Still in old Chitterne St Mary, Gunville was the name given to a group of two or three old cottages on the old Salisbury to Warminster coach road, in what we now call The Hollow.
The cottages were named Gunville in all censuses from 1861 to 1901. Previous censuses to 1861 are not as detailed so we are unable to tell if the name was in use any earlier. In one census, the 1881, the Vicarage is also said to be in Gunville, but that may be an anomaly.
By the 1891 census only two cottages were inhabited, one by Frederick Dewey, maltster, and one by George Naish, farm labourer. Both these men died before the next census. Frederick Dewey, who occupied one cottage for at least 25 years, died in 1895, and his neighbour George Naish in 1892. So although the cottages are mentioned in the 1901, they are marked uninhabited. In the 1911 census they are not listed at all and we presume they had been demolished.
The land the Gunville cottages once stood on was used to enlarge the Vicarage garden and provided space for a tennis court. In the late 196os, during the time of Rev. H. T. Yeomans, the Vicarage became redundant and was sold. It was renamed St Mary’s House under the new owners Mr and Mrs Wallis. In 1991 the then owners built a new house for themselves on the Gunville/tennis court part of the garden, calling their new house St Mary’s House and renaming the vicarage The Old Vicarage. Are you with me so far? So what all this means is, that two of the Gunville cottages stood on what is now the St Mary’s House plot at the western end of the village. The third cottage was probably on the opposite side of the track.
We stay in old Chitterne St Mary for Long Hedge Path.This is an old track alongside the Mead or water meadows, which in days of yore were flooded to provide a resource shared by farmers in both Chitterne parishes. The meadows were divided into plots, each plot named after the farmer whose plot it was. This way each farmer had access to early grass pasture for his sheep. Laurie Wallis told me that one plot was still known as Dean’s Mead in his grandfather’s time.
This path does not appear on the Rights of Way map but is still walked.
It starts at the Round House and does what it says on the tin – follows a long hedge through the Mead to the parish boundary with Codford – passing the ‘new’ Glebe Farm buildings en route. In fact if you carried on over the boundary it would take you to Codford St Peter via Green Road.
The long hedge ends abruptly at the parish boundary and the path takes a left turn for a short distance before reaching some old boundary stones and a stile.
If you cross the stile into Codford parish the path becomes Codford footpath number 6 on the Rights of Way map and continues towards Codford. This stile can also be reached from the road between Chitterne and Codford via footpath number 12, which takes you over a wooden bridge spanning Chitterne Brook.
If you are wondering where the maps I’ve been using recently come from, they were adapted by my other half from maps he drew in 2010 when convalescing from a pelvic injury. His rehabilitation required lots of walking so he devised a series of walking routes of increasing length for himself based on Chitterne. We both love maps and we thought the walks would make a good addition to the village website and so the map idea was born.
You can find Dave’s walking routes on http://www.chitterne.com if you click on the link below then ‘Village Life’ and ‘Walking’.
Back in 1984 there was a lot of excitement in the village when a film crew from London arrived to film scenes for ‘Return to Oz’ at Down Barn on London Road.
Michael Walker of Manor Farm, who farmed the land around Down Barn, grew a crop of maize alongside London Road to aid the transformation to Kansas. AW from Middle Barn appeared in the finished film as an extra and local schoolchildren at Tilshead Primary were treated to a day at the London studios to meet the 10 year old star Fairuza Balk who played Dorothy.
Interior shots of Aunt Em’s house were filmed at the camp cinema at West Down Camp, Tilshead, and further exterior shots of a journey by horse and trap were filmed near Tilshead Lodge.
Where is London Road? It is by-way number 2 on the Rights of Way map, and crosses Chitterne parish from east to west to the north of the village until it meets the Imber Range where it ends abruptly.
I walked London Road from west to east, starting with the section to the west of the C22 that was also known as Down Barn Road. This part of the road passed by Down Barn Field Settlement in earlier years, but Down Barn buildings were taken down after the War Department (MoD) took over the site in the 1930s. The site is now just within the Imber Range and out of bounds to civilians, but leased to local farmers when not needed for training.
