This is the Beak, a field shown on the 1815 map of Chitterne near the parish boundary with Upton Lovell. The track to the left in the photo is part of the Imber Range Perimeter path as it heads towards Long Trees, which marks the boundary between the two parishes.
Here you see the field on the 1815 map sandwiched between the Imber Range path and old Clarken Lane (see last blog). The Beak belonged to Paul Methuen Esq. in 1815 and was leased to William Ingram whose listed tomb lies in Chitterne St Mary graveyard.
I know very little about William Ingram who farmed the land now part occupied by Valley Farm and behind the Vicarage grounds. He must have been connected to the well-known Ingram family of the Wylye Valley (there are many monuments in the Wylye Valley churches) but I don’t know how, as his tomb seems to show him ‘of Poulshot’, at least that’s how I interpreted the inscription years ago, now very worn.
Getting back to The Beak. If you were to walk there from Chitterne you would take the Imber Range perimeter path (IRPP) and, on reaching the crossing with the permissive bridleway, continue on the IRPP away from the village. The Beak is the first field on your right.
The crossing mentioned above with the IRPP heading away from the village towards Warminster.
This is the first look at one of the ‘new’ old names discovered from the 1815 map of the parishes of Chitterne All Saints and Chitterne St Mary: Green Way or Clarken Lane.
Part of the 1815 map featured in my last blog showing the lane marked Green Way or Clarken Lane crossing diagonally from top left to bottom right. To orientate you, the slightly wider road below it is The Hollow, or the old Salisbury to Warminster coach road. Notice the adjacent field called Clarken Lane Field bounded on the eastern side by Imber Road. To the north also notice two smaller fields, Great Penning and Little Penning, a Dry Pond and a Well, these must mark the site of Penning Barn field barn settlement. The fact that there was a well in 1815 suggests perhaps that the settlement already existed.
A screen grab from Google Earth showing Clarken Lane crossing from top left to bottom right in a wavy line between field boundaries.
Green Way or Clarken Lane is no longer a designated right of way, but it is still possible to see where it once was and to walk the part of it nearest the village.
Here we are looking north away from the village, this is the bit that is most difficult to walk, but it is still marked by a line of bushes and a ditch.
This photo was taken from the same spot as the previous one but looking south towards the village. The path is clearly defined and still regularly used.
Clarken Lane Field, pretty featureless.
Approaching the village. The field to the left was called The Tining on the old map.
Here we have reached the end of Clarken Lane and we are looking back, away from the village. Clarken Lane ends where it meets Churches Path (the path between the two old parish churches) behind Chitterne Farm West Barns.
I don’t know the origin of the name Clarken Lane, but several generations of a family called Clarke lived in Chitterne in the 16th and 17th centuries.
You may remember an earlier series of blogs ‘Old Chitterne Names’? This latest map is interesting because it names more of the fields surrounding Chitterne from the time of the Methuen family ownership. The map is a large photocopy of an original held at the History Centre and a difficult subject to photograph, so we will look at small sections.
A section of the map showing the two parishes, Chitterne St Mary on the left and Chitterne All Saints on the right, before they were united as Chitterne. St Mary’s church (211) stands in front of The Manor (220), which still has its east wing, and in front of the church is the old Tithe Barn and stockyard (212 now site of Birch Cottage). To the right are the King’s Head (214), then Bridge Cottage (215), but no St Mary’s Close. Instead we have Clump Farm yard (216/217) abutting the parish boundary, with the old farmhouse behind two farm barns at right-angles to the road. Further west note there is no Vicarage (208), no St Mary’s House nor Little St Mary’s, just Glebe House (209), although there is an unidentified building next to Glebe House, but Gunville Cottages (204/205/206) at the bottom of the Hollow are shown. To the south the Chitterne Brook hugs the verge of the Codford Road, the malthouse (144) is shown next after the road junction, but not the new Clump Farmhouse. On the south side of Bidden Lane, the St Mary’s side, there are many more dwellings than exist today.
The properties held by the Michell family in All Saints are not shown on this map, so the large house owned by them on the Sportsfield site is missing, as is Chitterne House, which they also owned. Although it’s interesting to see that the original entrance to Chitterne House from Back Lane is shown. Opposite Chitterne House is Manor Farm yard and house, to the right is old All Saints Church and in front of it All Saints Vicarage, which was later demolished.
