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.
Some old photographs of Chitterne have arrived from Wylye Valley Post Cards so I’m taking a break from the Maria Cockrell letters for a while. I was searching for an old photo of the bottom of Bidden Lane showing Maria’s mother’s home when I came across a site selling copies of photos I hadn’t seen. Sadly not what I was looking for, but worth sharing with you.
Here is the first, a view of Chitterne from the top of the hill behind the Old Malthouse. It dates from the early years of the 20th century when malting was still happening there.
How I wish I’d had this photo when I wrote the blog on malting last year Malting Barley in Chitterne, early 1900s because it shows clearly the separate malthouse building alongside the house we know now as Old Malthouse, which was then called Pine Cottage. The malthouse building was probably demolished before 1938 and the site is now Old Malthouse driveway and garage complex.
Clump Farmhouse is just visible between the trees on the right. The first photo also shows, centre left, the extent of the Clump Farm buildings at that time on the opposite side of the road to the farmhouse. Clump House still exists but the farm buildings have been replaced by St Mary’s Close. Which leads nicely onto the second photo of the back of Clump Farmhouse.
Half of Clump farmhouse is visible on the left and the stable building, with an open door, is to the right of it. Depending on when the photo was taken either Charles Bazell was the tenant farmer or, after 1913, Clump Farm had been bought by William Robinson, father of the WW1 victim Harold Robinson.
The twin-roofed house just visible behind the stable is 96 Chitterne. 96 sits on a site known historically as Clear Spring and may have been built to house the bailiff of Clump Farm. The house was known as Bailiff’s Cottage in 1911 when James Churchill lived there. From 1916 to 1935 it was named Laurel Cottage by new owners Edward Polden and his wife Edith Mary Burgess. Since then it has had various names. It was 96 Chitterne under Evelyn and Marabini Feltham, Clear Spring House next, then Pear Tree Cottage.
Beyond 96 is the thatched White Hart Inn, dating from 1651. George Henry Livings was the tenant beer retailer from the early 1900s to 1928. Several landlords came and went until Charlie and Florence Mould took over in 1941 and stayed until 1955. The Moulds were the last innkeeper tenants. The Withers and Newton families who followed were carriers and ran a coach business from White Hart House until the 1970s when the house became a private residence.
Ironically Maria’s mother’s house is probably hidden behind those two trees on the right…
It’s thanks to Julian Frost of Wylye Valley Postcards, who collected and preserved these interesting old photos, that we are able to see them today.
We left Maria in November 1857 recently married to James Feltham, with their 10 month old son, William James Cockrell Feltham, known as Jimmy. Two more mis-matched people it would be hard to find, but I will let Maria tell you her story in her own words mostly, so you may need to sit down, it will take some time.
Putting a date to Maria’s letters has been tricky as she rarely gives us the year, but they appear to start in late 1860 or early 1861. From comments in these letters we know that Maria obtained a position working for Walter Long’s wife Lady Bisshopp until 1860. On 11th April 1862 Maria wrote:
“Just two years ago today I parted with kind Lady B to go to my birthplace and thence to this place of trial.”
Walter Long owned much of Chitterne and lived at Rood Ashton House, near Trowbridge. Lady Bisshopp turned out to be a very good friend to Maria and wrote to her often. We don’t know what happened to James from 1857 to 1860. He does not appear to be with Maria, perhaps he was back in Chitterne with his parents. In later letters Maria mentions having left him once before, maybe it was during this time. Maria’s mother Euphemia looked after Jimmy while Maria was at Rood Ashton.
However, by early 1861 Maria, James and Jimmy are living together as a family at Compton, near Enford, Wiltshire, 10 miles east across the Salisbury Plain from Chitterne. James has a coal hauling business, they have two horses, a cart, some pigs and chickens and grow cereal crops. James is illiterate and relies on Maria to keep the business accounts. Maria is also a needlewoman and nurses the elderly.
Maria’s early letters are all addressed to her mother back in Chitterne. At first all appears to go well:
“I am happy to say our business is steadily on the increase and sometimes I seem to have more than I can do, for I have no one to put a helping hand or go on an errand or anything.”
Her troubles start in April 1861 after she has been home to Chitterne for her brother William’s wedding to Maria Coles on the 4th April:
“James has such a very bad place on his thigh and really his temper is like that, that I am almost at my wit’s end. He almost gnaws me to death.”
In May 1861 we get an inkling of earlier trouble:
“James has two more boils coming on his behind. I am happy to say he has not given me the least trouble since he last took money.”
