Elm Farm

The folks on this photo are Charles Herbert Stacey senior, his wife Minnie nee Deverill, their seven children and servant/nanny is most probably Gertrude Head from Wilsford, Wiltshire. She is with them on the 1911 census, when their youngest was one year old, so I think this photo was taken about then or thereabouts.

Charles was born in Chaffey Moore, Dorset in c.1873 and Minnie in Mere, Wiltshire also in c.1873. Charles was a farm bailiff for Miss Ida Collins. The Staceys definitely came to Chitterne before 1906 because the two youngest children, Winifred Isabella 1906 and Hilda Deverill 1909, were born here. The older children, all boys, were born in London. The Staceys were gone from Chitterne in 1916, they moved to Codford where they ran a general store.

Interesting aside: Charles and Minnie’s eldest son, Charles Herbert Stacey junior, married Ida Polden and moved to my home town of Westbury, Wiltshire. I knew them because they ran a grocery/general store a short walk from my childhood home where I bought sweets! Such a small world!

Here they are on their wedding day 10 January 1929, outside Ida’s home 47 The Poplars. Ida Polden was a daughter of Arthur Polden and Louisa Sheppard and a granddaughter of Abdon Polden.

Thanks again to TH for the marvellous photo of Elm Farm. Chitterne Now and Then may be quiet for a few weeks now as I concentrate on another project.

Who Lived in Your House in 1921?

Yew Tree Cottages, 43 and 44 Chitterne

Yew Tree Cottages stood beside the Green in 1921, between the village school and the county police house. They still stand, but are now combined into one dwelling called Bow House. By a stroke of good luck we have a photograph of Yew Tree Cottages taken a few months before the 1921 census, in December 1920.

Two things are striking about this old photo, the yew tree that gave its name to the cottages in the front garden of number 44, and 44’s thatched roof.

Who lived in the cottages? The 1921 census tells us that Edward and Maud Pain lived in number 43. Edward and Maud, both from Somerset, were newly weds. Edward was a baker, and he and Maud had a son, Norman Wilfred James, the following year. I have no record of them in the village after 1926. At one time the cottage had been a grocery shop run by Thomas Grant, when it was part of the Chitterne estate owned by Sir William Onslow in the 1880s.

Frank and Rosa Polden lived in number 44 in 1921. Frank, one of Abdon Polden’s sons, was a mason and a part of the Polden Brothers building company. In 1886 he married Rosa, the daughter of William Brown, the Chitterne schoolmaster from 1867-1906. Rosa was assistant mistress at the school in her father’s time as headmaster. Frank and Rosa had no children and took in lodgers. In 1921 Charles Bland lodged with them. Charles may have been a builder working with Polden Brothers because he later built a new house for himself at Townsend called Cotsmere, the one we know today as Red House, number 4 Townsend.

Two other Poldens are listed on the 1921 census at 44 Yew Tree Cottages, Wilfred Henry Polden from Herefordshire and Charlotte Mary Polden of Chitterne, but I have not been able to find out who they were.

Further research on the identity of Wilfred and Charlotte shows that there is a mistake on the census. Wilfred and Charlotte’s name is Pain, not Polden, and they are the parents of Edward Pain who lived next door. Charlotte Mary’s maiden name was Brown, she was another daughter of William Brown, and the younger sister of Rosa. She was always known as Polly. Polly had married Wilfred Pain in Reading, Berkshire in 1892. Wilfred came from Berrington, Herefordshire. Thank you very much J & RR for this new information.

The extension, just visible to the right of the photo was an old army hut, which contained a kitchen and a room. This was replaced much later by a new brick extension. The thatch was replaced with tiles by Archie Dean.

It appears from a parish map of Chitterne All Saints circa 1850 that the Green was once a village pond. In those days the cottages were called Pool Cottages, or The Pool.

Grateful thanks to TH for the photo.

Alfred Stokes 1839-1930 Gentleman of the Land

Here’s a real old Chitterne gent sat outside enjoying the sunshine and a quiet smoke on his 90th birthday. I am excited because this is the first local photo I have seen of someone smoking a clay pipe. You may remember my previous blogs on the subject of clay pipes and my collection of bits of them dug up in our garden and I wonder if this pipe was also made of clay from the old Clay Pits in Chitterne.

