Stalbridge Quarries is situated on the Dorset Somerset border and quarries Forest Marble limestone. Forest Marble was formed during the Jurassic period , some 140 million years ago when the tectonic plate holding Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Norhamptonshire was at the same longitude as the Canary Islands today. The warm shallow seas produced an abundance of corals, shells and other marine life which died and built up huge deposits of calcium carbonate skeletal debris. Overtime, this has been compressed by succeeding layers of stone, to form the fossil rich and highly durable oolitic limestone we know today.
In 1799, William Smith was compiling a geological map of the UK, and named the oolitic limestone, Forest Marble after the location of a Cotswold stone quarry to be found in the Wychwood Forest adjacent to Blenheim Park in Oxfordshire. William Smith had observed this pretty natural stone much in use in Bath and in the villages of Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, the Cotswolds and Wiltshire.
Today Forest Marble has become iconic internationally with the pretty Cotswold villages such as Burford, Fairford, Cirencester, Malmesbury, Chippenham, Badminton, Sherston, Stow-on-the-Wold. Although less well known, it has produced equally beautiful villlages in Wiltshire, Somerset and Dorset. The stone varies slightly from one field to the next and is known by an array of different names of which Cotswold stone or Cotswold Forest Marble or straight Forest Marble are the most widely used.
Stalbridge Quarries is one of the last stone quarries left supplying Forest Marble in the West Country.
Forest Marble has been quarried on the land of the Estate for thousands of years. The Estate in the last several hundred years has quarried extensively enabling the building of Estate, barns, cottages, and houses as well as the some of the local villages and towns such as Henstridge, Stalbridge and Wincanton.
Several famous individuals have spear headed this building. The first was Sir Robert Boyle (1627 - 1691), the Father of modern science who created Boyle's Law) who lived at Stalbridge Park. During his life there were extensive building works arounds the Estate.
The second was the Marquis of Anglesey (Lord Uxbridge), who famously led the cavalry at Waterloo. He not only repeatedly kept the Napoleonic forces back as the English were retreating in the days leading upto Waterloo, but on the day of Waterloo led nine charges against the French. He ended the day getting his leg blown off by artillery, with the Duke of Wellington commenting, 'by God Sir you have lost your leg', The the Marquis nonchalantly replied, 'by God Sir, so I have'. He was so immune to pain that he did refused all sedatives and lay like a dead man when having his leg amputated!
The reward for helping to win Waterloo was to have French prisoners of war build the 4 mile Stalbridge Park wall which is still with us today.