The death of James’s father is the catalyst for yet more trouble, on 3rd September 1861, Maria writes:
“James has been so very rough lately. He served me worse since his fathers’ death than he did before, and last Tuesday, a week ago today, he went out drinking in the morning and returned home at 11 o’clock and went to mowing and I got the dinner ready and went and called him, and he sent the child in to tell me to bring it up to him. I did so and spread it out before him, when he began throwing the knives and forks about and ordered me indoors with it. And then he began throwing it at me and broke everything there was on the table, 2 dishes, 3 plates, vinegar bottle and salt cellar. Fortunately only one piece of one of the dishes caught me and that did not hurt me, as my stays prevented it. The child went up to Mr Martin’s (farmer at Compton Farm) and told them and I ran and hid in a garden. Jane (servant friend at Compton Farm) came down and shamed him and told him she would give me any money I like to name to leave him and go in and help me pack my traps. He said he would help too but it would be a job to part us. Mr Martin and the Reverend have both given the policeman orders to be about there, and the next time he is found ill using me, to take him up. He will be at Chitterne next Saturday but pray don’t say that I have written to you as you value my life.”
Following this episode Maria’s cousin Dorcas came to Compton as live-in help, and Maria received a letter from Lady Bisshopp dated 23rd September 1861 saying she was deeply grieved to hear that Maria had been ill-used again. Lady B offered Maria the situation of 3rd housemaid at Rood Ashton, which was vacant if Maria would like it, and send Jimmy back to her parents again. Maria read the letter to James and told him if he did not continue to be good to her she would take up the offer.
Over the next year, as his behaviour worsens, Maria is frequently torn between staying with James, or leaving him. On 19th October 1861 she tells her mother:
“…a week ago last Monday he went to Honeystreet and afterwards to the Swan (Swan Inn, a mile from Compton) as usual and after the turn out, got up to a fight with another man and some say James kicked, but James denies it. However, the other man’s ankle bone is completely smashed and it is in such a state that it can’t be set yet, and they are taking him to the Infirmary this morning. He has 4 children and is unable to work. James was also very abusive to Mr Baden, Lord of the manor at Enford, that was passing at the time and told him to go home. So how it will be settled, God only knows, but it is generally thought here the parish will county court James and make him pay all expenses, and if they do, I don’t know what will become of us.”
Maria took up an offer to go and stay with Lady Bisshopp for a week in November with young Jimmy, a favourite of the Rood Ashton servants. But on returning home she found:
“…two summonses, one for fighting at Upavon a week ago last Saturday and the other for allowing the horse to stand exposed to the severity of the weather so many hours. James came home a week ago with two black eyes, as the men of Upavon served him dreadfully. Lady Bisshopp begged me if I found at any time it was more than I could bear, to come and take it as a home, as she could always find me employment. It seems good to know that even in this world there is someone caring for me, and I feel that I have not driven my husband from his home, but he is a slave to drink.”
Maria’s letters are full of thankfulness despite her troubles, which she blames on herself for much of the time:
“The Lord has given me friends and mercies. May he give me a thankful heart, that I may be kept from despairing at my lot, for I know full well that the path of sorrow and that path alone, leads to that land where sorrow is unknown.”
But no peace yet for Maria. On 11th April 1862 she reports her latest trouble to her mother:
“And now my dear Mother, I must tell you of events of last Thursday. I went up in the morning to go for coals, and I did my washing, and as I was coming in about 3 o’clock I saw the house was cracking opposite the wall and something seemed to tell me I would make a late job of it if I started towards Upavon, thinking I would meet him with his load. But I soon heard he had been drinking at Upavon all the morning, and was just started on, so I overtook him about halfway to Honeystreet with the empty cart stopped at the Woodbridge Inn. The landlord and him had been quarreling and James attempted to kick the landlord’s behind, and the landlord threw James down but did not hurt him much. I called him out and told him what I thought of the house and begged him to turn around and come back with me, but he would not, but began fisting at the window and at last smashed it with his fist.
I could not get him away. It was about 5 o’clock and then took the empty cart and horse home and left him there. It was the kicking one so I got William Eyre to unharness it and then put the poor child to bed, and Dorcas and me got all the things out of our bedroom, except the bedstead and chest, but we did not take anything downstairs. Then we sat up till a little past 12 listening to the whitewash dropping, in horrible suspense, when James came in, one eye quite closed, his clothes torn and covered with blood. After I left him he came back to Upavon and insulted the landlord there, till it provoked him to take the law into his own hands and serve him as he did.”
James had been home about 20 minutes when the whole side wall of the house fell down filling the well, which meant they had to use the river water. Thanks to Maria’s earlier actions no furniture was damaged.
“We have no place to be in. James sleeps in the straw. I and Dorcas and child sleep at Chisenbury. Our things are in the barn. Pray for us.”