However, back to the gentleman, he is Alfred Stokes born in Chitterne on the 9th June 1839, pictured here on the 9th June 1929, outside number 31 Chitterne (Pitt’s House), at the home of Frank and Ellen Sheppard. Alfred did not live there, he had left his home in Bidden Lane in 1920 after a lifetime spent in the village, maybe to live with one of his ten children. So perhaps, in 1929, he was visiting Stephen Sheppard, Frank’s father, who was of a similar age to Alfred.

Alfred was the fourth generation of the Stokes family to live and work the land here since his ancestors arrived in Chitterne in the 1700s. His father Samuel had died aged 27 years in 1839, the same year Alfred was born, so it was just him and his mother Mary, nee Furnell, until she married again in 1845 to Daniel Feltham, but not for long because Daniel died in 1847. Mary was an unlucky woman, widowed three times, and Alfred her only living child.

In adulthood Alfred married Maria Wadhams and had a large family. They lived at New Barn field settlement to start with, then 104 Chitterne St Mary, before finally moving to 84 Bidden Lane. Maria died in 1921, just after she and Alfred had left the village. Alfred died in January 1930, six or seven months after these photos were taken, both are buried here in Chitterne St Mary graveyard.

There must have been hundreds, if not thousands of farm workers like Alfred in Chitterne in past centuries, yet we rarely get to see annotated portraits of them. So it’s especially good to see these great photographs of an ordinary working man, not forgetting his clay pipe, an added bonus!

My grateful thanks to TH for another set of treasures from the Feltham hoard, incidentally two of Alfred’s daughters, Alice and Rhoda, married local Felthams.

Who Lived in Your House in 1921?

After the first World war the old order changed rapidly as large landed estates, including Chitterne, were sold off and broken up as no longer viable. New housing was desperately needed and local councils stepped in with the first lot of council-built housing for rent.

1 – 4 Council Cottages

Chitterne’s council houses were renamed Abdon Close in the 1960s, but at census time in 1921 the first two semi-detached pairs had been completed and they were known as 1, 2, 3 and 4 Council Cottages. The third and fourth pairs in this phase were completed by 1925.

Here are numbers 1 and 2 pictured in the 1950s, just before the construction of the road in front of the houses and the name change to Abdon Close. In 1921 the old hump-backed bridge over the brook, just to the right of this photo, known as The Arch, would still have been in situ, but it had been flattened, and the road widened, during World War 2 by men who were either Italian prisoners of war, or conscientious objectors.

Two spinsters lived in number 1 in 1921. A common phenomenon at the time, as a result of the loss of so many young men in the war. The women were Muriel Watson from Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland, and Maud New who came from Monmouth, Wales. Muriel, born in 1880, was the new headmistress of the local village school, having recently replaced the popular Florence Shayler. Muriel and Maud didn’t stay long in number 1, they were replaced by John and Florence Garland and their seven children. Muriel and Maud moved into number 8 Council Cottages as soon as it was built and stayed until 1929 when a new school headmistress was appointed.

Number 2 was occupied by the Stribling family in 1921. George and Louisa Stribling and their three children George, Leonard and Louise. George senior came from Windsor, Berkshire, Louisa from Leyton in Essex. They appear to have moved around a bit because the children were born in Essex, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, and they soon moved from Chitterne too, there was no sign of them by 1925, Arthur Smith had moved in.

Numbers 3 and 4 Council Cottages are pictured in the 1950s above. Number 3 was occupied by a single man in 1921, Percy Woodland who hailed from Hindon, Wiltshire. It’s interesting that so far none of the new houses have been occupied by Chitterne families.

Very little is known about Percy Woodland, he had left by 1925 and the 1921 census is the only mention of him I have come across. The vicar Rev John Canner makes no mention of him in his Visiting Book of 1925, instead he lists ‘Butler’ at number 3, but no means of further identification. This may be another case of a new resident moving on to yet another of the new council cottages.

The Woods family lived in number 4 in 1921. Harry and Mary Woods were not locals either, Harry was from Essex and Mary from Warwickshire. They didn’t stay long, by 1925 the cottage was occupied by a local family of Felthams, but which one? Impossible to say, there are so many of them.

This ‘Housing Chick’ cutting from the local paper dated 4th June 1920 shows that Chitterne was lucky in the competition to be the first to get the newly promised houses. In a nearby town residents were a little put out that Chitterne’s new council houses were built before any were provided in Warminster.

