Cotsmere was the name given to a house at Townsend when Charlie Bland built it in the 1920s to house his family. Charlie’s widow Elizabeth sold the house to DF’s parents in 1944.
DF has been reminiscing about the time he spent here before moving away in the 1960s. He recalls the house had few services at first, just a well, an earth closet and a bath you filled by hand, and how this was remedied by his father. First to deal with the sewage:
“When my father purchased Cotsmere, the garden area was limited and obviously this was where the Septic tank possibly needed to be constructed.
Taking this on board, my father approached the MOD about the possibility of purchasing the land area to the West of the Cotsmere boundary to the Eastern Boundary of No 1 Abdon Close. His request was considered by the MOD and approved, that’s the good news, unfortunately the MOD had one problem, their action to put the wheels in motion and get the deal done was dead slow and stop to say the least.
After what seemed ages, my father took it on his shoulders to go in person to Whitehall to get it resolved and this worked. From memory I believe he paid about £60 plus costs for the land.
At the same time he was given permission to connect to the water supply at the stables, however this is another story.
When the time came to start the Sewage disposal project, it was summer holidays for me, so I was given the task to excavate the hole by hand, approximately 4 metres long 2 metres wide and 2 metres deep with pick axe & shovel and a wheel barrow.
My father would not hire an Excavator with operator as the price then was about £2.50 an hour and he thought that was extortionate.
So the next move, was to dispose of the spoil removed. To this end, my father was aware that there was a disused well by the side of the road only a short distance from our property so he said, right we will fill it in it’s dangerous !!!! And that is exactly what I did, wheel barrow after wheel barrow, the well was dry at the time and was approx 7m deep x 1m wide, believe it or not, sufficient to accommodate all of the spoil that I removed.
When I started, there was a frog at the bottom of the well and as the well was filled in the frog gradually came up to the surface and when the spoil reached almost to the top, it hopped out and away.
Opposite the well lived Gladys Grant and when I started, she came out swearing. She claimed that when the spring waters came back, as the well could not fill up, all of that water would flood her cottage!!! What rubbish.”
I thought you might like to see this fascinating article from January 1887 in the Warminster & Westbury Journal. Discovered recently when friends were looking for an old newspaper article about the village 1887 Jubilee Celebrations.
The church was only 25 years old in 1887, someone had been neglecting to service the coke stove!
The father of the gassed boy, Joseph Dean 1846-1927, one of the Imber Deans, farmed at Chitterne Farm (now known as Chitterne Farm East). His wife was Louise Chisman from Stockton 1846-1932. There’s a field known as Chisman’s Field alongside the B390 to Warminster.
Joseph and Louise had three sons, any one of them could have been the victim. Edgar Wilfred born in 1878, George Leslie in 1880 and Joseph Percy in 1881. I have written in detail about Joseph Percy re the Scout Motor Company for an entry in the Chitterne history timeline here: Percy Dean
Wilfred who went on to have a long life died in 1958. He lived in Chitterne until at least 1903 and inherited some cottages in Bidden Lane in 1895.
George Leslie however died quite young, aged 47 years in January 1928, so perhaps he suffered the worst of the gassing as a young lad.
This neat little exercise book was recently discovered in an attic in Townsend. As they say, you never know what you may discover in an old attic. Perhaps something like this fascinating gem, which records the meetings held in the village about the proposed celebrations for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee to be held on the 21st June 1887.
Most interesting are the lists of subscribers to the jubilee fund who must represent every family in the village at the time. These I will scan and include in this blog. I am sure some of you will find some ancestors listed, there are a lot of familiar names. But first to run through what was proposed and arranged for entertainment and memorial of the day.
A meeting was held on 24th May 1887 in the National School Room, chaired by Rev. Charles Avery Pinhorn with the main village farmers supporting him: Messrs Cleverley of All Saints Manor Farm; Blake of Chitterne Farm; Burbidge of Clump Farm and Wallis of The Manor, St Mary. The schoolmaster William F Brown was secretary and a very legible one too. Other village worthies: Messrs W Candy, F Maidment; Abdon Polden; Augustus Polden; William James Feltham (Maria’s son); Frank Polden; Clement Polden; Frank Bartlett and others not listed.
