We nearly didn’t visit – and what a miss that would have been. We were warmly welcomed with a personal preview of what to look out for, very helpful in this typically-for-Portland slightly weird museum created by Marie Stopes of all people (who was of course also an excellent scientist and amateur archaeologist).
We engaged in the usual spot-the-relative game and found this Beechey (father in law of J’s 3-greats aunt) portrait of John Penn (grandson of the founder of the colony who was given land on Portland and built Pennsylvania Castle there when the colony was lost).
Now for the matrimonial insights. In 1818, still a bachelor at 58, Penn founded the Matrimonial Society, soon renamed the Outinian Society to encourage young men and women to marry. He looks across the room at Marie Stopes, here pictured in a scene of family bliss as befits the author of the best-selling “Family Love”
but actually after divorcing her first husband for non-consummation and later to more or less abandon this one when she tired of him, or so the museum’s boards tell us.
And next to her are memorabilia of Thomas Hardy whose last novel “The Well-Beloved” is partly inspired by Avice’s cottage, one of those that make up the museum, and chronicles the affairs of its hero with a woman, her daughter and her grand-daughter (all called Avice) in turn.
I am pleased to report that J and I are still rubbing along well together and looking forward to a meal out tonight at “The Boat That Rocks”.