Following my last blog, a piece of serendipitous news. All graveyards, churchyards and burial grounds in England will be surveyed in the next few years. The National Burial Grounds Survey (NBGS) is happening right now. Who knew? I certainly didn’t until recently.
Since I wrote the last paragraph I have attended a Webinar about the NBGS and found out more. AG Intl Ltd are doing the surveying, working their way around the country diocese by diocese. The survey of Salisbury Diocese, free to the church, went live on the 24th November 2022 as consent is being sought from each parish, hence the informative webinars held yesterday.
NBGS was launched last year with the aim of mapping and digitising burial grounds. It is funded by MyHeritage and enabled by FamilySearch (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints aka the Mormons). They will recoup their investment by offering the information gathered to subscribers to their service.
The idea that all burial grounds will be searchable online in future is an exciting one, and will suit our needs here at Chitterne very well, but it needs qualifying. Not ALL burial grounds are included in this survey, only those of the Church of England. Burial grounds in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are also not included in the survey.
And I do wonder how it will affect all you folk searching your ancestry the old way. Will you miss your days out visiting churches? Will you still want to visit once you’ve seen photographs and information from the comfort of your armchair? How about the archivists who offer their expertise free at the History Centre? Will it do them out of a job? But I guess it will provide them with another resource.
Despite these reservations we welcome the scheme. The software Dave uses for making and updating the graveyard maps is getting out of date now he’s retired, so that’s a relief.
There are two graveyards in Chitterne that have been in use since medieval times. Neither is situated near the present church, which is on a site not suitable for burials, but both are some distance away where the two old churches of Chitterne All Saints and Chitterne St Mary once stood.
Twenty years ago there were no plans of either of these graveyards. The lack of plans became a problem when the second partner of a couple died wishing to be buried in the same grave as the first partner and no-one could remember where the unmarked grave was. I think that grave plot was finally identified by referring to family photographs of the original burial. The photos included nearby grave markers that allowed the grave to be identified, but nevertheless the embarrassing episode nudged the churchwardens into action.
It was a two person job to survey the sites and to create the plans. I gathered and recorded the information and my husband Dave drew the plans, using software. We started with St Marys graveyard.
St Mary’s, pictured above, surrounds the remaining part of old St Mary’s Church (undergoing roof restoration at the moment), and is well kept and in constant use.
We used various old maps and internet maps to plan the shape and orientation of the site. Then plotted and numbered the graves. Numbers 1 -15 gravestones had been moved from their original positions and re-sited in a line alongside the path leading to The Manor, so we gave those a different shape on our plan. There are three burials within the chancel, these we gave dotted lines, and three memorials on the outside walls of the chancel, these just have numbers. Lists were made of the numbered graves and where possible annotated with the names of the occupiers and their dates. Illegible inscriptions were noted too. The latest version of the map of St Mary’s is pictured above.
St Mary’s proved to be a bit of a doddle when it came to mapping All Saints graveyard.
All Saints is not mowed but grazed by sheep. Even this is an improvement from 60 years ago, when it was overgrown with brambles and scrub before Alan Sprack cleared it, so at least we could move around the graveyard for our survey. Alan was the last person to be buried here; the graveyard is not as popular for burials as St Mary’s.
Our main problem with All Saints was the higgledy-piggledy layout of the graves, which apart from all facing the same direction, seemed to have no pattern. We resorted to GPS in the end, but this in itself was difficult as every time we stopped and started again we got a different reading from the satellites. Once we had our basic layout we followed the same procedure as St Mary’s. One grave of a suicide at All Saints is outside the boundary. Number 20 marks the underground vault containing the eleven coffins of the Michell-Onslow family. Number 48 (top centre) that of the Hitchcock family.
Eventually, after two years, in 2004, we finished All Saints graveyard map. This map is updated less frequently than St Mary’s, the latest version is pictured above.
All the information was passed to the churchwardens and the vicar, added to a Graveyard Search page on the village website and turned into an alphabetical Burial Guide placed in the current church for visitors. The map and lists are updated every year or so. Unfortunately it is no longer possible to update the search page on the website.
