A UNIVERSITY professor's love of history has inspired her to write a second volume on the history of Weymouth and surrounding areas.

Dr Anne Collier has penned From the Napoleonic Wars to the Devil's Device Volume Two after countless of hours of research.

The self-confessed history buff trawled through diaries, journals, government records and even cookbooks to put together a collection of fascinating tales about Weymouth's rich history.

The book covers subjects as diverse as the Napoleonic wars, the Industrial Revolution, building projects including the breakwater, famous visitors like Charles Dickens and prisoners on Portland who were the first to build their own prison. The book closes with the death of Queen Victoria.

London-born Anne spent much of her early years in California, before choosing to live in Dorset full-time - falling in love with Weymouth and moving to the town 13 years ago.

She said: "We came to Weymouth because my eldest daughter was really into watersports and looked for somewhere on the south coast and Weymouth happened to be it. I have roots in Dorset as my grandmother was born in Poole.

"There are a lot of wonderful pieces of our history that people don't know about. I find that fascinating.

"Putting the book together was a real labour of love for me."

Anne has very kindly allowed us to share a couple of extracts from her book on these pages - with the first an insight to life for German soldiers and the second a Romeo and Juliet-like tale, also with a German link, set in Bincombe near Weymouth.

King George III was a Hanoverian ruler and had a special German Regiment known as the Hussars, who came to Dorset and were based in Weymouth.

Anne writes: "Most of them were living in the fields of Radipole and along the Bincombe Downs, with thousands of soldiers encamped at any given time of the year.

"Their presence was a constant throughout the Napoleonic Wars.

"One German officer wrote about his experiences when he stayed in Weymouth, which provides a clear and entertaining picture of local life at the time. In about 1803, the officer, who preferred to remain anonymous, described the Radipole quarters:

"About the middle of January our regiment changed quarters with the heavy-dragoon regiment of our legion, which, until, had been stationed at 'Radipoo'l. As the barracks at this place were larger than those of Dorchester, I took up my abode therein.

"They belonged, however, to the temporary class before alluded to, and stood hardly more than two gun-shots’ distance from the sea-shore. They were of brick, and only one story high. Although it was now the middle of winter, men were employed in enlarging these barracks still more. The rooms were six feet long and proportionably broad, and were abundantly supplied with every comfort, excepting beds, by the barrack-master."

Anne also shares a wonderful romantic story in her book of 'Bincombe’s Romeo and Juliet'

In 1801, a doctor’s daughter, Phyllis Grove, was living in a small, dilapidated house in Bincombe, near Weymouth. She was an only child whose mother had died when she was very young.

Anne writes: "Her father, Doctor Grove, was a morose, depressed man whose practice had long since failed and Phyllis lived a solitary life, keeping house for her father and attending church every Sunday.

"Probably on her father’s insistence, Phyllis had become engaged to a local merchant, Humphrey Gould. He was a cold man who travelled a great deal in his work and who did not pay very much attention to the quiet girl. The only break in Phyllis’ solitude was when the King’s German Legion arrived with thousands of soldiers camping along the Bincombe Downs under their billowing white tents. During one of those visits, Phyllis was strolling along the bottom of the downs when she met Matthaus, a young German corporal with the York Hussars.

"Over time, the two continued to meet clandestinely and they fell in love. Matthous asked Phyllis to run away with him back to his native Germany and Phyllis agreed. The plan included Matthous’ friend Christoph, another young German corporal, who was going to “borrow” a boat from Weymouth harbour to help the couple escape. Phyllis packed a few of her belongings and waited for her lover at the appointed time, on the road where Bincombe met the main Dorchester to Weymouth highway.

"As she waited, the long distance coach pulled up and out stepped Phyllis’ fiancé. The girl’s conscience pricked her and when Matthous arrived shortly afterward, she told him she could not run away with him. Heartbroken, he felt he could not leave his friend at the harbour and the two Germans paddled off toward France, where they planned to go on to Germany.

"Also heartbroken, Phyllis met with Humphrey Gould after she had broken the news to Matthous; Gould informed her that he had married on the sly and even asked her to break the news to her father, afraid of the doctor’s reaction. The girl was devastated and grieved over her decision not to leave for Germany with her true love.

"Not a week later, Phyllis was sitting on the village wall, when along came a band playing the Trauermarsch, the “march of the dead.” The band was accompanied by a procession of soldiers, two coffins and two accompanying priests. These were followed by two other soldiers, both blindfolded. Not far from the church, the group stopped beside the coffins and the two soldiers knelt next to the coffins and appeared to be praying. The commanding officer gave a signal and the soldiers, who had lined up, guns ready, shot the two men.

"Realising who the soldiers were, Phyllis was so shocked she fell off of the wall. It turned out Matthous and Christoph had mistakenly landed at Guernsey and were caught and brought back to face court martial in Weymouth. They were found guilty of desertion and theft. Phyllis was so distraught at her lover’s death, her father thought she was losing her sanity.

"Many years later, when she was 75, she shared her story with Dorset writer Thomas Hardy, who was only 15-years-old at the time. Phyllis made him promise he would not tell anyone about it until after she died. He kept his word and wrote about the ill-fated couple many years later; he called their story The Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion."

*From the Napoleonic Wars to the Devil's Device Volume Two by AA Collier is available from Amazon as a Prime item for £7.99 including delivery.