Next is a letter from Maria’s friend Jane Hobbs of Compton Farm to Maria’s mother who had just paid a visit to Maria’s home. Jane wrote on 7th May 1862:
“Dear Friend, I take the liberty to write to you. I am very sorry to tell you the sad accident of your dear daughter Maria for she come tonight and drink tea with me and very much wished me to write and tell you of her husband’s ill treatment to her Sunday night. Before you was gone out of sight, he began abusing her most awfully and on Monday morning he held the gun to her head and swore he would shoot her and she fainted from the fright and today he has been fighting and has got his face cut open dreadfully and what the end of it will be we can’t tell. We hope the almighty will be with her and preserve her from such a brute of a husband, for we feel very much for the dear innocent creature. Poor Maria I think she is very bad and you need not be surprised to see her at any time.”
James calms down again for a bit and on 22nd May 1862 Maria tells her mother she is much better than when Jane Hobbs wrote her letter, but also adds:
“People seem to blame me very much for staying here, but what am I to do? I have a friend in Lady B as she offered to get me a situation now in London and receive me into her own family again in July. But what am I to do with my dear boy? He is not near well and if I was to leave him with you, it is uncertain how long they (presumably James’ family in Chitterne) would let him stay with you, so I must stay as long as please God.
Maria’s respite from trouble is not long, for in June 1862 James is summoned to Pewsey for driving and whipping his two horses whilst riding on the shafts in a drunken state. Maria writes the following day of what happened to her when he returned home:
“As soon as he came home and I went out to him, he horsewhipped me with a large whalebone whip and almost fetched the blood on the fleshy part of my arm. It is all colours now, as well as my shoulders and back.
In the same letter dated 14th June 1862 she tells her mother what happened at the court:
“At Pewsey yesterday he was fined £10 or one month’s imprisonment and he told the bench he should not pay the money. He should go to prison for he had been before and he knew where to hang his hat. So he was locked up with the prisoners about 2 hours, till the business of the day was settled and then I went and paid the magistrates the fine, and had him released.
For what could I do? A month here at this time of year with the two horses and haymaking all about, and I know he could earn that over and over again if he liked, but instead of being any better for it, he began spending again and got drunk before he got home. I got him as far as Chisenbury (The Red Lion) and then left him and went home and cried myself to sleep.”
Maria soon regrets she had paid James’ fine when James takes exception to her new things. Little Jimmy, now 5 years old, had been to stay with his grandmother. As Maria writes on 8th July 1862:
“We have been as rough as possible since we went to Pewsey. I have regretted ever since that he was not sent to prison. I only had my clothes off one night, and I had a new bonnet and cap, trimmed with white, and he burnt the lot, box and all. He was mad drunk and came home about 7 o’clock in the evening, and locked himself in and took the key out of the door and burnt it. And we were outside, we smelled it, and Dorcas saw the blaze, but we did not know what it was.
He then the same night stuffed all his clothes into a sack and put it into the cart and swore he would go to London, and off he went. This was before the dear boy got home, and he went off somewhere till about 9 o’clock in the morning, and then he came back and tried the door, and we were afraid to come down, so he climbed up the trigger that supported the roof and flew through the room where we were standing, and downstairs and took the loaded gun off the nail and shot it up the chimney. I thought it was at the boards as it shook the place so, but I found when I came downstairs that the soot was all over the place.
He then came upstairs and began talking to the child and asking him what you did say about him. The child said nothing that I can mind.
Last week it was rather better, but Tuesday he threw a butter tub at me and knocked me down under the white horse, but the poor thing looked at me and never moved. Had it been the black one, I might not now be in the land of the living. It bruised my hip, thigh and arm on the left side, but not of much consequence, and he has begun this week the same, for he went for a load of faggots yesterday, Monday, and returned this morning after daylight, without horse or wagon, and we went up the field and left him in bed, and now when we came down he is fled. When he will come again I know not for I am out of patience with him. But I shall try and rub it (put up with it) till Christmas and I don’t think we shall hold out much longer.”
On 25th October 1862 their house is still in a damaged state as the landlord has refused to rebuild the wall. Since the wall fell down Maria sleeps at the house of an elderly couple, and helps them until about 10 o’clock in the morning, before going to Compton. Dorcas and Jimmy sleep at Mr Eyre’s house. Maria supposes they will winter at Chitterne. Mr Martin, the farmer at Compton Farm, helps by looking after Maria’a hens and little chickens, and by offering to ask a lawyer if James will be sent to prison again or not. He has also recommended Maria for a situation at Lake Farm near Salisbury where they need a trustworthy person to supervise the other servants in the morning and do needlework in the afternoon. Mr Martin is very keen for Maria to take it in preference to a situation at Chitterne:
“as he thinks I should always be an eyesore to James’ family, and no doubt that they would do all in their power to annoy one.”
