Henry Moule and Cholera in Dorset

Barbara Kerr profiles a nineteenth-century country vicar who was a militant reformer in sewage and sanitation.

The struggles of workers in field and factory to better their condition in the 1830s and 1840s failed, largely because they sought a return to the imagined security of the manor and the guild. More effective help was to come from forward-looking men, ready to enlist government intervention and the aid of science, to ease the malaises of changing society. Prominent among these were Parson Bull of Byerley, Charles Kingsley of Eversley and Henry Moule (1801-1880) of Fordington, a parish on the doorstep of Dorchester.

There was nothing parochial about Moule’s schemes for sanitary reform and they were infused with the millenial fervour which was John Wesley’s legacy to many of his evangelical successors. In a flood of prophetic pamphlets Moule envisaged a new and sanitary world where, once The Impossibility Overcome (1870) of bringing local authorities to their senses, his dry-earth system for the removal of sewage would make Town Refuse the Remedy for Local Taxation (1872) and maintain Self-Supporting Boarding and Day Schools (1862), thus achieving the millenium of National Health and Wealth (1875).

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