Lime Trees Update

Following on from a blog earlier this month here is an update on the current state of the old lime trees bordering the Cut.

The tree contractors have finished, this is how the lime trees look now, quite a lot shorter but not many removed completely.

Near the Gate House wall, with the Grange on the left. The wires between the poles look less threatened by the trees.

The remains of some trees that had fallen earlier have not been removed. Note the water in the Cut, which started rising just as the tree contractors finished.

Here you can see how this tree has impacted on the brickwork of one of the old footbridges.

The Walk seems even narrower than it was before.

A new view of the Gate House from a gap in the lime trees bordering the Walk. The trees have been trimmed to prevent any more falling down, causing power cuts and blocked roads.

Historic View of Lime Trees Set to Change

This well-known view in Chitterne is likely to change soon, as work starts in the next few days on the row of old lime trees bordering the Chitterne Brook.

I wondered how long the trees had been there and I found that limes can live for up to 400 years, but 200 years is more usual. Other village limes of a similar age form an avenue shaped in a cross in the field behind the Sportsfield. Perhaps they were planted at the same time as they appear to be in the same sad state, often tumbling down. If my supposition is correct, then the trees were planted by the family who owned the houses and land on the west side of Tilshead Road, from the Sportsfield to Manor Farm, the Michell-Onslow family, mainly Matthew Michell 1751-1817. Could this family have commissioned the planting?

Looking in the opposite direction

How many generations of villagers and visitors have loved the sight of these trees in Spring, the branches covered in pale green, heart-shaped leaves, gracefully sweeping down towards the Cut? Let’s hope some will survive to lift our spirits in the coming Spring.

Part of a public footpath follows the line of trees on the field side. The footpath, known to old villagers as The Walk, starts at Manor Farm bridge and ends at the old farm bridge near St Marys Close. The section behind the lime trees once passed between a double row of trees, as you can see from this old postcard from the early 1900s. The second row of trees, on the right above, have since been removed. Below is a recent photo of the same path.

The trees bordering the Cut have been falling more frequently lately, and blocking the road in the process, hence the need for the tree surgeons. This has happened many times in the past, sometimes to disastrous effect. The photo below shows a tree that fell on a traction engine, killing the driver, almost 100 years ago in 1923.

To orientate you: the grass in the foreground is the village green, the house to the left is Great House, (or big ‘ouses), before it was converted into one house and called Coach House, Grange wall curves away to the right of the photo. Opposite Grange wall are the lime trees.

A New Chitterne School Photograph from late 1920s

This great photograph of Chitterne schoolchildren in the late 1920s came recently from the son of the tallest boy in the middle of the back row, Maurice Alfred Burt, known by all as Jack. Jack was born in Chitterne in 1916. His parents were Dorset-born Alfred Burt, the village blacksmith, and Chitterne-born Florence, a member of the Polden family.

So far Jack Burt is the only child who has been identified on the photo, although a lot of the faces are familiar and I am hoping you may be able to help with some more names.

Not only is the photo clear and well-preserved but it the first I have seen from the 1920s. It makes a welcome addition to the collection of school photos.

The earliest photo in the collection dates from 1877, 37 years after the school was founded. The teachers left to right are Henrietta Titt, William Brown and his wife Sarah Brown.

A photograph of the younger schoolchildren from 1903.

Just the schoolgirls in 1911 with Florence Shayler the headmistress centre, and Beryl Feltham on the right, assistant mistress.

The whole school in 1919 with their Peace beakers after the first World War. Florence Shayler on the left, Beryl Feltham on the right. Apologies for poor quality.

All the schoolchildren in the early 1940s with numbers swollen by evacuees.

After the second World War less children were attending the school. This is from 1953.

Chitterne School 1966 with Miss Smith assistant teacher, Miss Selby head teacher and Jill McQueen student teacher in the centre.

The final year 1967 Miss Smith, Miss Selby and CG, school secretary, in the centre.

The Kings Head in Photographs

It’s been a while since I posted a blog and update on our local hostelry so I thought I would share with you some of the photographs in my collection that I haven’t posted before.

Here we have the pub in the early days of photography, thatched and flanked by two shops. One a saddlery the other a grocery store. The saddlery is now part of the pub, the grocery store was demolished except for part of the front wall. The Kings Head was owned as part of their Chitterne estate by the Long family of Rood Ashton from 1830 until 1896 when it was offered for sale.

Note the old hump-backed bridge over the Chitterne Brook and the trees opposite the pub. The bridge was later replaced with a wider level bridge to allow for military vehicles. The trees were Wych Elms planted around the borders of the Tithing Field opposite the pub. They succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease in the 1970s.

