's south-west
window and is marked by a tall Celtic cross.
Barnes is chiefly remembered as the Dorset dialect poet. He wrote with
great affection about the landscape and people of Dorset and was greatly
admired by other Victorian poets including Hardy,
Tennyson, Patmore, Allingham and
Hopkins. (In fact, his work was a major influence upon both Hardy
and Hopkins.) Unfortunately, however, Barnes' use of dialect has
made him somewhat inaccessible - particularly to modern readers.
For much of his life Barnes worked as a school teacher. He was a highly
learned man and is thought to have had a understanding of at least sixty
languages. He was also fiercely opposed to the corruption of the English
language with Greek and Roman terms - preferring, for example, the word
'pushwainling' to perambulator.
From 1862 until his death in 1886 (at
the age of 85) Barnes was rector of Whitcombe
and Winterborne Came.
When Barnes died Hardy wrote the poem The Last Signal for him.
My Orcha'd in Linden Lea - one of Barnes' poems - was later set
to music by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Barnes is also commemorated with a statue outside St. Peter's Church, Dorchester.