Mr Cleverley proposed that “the parish be canvassed for subscriptions, and that according to the amount collected, it then be considered what form the rejoicings to commemorate the Queens Jubilee should take.” This was seconded by Mr Wallis and carried.
A committee was formed, of course, on June 2nd 1887 to collect subscriptions throughout the parish and Mr Cleverley was appointed treasurer. Mr Cleverley then moved “that the Jubilee Day June 21st shall be the day for the rejoicings at Chitterne.” This was seconded by Mr Brown.
The committee was later re-appointed as the Committee of Management and new names added: Wm Compton; Wm. Wish; A J Polden; Joseph Williams; Geo. Feltham; Geo. White; Stephen Sheppard; Herbert Feltham; Edward Ashley; Fredk. Carter; John Smith; James Day. The committee was to be left to carry out all details of the work. In the good old Chitterne tradition the rejoicings would involve food. A dinner for all parishioners over 12 years of age, and a tea for those under 12.
At a later meeting held on 7th June 1887 it was agreed that: “sufficient finds should be reserved to purchase and plant a tree on the Parish Green in memory of the Jubilee, and to procure a strong iron fence to protect the same.”
A sub-committee was formed of Messrs Cleverley, Maidment, Jacob Smith, Brown and Abdon Polden “to procure the requisites for the dinner and to provide for the cooking of the same.” Others were to arrange sports, to arrange tables and provide proper accommodation, to attend to the juveniles, and most important to attend to the beer. Mr Cleverley consented to the dinner being held in his Farm Buildings; the service in the Church was to begin at 12.30 and the dinner at 1.30 and and copies of a short narrative of the Queen’s life were to be distributed to each house.
On the back of the estimate we find who provided what. 160 lbs of Veal from Mr Cleverley; 40 lbs of Ham from Mr Maidment (General Stores at 93 Bidden Lane); 300 lbs of Boiled Beef and 240 lbs of Roast Beef from Mr Blackmore (Heytesbury); 35 lbs of Plum Cake from Mrs Bartlett (Grocer at 60 Bidden Lane) and another 35 lbs of same from Mr Maidment; Plum Puddings from Mrs Smith (General Stores at 17 Townsend); the two village landlords Mr Burr at the King’s Head and Mr Poolman at the White Hart provided 18 barrels of Ale each as well as Ginger Beer; plus various sundries, butter, sweets, sugar, calico, music etc.
On 14th June, the week before the celebrations, at a further committee meeting it was decided that: “no single young man shall be admitted to the dinner without having contributed at least 6d. to the expenses. That no outsider be admitted without having contributed at least 1s.6d. to the expenses. That the ringers be paid 10s. for ringing the church bells on Jubilee Day”.
Note the name W H Laverton. I was surprised to see a name from Westbury, my neck of the woods, on this list from Chitterne. He was the nephew of Abraham Laverton, of the A Laverton & Co. cloth mills in Westbury, who had succeeded his uncle at the mills in the 1880s. I have no idea what William Henry Laverton was doing contributing to the village fund. If anyone does know please contact me.
The subscriptions amounted to £54.18s.0d. Together with some sales of meat, calico, butter, bread and some discounts, the amount raised in total was £58.9s.10½d.
Several village business folk had made gifts as follows:
Mr Maidment 16 gallons of bread
Mrs Smith 12 gallons of bread
Mr C Ashley 4 gallons of bread
Mrs Bartlett 20lbs of cake
Mr Poolman 18 gallons of beer
Mr Burr 18 gallons of beer
Mr Bartlett 18 gallons of beer
Mr Blake 36 gallons of beer
So the final expenditure looked like this:
A few names here to comment on: Coates from Warminster we still find today at Coates and Parker the newsagents and stationers in the Market Place and Haden of Warminster was the predecessor of S L Corden at the hardware store in the High Street. Corden suceeded Haden in the late 1880s according to the ‘Warminster in the Twentieth Century’ book by Celia Lane and Pauline White.
