This description of Shaftesbury, Dorset, England is taken from The representative history of Great Britain and Ireland by Thomas Hinton Burley Oldfield published in 1816.
SHAFTESBURY, a borough and market-town consisting of three parishes, in the hundred of Redland, and division of Sherborn, Dorset, situated on a high hili, 10 miles from Blandford, and 101 from London; containing 502 houses and 2,159 inhabitants, viz. 863 males and 1,296 females, of whom 396 were chiefly employed in trades. The houses are tolerably well built. There is a neat town-hall, in which the quarter-sessions are held. Water is so scarce here, that the inhabitants used to be supplied with it from Motcombe, and the grant for fetching their water from that village was for an acknowledgment of a singular kind : on the Monday before Holy Thursday, the corporation went in procession, having a large quantity of plate carried before them, called a prize besom, (similar to the London garland on Mayday,) dressed with flowers and peacocks’ feathers. When the procession arrived at the manor-house, the whole was presented, together with a calf’s head and a pair of gloves, to the lord or his st. ward, who received it with great formality, and distributed bread and beer to the populace, after which the plate was again delivered to the mayor, whoreturned with it in procession to the town. In the reign of George I., a Mr. Benson, one of the members of Parliament, presented the town with engines, by means of which the water was raised 300 feet perpendicular, and conveyed to a large cistern in the middle of the town, from a distance of two miles; yet even this is laid aside, and there are several large reservoirs dug to preserve the rain water, and the poor get their living by supplying the town there from.