Oak Terrace was the name given to a row of three cottages in Chitterne St Mary. They were simple dwellings with earth floors built to house farm workers from The Manor and their families. At first the three cottages were numbered 1, 2 and 3 Oak Terrace, later 101, 102 and 103 Oak Terrace.
In recent years, as with other properties in Chitterne, the three cottages have been combined, enlarged and made-over to provide one house. This is a partial history of the creation of that house.
Nathaniel Gibbs, farm bailiff, brother of Edward Gibbs of Chitterne Farm, lived at 2 Oak Terrace in his retirement. In 1892 he commissioned the funeral bier that still resides in the church. He died in 1894, the same year that his neighbour Joseph Williams’ daughter Bertha married Leonard Searchfield, a painter and decorator from Heytesbury. Joseph Williams, who was Farmer Wallis’ gardener, lived at number 1 Oak Terrace and the newlyweds moved into number 2.
Leonard Searchfield involved himself fully in the village during his long life. Besides painting and decorating he was also a well inspector, a general factotum, a churchwarden, and a member of the choir. He died aged 91 years whilst still living at Oak Terrace, probably in number 101, because in the early 1950s two of the cottages, 102 and 103, were knocked together for the newly married Laurence and Charlotte Wallis of The Manor.
Laurence and Charlotte moved in early in 1953 renaming their new abode St Mary’s Lodge. Laurence was the son of Victor Wallis who farmed The Manor. In 1962 number 101 became vacant and the Wallis’ added it to their two cottages. Laurence, Charlotte, and their daughter continued to live at St Mary’s Lodge for the next 5 or 6 years until they sold up and bought the redundant vicarage in 1967 or 1968.
Subsequent owners have improved St Mary’s Lodge. The ash trees at the front of the house were felled, the floors replaced and the entrance gate with a ducks-head handle made by the local blacksmith was copied to make a matching garden gate. More recently the house has been extended, renovated and the garden enlarged by the acquisition of the old tithing field, which has provided space for a new entrance.