The Wych Elms and hump-backed bridge are clearer in this early 20th century photo taken from the opposite direction.

The Kings Head has a tiled roof and more signage in this photo from the 1940s. Ushers Brewery of Trowbridge acquired the pub in the 1920s possibly from Bartletts Brewery of Warminster.

The pub looking smart in its Ushers livery. Besides the new signs and new porch, the grocery shop has gone, except for part of a wall and a door. Ushers put the pub up for sale in 1989.

In 1990 Gibbs Mew bought the pub and the door in the wall has gone.

The late Les Rushton’s horse and cart outside the pub in the 1990s. Note the ex-petrol station kiosk attached to Bridge Cottage just behind the cart.

Later in the mid 1990s with new Gibbs Mew livery. Note the new house just behind the pub, built on part of the Kings Head land sold off by Gibbs Mew for building. In the old days this was the site of the pub’s skittle alley and stables.

This photo is from 2002. The Kings Head in another new guise under the ownership of Enterprise Inns.

In 2011 the Kings Head was up for auction and subsequently became privately owned and a free house for the first time.

A photograph I took today of the Kings Head, closed and waiting, for what? The Chitterne Community Pub Group recently secured a loan to enable the purchase of the King’s Head and negotiations are underway.

End of the First Nest-ing Season

Our first season of holiday letting is over, the last guests have gone and it’s been a revelation, a lesson in human psychology and a steep learning curve for us, but an enjoyable venture nonetheless. (See earlier blog Stable to Nest for more background).

I felt a bit scared at first to be honest, a feeling echoed by one of our grandsons who said, in a slightly horrified voice: “You’re going to let strangers come and stay there?” But back in April this year we were novices on the whole art of self-catering accommodation, and pestered everyone we knew in that field for advice, now we are pleased with how well it’s turned out.

We chose Sykes Cottages as our agents and through them to offer whole weeks only, no short breaks, to minimise the amount of changeover washing and cleaning, although a few guests booked to stay less than the seven days. Of the twenty-one bookings we have had over the spring and summer, most were couples, two were singles, and seven couples brought their dog. The dogs varied as much as their owners, mostly designer breeds, a puggle, two cockapoos and another poodle-cross mutt that looked like a teddy bear. A conventional standard Poodle, with an unconventional haircut, a greyhound and a black labrador. The guests hailed from a wide variety of locations, as far as Cumbria and as near as Dorset, several from the home counties, the midlands, Yorkshire and Durham. Most stayed for a whole week, a few just for a weekend or a short week.

It was interesting to see if new guests wanted to interact with us or not. As hosts to strangers you tread a fine line between being over friendly or not friendly enough. Dave was much keener than me to strike up a conversation with them. I tended to hang back after the initial welcome until I had grasped how they expected to be treated. Very few ignored us completely, most were glad to have local advice available, and some enjoyed longer chats. You soon learn to get a sense of how they will be.

About half of the guests were walkers and sightseers, a few hoping to spot a tank on the ranges, the rest purely sightseeing members of National Trust and English Heritage. One pair were house-hunting, another pair were cottage-hopping and two pairs were celebrating anniversaries. Stonehenge was a favourite destination, also Stourhead, Avebury, Caen Hill Locks, Westbury White Horse and Shearwater. We provided copies of Dave’s local annotated walking maps, ranging from a couple of miles to 16 miles in length, and one energetic walker tried to fit all ten walks into her seven days! She almost succeeded with only one not attempted. Given the mention in our Sykes blurb of Dave’s interest in cycling, only one guest brought a bicycle, a very sturdy brand new electric bike.

Inevitably we had disasters, a run of three, as my mother would have predicted! First, our drains were blocked after only two sets of guests. Luckily, a lovely man from Beales came out like a shot and cleared it in time for the next guests. But, it was obvious that we needed to remind city visitors more forcibly about our sensitive septic systems out here in the country, a mention in the welcome pack to flush only the three ‘P’s, would not suffice. We remedied this by printing out a polite notice, framing it, and placing it strategically in the en suite. It worked like a charm, no more problems, but we do check the drains every week.

A week or so later we collided with a guest’s car on the driveway! Again, we were very lucky in that their car was undamaged, ours sustained a crease in the rear paintwork. It happened when we failed to see them reversing out at the same time as us. That was very embarrassing, but gave us a valuable reminder that we were now sharing the driveway.