A few weeks after the Jubilee Celebrations a final committee meeting was held on July 13th 1887. It was decided that: “£1.1s. of the balance be given to Mr Brown for his trouble as secretary, and that the remaining £1.5s. be retained to plant a tree (supplemented by any further subscriptions which may be given) in memory of the Jubilee.” Sadly, there is no description of how the celebrations went, so we must assume the day went off in the usual Chitterne fashion, with everyone catered for and enjoying themselves.
St Mary’s Chancel is all that’s left of Chitterne’s two old 15th century parish churches, making it one of the oldest buildings in the village. The nave of St Mary’s Church was demolished about 1861, leaving the chancel for use as a mortuary chapel. Nowadays it’s just used for occasional church services.
Ivy covers the end wall in this photo dating from the early 1900s. Note the old thatched barn on the right where Birch Cottage is now. The barn belonged to the church when the vicar of St Marys parish received part of his pay from the tithes raised on the crops grown on church land. Typically a tenth of the value went to the vicar. ‘Glebe’ land was church land, so Glebe Farm was the church farm, and the barn stood in Glebe Farm’s stockyard.
In this photo taken a little later the ivy has been removed and the site of the old nave has started to be used for burials. Note behind the chancel, in both photos, the old cob wall that once formed the boundary of the graveyard. The wall was knocked down and replaced by a fence in 1928 when Ushers Brewery, owners of the King’s Head Inn, gave a part of the inn’s land to enlarge the graveyard.
Recently, when a house the other side of that fence was sold, it was unclear who was responsible for maintaining the fence. A trip to the History Centre in Chippenham to see the original 1928 deed provided the answer: the fence is the responsibility of the Parochial Church Council.
I admire the medieval builders of this church, they had the good sense to site it far enough away from the Chitterne Brook for the dead to be buried in dry ground.
A blast from the past, taken from the church tower by AS, some time before Clockhouse, Hawthorn and Merlin Cottages were built, as they are missing, but when we still had the red telephone box on the Green and the Jubilee Tree.
Clockhouse Cottages were built in 1998/9, Hawthorn and Merlin in 2001. Here the land behind White Hart House and Elm Farm has yet to be developed. The sheds used by the MoD’s property services agency are still in situ on the old Elm Farmyard.
A For Sale notice is just about visible on The Poplars railings, so that could point to around 1989 or 1998 when the Poplars changed owners.
Note the Cut is full of vegetation and the Sportsfield rather rough, so this was before the Parish Council took the Cut clearing in hand and the Cricket Club kept the field well-mown. The hardstanding under the swings in the Sportsfield is just about visible in this photo. The swings were already there when the Sportsfield was purchased by the village from the MoD in 1977/78 for £800.
Not too many clues there, so I’m guessing this photo was taken in the late 1980s.
Amazing what you can find on the internet. GS spotted this photo and passed it on to his uncle in Chitterne who passed it to me saying, ‘I’m sure that’s Brook Cottage in the background.’
The photo was described as: ‘Chitterne Home Guard going through their paces on the 2 pounder Anti-Tank gun’, which looks like a publicity shot, but who are the men?
Here’s a photo of the Chitterne Home Guard outside Manor Farm, right next door to where the other photo might have been taken. Let’s give them names, left to right:
Top row: H Burton; Geoff Helps; John Patterson; Bert Bailey; Bert Diaper; Leslie Sheppard; George Gagen; Ernie Polden.
Second from top row: Les Mundy; Walt Herrington; Walt Ledbury; George Dowdell; John Lecocq; unknown; Don Wallis; Will Ashley; Alban Polden; Len Moore; Herbie Feltham; Bert Lush (not in uniform); Mr Fagg.
Third row: Fred Bowden (in flat cap); Rowland Pearce; Jack Beaumont; Douglas Piercy; George Diaper; Dickie Bailey; George Macey; ‘Pat’ Patterson; Burt Grant; Willie Ashley; William Poolman; Fred Feltham; Stan Waite; Frank Helps; Lewis Feltham; Frank Ashley.