In All Saints parish the old field directly behind the Sportsfield, now known as Garston, was larger, and had three sections. In 1815, spelt Gaston, the sections were Home Gaston, Middle Gaston and Corn Gaston. Not only that, beyond Corn Gaston was another part of the ground called New Piece (top left of the map), which meant that Gaston in those days extended much further out from the village than it does today.
Here is a screen-grab from Google Earth for comparison purposes. It would appear that Garston once reached to the furthest edge of the green field to the right of the Hollow, top left of this 2021 map.
I hope to look at other new field names spotted on the 1815 map later, when time and weather allow.
Grateful thanks to VP for the copy of the 1815 map.
Two interesting old maps have come my way lately that I haven’t seen before. The first is an original map for the sale of the Chitterne Sporting Estate. You may remember we had a look at the 1896 brochure for the estate houses and cottages offered for sale by the Long family in previous blogs.
“Plan of the Valuable Freehold Sporting Estate, Chitterne, Wilts.” Offered for sale by the Long family of Rood Ashton House, near Trowbridge sometime around the turn of the 19th century. The estate has been divided into three lots. (Sorry about the wonky photo and creases).
Lot 1: The largest lot which includes Chitterne Farm, Elms (sic) Farm, Middle Barn Farm, Bush Barn Farm and Breach Hill Farm. Also included near the village are Elm Farmhouse, the Smithy (The Poplars) and all the buildings on the right of the road from Pitts House to Chitterne Farmhouse and Chitterne Lodge. Chitterne Lodge is named as such but The Grange is called The Shooting Lodge. Field Barn settlements included in the lot are Two Barns, New Barn, Bush Barn, Middle Barn and Breach Hill cottages. Woodlands are Fox Covert and Wroughton’s Wood, both in green to the right of the map. I believe this whole lot was purchased by Ron Farquharson in 1906, the man who had Chitterne Stables built and also owned Tilshead Lodge.
On the back of the map are hand-written notes in pencil about the make-up of the Field Barn settlements. These are interesting in themselves and indicate what sizeable settlements the Field Barns were. When we look at the second map we will notice changes in some of the names of the Field Barns.
At Breach Hill Farm is a house with lawn back and front, 2 bedrooms, sitting room, scullery, kitchen with grate. Outside a brick and slate cart shed, a 6 horse stable, a chaff house, a brick, WB (?) and slate barn in a yard enclosed by a brick wall.
At Bush Barn are 2 cob and slate cart sheds, a very old timber and thatched shed, brick foundation WB and slate barn, granary and cow house, stable for 10 horses, chaff house. Cottage has 3 bedrooms, kitchen with oven, wash house, pantry and coal house.
At Two Barns is a very large WB (anyone know what that means?) barn and chaff house, a fine range of stables of brick foundations with corrugated iron roof (note: corrugated iron invented by Henry Robert Palmer in 1829). The rest of this section illegible but further on: Barn with brick foundations, WB and thatch, large cart shed of cob and tile and flint. Cob and slate farmhouse with 5 bedrooms, 2 sitting rooms, pantry, 2 kitchens, wash house, bake house of red brick with slate over, cottages of thatched brick and cob with kitchen, sitting room and 2 bedrooms.
At New Barn are kitchen gardens, 2 detached cottages of brick, cob and slate with 3 bedrooms, kitchen with boiler and oven, wash house and pantry each, 2 more brick and slate with kitchens, wash house, pantry and 3 bedrooms each, a brick built and slate bake house with oven. At the end of the lane is a granary of WB, brick foundations with slate roof. Other buildings at New Barn are cob and tile cart shed, a WB brick foundation thatched barn, a WB cob and thatched cow house, stabling for 12 horses and a chaff house, enclosed in a yard are 2000 illegible on timber staging, an iron water mill with sails complete, machinery to wall for traction engine, steel winder on a frame. Outside 3 pits for storing waste.
The only settlement remaining of the old Field Barns is Middle Barn. The rest were removed by the War Department, after their purchase of Farquharson’s estate in 1937, to enable army training to take place unhindered.
Lot 2 consisted of Manor Farm, The Manor, Glebe House, St Mary’s Chancel, the Tithing field (opposite the King’s Head, now part of St Mary’s Lodge) and the water meadows along the north and west side of Codford Road. There are no associated Field Barn settlements. This was later (c.WW1) purchased with a mortgage by the Wallis family who were already the tenants and had been living in The Manor since 1823. After many years the Wallis family sold most of their land to the Harley family who renamed it Valley Farm.
