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The Saxons established a diocese at Sherborne and Dorset was made a shire—an administrative district of Wessex and predecessor to the English county system—with borders that have changed little since.In 1642, at the commencement of the English Civil War, the Royalists took control of the entire county apart from Poole and Lyme Regis.During the Second World War, Dorset was heavily involved in the preparations for the invasion of Normandy, and the large harbours of Portland and Poole were two of the main embarkation points.The former was the sailing venue in the 2012 Summer Olympics, and both have clubs or hire venues for sailing, Cornish pilot gig rowing, sea kayaking and powerboating.It is the birthplace of Thomas Hardy, who used the county as the principal setting of his novels, and William Barnes, whose poetry celebrates the ancient Dorset dialect.The Saxons named the town Dornwaraceaster (the suffix "ceaster" being the Old English name for a Roman town) and Dornsæte came into use as the name for the inhabitants of the area from "Dorn"—a reduced form of Dornwaraceaster—and the Old English word "sæte" meaning people.However, within three years their gains had been almost entirely reversed by the Parliamentarians.
The county has a variety of museums, theatres and festivals, and is host to the Great Dorset Steam Fair, one of the biggest events of its kind in Europe.
During the Second World War (1939–1945) Dorset was heavily involved in the preparations for the invasion of Normandy: beach landing exercises were carried out at Studland and Weymouth and the village of Tyneham was requisitioned for army training.
Tens-of-thousands of troops departed Weymouth, Portland and Poole harbours during D-Day and gliders from RAF Tarrant Rushton dropped troops near Caen to begin Operation Tonga.
; archaically: Dorsetshire) is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast.
The ceremonial county comprises the unitary authority areas of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole and Dorset.