Deepest Books is a series of three titles, focusing on the adjoining counties – Dorset, Wiltshire and Somerset – which are the gateway to the West Country and are often described as “Wessex.”
Funded by the Rothermere Foundation, Deepest Dorset, Deepest Wiltshire and Deepest Somerset, are written and edited by Gay Pirrie-Weir and Fanny Charles, with recipes by chef Philippa Davis, and photography by some of the area’s most talented photographers, including Matilda Temperley, Len Copland, David Blake and Philip Hartley. All three books raise funds for charities within the counties; the total to date, at Easter 2022, is more than £75,000. (Details of beneficiary charities are below).
Deepest Books began with the publication of Deepest Dorset in September 2016 (it is now sold out). The intention was to create a full colour hardback that approached the county from a different and varied perspective, mentioning the history, the landscape and the iconic places, but also finding stories about the people who live and work in Dorset, quirky facts, places to visit and stay and how to make the most of time spent either as a resident or a holidaymaker.
Deepest Dorset was so successful – raising more than £40,000 for its charities – that we started looking at a second book. The intention was that it would be Somerset. Then we were approached by Wiltshire Community Foundation, one of whose ambassadors was Nicky Alberry, who was about to become High Sheriff. She wanted a Wiltshire book published during her shrieval year. We made the deadline, publishing Deepest Wiltshire on 28th March 2019, days before she handed over to the new High Sheriff.
Deepest Wiltshire follows a similar format, with special features on the Church and the Military, both central to life in the county. The contributors included archaeologists, artists, musicians, sportspeople and wildlife experts.
Deepest Somerset was due to be published in the autumn of 2020, but like so many aspects of life was hit by the pandemic. We suspended work on the book in March 2020, with no idea whether or when we would get back to it. In the event, we resumed researching and writing early in 2021. Deepest Somerset was published on 23rd September 2021 with a party at Glastonbury Assembly Rooms, attended by many of the people who had helped us or contributed to the book, including our funder Lord Rothermere and Michael Eavis.
About us: For 23 years, Fanny Charles edited the Blackmore Vale Magazine and its sister publications, the Fosse Way and Stour & Avon Magazines. Gay Pirrie-Weir has worked extensively for newspapers and magazines in the region and also co-wrote (with Liz Leyshon), a history of the arts in Somerset, Not Afraid to Dream. Philippa Davis is a private chef from Shaftesbury, who has worked at the River Cafe, Moro and the Mudchute Kitchen, contributes recipes to the BBC Food website and is the food writer for The Field magazine.
Our charities: Deepest Dorset – Dorset Community Foundation, Weldmar Hospicecare Trust and Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance , and the Lyme Regis RNLI; Deepest Wiltshire – Wiltshire Community Foundation, Wiltshire Air Ambulance and SSAFA (Wiltshire); Deepest Somerset – Somerset Community Foundation, the Children’s Hospice South West (Somerset) and the Farming Community Network.
The Deepest Books publications would not be possible without the support of The Rothermere Foundation, a charitable trust which has paid for the printing, design and authorship of the books.