Thirdly, one Friday morning the postman delivered two parcels, addressed to an unknown woman at our address. We didn’t recognise the name, I checked it was not the name of the booked guests arriving later that day, so postie took the parcels away to return to sender. You can guess what happened! As soon as we were introduced to the new guest’s partner later that afternoon, I knew that the parcels had been hers. Lesson number three learned.

On the whole the successes have far out-weighed the disasters. Two couples were so impressed with the mattress in the Nest that they ordered one for themselves. We were asked for a few things that we had failed to provide, a masher, a toast rack, larger wine glasses and two extra pillows. As Dave said: “Who uses a toast rack? You take it out of the toaster and put it on the plate!” But the positive verbal comments were heartwarming and encouraging:

“The bread is superb, we’ve eaten it already and had to go and buy some more.”

“Can I move in?”

“I feel I want to pack it all up and take it home.”

“If you ever want to sell it, let me know.”

So we must have got something right, and now look forward to next season with a greater understanding of the art of self-catering.

This Valuable Sporting Estate

When there are twenty-odd partridges toddling about the garden every morning you know the game shooting season has arrived. Watching the birds got me thinking about our sporting heritage in Chitterne. About the many varied countryside sports that have been traditional here for many centuries. I’m thinking not only of game, but hunting with dogs and horses, even horse training at the old racing stables. Chitterne, surrounded by the vast space of Salisbury Plain was always known as a sporting village, as we can see from the next image.

This is how Chitterne was described in the title of an 1896 map offering the estate for sale by the Long family.

Chitterne Lodge was used by the Long family as a country retreat. Presumably they came to the village for the hunting and game shooting season. Bills and lists held in the archives from 1848 and 1870 show that the Longs redecorated and purchased new furnishings for the Lodge for the use of their family.

Lord Long, Walter Hume Long MP, kept Chitterne Lodge back from the sale in 1896. In the early years of the 20th century he used the Lodge as his country retreat before finally selling it in 1906. According to Coates Directory of 1903 he also had a home in London and in the 1901 census his caretaker at the Lodge was widow Harriet Furnell, who lived there with her three daughters, Louisa 16, Winifred 14 and Gertrude 11.

Chitterne Lodge estate, which included Chitterne Farm, was bought in 1906 by racehorse trainer Ron Farquharson. The following year he expanded the estate by purchasing Wroughton’s, a freehold and tithe-free sporting and agricultural property of 412 acres adjoining Chitterne Lodge.

1896 map showing Wroughton’s Wood near the Chitterne parish boundary (in blue) on the road to Shrewton

I have not been able to find out much about the Wroughton family, presumably named for the place called Wroughton near Swindon, but a quick Google search showed that some members of the family lived in Wiltshire near Broad Hinton in the distant past. One female Wroughton lived at Wilcot, which is connected to Chitterne from way back in the medieval times of the Earls of Salisbury, so who knows? How they came to own land in Chitterne I do not know, but the map of 1896 has a wood marked Wroughton’s Wood.

Farquharson died in 1934 and, after a brief hiatus during World War 2, racehorse training resumed in 1955 under trainer, John Ford. he was followed by Ian Dudgeon and lastly David Allen who finally wound up the enterprise in the early 1990s.

Here’s an early photo, possibly 1890s, of a shooting party in Chitterne proudly displaying their bag of hares, when hares were still hunted for sport. I think it may have been taken at Manor Farmhouse, owned at that time by the Onslow family, but leased to the Collins family.

Fox hunting, and latterly Drag hunting, is traditional in Chitterne, especially on Boxing Day. Here is a photo of the Wylye Valley Hunt passing the Sportsfield in the 1950s. This tradition still continues on Boxing Day with the Royal Artillery Hunt.

There are plans afoot for a new equestrian business in the village, how appropriate and welcome it would be in this very horsey village.

Old Chitterne Names 18: The Beak

This is the Beak, a field shown on the 1815 map of Chitterne near the parish boundary with Upton Lovell. The track to the left in the photo is part of the Imber Range Perimeter path as it heads towards Long Trees, which marks the boundary between the two parishes.

Here you see the field on the 1815 map sandwiched between the Imber Range path and old Clarken Lane (see last blog). The Beak belonged to Paul Methuen Esq. in 1815 and was leased to William Ingram whose listed tomb lies in Chitterne St Mary graveyard.

I know very little about William Ingram who farmed the land now part occupied by Valley Farm and behind the Vicarage grounds. He must have been connected to the well-known Ingram family of the Wylye Valley (there are many monuments in the Wylye Valley churches) but I don’t know how, as his tomb seems to show him ‘of Poulshot’, at least that’s how I interpreted the inscription years ago, now very worn.