A short section of the road is paved where it combines with the C22 between the double bends at the bottom of Breach Hill. It then passes Middle Barn cottages and carries on uphill towards Copehill Down Training Village, which it skirts to the north.
At Copehill Down trees London Road gets very messy as it crosses two tracks. The first is by-way number 1, the old Bath to Sarum coach road, and the second an MoD gravel road, before passing the MoD’s Copehill Down Training Village. Wiltshire Council has erected a Voluntary Restraint notice to motor vehicles on London Road to try and prevent further deterioration of the track.
After passing the training village the London Road follows the parish boundary before it leaves Chitterne parish and heads towards Orcheston and Maddington (Shrewton).
Tuesday 3 May 2016 update correction: removed reference to Percy and Mabel Potter living at Down Barn. Thanks to AC for this.
Once there was a meandering track that followed the course of the Chitterne winterbourne from its source at Imber to Chitterne. We still use part of it. The part that is the paved road C22, hugging the side of the winterbourne through the village to Codford, via Townsend, Tilshead Road and the B390.
Part of the paved road is known as the Bourne. This is where the winterbourne flows both sides of the road from Townsend, past the Pumping Station, to where the road makes a sharp right hand bend. Here the paved part ends and the old by-way, right of way number 16, carries straight on into the field beyond. The old name of this part is Winding Way, which explains itself.
During the winter months Winding Way is unusable due to the pool that forms at the end of the Bourne. This pool is named on one old map as Padham’s Pool, but I haven’t found that name anywhere else, so it is doubtful. However, another such pool further down the winterbourne towards Codford is called Spot’s Pool, so it may be right.
Today, as with Craw Path, you can only walk Winding Way until you reach the MoD Imber Range warning sign. Beyond the sign is the bridge carrying the MoD’s Southern Range Transit Road over the Berril Valley. 60 years ago you could walk further, through Frying Pan bottom to Imber. I stopped at the sign and turned around, so I have no photo of Frying Pan bottom.
The next three blogs are connected as they refer to old paths that have been cut short by the Ministry of Defence access restrictions to parts of Chitterne Parish. Or as Ernie George said many years ago when the new signs went up: “How is it that village rights of way are not considered worthwhile any more? In grandfather’s day there were recognised ‘paths’, now the new land barons have put up notices saying ‘keep out’, ‘no public access’.”
Craw Path is part of old right of way number 3 that heads across the corner of a field and ends abruptly at the boundary of the Ministry of Defence Imber Range.
60 years ago Craw Path started at Middle Gates on the road to Tilshead, crossed the old London Road and carried on at the side of the Berril Valley to join right of way number 16 that headed towards Imber. Nowadays Craw Path stops at the old London Road and it is impossible to discern where it once went beyond that point.
Where Craw Path meets the old London Road, is a place called Avepit, which must be quite ancient as it was shown as early as 1773 on the map of the area by Andrews and Drury. I have not been able to find Avepit, nor what it was, nor why it is called that, nor indeed, if that is the correct name or a dialectical interpretation. How I wish I had asked Ernie George while he was still with us. The origin of the name Craw Path is more straightforward. Craw is ‘the crop, throat, or first stomach of fowls, or animals generally’, according to Mr Chambers’ Dictionary, but why it is applied to this path.is anyone’s guess.
St Mary’s footpath, Right of Way number 7, was the usual path across Garston field between the old parishes of Chitterne All Saints to Chitterne St Mary. In the past it was flanked by horse chestnut trees, those are mostly gone now, but it is still the most used path across Garston.
The path starts at the kissing gate near the old footbridge opposite The Grange wall and crosses a corner of Manor Farmhouse paddock towards a pair of gates to enter Garston.
Garston straddles the boundary that once divided the two old Chitterne parishes. It was shared by farmers in both parishes at one time, but now it is part of the Ministry of Defence estate leased to Chitterne Farm. I have not been able to discover the origin of the name, which was always pronounced ‘Gasson’ by old time villagers, but the ‘ton’ part usually means ‘farm’. ‘Gars’ could be someone’s name, or it may mean triangular or spear-shaped. The name is not unique to Chitterne, there is a Garston area of Liverpool, and a Garston at Great Cheverell.
