Pick up groceries and local produce - catch up on gossip - Robin Hill Stores is so much more than a village post office and shop. It's an advice bureau, a meeting place and is very much part of the Marnhull community.
In the heart of the Blackmore Vale, Robin Hill Stores can be found in the Dorset village of Marnhull. Stocking local cheeses, meats, cakes, breads, milk, butter, beer, wine and so much more.
Robin Hill Stores is run by Atul Odedra and as well as the shop and post office, he offers support to the Marnhull community in many ways, including window displays for local businesses, advertising space for community events and ticket sales for community groups.
Marnhull is known as "Marlot" in Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the D'Urbevilles." It lies in the Blackmore Vale, an area of outstanding natural beauty. Nearby towns include Sturminster Newton, Shaftesbury, Gillingham, Blandford and Sherborne.
The building that contains Robin Hill stores and neighbouring shops was once a large department store known as Michael Harding's Stores. The building was originally four separate cottages built, it is thought, in the late 1600's but which has now been combined and added to over the years. One of the original cottages is now the present card room and and has the original stone floor dated to 1690 and a beam that appears to have become so hard as to be termed petrified wood, to an extent that it is impossible to drive a nail into it. During wall repairs, a small inglenook fireplace was discovered which has now been renovated to show the cast iron fire with two small ovens and a hob for a kettle. This range was in use until not so very long ago as one of the elderly folk in the village remembered that part of the dwelling, as the lady of the house often had pie or rabbit stew in one of the ovens and a pan of potatoes on the hob during shop opening hours. The stockroom passage still retains a lead or pewter sink which runs freely out into the garden. Upstairs, the previous owners, Paddy and Ray Davis discovered traces of thatch still adhering to the loft beams, some of which are oak and some eight inches in diameter.
In the late 1920s Mrs Marks together with her son Fred and daughter Rosie lived in the stores and also took in lodgers to supplement their income. In the late 1940s and early 1950s it was run by Violet Gordge but Mr and Mrs Walshe and their daughter Mary bought the stores and moved down from London in 1953. The store was smaller than it is now as the family had their sitting room alongside the shop. They brought with them a televisionof which there were very few in those days in this part of Dorset. Reception was not good on this black and white television with a nine-inch wide screen, but it was installed in time for them to invite the villagers to see the coronation of the Queen. Mary Walshe became the relief postman but technically, as she was too young to carry out the task, it was arranged in her fathers name as she undertook the deliveries when her father "was too ill". She also helped out in the shop.
From the direction of Clock House there is a noticeable flat area at the end of Robin Hill Stores and a large secluded garden. Evidently there used to be a small room attached to the building which was used as a barbers shop. A local barber from Sturminster Newton came in for a few mornings a week and sometimes he brought his assistant, Brian Lane who went on to open his own barbers shop in Sturminster Newton. The same small barbers shed was also used for the repair of bicycles and motorbikes. Although may have had many other uses, it was never formally used as a cobblers, yet many of the elderly locals claim that they can still hear the sound of tapping on a last, as if from a cobbler. Many in the village were quite convinced that it was a previous owner, Michael Harding, getting his own back for some reason. No one has yet been able to explain the restless spirit nor.
The last owners, Bob and Suzanne Young, moved in on 22nd March 2007 and made many improvements to the store and uncovered the fireplace in the card room that had remained hidden by furniture for a number of years.
The present owner Atul Odedra took over Robin Hill Stores in September 2014.
If you have any old pictures or more information about the history of Robin Hill Stores please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org