Since posting this blog I have been contacted by RF who filled me in with the Feltham family who lived in number 4:

“I’m pretty certain it was my branch of the Felthams that lived there. My Grandparents Eve and Marabini, of Feltham & Polden….later of 96 Chitterne.
I’d seen a picture of my father Alan James outside no 4, he was born in 1930. There were indeed “so many” Felthams!”

Thank you!

Porch Cottage

Porch Cottage was once the name of the little cottage squashed between 17 Townsend and the back of 19 Townsend. It has an interesting past.

When this 1950s photo was taken, the cottage was numbered 18 Townsend and still looked like a separate dwelling. Now it is part of 17 Townsend and looks like this.

In 1771 this cottage was leased by John Till for 99 years from the owners of the Chitterne estate, the Methuen family of Corsham. In 1826 the cottage was offered for sale along with the rest of the Methuen’s estate in Chitterne. It was acquired by Warminster Union, who ran the Warminster workhouse for poor people in need, and stayed under their ownership until 1905, when William Chant bought it from them.

Earlier, widower Robert Wansborough, lived here in 1861 with his son Thomas, who was deaf and dumb. Robert died aged 77 years in 1888 but Thomas continued to live in the cottage with his sister Ann Dewey until at least 1901. He eventually moved to the Warminster Workhouse and died there in 1915 aged 82 years.

Going back to William Chant. Willie Chant was a grocer from Shrewton, who lived in Tilshead and ran a shop there. He married Maggie Smith, of the Chitterne Smith family, at the Baptist Chapel in Bidden Lane in 1905. Maggie’s parents, Jacob and Elizabeth, were also shopkeepers who already owned both 16 and 17 Townsend, and had built the grocers at number 17 between 1871 and 1881. Now the cottage came under the control of the same family, albeit owned particularly by Willie Chant, although Willie and Maggie continued living and working in Tilshead and brought up their family there.

In 1911 our cottage, number 18, was occupied by yet another member of the extended Smith family. Willie had let the cottage to Maggie’s sister, Florence Sainsbury and her husband William, who was a groom at the Racing Stables. Florence died in 1915 and the cottage does not appear in the 1921 census, nor is it mentioned by Rev Canner in his vicar’s visiting book of 1925, so maybe it became absorbed into the shop premises at that time.

However, we do know that Willie Chant sold number 18 for £50 to grocers Francis and Alice Perrett in 1932. Francis also bought numbers 16 and 17 Townsend from Henry John Smith, eldest son of Jacob and Elizabeth. So, definitely, from 1932 the little cottage has been part of the house next door.

With grateful thanks to EE who allowed me access to the deeds of her house, which informed much of this blog.

Who Lived in Your House in 1921?

I have been looking at the 1921 census for Chitterne, thanks to my good friends J & R, and thought I would start a new occasional series of blogs on what we have found.

Alma Cottage, 1 Townsend

First up is number 1 Townsend, built for himself and his growing family by Abdon Polden, the mason. Abdon had purchased a small piece of land at the edge of the village of Chitterne All Saints in 1856 from his father, James Polden, for £5. He enlarged the site by adding an adjacent garden bought from William Furnell for £12. Abdon named the cottage he built after his eldest daughter Alma.

Jane and Abdon Polden outside Alma Cottage

In 1921 Abdon Polden still lived there as a widower with his daughter Florence and family, his wife Jane, nee Hinton, having died in 1919. Florence was married to Alfred Burt, the blacksmith. Their children Winifred aged 11 years, Olive aged 9 and Maurice aged 5 lived at Alma Cottage in 1921 too.

By a stroke of luck and thanks to AB, I have some photos of the Burt family. Here are Alfred Burt, his wife Florence and two of their children pictured at the back of Alma Cottage.

The Burt children, Winifred, Maurice and Olive photographed outside Alma Cottage probably in the year the census was taken, or thereabouts.

Alfred and Florence continued living at Alma Cottage until Alfred’s death in 1957.

Polden & Feltham Shop

At last a photograph of the Polden & Feltham shop that once stood in front of Flint House on Tilshead Road, and confirmation that Clement Polden and Jimmy Feltham set up their business in 1878.

AB, who kindly provided the photo, remembers dismantling the barn that stood on the site ready for the construction of the shop in the 1950s. The shop still existed, but empty, for a while after Flint House was sold to new owners in 1972. Later it was demolished to make way for the kitchen extension we see today.