All Saints Church, Chitterne painted by Robert Kemm in his youth in the 1850s – see first blog in this series for more on Robert Kemm. This church has been wholly demolished, only the graveyard remains alongside the old road to Imber. All Saints was a small building consisting of a chancel, nave, western tower, south porch and a chantry chapel on the north side, to which the Michell family added a pew containing a mausoleum in 1775. The chancel with priest’s door and the tower date from the 13th century Early English Period, whereas the east and nave windows are of the 15th century Perpendicular Style.
Two encaustic tiles were found in the chancel of this church. They are now in the Wiltshire Museum at Devizes. One bearing the arms of Simon Sydenham, Dean of Sarum 1418 to 1431, has two chevrons between three rams. The other bears the arms of William Alnswyke, Archdeacon of Sarum 1420 to 1426. These probably denote that alterations or enlargements were made to the church during their terms of office, perhaps the Perpendicular Style windows were inserted.
Inside, All Saints Church contained six hatchments and eight memorials to the Michell and Onslow families. The monuments were all removed to the new church in 1861 and may be seen on the walls of the entrance lobby. Giles de Bridport, Bishop of Sarum, acquired the right to Chitterne All Saints Church and 17 acres of glebe (land belonging to the Church) and gave it to his newly formed College de Vaux in 1270. The land continued to belong to the College until the dissolution of the college in 1545.
This final painting by Robert Kemm depicts several details from the interior of All Saints Church annotated by the artist. The annotations are as follows, top left to right: Window in Chapel; West window; W window S side of nave. Below left to right: Within the South doorway; Shields and …. in Chancel ….. and part of East window. The medieval glass in the east window painted by Kemm looks very similar to the small pieces of medieval glass preserved and still visible today in a window of St Mary’s Chancel pictured right.
The Robert Kemm paintings are stored in the Salisbury Museum and can be seen by arrangement with the Curator. I am grateful to RE for the photographs of the paintings and to MS for sending them to me.
St Mary’s Church, Chitterne painted by Robert Kemm in his youth in the 1850s – see previous blog for more on Robert Kemm. Most of this church was pulled down in 1861, leaving just the chancel, which still exists today. The original building consisted of a chancel, nave, a small chantry chapel on the north side and a square tower over the south porch. The windows and priest’s doorway are in the 15th century Perpendicular Style.
The Rectory of Chitterne St Mary was appropriated to the Dean and Chapter of Sarum (Salisbury) before 1295, and remains in their possession today. The Manor of Chitterne St Mary formed part of the lands given by Countess Ela of Salisbury’s son to Lacock Abbey in 1246, see previous blog.
Robert Kemm’s watercolour painting of the church interior. The chancel and nave were divided by a fine 15th century stone rood screen.
A painting by Robert Kemm of a tomb in the chancel to the north of the altar, without figure or inscription, under a 14th century arch in the Decorated Style. This is interesting because the arch is still in the chancel today but the tomb has disappeared since the painting was done. I wonder who could have warranted such a memorial in Chitterne St Mary back in the 1300s?
The paintings are stored in the Salisbury Museum and can be seen by arrangement with the Curator. I am grateful to RE for the photographs and to MS for sending them to me.
Several photographs of paintings of the two old Chitterne churches, and one said to be of St Andrew’s Chapel have come my way recently. They are all new to me, as is the artist Robert Kemm, and I thought this worth sharing with you in three parts.
The paintings are annotated with typewritten notes which state that they date from 1865-1867. I was a little taken aback by this. How could that statement be correct when both our old churches were mostly demolished by 1861 in order to build the new church? So I set about researching Robert Kemm. Again, the notes on the last photo of the so-called St Andrew’s Chapel, also sent my eyebrows skyward, as we now think the chapel to have been sited behind the building in this painting.
Robert Kemm was born in 1837 in Salisbury, the son of William Kemm, a gilder and carver born in Netheravon, but living in Salisbury with his wife Jane by the time Robert was born. Robert showed early promise as an artist and was producing paintings by the time he was fourteen years old in 1851. In fact he produced two series of 256 watercolours of Wiltshire churches in his youth. So there is the answer to my query, these paintings were painted well before 1865, when the old churches were still standing in all their glory.