Lot 3 is made up of two farms Clump Farm and Smith’s farm. I believe the Smith family referred to here are the very same Smiths who owned Chitterne Stores in Townsend. Lot 3 also included Clump Farm House, the Malthouse (now demolished) and associated Pine Cottage (now known as the Malt House). Again no associated Field Barns. This lot was purchased by William Robinson a builder of Salford, Manchester for his eldest son Harold to farm, unfortunately Harold was killed in WW1. Charles Bazell rented the farm from Robinson, who later sold to the Webster family who later still sold it to the Stratton family, who still own the land today.
The last part of the estate is the most intriguing. A patch of riverside meadow at Little Langford in the Wylye Valley. How odd! I have no idea how this came to be part of the Chitterne estate, but if anyone knows please tell all. Perhaps it’s not for sale at this time, as there is no thick line around it. On that mysterious note I finish with this map. Next up is a much earlier map, about 1815, with lots of the field names marked.
DB has asked if this man can be identified. The photo belonged to his recently deceased aunt Muriel who was born in Chitterne in 1928. Her name before marriage was Muriel Evelyn Churchill, her father was Charles Churchill who worked at Clump Farm, Chitterne, her mother was Gladys Snook. The family later moved to Swindon and Muriel married John Cowley.
Muriel had previously named the man in the photo as her grandfather Isaac Churchill, but that has proved to be wrong when compared with other authenticated photos of Isaac.
The unknown man may of course be a Snook ancestor from Muriel’s mother’s side. Whatever the case, if you think you recognise this man please will you get in touch with me using the contact form in the menu, top right corner.
An extraordinary deposit of “the best clay in England for the making of clay pipes” is to be found above the chalk on Chitterne St Mary Down between the Codford and Shrewton roads. The hill is known as Clay Pit Hill. The almost pure white clay is mixed with round pebbles varying from small to about 5 inches across.
On a windy Wednesday in January 2007 I accompanied Rod and Dyana Fripp, from Perth, Western Australia, to Clay Pit Hill where, over 350 years ago, Rod’s ancestor, Edward Fripp, held a licence to dig clay for the manufacture of clay pipes.
Edward Fripp, Rod’s 12 x great grandfather, was born in Chitterne about 1616. He married Mary Merewether around 1650. Edward, and Mary’s brother, Christopher Merewether, were in business supplying clay from Chitterne to the Gauntlet family of tobacco pipe manufacturers in Amesbury.
The site of the old clay pits are on private land and covered in trees that shelter pheasant rearing pens. Before venturing out we had gained permission to visit the site.
At Clay Pit Hill the pits are deep craters, some with steep sides, some shallow, one filled with water, but all very obvious despite the undergrowth. I was astonished, as we had been led to believe that there wasn’t much to see, but we found the white clay and pebbles exposed near the wet pit, where the leaf mold had been washed away. Unfortunately the conditions for photography were poor.
Some years ago I came across a document at the Record Office (Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre) that mentioned the licence granted in 1651 to Edward Fripp and Christopher Merewether by Henry Paulet, Lord of the Manor. As part of their agreement they were licenced to dig for one year and permitted to remove 30 loads of clay and cart them to Amesbury. But it is obvious that many more than 30 loads of the clay have been dug from the pits, as some of them are deeper than a man is tall, even after 350 years of erosion and filling by leaf mulch. So presumably the clay pits were in use long before tobacco was ever brought to England. The clay is said to have been used in the building of Chitterne St Mary Manor, and the round pebbles decorate many a Chitterne garden, but it would be interesting to know who thought of using the clay to make tobacco pipes.
Fripp and Merewether also agreed to pay Henry Paulet £10 for the licence and give him 8 gross of pipes. That makes 1,152 pipes if my reckoning is correct. Lord Paulet must have been a heavy smoker.
The fragments of clay pipes in this photograph were dug up in the Round House garden. None of them have the Gauntlet identification mark so I suspect they are of later manufacture, but I like to think that they are made of Chitterne clay. Traditionally clay tobacco pipes are associated with curates and one Joseph Brown Morris, curate of Imber 1808-1815, lived at the Round House so perhaps he smoked these pipes.
The old village hall records have me wondering where Chitterne villagers celebrated in large numbers before we had the first hall in 1921. There was the reading room, but that was tiny, or the school was handy, but inconvenient with two classrooms and tiered seating, so where? My guess is that they gathered in one of the huge barns at the two manor farms, as below.
Celebration supper in a village barn
But I digress, where were we, oh yes, the second village hall, converted from the old village school that closed in 1967. I don’t want to repeat myself again, like the last blog, so here is the link to my earlier hall history:
Now, for the extra detail I’ve recently discovered on what went on behind the scenes at the second hall.
