Old Chitterne Names 6: Nunnery Corner

A bit of a change this time. Not a track or path but an area of the village on the road to Tilshead called Nunnery Corner. This is where the road makes a right-hand sweeping curve around the tall stone and flint walls containing the Gate House and grounds.

nunnery corner
Nunnery Corner

The name comes from the local legend that Lacock nuns lived on the site of the Gate House in medieval times. The area is very ancient. The Chapel of St Andrew, dating from 1142, stood there even before the founding of Lacock Abbey in 1229, although the present buildings are more likely to date from much later.

nunnery corner 2 small
Nunnery Corner from the other direction

Chitterne was the largest of the manors held by Lacock Abbey. During the 300 years that the Lacock nuns held land in Chitterne All Saints and Chitterne St Mary they farmed sheep, thousands of them, which proved to be a very profitable enterprise for the abbey. The Abbess of Lacock employed bailiffs and stewards to manage her Chitterne farms. Produce, such as wool and wheat, not used by the nuns themselves was sold at market. In 1257 King Henry III granted Chitterne a regular Monday market and also a week-long fair for the feast of St Peter and Paul. Just imagine, a market every week in our village! Now we haven’t even one shop.

nunnery cross old small
Early photo of the cross carved by Freddie Grant
nunnery cross new 2 small
The cross almost worn away as it looks today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A tragedy occurred at Nunnery Corner in 1905, when 10-year-old Florence Grant was crushed to death by a traction engine. Her brother Freddie carved a cross with his pocket-knife into a stone in the Gate House wall to mark the spot. Florence was buried in the village on 5 November 1905.

Source: ‘Beyond the Cloister: the Nuns of Lacock and their Wiltshire Estates’ by Anne E Bailey; Wiltshire Local History Forum magazine issue 88.

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Old Chitterne Names 6: Nunnery Corner

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