Fourth row: Len Searchfield (seated on chair); Harry Sheppard; Percy Churchill; Cecil Windsor; Lewis Daniels; Sgt Blatch; unknown; William Limbrick (leader); Tom Limbrick; Mr Snelgrove; Ev Feltham; Jack Poolman; unknown; Bill Bartlett.
Front row: Cecil Saxby; Laurie Wallis; John George; Tony Bailey; Gerald Feltham; George Feltham; Billy Windsor; John Oakes; Gerald Polden; Bobby Gorry.
Could the man standing with arm outstretched behind the gun be William Limbrick, and the man squatting to the right of the case be his son Tom Limbrick?
Here is another old photo from the early 1900s. It was taken when horses were still the main form of transport and farm work was still the main occupation in the village. In those days the locals called the road from the White Hart Inn to the Round House “Street”, the main street of old Chitterne St Mary.
Nowadays it has no name, which can lead to frustration when form-filling. Wiltshire Council planning lists it as “Unnamed road, Chitterne”. On roadmaps it’s the B390.
On the left we have three farm cottages, numbers 1, 2 and 3 Oak Terrace. In 1911 Sarah Williams née Parsons (1841-1937), widow of Joseph Williams (1840-1903), lived in 3. Joseph had been a gardener to the Wallis family of farmers at The Manor. Next door in 2 lived his daughter Bertha (1872-1928) who was married to Leonard Searchfield (1872-1963), a painter and decorator. Bertha and Leonard had two sons, Leonard George Wickham (1895-1976) and Gordon Leslie (1896-1963). I am pretty sure that they, and one of their sons, are the people standing at the gate. The third cottage was uninhabited in 1911. Oak Terrace is now St Mary’s Lodge.
Beyond Oak Terrace we have thatched Ivy Cottage, now replaced by number 104, and beyond that are 1 and 2 Vicarage Cottages, later known as 105 and 106 Glebe Farm Cottages and now Dolphin House. Lastly, on the left side, is Tower House, now 109 Round House.
On the right of the photo is a house marked with a cross by the sender of the postcard. It was two unnamed dwellings in 1911, now it’s 107/108 Glebe House.
On the 3rd of May 1919 a sale in aid of the Peace Celebration Fund was held in Chitterne. A little book recording the sale was amongst the treasures discovered in Raymond Feltham’s house after his death. It gives a fascinating insight to village life 100 years ago.
Each of the 101 items donated for the sale is listed, alongside every buyer and what they paid. We would recognise many of the sale items such as the cakes, preserves, eggs, vegetables and books. But rabbits, cockrells, barley meal, fowl’s corn, wings and tips and a boudoir cap? (The wings and tips went to Mr Hinton for 1s.6d and the cap went to Waddington and Dunn for 7s.)
Sidney Smith paid the most, £3 for a wagonette. Other items that caught my eye were: a flock mattress bought by Frank Polden for 6s, a model engine by Mr Brown for 12s, a pair of puttees by F Ashley for 1s.6d, a milk churn by Farmer Wallis for 17s, a wheelbarrow wheel by Farmer Collins for 5s.6d, a dog trough bought by Mr Daniels for 3s, a pony carriage by Mark Wallis for 12s.6d and a tricycle bought by Mr Shipham for £2.7s.6d. Altogether the sale raised £37.12s. for the Peace Fund.
Added to this total were subscriptions collected by the ladies of the village. Mrs Wallis and Miss Canner raised £22.15s.11d; Mrs Long and Miss Collins £33.6s.6d; Mrs H J Smith and Miss Feltham £14.13s.4d; Mrs S G Polden and Miss Robberts £1.9s; Miss Robberts also raised 6s.1d with a mystery box. Altogether £111.4s.4d was secured and signed off by chairman Frederick Wallis and treasurer Charles Collins on the 9th of May 1919.
The little book makes no mention of how the money was to be used for the Peace Celebration. The pages beyond the details of the sale are blank, but between them are two receipts pinned together concerning the War Memorial dated 1920. So perhaps that’s where the money was spent.
Another possibility is the purchase of peace mugs and beakers for the village children. There is a photograph which shows the children after the presentation in 1919. At least one of the beakers has survived, and was kindly brought back to the village by DS some years ago.
