My Place… Buckham Down, near Beaminster – Philippa Clunes

Philippa and Martin Clunes at Buckham Down, near Beaminster

Philippa is a TV producer. She lives with husband Martin and daughter Emily on a farm near Beaminster, where they host the annual Buckham Fair every summer.

We arrived in West Dorset in 1998. We didn’t really have any plans to move to the country at all. We went to a wedding of a friend near Corfe Castle and neither of us really knew Dorset at all.

But we absolutely fell in love with the area and really, we were looking for a property half-heartedly, just for an excuse to come to Dorset every weekend!

We were looking for a little cottage. We were really very urban in central London. We had a great flat right in the centre, on the river.

Then we realised that you don’t just find really nice houses in West Dorset, because everything that comes up is right by a main road or something.
So we got a househunter and ended up with a really big — far too big — house for weekending in Powerstock, but absolutely loved it; we had the best time there.

We then realised, as people seem to — it seems to be a common story — that once you are bitten by the Dorset bug, you just want to be here more and more.

Then we had a daughter and the choice was: Where do we bring her up and send her to school? And there didn’t seem to be any argument at all.

So that was when we pretty much moved down full time.

There wasn’t really a plan to move here at all; it was about having a little weekend place and now our whole lives are here.

Our daughter, who is 15 now, is Dorset “born and bred”!

Then we got bitten by the horse bug.

I was always very, very horsey growing up — I didn’t have a horse but I was always obsessed. Then we had a daughter whose first word was “horse” and she got in to horses from the age of two.

And then we realised the second hardest thing to get in Dorset after your house, is to get land.

So we thought we needed to find somewhere with more land, so that’s how we ended up with the most beautiful farm — we think — in the world.

Philippa at Buckham Fair. Photograph by Faye Neal
Philippa at Buckham Fair. Photograph by Faye Neal

We feel very lucky and we never thought that we would go from a two-bedroomed flat right in the city of London to 130 acres in Dorset — we didn’t see that coming!

The fair started when we had been on the farm for about a year. Our neighbours wanted to run a little gymkhana for Riding for the Disabled and a tiny dog show.

Then Martin thought that we should do something ourselves, so we would have control over it. Martin used to, and still does, get asked to open every fete, every weekend, which he did do, masses of them, but we realised that we didn’t really have any weekends to ourselves.

So although he obviously does lots of other stuff, we thought that if we have our own fair, dog show, horse show, everything, each year, and choose our own Dorset charity, it makes us feel better about being able to turn down other things.


But again, it has turned in to something bigger than we ever thought.

We didn’t set out to be one of the big events in the calendar here, but we are thrilled that it is.

We have a really tight-knit team that runs it with us. We literally are hands-on.

We are five people now and we are all over it, we do it all ourselves.

Buckham Fair has so far raised £250,000 for charity

I think part of its charm is that it feels very sort of old-fashioned and not corporate and not big, although a lot of people come.

It’s great and we have raised £250,000 so far. And it seems to get bigger each year.

We do enjoy it, but it is really, really hard work. Our daughter loves it, and all our family come.

And people really do love it. People love the fact that they can bring their dogs — we had about 800 dogs last year!

Martin is there all day and he meets everybody — he is so hands-on and I think people love that too.

We get out to Beaminster and around all the time, we really, really feel part of that community.

So all in all, a good move from the two-bedroomed flat!

Sometimes I think: Gosh, what would we do at weekends if we had a flat with no garden and no animals?

We have four dogs, two cats, 14 horses and chickens. We have someone to run the farm, but when Martin’s at home he really does like to get stuck in!

Buckham Fair

at Buckham Down, near Beaminster (DT8 3SH) in aid of the Julia’s House children’s hospice, will be held on Sunday August 23, starting at 9am.

Adult entry £5, children under 16 free. Tickets are only available on the gate.

For more information: www.buckhamfair.co.uk or www.juliashouse.org

14 comments

  1. Fay Jelliman Harger says:

    I am absolutely addicted to Doc Martin. As an ex-pat I feel like I’m home in England every time I watch the show. Please hurry with Season 7 and keep going after that.

  2. kathy williams says:

    You are very wonderful people. I am gratful for your talent in that I absolutely adore the Doc Martin show. Thank you for all that you do. I so hope the show continues, if not i will look forward to more documentaries.

  3. Vi Brown says:

    Lovely photo of Philips and Martin. I have another lovely photo of Philippa when I was in Port Isaac during the filming of Season 7 of Doc Martin. I would like to have attached it here, but was unable to. Did Martin take a guitar pick, or two, that I brought over from them USA? Lindsay from your office staff told me you were a ” keen” guitar player.

    Much happiness to you both.

  4. Vi Brown says:

    Lovely photo of Philippa and Martin. I have a lovely photo of Philippa taken in Port Isaac when I was there during the filming of Season 7 of Doc Martin. I am not able to post it for some unknown reason.

    Vi Brown,
    USA

  5. Carmel MARR says:

    How exciting reading the Clunes’s story written by Phillipa. I always enjoy reading stories told by Martin but hearing it from Phillipa was really, really exciting. Thank you

  6. Emily says:

    I really love coming to buckham fair it is really good I love watching your program doc Martin you are both very nice people I would like to come again em xx

  7. Rita Grady says:

    I love the article and love watching Doc Martin (HUGE FAN). But my question is to Phillipa & Martin: I would like to know when are we going to see people of (color) on the show?
    RG????????????????????????????USA

  8. Claudia Price says:

    I love the Clunes story. I am totally addicted to watching Doc Martin. I live in the United States in a little country town called Marietta, OK. We built our home on 80 acres in 2005. Since my husband retired from education in 2004, we raise and sell cattle as a hobby now since we do not have the heart to raise them for food. We are getting on in age of 73 and 71 with one son that is 48. However, we are still very active. I am so impressed with your love of animals as we are as well. I just ordered every series of Doc Martin and pre-ordered series 7. I cannot wait to get it. At present, I am watching each series on Netflix on Dish Network in the USA. So far, I am on my third time watching each series. Just wonderful. Please continue the series forever. I have never enjoyed a program as much as Doc Martin. Doc just keeps me laughing. So much comedy and drama combination. Mr. Clunes, you are a great actor and bring a breath of fresh air everyday into the Price household. I love the English accent and always have. Thank you and your wife for bringing such joy into our home. Lots of happiness to you Martin, Phillipa and young daughter.

  9. Jackie Vassey says:

    I just heard that there is going to be a season 8 of Doc Martin and I am so glad to hear it! I just wanted you to know how much I have enjoyed becoming a fan. I discovered the show quite by accident one weekend while tuning into Net Flix. It wasn’t long before I also discovered the MC fan club and became an avid “Clunatic”.

    Martin, you are such a joy! I hope to get the chance to meet you in person someday. That would truly be an honor. Congratulations on your recent OBE, a well deserved award.

    Thank you for sharing your tremendous talent with this North Carolina girl!

  10. Ruth Wickline says:

    What a great article! Bravo for you guys and all the work you do.. Not to mention how Martin keeps us entertained.. My husband and I are retired and moved from Ling Island, NY to the lovely Catskills of Upstate NY… Know how you feel about the open spaces! Be happy… Hurry with the next season!!! Your fan, Ruth

  11. Maria says:

    I love Beaminster and Buckham Fair, what they do is amazing, along with their Buckham team. If you can go and support them, do. There is so much to see and do on that day. Best place in the world is West Dorset … I may now live in Malta, but we still own a tiny slice of WD !

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