Back in 1984 there was a lot of excitement in the village when a film crew from London arrived to film scenes for ‘Return to Oz’ at Down Barn on London Road.

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Return to Oz film set being constructed at Down Barn – photo by Salisbury Journal

Michael Walker of Manor Farm, who farmed the land around Down Barn, grew a crop of maize alongside London Road to aid the transformation to Kansas. AW from Middle Barn appeared in the finished film as an extra and local schoolchildren at Tilshead Primary were treated to a day at the London studios to meet the 10 year old star Fairuza Balk who played Dorothy.

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Aunt Em’s house at Down Barn – photo by Salisbury Journal

Interior shots of Aunt Em’s house were filmed at the camp cinema at West Down Camp, Tilshead, and further exterior shots of a journey by horse and trap were filmed near Tilshead Lodge.

Where is London Road? It is by-way number 2 on the Rights of Way map, and crosses Chitterne parish from east to west to the north of the village until it meets the Imber Range where it ends abruptly.


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I walked London Road from west to east, starting with the section to the west of the C22 that was also known as Down Barn Road. This part of the road passed by Down Barn Field Settlement in earlier years, but Down Barn buildings were taken down after the War Department (MoD) took over the site in the 1930s. The site is now just within the Imber Range and out of bounds to civilians, but leased to local farmers when not needed for training.

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Down Barn Field Settlement 1926
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Down Barn site today

A short section of the road is paved where it combines with the C22 between the double bends at the bottom of Breach Hill. It then passes Middle Barn cottages and carries on uphill towards Copehill Down Training Village, which it skirts to the north.

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Down Barn Road ends at the Imber Range Training Area
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Down Barn Road heading towards Middle Barn
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London Road paved section with Down Barn Road in the distance
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London Road heads away from Middle Barn
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Uphill to Copehill Down
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Copehill Down trees ahead
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London Road crosses a gravelled MoD road

At Copehill Down trees London Road gets very messy as it crosses two tracks. The first is by-way number 1, the old Bath to Sarum coach road, and the second an MoD gravel road, before passing the MoD’s Copehill Down Training Village. Wiltshire Council has erected a Voluntary Restraint notice to motor vehicles on London Road to try and prevent further deterioration of the track.

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Wiltshire Council’s Restraint Notice on London Road
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A very messy London Road passing Copehill Down Training Village

After passing the training village the London Road follows the parish boundary before it leaves Chitterne parish and heads towards Orcheston and Maddington (Shrewton).

Tuesday 3 May 2016 update correction: removed reference to Percy and Mabel Potter living at Down Barn. Thanks to AC for this.

4 thoughts on “Old Chitterne Names 10: London Road

  1. In researching my family the following reference to the Rectory at Chitterne was observed:-
    Wiltshire – Abstracts of Inquisitiones Post Mortem Returned into the Court of Chancery in the Reign of Charles 1st (1600-1649),
    Richard Westfield otherwise Wastfield was seised of a capital messuage and divers lands and tenements in Fovent,co. Wilts, called “Fovent Ferme”, now in the tenure of William Westfield, eldest son of the said Richard. And also of 13 other messuages in Fovent, now or late in the several tenures of William Candell, Henry Bolles, Joan Bolles, widow, Thomas Barter, Margaret Mannynge, widow, Vincent Vincent (sic), Edward Glyde, Christopher Cantlowe, Edward Bolles, Richard Northeast, Thomas Ogborne, Henry Best and James Mould; which premises were lately of George Staples, gentleman. The said Richard Westfield was also seised of the rectory of Chitterne All Saints in the co. aforesaid.
    In conveying this message I am not claiming that Richard Northeast is my relation but I do have a reference to a Richard in my Tree. Cheers, Max Northeast


    1. Thank you for your comment Max. I have come across the name Northeast too in regard to our village history. The earliest from 1633. I can send you my notes on the family if that would be useful?


  2. I would love to visit Chitterne to find the site of the Return to Oz farm set as I am a huge fan of the film. Any ideas where it was actually built? Thanks ☺


    1. Yes, it was built on the site of an old Field Barn settlement called Down Barn, on a track known by locals as Down Barn Road, which used to be the old road to London. You can see the site from across a valley, but you can’t go right up to it as it’s inside the Ministry of Defence’s training area for live firing.


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