Garston must have been part of the estate originally owned by Lacock Abbey when the main drive to the Great House passed through it, but by the 1820s, when the house fell or was burnt down, it was owned by the Michell family. There is a reference to the Great House estate as ‘Milbournes’ in the 1400s and Sir Thomas Milbourne held land in Chitterne at that time, so this may well have been the land he held from the nuns of Lacock. Sir Thomas was attainted for treason by Richard III, fought at the battle of Bosworth in 1485 on the Lancastrian side, and was made Constable of Old Sarum Castle by Henry VII, he died in 1492.
Back to the footpath that passes through this ancient field. It passes by the site of an old barn that belonged to Chitterne St Mary Church farm or Glebe Farm. This is what Ernie George had to say about the barn:
The Chitterne great barn in great, great grandafther Thomas’s time, was on tithe land, farmed by Glebe Farm, as also, was the stockyard and large meadow which lay below. All in the twentieth century has disappeared. The lower walls and foundations of the great barn were still there beside St Mary’s footpath in the 1920s, by the 1940s overgrown with grass but still discernible. In the 1950s the farmers of All Saints Manor Farm broke up the ground all around and amongst the trees for cereal sowing, and so all signs of the barn disappeared, so also did some of the trees (at this time the land was owned by the War Department, and controlledy Durrington Land Agents). The boundary wall and main entrance gateway of the great walled estate were taken down. The stone pillars surmounted with large decorative stone globes were re-erected at the Duchess of Newcastle’s estate in the Wylye Valley.
The site of great barn in Garston is marked by the flat area of ground behind the garden of number 6 St Mary’s Close. Glebe Farm stockyard was directly in front of St Mary’s Church, on the site now occupied by Birch Cottage. The cob wall fronting the stockyard can still be seen. The large meadow on the other side of the road stretched from the B390, alongside Codford Road, to Spot’s Pool in Codford parish. The entrance gate to the meadow was directly opposite the entrance to the stockyard, this led into the triangular part of the meadow known as Tithing Field, now part of St Mary’s Lodge grounds.
St Mary’s footpath joins Churches Path (see last blog) at the pair of gates to St Mary’s Chancel churchyard.
Churches Path and Top Path are two halves of footpath number 5 on the Rights of Way map. A footpath, bisected by Imber Road, from St Mary’s Chancel to the far end of the village on the Tilshead Road.
Churches Path was the path used by the villagers of old between the two old Chitterne Churches, All Saints and St Mary’s, in the days when one vicar served the two congregations and services and festivals involved both churches.
The path starts on the Warminster Road alongside St Mary’s Manor, with an unpaved track leading to St Mary’s Chancel.
The path crosses St Mary’s churchyard, passing the Chancel on its north side, and heads towards a kissing gate in the far corner. Nowadays parts of Churches Path are little used as I found when I tried to walk it recently.
From St Mary’s Churchyard I exited the kissing gate in the north-east corner to enter Garston. I turned left and picked my way through fallen branches, rogue elder trees and animal workings that clutter the old avenue of lime trees marking the path.
Halfway along, the avenue is crossed by another, more clearly defined avenue, which marks the old main drive to the Great House that once stood in the Sportsfield.
At the end of the Churches avenue the path strikes out across Garston towards a gate in the corner, passes behind All Saints Manor Farmhouse, then between Chitterne Farm West barns to end at the Imber Road crossing.
Top Path continues in the same direction as Churches Path on the other side of Imber Road. The path is marked by Rights of Way signs on a telegraph pole at the crossing, but it is tricky to find the correct way through farm buildings at the start.
Eventually the path follows the edge of a field and passes behind Brook Walk, here there is a stile that has seen better days but is just about do-able, then Abdon Close gardens.
The path finally reaches the Tilshead Road over another stile at number 4, Townsend.