Getting back to The Beak. If you were to walk there from Chitterne you would take the Imber Range perimeter path (IRPP) and, on reaching the crossing with the permissive bridleway, continue on the IRPP away from the village. The Beak is the first field on your right.

The crossing mentioned above with the IRPP heading away from the village towards Warminster.

Old Chitterne Names 17: Green Way or Clarken Lane

This is the first look at one of the ‘new’ old names discovered from the 1815 map of the parishes of Chitterne All Saints and Chitterne St Mary: Green Way or Clarken Lane.

Part of the 1815 map featured in my last blog showing the lane marked Green Way or Clarken Lane crossing diagonally from top left to bottom right. To orientate you, the slightly wider road below it is The Hollow, or the old Salisbury to Warminster coach road. Notice the adjacent field called Clarken Lane Field bounded on the eastern side by Imber Road. To the north also notice two smaller fields, Great Penning and Little Penning, a Dry Pond and a Well, these must mark the site of Penning Barn field barn settlement. The fact that there was a well in 1815 suggests perhaps that the settlement already existed.

A screen grab from Google Earth showing Clarken Lane crossing from top left to bottom right in a wavy line between field boundaries.

Green Way or Clarken Lane is no longer a designated right of way, but it is still possible to see where it once was and to walk the part of it nearest the village.

Here we are looking north away from the village, this is the bit that is most difficult to walk, but it is still marked by a line of bushes and a ditch.

This photo was taken from the same spot as the previous one but looking south towards the village. The path is clearly defined and still regularly used.

Clarken Lane Field, pretty featureless.

Approaching the village. The field to the left was called The Tining on the old map.

Here we have reached the end of Clarken Lane and we are looking back, away from the village. Clarken Lane ends where it meets Churches Path (the path between the two old parish churches) behind Chitterne Farm West Barns.

I don’t know the origin of the name Clarken Lane, but several generations of a family called Clarke lived in Chitterne in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Two Old Maps 2: 1815 Map of the Parishes

You may remember an earlier series of blogs ‘Old Chitterne Names’? This latest map is interesting because it names more of the fields surrounding Chitterne from the time of the Methuen family ownership. The map is a large photocopy of an original held at the History Centre and a difficult subject to photograph, so we will look at small sections.

A section of the map showing the two parishes, Chitterne St Mary on the left and Chitterne All Saints on the right, before they were united as Chitterne. St Mary’s church (211) stands in front of The Manor (220), which still has its east wing, and in front of the church is the old Tithe Barn and stockyard (212 now site of Birch Cottage). To the right are the King’s Head (214), then Bridge Cottage (215), but no St Mary’s Close. Instead we have Clump Farm yard (216/217) abutting the parish boundary, with the old farmhouse behind two farm barns at right-angles to the road. Further west note there is no Vicarage (208), no St Mary’s House nor Little St Mary’s, just Glebe House (209), although there is an unidentified building next to Glebe House, but Gunville Cottages (204/205/206) at the bottom of the Hollow are shown. To the south the Chitterne Brook hugs the verge of the Codford Road, the malthouse (144) is shown next after the road junction, but not the new Clump Farmhouse. On the south side of Bidden Lane, the St Mary’s side, there are many more dwellings than exist today.

The properties held by the Michell family in All Saints are not shown on this map, so the large house owned by them on the Sportsfield site is missing, as is Chitterne House, which they also owned. Although it’s interesting to see that the original entrance to Chitterne House from Back Lane is shown. Opposite Chitterne House is Manor Farm yard and house, to the right is old All Saints Church and in front of it All Saints Vicarage, which was later demolished.

In All Saints parish the old field directly behind the Sportsfield, now known as Garston, was larger, and had three sections. In 1815, spelt Gaston, the sections were Home Gaston, Middle Gaston and Corn Gaston. Not only that, beyond Corn Gaston was another part of the ground called New Piece (top left of the map), which meant that Gaston in those days extended much further out from the village than it does today.

We looked at Garston before, see: Old Chitterne Names 5: St Mary’s Footpath and Garston

Here is a screen-grab from Google Earth for comparison purposes. It would appear that Garston once reached to the furthest edge of the green field to the right of the Hollow, top left of this 2021 map.

I hope to look at other new field names spotted on the 1815 map later, when time and weather allow.

Grateful thanks to VP for the copy of the 1815 map.

Two Old Maps: 1 Valuable Freehold Sporting Estate

Two interesting old maps have come my way lately that I haven’t seen before. The first is an original map for the sale of the Chitterne Sporting Estate. You may remember we had a look at the 1896 brochure for the estate houses and cottages offered for sale by the Long family in previous blogs.