Building on the site of St Andrews Chapel
This building dating from the 15th century, which still exists, may have been built on the site of, or near the St Andrew’s Chapel that certainly existed in 1142, when it was given by Walter of Salisbury to his newly founded Priory of Bradenstoke near Lyneham, Wiltshire. But the monks of Bradenstoke did not benefit from it for long as Walter’s grandson, Patrick Earl of Salisbury, took it back into his own possession before he died in 1168, swapping it for some land he owned at Wilcot. The chapel remained in the hands of the Earls of Salisbury until 1236 when William Longespee II, Earl of Salisbury, gave all his holdings in Chitterne to the Abbey his mother founded at Lacock. For the next 300 years, from 1236 until the dissolution of the Abbey in 1539, the chapel became the property of the nuns of Lacock. In 1447 a disaster occurred, the bell and bell turret of the chapel were struck by lightning and destroyed. The present building pictured above must date from after this disaster, as the 15th century style windows and door attest, but is it sited in the same place as the original chapel? We may never know for certain.
The paintings are stored in the Salisbury Museum and can be seen by arrangement with the Curator. I am grateful to RE for the photographs and to MS for sending them to me.
100 years ago this month Earnshaw Twinkle from The Grange at Chitterne was making his first appearance in a play on a London stage.
The play, The Broken Wing, originally opened in 1920 in New York and, in England at the Duke of York’s Theatre on 15th August 1922, It was written by Paul Dickey and Charles W. Goddard and described at the time as a ‘Colourful Comedy of Modern Mexico With a Sensational Aeroplane Crash’. The arrival of a plane through a living room window at the end of Act I was thought the best thing in the play.
Earnshaw was appearing alongside the lead actress Dorothy Mix, and spent some of his time in London at her flat. “Apparently he loved the glitter of floodlights so much that he had to be pulled off in one of the scenes instead of meekly following the hero and heroine, as the authors of the play intended.” reported the Warminster and Westbury Journal on Friday 18th of August 1922. So who was this mysterious player from Chitterne?
Earnshaw Twinkle was a dog, a pedigree setter from the kennels of Sidney Pownceby, who in 1922 lived at the Grange with his wife Marion. Who would have thought it?
With grateful thanks to the Warminster Journal for their endlessly fascinating snippets on the ‘Days of Yore’ page.
A map last seen in the village pub in the early 1990s has been returned to Chitterne by Keith Lacey ex-landlord of the Kings Head. He and his wife Jackie left the pub when Ushers sold it to Gibbs Mew. Jackie sadly died in 2021 and Keith has returned the map in memory of her:
The map was given to Keith and Jackie by Ernie George about 100 years after the original was drawn by Olivia Ann George (1877-1950). Olivia was Ernie’s Aunt. Many of you will remember Ernie who lived in Townsend Chitterne all his life from 1921-2012 (except for war service).
Olivia Ann attended Chitterne School when it was led by William Brown the successful headmaster. She was 10 years old when she drew her map of the village. Now 135 years later we can see how she viewed her environment thanks to another member of the family, Kenneth George 1920-1981, Ernie’s older brother, who made this ink and wash copy of the original 90 years ago in 1932.
We know these details from the back of the map, added by Ernie.
” Copy by Kenneth Victor George, Age 13. 1932.
From a pen/ink by a ten year old schoolgirl of 13 Townsend Chitterne All Saints with St Mary, May 1887. (O.A.G. (Olivia Ann George) Born 25 April 1877 at All Saints.)
Not shown are:- Penning cottage, Down Barn cottage, Bee cottage, Breachill cottages, Bush Barn cottage and Two Barn cottage. Middle Barn cottages, which are all within the parish of Chitterne.
Oram’s grave is East of New Barn cottages on the old Warminster/Sarum road nr. MS (milestone) WAR 10 SARUM 12 crossed by the Warminster/Shrewton road (Codford/Maddington road). 5 March 1797 Elizabeth Windsor born; as a child, about 1805, witnessed Oram’s burial at the crossroads, a stake was driven through his body, and buried without funeral service as he had hung himself on account of disappointment in love, the man was a suicide, therefore dealt with according to old custom and law by the people of Chitterne. “
Interesting things to note on Olivia’s map are: The number of farms in 1887 (shaded in grey); the prominent ways to Heytesbury (top), to Imber and to Tilshead; Lodge Paddock, the site of the yet to be built racing stables; and the twelve houses in Bidden Lane on the south side that no longer exist.