Maria has also heard from Lady B who would be pleased to take Maria as a laundry maid in July, but advises her to take another situation for the present.
“I hope I shall be able to come home for a week and I should be so glad if Isaac (Maria’s stepfather) would consent for the child to stay with you. If not, I must try to place him somewhere else, as I should have so much better opportunity of supporting him.”
Maria also writes to her aunt and uncle, Dorcas’ parents, on the 25th October 1862 and this letter seems to herald the end Maria’s time at Compton as she speaks of items being sold. We get no inkling of what has happened to James, is he in prison? Maria says:
“I don’t know how long I may be here but I do hope not more than another week, and I am much obliged to you for letting Dorcas stay with me. I shall come to Chitterne, and Dorcas with me. (Maria planned to attend the opening of the new Church, Chitterne All Saints with St Mary’s, on 4th November 1862).
I expect it will all be sold off by auction. I will write again when I know how it’s going to be.”
That is the last letter we have of Maria’s sent from Compton, ‘this place of trial’ as she once described it. Soon her fortunes will change, as we shall see in the next blog….
The entry for Chitterne in ‘Kelly’s Directory of Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorsetshire 1915’ 14th edition is below with grateful thanks to AS.
Kelly’s directories are useful to historians as they provide a snapshot of a particular place in a particular time. The books were heavy tomes, this particular one had almost 2000 pages, including maps of each county, topographical accounts of each town, parish or village, descriptions of the principal buildings and objects of interest. Plus information on councils, courts, religious institutions, landowners, hospitals, charities, acreage, markets and fairs and transport.
Note on page 1 that William James C Feltham was the parish clerk in 1915. More on his mother Maria Cockrell Feltham soon I hope, when I have read all her 200-odd letters, which tell of an unusual life for a Chitterne woman in the 19th century.
You may remember an earlier blog about Gallybagger Corner from April 2016: Old Chitterne Names 11: Gallybagger Corner and how the scarecrows made by Don Poolman were included in a book on Salisbury Plain. Now it appears that the scarecrows also inspired an author of children’s books to write a story for young adults called The Scarecrows.
Robert Westall, a very successful medal-winning author of books for young adults, was passing through Chitterne in the late 1960s when he spotted Don Poolman’s scarecrows on the corner at the western end of the village. He was so impressed by them that he turned around and went back to get a good look and take a photograph.
Westall, an art teacher by profession, treasured that photograph for years and eventually the scarecrow picture inspired him to write a novel. We know this from a letter he wrote to Don Poolman in 1979 praising the scarecrows and asking many questions about them.
The novel, published in 1981 by Chatto & Windus, won the Carnegie Medal. The edition in our picture was published by Puffin in 1983. The book is still in print today.
A newspaper report of a fire in a Chitterne St Mary farmyard describes in great detail just how easily fire can spread once it takes hold. The farmyard belonged to the lord of the manor and was leased from him by William Wallis, who lived at The Manor, while his widowed mother, Mary Buckeridge Wallis, lived in what is now Glebe House. When the fire was first spotted it was no more than a small blaze in a rick. The date was 26th February 1831.
Some explanations seem necessary. The ricks of wheat and barley were kept in an enclosed yard known as a rick-barton. The house and cottage that were burned on the other side of the road would have been in the vicinity of present day St Mary’s Lodge, number 104 and Glebe Farmhouse. The farm mentioned “to the leeward” of the fire was George Parham’s Clump Farm, a site now occupied by St Mary’s Close. Other farm buildings owned by the church stood on the site of present day Birch Cottage.
The “late disturbances” refer to the Swing Riots of 1830. When groups of farm workers worried for their livelihoods travelled around the neighbourhood wrecking the new threshing machines. There had been no wrecking in Chitterne, unlike in Heytesbury, Upton Lovell, Knook and Corton where several machines were wrecked and as a consequence 20 men transported to Australia for terms of seven years.
Thanks to the eagle eyed J & R for this, who spotted it when looking for something else!
At Lacock Abbey the National Trust currently have an installation to mark the site of the 13th century convent church founded by Ela (pronounced eelah) of Salisbury.
Chitterne was part of the large area of southern England inherited by Ela following the death of her father William Longespee in 1226. Soon after this she donated her Chitterne lands and farm to her newly founded abbey at Lacock, and the thousands of sheep kept at Chitterne became the Lacock nuns’ main source of revenue.
The installation consists of three panes of glass depicting a stone arch, scenes of abbey life in medieval times and Ela’s seal. These are positioned on the grass that now covers the convent church site.
I was expecting a little more than these when I visited, but all inside the abbey was as usual, there were no new items concerning Ela on display.