When there are twenty-odd partridges toddling about the garden every morning you know the game shooting season has arrived. Watching the birds got me thinking about our sporting heritage in Chitterne. About the many varied countryside sports that have been traditional here for many centuries. I’m thinking not only of game, but hunting with dogs and horses, even horse training at the old racing stables. Chitterne, surrounded by the vast space of Salisbury Plain was always known as a sporting village, as we can see from the next image.

This is how Chitterne was described in the title of an 1896 map offering the estate for sale by the Long family.

Chitterne Lodge was used by the Long family as a country retreat. Presumably they came to the village for the hunting and game shooting season. Bills and lists held in the archives from 1848 and 1870 show that the Longs redecorated and purchased new furnishings for the Lodge for the use of their family.

Lord Long, Walter Hume Long MP, kept Chitterne Lodge back from the sale in 1896. In the early years of the 20th century he used the Lodge as his country retreat before finally selling it in 1906. According to Coates Directory of 1903 he also had a home in London and in the 1901 census his caretaker at the Lodge was widow Harriet Furnell, who lived there with her three daughters, Louisa 16, Winifred 14 and Gertrude 11.

Chitterne Lodge estate, which included Chitterne Farm, was bought in 1906 by racehorse trainer Ron Farquharson. The following year he expanded the estate by purchasing Wroughton’s, a freehold and tithe-free sporting and agricultural property of 412 acres adjoining Chitterne Lodge.

1896 map showing Wroughton’s Wood near the Chitterne parish boundary (in blue) on the road to Shrewton

I have not been able to find out much about the Wroughton family, presumably named for the place called Wroughton near Swindon, but a quick Google search showed that some members of the family lived in Wiltshire near Broad Hinton in the distant past. One female Wroughton lived at Wilcot, which is connected to Chitterne from way back in the medieval times of the Earls of Salisbury, so who knows? How they came to own land in Chitterne I do not know, but the map of 1896 has a wood marked Wroughton’s Wood.

Farquharson died in 1934 and, after a brief hiatus during World War 2, racehorse training resumed in 1955 under trainer, John Ford. he was followed by Ian Dudgeon and lastly David Allen who finally wound up the enterprise in the early 1990s.

Here’s an early photo, possibly 1890s, of a shooting party in Chitterne proudly displaying their bag of hares, when hares were still hunted for sport. I think it may have been taken at Manor Farmhouse, owned at that time by the Onslow family, but leased to the Collins family.

Fox hunting, and latterly Drag hunting, is traditional in Chitterne, especially on Boxing Day. Here is a photo of the Wylye Valley Hunt passing the Sportsfield in the 1950s. This tradition still continues on Boxing Day with the Royal Artillery Hunt.

There are plans afoot for a new equestrian business in the village, how appropriate and welcome it would be in this very horsey village.

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