Sale of Cottages 1905

Lord of the Manor, Walter Hume Long, sold off most of his Chitterne properties in 1896, including the two public houses, but he kept hold of a few cottages in Chitterne All Saints. In 1905 he sold these remaining cottages to Harman Bros, estate agents and surveyors, of Cheapside, London. This last sale finally severed the link between the Long family and Chitterne, which had lasted 75 years.

1905 Sale of Cottages cover
Cover of the 1905/6 brochure. Note the reference to hare coursing, a legal activity in those days!

Harman Bros offered the cottages for sale and a copy of their brochure has recently been found amongst the effects of the late Raymond Feltham. The brochure is interesting for its descriptions of the cottages and the photographs.

1905 Sale of Cottages Rose Cottages
In 1906 The Post Office was at 53 Bidden Lane (Syringa Cottage)

As far as I can tell Rose Cottages were demolished to make way for 58 and 59 Bidden Lane by Polden brothers, builders. Eric Polden lived in 58 and Gerald Polden in 59.

1905 Sale of Cottages Flint House
The garden stretched to Back Lane in 1905

Flint House was purchased by Clement Polden and became home to Polden & Feltham, wheelwrights, carpenters and farriers. The Feltham part of the outfit was Jimmy Feltham, Raymond’s grandfather. Clement and Jimmy were succeeded by Clement’s sons, Owen and Alban Polden. When they retired and sold up Alban built the Walnut Tree bungalow on the back half of the garden for himself and his wife.

1905 Sale of Cottages Pitt's House
In 1905 Pitt’s House had two cottages attached at the rear, alongside Pitt’s Lane

Frank Sheppard bought Pitt’s House and ran his business from there. He started out as a carpenter, but later he mended clocks and mechanical devices, charged accumulators, repaired and sold bicycles and was an agent for motor vehicles.

1905 Sale of Cottages Woodbine Cottages
45 and 46 Chitterne

2 Woodbine Cottages became the home of the village policeman until the 1960s. The County Police bought the properties for £332.9s.2d. in 1906.

1905 Sale of Cottages Poplar Cottage
The Poplars looks quite different

The Poplars was the village smithy from at least the early 1800s. Clement Polden rented and lived here before purchasing Flint House. I do not know who purchased the cottage in 1905/6 but in about 1924 Arthur Polden bought it and gave it the look we see today. He demolished the smithy and raised the roof of the single storey part of the building nearest Woodbine Cottages, moving the front door to the centre at the same time.

1905 Sale of Cottages Chestnut Cottages
60 and 61 Bidden Lane

Chestnut Cottages were built at the request of one of Walter Hume Long’s predecessors, Richard Penruddocke Long. I have written about the unusual construction of these cottages in an earlier blog, “Researching Concrete Houses” on 23 September 2014, to be found in my old blog archive. Number 60 was built as a grocery store or ale house with a storage cellar beneath. It was run by the Bartlett family before the sale, but I do not know who purchased the cottages in 1905/6.

With special thanks to SH and JF for the copy of the brochure.

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Sale of Cottages 1905

Clay Pit Hill

Clay Pit Hill is the highest hill in Chitterne parish at 178 metres. It lies south of the village between Chitterne and Codford and from the top you can see the hills beyond the Wylye Valley. The hill is named for the place where clay was dug in the 17th century and carted to Amesbury to be made into clay tobacco pipes. More about this here: Clay Pits

There are two public paths to reach Clay Pit Hill from the village: via a bridleway off Shrewton Hill and via the old Warminster to Sarum road at the top of Shrewton Hill. Both of these eventually join in with the old cart track between Maddington (Shrewton) and Codford that forms the southern part of the Chitterne Parish boundary.

clay pit hill harvest road path start
The finger post marking the start of the bridleway

The bridleway starts from the B390 to Shrewton, just outside the 30 mph limit, and cuts south across a field. Usually the path is cleared by the farmer if a crop is being grown, but when I walked it recently the path was unmarked.

clay pit hill view village
Looking to the right toward Chitterne from the bridleway

Set off across the field heading toward the left end of a line of trees and come to the first bend of the bridleway dog leg, a left then a right.

clay pit hill harvest road corner
This is where you meet the line of trees and the bridleway turns left. Sorry for the poor quality of the photo but the sun was directly ahead