I’ll write the following as if ley lines exist, while being open-minded about them myself. Until recently I had not heard of the Michael and Mary ley line. You may believe ley lines exist or not, but some people do believe that the ancients were sensitive to subtle earth currents and built their circles, mounds and and other monuments at places where these currents converged. Many of their sacred sites were connected to the movement of the sun, moon and stars so important for their rituals and beliefs. Alfred Watkins founded the ley line theory that alignments of the old sites had been planned in straight lines, in his book “The Old Straight Track” dated 1925.
The important Michael and Mary line stretches across southern England for 350 miles or so from the westernmost point in Cornwall to the easternmost on the Norfolk coast. The path of the rising midsummer sun, passing through St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall and St Michael’s Church, on Glastonbury Tor. The Michael or male line is straight while the female Mary line wiggles and intertwines with it along its length. Every place where the two lines meet and cross is significant. Avebury sits on the halfway point and is a place of great interest to the believers in ley line energy.
Our holiday guests last week believed in ley lines, they had come from the Netherlands to visit Avebury in particular, having visited other sites on the line in Devon and Cornwall. They pointed out that if the Michael and Mary line were continued beyond the Norfolk coast across the North Sea it would brush the tip of the Netherlands at a place called Groningen. I was intrigued and my attention was drawn to the Michael and Mary ley line.
I did some research and was surprised to find that you can book conducted tours of the Michael and Mary line, starting in Cornwall but only go as far as Avebury, at present. Other websites recommend visiting any places you are drawn to either side of the line. This is what our recent guests did when they noticed that our local church was dedicated to All Saints with St Mary. Inside they found St Michael depicted (right) on the church window that honours the fallen in the two world wars. The discovery was significant to them, especially that Michael was to Mary’s right (if Mary is above the altar), as he should be they said.
This fabulous photograph of the Poplars by Futcher of Warminster is from the Feltham collection, and I’m wondering who are all these people. The women’s dress looks to be late Victorian, say around 1890, so perhaps this photo features Robert Morgan Titt, wearing the leather apron, before his death in 1898 at the age of 39. The photographer Fred Futcher’s business at 36 High Street, Warminster was definitely in operation in the late 1890s.
Morgan Titt was the last of the blacksmith Titts who carried on their business at the Poplars. His blacksmith great grandfather William Titt, 1744-1830 of Wylye was the first of the family to rent the premises. His son, also William, 1769-1851, inherited the business and carried it on and his sons followed in his trade, but by 1861 the business at the Poplars was being run by his youngest unmarried daughter Amelia, aided by her younger brother Henry c1821-1885. Amelia died in 1889 and that’s when her nephew Morgan Titt became the new proprietor. Morgan was Henry’s son.
Morgan’s early death marked the end of an era. He had married his cousin Ellen Titt in 1889 and they had no children that I am aware of. By the 1901 census the Poplars was uninhabited.
Many thanks to TH for supplying this fabulous photo.
I was asked to lead a History Walk around Chitterne on Thursday 2nd June for part of the village jubilee celebrations. The villagers who came along seem to have enjoyed it so I thought I would share here the printed-out additional notes and walk-map I provided on the day, for anyone who was unable to come.
First the map Dave made for the walk. The places highlighted in red are where the groups stopped, looked and listened. We started at the Village Hall car park, crossed the road to the Sports Field and then headed down the Tilshead Road, with a small detour to All Saints graveyard on Imber Road, turned right into Back Lane and followed it to the end, crossed the road and headed towards our last stop at the Chancel.
Jubilee History Walk
The village of Chitterne has existed for a little over a hundred years. Before that there were two villages: Chitterne All Saints and Chitterne St Mary. They joined civilly in 1907 and became Chitterne, although the two churches had shared one vicar since the 19th century.
