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!”