“Plan of the Valuable Freehold Sporting Estate, Chitterne, Wilts.” Offered for sale by the Long family of Rood Ashton House, near Trowbridge sometime around the turn of the 19th century. The estate has been divided into three lots. (Sorry about the wonky photo and creases).

Lot 1: The largest lot which includes Chitterne Farm, Elms (sic) Farm, Middle Barn Farm, Bush Barn Farm and Breach Hill Farm. Also included near the village are Elm Farmhouse, the Smithy (The Poplars) and all the buildings on the right of the road from Pitts House to Chitterne Farmhouse and Chitterne Lodge. Chitterne Lodge is named as such but The Grange is called The Shooting Lodge. Field Barn settlements included in the lot are Two Barns, New Barn, Bush Barn, Middle Barn and Breach Hill cottages. Woodlands are Fox Covert and Wroughton’s Wood, both in green to the right of the map. I believe this whole lot was purchased by Ron Farquharson in 1906, the man who had Chitterne Stables built and also owned Tilshead Lodge.

On the back of the map are hand-written notes in pencil about the make-up of the Field Barn settlements. These are interesting in themselves and indicate what sizeable settlements the Field Barns were. When we look at the second map we will notice changes in some of the names of the Field Barns.

At Breach Hill Farm is a house with lawn back and front, 2 bedrooms, sitting room, scullery, kitchen with grate. Outside a brick and slate cart shed, a 6 horse stable, a chaff house, a brick, WB (?) and slate barn in a yard enclosed by a brick wall.

At Bush Barn are 2 cob and slate cart sheds, a very old timber and thatched shed, brick foundation WB and slate barn, granary and cow house, stable for 10 horses, chaff house. Cottage has 3 bedrooms, kitchen with oven, wash house, pantry and coal house.

At Two Barns is a very large WB (anyone know what that means?) barn and chaff house, a fine range of stables of brick foundations with corrugated iron roof (note: corrugated iron invented by Henry Robert Palmer in 1829). The rest of this section illegible but further on: Barn with brick foundations, WB and thatch, large cart shed of cob and tile and flint. Cob and slate farmhouse with 5 bedrooms, 2 sitting rooms, pantry, 2 kitchens, wash house, bake house of red brick with slate over, cottages of thatched brick and cob with kitchen, sitting room and 2 bedrooms.

At New Barn are kitchen gardens, 2 detached cottages of brick, cob and slate with 3 bedrooms, kitchen with boiler and oven, wash house and pantry each, 2 more brick and slate with kitchens, wash house, pantry and 3 bedrooms each, a brick built and slate bake house with oven. At the end of the lane is a granary of WB, brick foundations with slate roof. Other buildings at New Barn are cob and tile cart shed, a WB brick foundation thatched barn, a WB cob and thatched cow house, stabling for 12 horses and a chaff house, enclosed in a yard are 2000 illegible on timber staging, an iron water mill with sails complete, machinery to wall for traction engine, steel winder on a frame. Outside 3 pits for storing waste.

The only settlement remaining of the old Field Barns is Middle Barn. The rest were removed by the War Department, after their purchase of Farquharson’s estate in 1937, to enable army training to take place unhindered.

Lot 2 consisted of Manor Farm, The Manor, Glebe House, St Mary’s Chancel, the Tithing field (opposite the King’s Head, now part of St Mary’s Lodge) and the water meadows along the north and west side of Codford Road. There are no associated Field Barn settlements. This was later (c.WW1) purchased with a mortgage by the Wallis family who were already the tenants and had been living in The Manor since 1823. After many years the Wallis family sold most of their land to the Harley family who renamed it Valley Farm.

Lot 3 is made up of two farms Clump Farm and Smith’s farm. I believe the Smith family referred to here are the very same Smiths who owned Chitterne Stores in Townsend. Lot 3 also included Clump Farm House, the Malthouse (now demolished) and associated Pine Cottage (now known as the Malt House). Again no associated Field Barns. This lot was purchased by William Robinson a builder of Salford, Manchester for his eldest son Harold to farm, unfortunately Harold was killed in WW1. Charles Bazell rented the farm from Robinson, who later sold to the Webster family who later still sold it to the Stratton family, who still own the land today.

The last part of the estate is the most intriguing. A patch of riverside meadow at Little Langford in the Wylye Valley. How odd! I have no idea how this came to be part of the Chitterne estate, but if anyone knows please tell all. Perhaps it’s not for sale at this time, as there is no thick line around it. On that mysterious note I finish with this map. Next up is a much earlier map, about 1815, with lots of the field names marked.