The Domesday Survey of 1086 tells us that in Saxon times there were three villages, owned by three different persons, but only two manors in Norman times, when William the Conqueror allotted two of the holdings to the same man Edward of Salisbury. Edward’s descendant Patrick was made Earl of Salisbury, his descendant Ela inherited and gave a large slice of Chitterne to the abbey she founded at Lacock in 13th century. From then until the dissolution of Lacock Abbey in 1539 the main source of the nun’s wealth came from their large flocks of sheep based at Chitterne.
The village has evolved from the prosperous sheep and corn economy of earlier times into the village of a single parish today. The many large houses, given the size of the village, are signs of the prosperity of earlier times.
Chitterne All Saints or Upper Chitterne – the nun’s domain
Sports Field site of Great Manor
A great house dating from medieval times once stood on this site. It is marked on the 1773 Andrews and Drury’s map of the village as being occupied by Robert Michell, (more of the Michells later). The main entrance was on the far side of the field marked by an avenue of lime trees and a pair of large stone pillars, which now grace the entrance of Cortington Manor Cottage, Corton. The Great House was demolished in the 1820s and all that remains is part of the perimeter wall, a pair of smaller pillars and the service quarters building we call the Coach House.
After the demolition of the Great House the remaining service quarters were adapted to house six families of workers on the farm, gradually dwindling over the years to three families. These farm worker’s houses were always known to villagers as ‘great houses’ or more likely, ‘big ‘owse’s’. The building was finally sold off by the MOD to a private owner in the 1970s.
The Church – All Saints with St Marys
This church was built in the early 1860s when the population of the two villages exceeded 800 persons and neither of the two older churches of All Saints and St Marys could accommodate them. Note the many fancy memorials to the Michell family in the foyer, moved here from old All Saints church. Also noteworthy are the five bells, one of the two St Marys bells was cast by John Barbur of Salisbury and dates from before 1403 (his death).
The Gate House
One of the most ancient buildings in the village. From the 13th century, it was the Lacock nuns base in Chitterne All Saints. Old stone coffins and encaustic clay tiles from medieval times have been unearthed on the site. The present buildings date from the 1500s. The Chapel of St Andrew, pre-dating the nuns, once stood behind the outbuilding used as a garage. The nuns are said to have offered sustenance here to pilgrims travelling between monasteries.
The present building dates from after the disastrous fire of 1852 that destroyed the original. That house was often referred to as Little Manor in old documents and probably means that this was the site of the farm attached to the Great Manor of All Saints.
All Saints Graveyard
The old medieval All Saints Church stood in the middle of this plot, now marked by the top of the Michell vault housing the remains of the people memorialised in the church. The first Michell, Charles, came to All Saints in the 1600s. His descendants finally quit the village in the 1800s. The Michell vault originally stood above ground under the Michell family pew in the church. When the church was demolished in the 1800s the vault was re-sited underground on the same spot, giving us a good pointer to where the church once stood. The vicarage was demolished at the same time. It may have stood near Brook Cottage.
Probably built during the Michells time here in about 1680 and extended 100 years later. Another main entrance from Back Lane was once on the opposite side of the house. Most necessary in times of flood. Two generations of the Hayward family followed the Michells from 1830 to 1913, and then by Vice-Admiral Charles Napier and from 1926 by Lady Eva Dugdale.
This house has a varied history, originally a country retreat for sporting enthusiasts, and for the local MP Walter Long who owned it in the late 1800s/early 1900s. Then it became the home of a trainer of racehorses who was hired by the new owner Ronald Farquharson. Farquharson bought the house, Chitterne Farm and the land in 1906 after having made his fortune in rubber in India. He had the Racing Stables built and hired a succession of racehorse trainers to run them. After his death in 1937 the estate was acquired by the War Dept/MOD when that dept bought up much of All Saints, including all the farms. After the war It reverted to being the home of a racehorse trainer and a boarding house. The stables were converted to eight cottages in the 1990s.
Used to be named Back Road, but changed its name after a request to the council by owners of new houses built at the other end. Used by villagers to avoid the wet in times of flood. Note: an old entrance to Chitterne House from Back Lane and the chalk pit, source of chalk used locally to build cob walls. Spot some cob walls.