I have written about the Polden and Feltham families before, see below

The Poldens of Flint House

Flint House

http://www.chitterne.com/history/polden&f.html

As you will know if you followed the earlier series of blogs on the life of Maria Cockrell, I was unsure of the year that Clement Polden and Jimmy Feltham set up their business. Maria made no mention of their enterprise at all in her letters to her son Jimmy. This seemed very odd to me as she always kept a close interest in Jimmy and his wife, who was Alma Polden, Clement’s sister. Despite having confirmation of the year, I am no nearer finding out why Maria makes no mention.

Lime Trees Update

Following on from a blog earlier this month here is an update on the current state of the old lime trees bordering the Cut.

The tree contractors have finished, this is how the lime trees look now, quite a lot shorter but not many removed completely.

Near the Gate House wall, with the Grange on the left. The wires between the poles look less threatened by the trees.

The remains of some trees that had fallen earlier have not been removed. Note the water in the Cut, which started rising just as the tree contractors finished.

Here you can see how this tree has impacted on the brickwork of one of the old footbridges.

The Walk seems even narrower than it was before.

A new view of the Gate House from a gap in the lime trees bordering the Walk. The trees have been trimmed to prevent any more falling down, causing power cuts and blocked roads.

Historic View of Lime Trees Set to Change

This well-known view in Chitterne is likely to change soon, as work starts in the next few days on the row of old lime trees bordering the Chitterne Brook.

I wondered how long the trees had been there and I found that limes can live for up to 400 years, but 200 years is more usual. Other village limes of a similar age form an avenue shaped in a cross in the field behind the Sportsfield. Perhaps they were planted at the same time as they appear to be in the same sad state, often tumbling down. If my supposition is correct, then the trees were planted by the family who owned the houses and land on the west side of Tilshead Road, from the Sportsfield to Manor Farm, the Michell-Onslow family, mainly Matthew Michell 1751-1817. Could this family have commissioned the planting?

Looking in the opposite direction

How many generations of villagers and visitors have loved the sight of these trees in Spring, the branches covered in pale green, heart-shaped leaves, gracefully sweeping down towards the Cut? Let’s hope some will survive to lift our spirits in the coming Spring.

Part of a public footpath follows the line of trees on the field side. The footpath, known to old villagers as The Walk, starts at Manor Farm bridge and ends at the old farm bridge near St Marys Close. The section behind the lime trees once passed between a double row of trees, as you can see from this old postcard from the early 1900s. The second row of trees, on the right above, have since been removed. Below is a recent photo of the same path.

The trees bordering the Cut have been falling more frequently lately, and blocking the road in the process, hence the need for the tree surgeons. This has happened many times in the past, sometimes to disastrous effect. The photo below shows a tree that fell on a traction engine, killing the driver, almost 100 years ago in 1923.

To orientate you: the grass in the foreground is the village green, the house to the left is Great House, (or big ‘ouses), before it was converted into one house and called Coach House, Grange wall curves away to the right of the photo. Opposite Grange wall are the lime trees.

A New Chitterne School Photograph from late 1920s

This great photograph of Chitterne schoolchildren in the late 1920s came recently from the son of the tallest boy in the middle of the back row, Maurice Alfred Burt, known by all as Jack. Jack was born in Chitterne in 1916. His parents were Dorset-born Alfred Burt, the village blacksmith, and Chitterne-born Florence, a member of the Polden family.

So far Jack Burt is the only child who has been identified on the photo, although a lot of the faces are familiar and I am hoping you may be able to help with some more names.

Not only is the photo clear and well-preserved but it the first I have seen from the 1920s. It makes a welcome addition to the collection of school photos.

The earliest photo in the collection dates from 1877, 37 years after the school was founded. The teachers left to right are Henrietta Titt, William Brown and his wife Sarah Brown.

A photograph of the younger schoolchildren from 1903.

Just the schoolgirls in 1911 with Florence Shayler the headmistress centre, and Beryl Feltham on the right, assistant mistress.

The whole school in 1919 with their Peace beakers after the first World War. Florence Shayler on the left, Beryl Feltham on the right. Apologies for poor quality.

All the schoolchildren in the early 1940s with numbers swollen by evacuees.

After the second World War less children were attending the school. This is from 1953.

Chitterne School 1966 with Miss Smith assistant teacher, Miss Selby head teacher and Jill McQueen student teacher in the centre.

The final year 1967 Miss Smith, Miss Selby and CG, school secretary, in the centre.