We are in old Chitterne All Saints. Back Path runs behind the houses on the All Saints side of Bidden Lane, from the Dring to Back Lane, and Conyger Dean is the field alongside Back Path.
Dring is an old word meaning a narrow passageway. Our Dring passes between numbers 67 and 68 Bidden Lane.
Back Path, no need of an explanation, leads off from the Dring through a gateway on the left and heads downhill between the back gardens of Bidden Lane and Conyger Dean.
Conyger Dean is mentioned twice in historical records, which means we can actually identify the particualr field referred to, a rare occurrence! It crops up in the Glebe Terrier for Chitterne All Saints of 1588, (Glebe Terriers were annual inventories of land belonging to the church), and again in the Sale of the Chitterne Estate particulars of 1826. In the sale particulars the field is described as 9 acres of pasture in the tenure of Thomas Gibbs*. The Gibbs family, Thomas from Imber and his son Edward, born in Chitterne All Saints, farmed Chitterne Farm from about 1812 to 1879. Under their tenure the farm almost doubled in size from 685 to 1300 acres. Conyger Dean is still part of Chitterne Farm today and, it may seem unbelievable but, cricket matches were held on it at one time! Nowadays winter sports are more likely, if we have enough snow!
Conyger means rabbit or coney warren. Dean means a small valley. We shall encounter another place in Chitterne with ‘Dean’ as part of its name later on.
- Thomas Gibbs born 1777 Imber, died 1832 Chitterne, married Hannah Dean, sister of Matthew Dean who was held up by highwaymen at Gore Cross in 1839 on his way home to Imber from Devizes market. An event marked by two stone monuments, one at Gore Cross and the other on Chitterne Down, erected to deter other would-be highwaymen. After Thomas and Hannah’s son Edward died in 1879 the tenancy of Chitterne Farm passed to Joseph Dean, a relative of Hannah’s from Imber.