This house was created from his old home by Chitterne’s famous detective, Bill ‘Farmer’ Brown of Scotland Yard, when he retired to Chitterne in the 1930s. He is most remembered for his capture of the notorious murderer Ronald True. William Fred Brown was the son of the school headmaster and village sub-postmaster, William Frederick Brown. The Post Office in those days was at 53 Bidden Lane, where the Brown family lived. The terraced cottage was the last one of six cottages, numbers 48-53 all fronting Bidden Lane, known as Steps Cottages due to the steep steps up to them from the road.
Elm Farm land is now part of Chitterne Farm, and the house sold off by the MOD to private owners. Elm Farm was the childhood home of John Wallis Titt the engineer who made and erected wind operated water pumps, which he sold all over the world. From 1761-1871 the Amesbury Turnpike Road passed through Chitterne. The toll gates stood outside Elm farm house and the Toll collectors booth was on the corner.
The divider of the two old parishes. Looking up the lane All Saints on the left, St Mary on the right. The dividing line ran down the centre of the lane, across the C22 and up the side of the sports field. Bidden Lane is the proper name of this road, but Shrewton Road is more commonly used nowadays. It was just a lane once, a turning off the main village throughfare, but since widening in the 1960s it is no longer narrow and twisty. Home to lots of farm workers in olden times.
Chitterne St Mary – the church’s domain, the manor granted to Paulet family by King Edward VI in 1547.
There had been Methodist meetings in Chitterne, mostly amongst the farm Workers, since the 1700s, eventually leading to the building of a Methodist Chapel. The Baptists took it over when the Methodists failed to make it work. The chapel burnt down in 1903, except for the old schoolroom, and was rebuilt under the leadership of Frank Maidment who was dubbed the ‘Bishop of Salisbury Plain’ due to his powers of oratory taking him to preach in other plain villages.
The White Hart
Once a public house built in 1651, closed in 1955, now a private house. Samuel Pepys and party stayed here one night in 1668 when they became lost on the Plain travelling between Salisbury and Bath. The next day they hired the landlord to set them on the right track to their destination. Samuel reported in his diary that a merry time was had but the beds were lousy.
Once one of three farms in St Mary, now private, and the farm yard opposite has been turned into a small housing estate. The house was probably built in about 1800, a previous farm house stood across the road next to the farmyard, which was accessed by the little bridge. The farmyard is now St Marys Close and a large old thatched barn which stood behind number 6 no longer exists.
Old Malt House
The malt house stood behind the wooden fence next door to Pine Cottage, but the name Malt House was adopted by the cottage after the malt house was taken down. When the Wallis family owned the Manor and the Kings Head they malted their own barley in this malt house, brewed beer and sold it in their pub. In 1903 Farmer Wallis allowed the Baptists to hold their services in the malt house while the new Baptist Chapel was being built.
Glebe (Church) Farm Stockyard site of
The church farm stockyard of Chitterne St Mary, and tithe barn stood on the site of Birch Cottage. The tithing field leading to the water meadows was opposite. Each farmer in the area had a section of the meadow for grazing sheep on the fresh spring grass.
St Marys Chancel
Old medieval St Marys church remains date from about 1450. The nave was demolished in the 1860s, the chancel kept as mortuary chapel. Note the part of a tomb monument dating from about 1500 that has been moved to the chancel near a window probably from the old nave. Several graves under the floor, one to Elizabeth Morris is notable. Her father was a Senator of Barbados and connected with the slave trade. Elizabeth had a black servant called Charles whose burial is recorded the day after hers in 1812. He is buried outside the graveyard boundary, near the top kissing gate. Grave marker has since disappeared.
17th century manor house probably built by the Paulet family of Basingstoke. William Paulet, later 1st Marquis of Winchester, was granted the manor of Chitterne St Mary in 1547 by King Edward VI. The Paulets didn’t live in Chitterne, the house was let out. Rented by William Wallis (d.1884) in 1826 and purchased by Frederick Wallis c1918/19 from Lord Long. The two old black barns are early 1800s.