Dick Parker, or properly Richard Parker, mentioned in my last blog, was in plain sight all the time, had I only looked more closely at my records. I don’t know how I missed him but luckily J & R did have their eyes open and spotted him in the Chitterne Burial Records for 1877.
The record shows that he died aged 45 years suddenly in fits and was buried on August 12th 1877. In the census records of 1871 he and his wife Katherine née Davies, were living in the twelfth house from the bottom of Bidden Lane on the All Saints side (the left side) next door to the shop. This would put them about where number 61 is today, except that 60 and 61 (Chestnut Cottages) were not built until 1874. So were they living in the new number 61 in 1877 or had they moved elsewhere? We will probably never know, except that their neighbours George and Sophia Bartlett, who ran the grocer’s shop in 1871, moved into the new shop at number 60 after 1874 so perhaps the Parkers moved into the new house alongside too, and that was the house Maria’s widowed mother hoped to get if Katherine moved out.
That leaves the reference to Townsend, a possible destination for Maria’s mother in my last blog, as a bit of a mystery. I had assumed that Richard Parker and family lived there.
Richard Parker was the eldest son of James Parker of Chitterne St Mary and Maria White of Chitterne All Saints. He was baptised in 1833, worked as a farm labourer and married Katherine Davies in 1860. Katherine was born about 1840 in Benguinlais, South Wales. Their two eldest children David James and Eliza Jane both died in 1872 aged 10 and 8 years. Richard Edward 1867, Sarah Florence 1870 and a second David James 1872 survived. After her husband Richard’s death in 1877 Katherine moved away, the family do not appear on the Chitterne census of 1881.
Note for new blog readers: Bidden Lane is the correct, but rarely used name for the Shrewton Road.
Many thanks once again to J & R, always a pleasure to have your input, which puts me to shame this time.
Maria continued to write to her mother, but now more frequently to her son, Jimmy, apprenticed wheelwright in Warminster. Jimmy lodged in Warminster during the week and walked the 7 miles to Chitterne and back at weekends. Maria relied on him to cash the money order she regularly sent him, and to take the money to his grandmother. In January 1874, when Maria was earning £22 per annum and Jimmy was 17 years old, she writes this to him:
Well, my dear, I have not been able to get you a birthday present, but I have enclosed an order for £3. 3/- (£3.15). The three pounds you must take to your Grandmother, and the 3/- you can buy what you like best with. I know you will not squander it away. You can buy a Book or any thing to wear that you like best.
In the summers of 1875 and 1876 Maria goes sailing with the Hamiltons aboard the yacht ‘Diana’ heading towards the Channel Islands and France. In 1875 in France Maria was shocked to see businesses open on a Sunday and has this to say:
We went ashore Saturday afternoon and I went marketing with the Steward. The women all wear clean white mob caps instead of Bonnets or hats, and wooden shoes. Then on Sunday we went ashore again. Plenty of Roman Catholic Churches and plenty of Women and Children and old men but all the young men would be at their business. Every shop open and every trade going on. Builders, Painters, shoemakers, drapers and Grocers. Oh, I would not live in France for all the money I could see.
On that particular trip they were unable to make the Channel Islands due to the weather, but in Portsmouth Maria had a surprise:
I went to Portsmouth one day last week to see a friend and I walked up to an Inspector to enquire for the street, and I heard the Policeman say, I know that Lady, so I looked at him and thought, well, I don’t know you. So he says, you don’t come from Wiltshire, do you? I said yes, I do. You were Mrs Feltham. I should know you among ten thousand. Do you know Charles Ashley? And then I could see some Whatley in him. I was very pleased and he politely put me in a tramsway and I bid him good bye. I was pleased to see another Chitterne man, but I hardly step ashore but someone knows me.
The policeman was George Ashley 1851-1901, son of Charles Ashley 1827-1898 and Jane Whatley 1828-1907.
Winter 1975 Maria’s charges Eva 11, and Beryl 10, are being educated at home, Armadale, Row, Scotland, as she describes in a letter to her mother dated 3 December:
We have the snow lying on the ground, but hard frost and bright sunshine. Our Children skate and slide for 2 hours a day between lessons, but they have 3 miles to walk to the pond. They are in the schoolroom every morning at 10 minutes to 8 and after skating, resume them again till ½ past 6.
