The history of Ashmore Cheese.

Mrs Vigor, later to become Pat Doble, picked up the baton and after some hands-on training from David, converted herself in to a cheesemaker. The two of them are convinced that the quality of any cheese is tied to the milk. Pat helped her son switch from a herd of 120 English cattle to 60 Friesian, brought in Brittany, that supplied the same amount of milk. Her cheeses went to Neil's yard Dairy. The herd was assessed as one of the country's top ten.

What the French call a success d'estime, a moral triumph, wasn't adding up to a financially secure position. Neither the cheese nor the dairy farm was failing, but Pats son convinced her that they should quit. By now, Pat and David were living together. After the sale went through, they decided that they would start afresh, doing what they both understood; making cheese.

They moved to Ashmore, a village on the Wiltshire-Dorset border near Shaftesbury and they married. Their new landlord rented them a dairy. He also supplied them with milk from the herd. The arrangement should have suited both parties, but instead it lead to conflict. The landlord wanted to go in to partnership with the Dobles. He felt they should be creative, devise never-done-before cheese such as 'red Gorgonzola'. They were purists. Even the idea of mixing in chives gives them the shivers. They wanted to retain their independence, so they turned him down.

They had already registered their business name, but soon afterwards they were contacted in an official letter from the National Business Register warning them that someone was applying to trademark their name, Ashmore Farm Cheese. They put two and two together and concluded that their landlord, who wasn't making any cheese himself, was behind it.

It was time for another move. Ashmore is at the northern edge of Cranborne Chase, the ancient royal hunting ground that, until the nineteenth century, had severe laws to deal with poachers, including execution and mutilation. It's divided up, much of it, into estates belonging to the landed gentry. One of the largest, owned by Lord Salisbury, is centred around Cranborne. Its biggest asset is property, but it runs shoots and manages woodland and farms.

At a farmers market, by chance, Pat met Lord Salisbury's farm manager. She inquired whether he might have any spare buildings into which she could transfer the cheesemaking business. Once there had been three dairies on the estate, but all had shut down. Most if the 4,000 acres under cultivation had been turned over to arable crops. However, Lord Salisbury does have a personal interest in livestock. Shades of P.G. Woodehouse's Blanding Castle, he extensively rears breed pigs: large blacks, middle whites and Tamworths. These are sold as meat in the Cranborne food shop owned by the estate. As there was an indirect synergy and since there was a hanger available just outside the village, the Dobles were invited to move in.

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