After its closure, the school was in the hands of Wiltshire County Council who planned to sell the site, but it did not belong to them. The site was still owned by the heirs of Lord Long who had originally offered it to the villagers for the school building. But the village wanted the school for a new village hall, and the Long family agreed, but before this could happen the parish council and Lord Long needed to negotiate with the County Council. The negotiations took some time but happily led to the transfer of ownership from Richard Gerard 4th Viscount Long to the parish council in December 1970.
In the meantime the old school was standing empty and deteriorating. Urgent repairs were needed to the roof, gutters, walls and windows. Building costs were rising fast in the 1970s, and the price of houses booming. This meant that monies already raised in the village for the new hall were now inadequate. Eventually the hall was repaired and after more fund-raising was converted into a village hall, opened in December 1971 by Viscount Long and Rev. H T Yeomans.
As part of the agreement with the County Council a charitable trust for the hall was arranged at the same time as the transfer of ownership. This proved to be a bit of a problem in 1978 when two prominent members of the village hall committee were forced to resign because of the trust rules. Bill Windsor and Evelyn Potter were very valuable and committed members of the committee, but the problem was that both were paid from hall funds for the work they did. Bill for repairs to the hall and Evelyn for keeping it so clean. The trust rules stated that they could not be members of the committee that paid them. Committee secretary, T S-B, wrote to the Charity Commission begging for the two to be allowed to remain on the committee, but the reply was a definite No.
The site of the old village hall, the Hut in Bidden Lane, was finally sold by the parish council in 1976. Presumably it was purchased by the owner of the Well House (since renamed Well Cottage), Aubrey Miller, to enlarge his garden. Proceeds from the sale were distributed among the various organisations that used the hall for their meetings. Amongst the records there is a thank you note from the Chitterne W I for a donation received from the parish council after the sale.
The final piece of icing on the cake for future social gatherings in Chitterne came in 1977 when, as part of the Royal Jubilee celebrations, the parish council purchased the field opposite the new hall from the MoD for £800. To read more about the Sportsfield click below
DF carries on his memories of moving to Cotsmere, Townsend, Chitterne in 1944:
“Second Saga: Water supply to Cotsmere.
Having sought and given permission by the MOD to connect into the MOD Water supply that supplied the Stables in the back lane area, a farm building then that formed part of Mr Long’s farm, my father had to plan and decide the proposed route and of course what it would cost. It was decided to hand excavate a trench 75cm deep and 30cm wide from the rear area of the stables to the Cut (Chitterne Brook), then along the Cut to an area adjacent to Percy Churchill’s garden area, where a bungalow is now sited (Fieldview), across this area and the road to Cotsmere.
Having decided on this and then taken in consideration that the work would have to be carried out when the Cut was dry, the job was put on hold temporarily. In the meantime property holders along the route were approached to either help or pay towards the costs so that they could then connect to it. My dad needed to know who was interested as this would have determined the size of the pipe that he planned to install. Needless to say no-one was interested not even Percy Churchill!!!!!
Finally with the help of me, my Uncles Billy Collier and Harry Aston, the job was completed. On completion, believe it or not there were some householders who felt that as the supply was connected to the MOD service they had a right to connect to the new supply, unfortunately for them, this was just wishful thinking. They had no legal right.”
So, in the 1940s Cotsmere was one of the first houses in the village to have a piped water supply. Other properties relied on well water, or if they were lucky a piped farm supply. There were 6 wells in Townsend, which often ran dry in Summer, forcing the residents affected to use the deep well by Lodge gates, or fill their allocation of two buckets a day from the Chitterne Farm supply.
The water supply at Chitterne Farm (The Stables were part of Chitterne Farm at that time, as DF says) had been installed by the John Wallis Titt Company in the 1930s. The firm were contracted by the MOD to sink a borehole 300 feet deep in 1934 to carry out a pumping test and if successful install a pumped water supply.
Mains water came to the village before we came in 1976, although we were still using Glebe Farm supply at that time and for many years after. The Wessex Water Pumping Station on the Tilshead road was built in the 1980s and opened in 1988.
The people DF mentions are Mr Long the farmer: Robert William Long (1878-1953) was the farm manager for R J Farquharson at the Chitterne Farm Estate from 1906 to 1937, and carried on the same role from 1937 to 1955 as tenant of the MOD.
Percy Richard William Churchill (1909-1966) lived at 10 Townsend and was the father of the late Timothy Churchill.
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.