And we get some Chitterne news, so we are able to accurately date the letter to 1875:
The sudden death of Mr Poolman (I have not been able to identify this man) must have cast a gloom over the festivities of Annie Titt’s marriage. It speaks aloud to all of us, be ye also ready. (Ann Sarah Titt, born 1849, who had lived with her aunt Amelia at the Poplars smithy, married widower Henry Maffey on 24 November 1875 at Chitterne Church.)
I am glad my dear Boy has joined the Bible class. Hoping to hear from you soon with all the news of Imber people (Maria’s mother Euphemia was born Daniells in Imber). I see Mr Parhamis gone (John Parham 1795/6- 1875, farmed at Tilshead Lodge). Mr Morris is left a lonely Oak in the forest. (Charles Morris 1785/6-1879, lived at the Round House for over 60 years).
The following year Maria is under sail again from Scotland to France. This time the family are accompanied by Archibald Lawrie 1837-1914, who will later marry the widowed Constance Hamilton. During this trip Maria and Jimmy fall out over the purchase of a bicycle. She writes a letter gently chastising him from aboard the Yacht ‘Diana’ anchored off Gosport, Hampshire, on 22nd September 1876:
My darling Boy,
I was so glad to get your letter and am sending you an order for £1, but, my dear Boy, I do not approve of your having any thing without paying ready money for it. Your dear Grandmother always taught us never to buy any thing till we had the money to pay for it, a practice I have always carried out, and would hope you will do the same. Out of debt, out of danger.
I could not think of you going abroad, a young respectable man like you, saddled with debt, so I am sending this at no little inconvenience to myself, as there are many things I too would like to have and could have, if I liked to spend my last penny or run in debt. But it would not make me happy if I could not enjoy it, and I hope you will not be so imprudent again. As it’s the first time you have asked me for any thing, I have sent it.
Now, my dear Boy, we expect to have the yacht on Monday, and when I get to Paris I will write. I hope you will enjoy your Bicycle and that you will never again buy any thing till you can pay for it.
The following week on the 1st October Maria writes to her son from the Hotel St James, Rue St Honoré, Paris:
Here I am in Paris, and a Sunday in Paris is a very different thing to a Sunday in Scotland, or even England, but I went to a very nice English Protestant Church on Sunday and enjoyed it. But when I came out, it was very different. All kinds of trades going on. No rest for man or Beast. In a carpenter’s shop just opposite here, the men and boys have been working and singing the whole day long.
It is a beautiful city. A lovely river called the Seine, like our Thames runs through it. The buildings too are very noble and the monuments very grand indeed. The public parks and Gardens you can go in free of charge and there are plenty of seats to rest on. Then, they are laid out for miles with grass plots, Flowers and Statuary and Fountains playing. I have been to the Tomb of Napoleon the great, and driven in the Bois de Boulogne, been to the Louvre, where is gathered all the National property: Pictures, Statuary, precious stones, Jewellery, works of art of every description. Also to the Tuileries or Royal Palace. It was burnt at the war (destroyed during the Commune in 1871). I have also been to the Palais Royale and to some of the most famous churches, and yet one feels almost inclined to say with St Paul, a city given over to Idolatry.
Mrs Hamilton is very kind. She has taken me out in the carriage each day. We live very well at this Hotel. We have Coffee, Roll and Butter and an Egg for Breakfast, Dinner at 1, Soup, Fish, 2 Meats, 2 Vegetables, pudding or tart and Grapes, Peaches and Pears, and as much Claret as we like to drink. No tea but at ½ past 7 Meat, Salad, Bread and Potatoes and Claret again, but all very good. Just 3 meals a day.
During the 19th century, the affluent Rue Saint-Honoré started to attract young talented craftsmen whose names became the ultimate symbol of luxury. Among them were the trunk makers Louis Vuitton and Lancel, the saddler Thierry Hermès and the fashion designer Jeanne Lanvin.