Chitterne is surrounded by the gentle rolling hills of Salisbury Plain. To leave the village and strike out across the countryside you have to climb a hill, except if you take the road to Codford following the course of the Chitterne Brook.

breach hill
Breach Hill with Middle Barn on the right

Breach Hill is the hill you encounter if you leave the village via Townsend and head towards Tilshead. The road up the hill starts and ends with a set of double bends and, in the old days, with two field barn settlements, (outlying groups of farm buildings and dwellings for farm workers). The double bends mark the passage of the old London road at the bottom of the hill and the old Bath to Sarum road at the top. Middle Barn settlement at the bottom of the hill still exists but Breach Hill Farmstead is no longer at the top.

Strictly speaking Breach Hill Farmstead was just a few yards inside the Tilshead parish boundary, where it stood on the left of the road immediately after the second of the double bends at the top of the hill, but Chitterne was nearer than Tilshead.

breach hill farm 1921
Sketch by the late ErnieGeorge

In broad Wiltshire dialect the farmstead was pronounced ‘Braitchill’. It comprised a barn, cartshed, stable, and cottages. Frank Ashley and family lived in the cottages in 1915 when their four-year-old son Norman was lost on the downs overnight and died from exposure. The Ashley children all attended Chitterne School, but the only time Breach Hill cottage appears on any census for Chitterne All Saints is in 1881. That may have been a mistake or because the Ashleys were originally from Chitterne. By 1921 they had moved to 11 Townsend and Herbert Coleman and William Nash lived at Breach Hill.

breach hill famiy 1925
A family at Breach Hill farm in 1925, sadly I don’t know who they are.

The entire settlement was demolished sometime after 1937 and the War Department (MOD) erected Vedette Post number 4 in its place. This remained until the army’s Copehill Down training village and range road were constructed in 1988 and 2000, and the Vedette Post was moved a few hundred yards nearer to Tilshead.


2 thoughts on “Breach Hill

  1. Sue

    Just came across your blog site when doing a google search on Chitterne and Elm Farm. I bought a photo album last year which once belonged to a family called the Valdes-Scott’s. I have been scanning the photos on to Flickr the photo sharing website. After living in Chile they returned to England where a son went to Trowbridge Grammer and daughter to St Stephens and Leweston Manor . After a spell of living at Steeple Ashton they moved to Chitterne and were living at Elm Farm in the mid 1960’s.

    I am still loading up photos on to flickr but with your interest in all things related to Dorset I thought you might be interested to see link is

    I hope it is of some interest (you might have to wade through some earlier photos related to Chile the more recent are of Wiltshire) to you

    Paul Clarke


    1. Paul – thank you very much for contacting me and sending this link. I knew very little about the Valdes family, so this is great to know. I didn’t even know they were called Valdes-Scott, though someone in the village had told me that Xavier Valdes had managed Elm Farm for the Lovell family in the 1960s, but that’s all. May I copy the photos of Chitterne from this flickr link? It would make a good blog.


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