At the line of trees the bridleway turns left and becomes a well-defined gravel track for some way before taking a right turn. Follow the bends of the track until you see a finger post on your left marking Codfod Drove.

clay pit hill harvest road meets codford drove
The junction of the bridleway with Codford Drove

The track bears right but in fact you are leaving the bridleway and joining Codford Drove.

clay pit hill from turning of harvest road
At the same junction looking right toward Clay Pit Hill Clump. The Clay Pit Hill trig point is just visible on the horizon to the left of the clump of trees

The Codford Drove marks the boundary between Codford Parish on your left and Chitterne Parish on your right. Before you get to Clay Pit Clump you will come across the trig point on the right of the track.

clay pit hill trig point
Clay Pit Hill trig point 178 metres

I carried on from the trig point toward Clay Pit Clump. This patch of trees covers the old clay pits and is private land. If you wish to see the clay pits you will need the permission of the farmer at East Farm, Codford.

clay pit hill clump
Finger post at Clay Pit Clump pointing the way to Codford

Turn left at Clay Pit Clump and you are entering Codford Parish. Straight on follows the parish boundary and takes you across fields in Codford parish to emerge eventually on the Codford Road. I turned around at this point and retraced my steps.

The other way to get to Clay Pit Hill starts at the top of Shrewton Hill almost opposite the water tower, where the old Warminster to Sarum road heads off toward Yarnbury Castle. Follow this track for several hundred metres until you reach a finger post on your right. This point is known as Oram’s Grave. It marks a junction of two parish boundaries, between Chitterne, Maddington and Codford. In the old days suicides were buried where the parish boundaries met in order to confuse the spirits of the dead. More about Oram here: Oram’s Grave

clay pit hill maddington to codford drove orams grave
Looking west along Codford Drove from the junction

If you head from here toward Clay Pit Hill on Codford Drove you will eventually come to the same junction with the bridleway that I mentioned earlier, and so to the top of Clay Pit Hill. This track is most probably the track taken by the carters who carted the clay from the clay pits to Amesbury.

Clay Pit Hill

Valdes-Scotts at Elm Farm 50 years ago

valdes-scott, roselle feeding lambs (2)
Roselle feeding the orphan lambs at Elm Farm

50 years ago Elm Farm was still a working farm, rented by the Lovell family from the MOD and run by a manager. Recently some photographs by the family managing the farm for the Lovells in the 1960s have come to light.

valdes-scotts in Chile 1961 (1)
The family before they left Chile in 1961 Javier, Michael, Roselle, Gwendoline, Anthony and David

They were the Valdes-Scott family who had been living in Chile until 1961. Javier Valdes, a Chilean and Gwendoline Scott, an Englishwoman, and their four children: Anthony, Michael, David and Roselle. Roselle was 10 when they came to England. After living for a while in Steeple Ashton, they moved to Elm Farm, Chitterne in 1961/2 and stayed until 1967.

valdes scott, javier at Elm Farm (9)
Javier Valdes at Elm Farm
valdes-scott, roselle in school uniform at Elm Farm (3)
Roselle at the back of Elm Farm in Leweston School uniform

Keen horsemen, the Valdes-Scotts had two horses at Chitterne, Paddy and another whose name I can’t decipher. The dog was called Pip.

valdes-scott, roselle on Paddy(5)
Roselle on Paddy in snowy Chitterne
valdes-scott, roselle and michael (7)
Roselle and Michael at Elm Farm gate
valdes-scott, david (4)
David outside Elm Farm
valdes scott, Anthony and Michael (5)
Anthony and Michael at the bottom of Back Road (now Back Lane)
valdes scott, roselle and friend (3)
Roselle and a friend near the Sportsfield footbridge
valdes scott, roselle (2)
Roselle out on the downs

With grateful thanks to Paul Clarke who acquired the albums and uploaded the photos to flickr.

Valdes-Scotts at Elm Farm 50 years ago

Breakheart Hill

Breakheart Hill lies northwest of Chitterne and divides the village from the Imber Range live firing area. There are two public ways up the hill from the village. Via Imber Road or via The Hollow, otherwise known as the old Salisbury to Warminster coach road.

breakheart imber road (2)
The old road to Imber heading up Breakheart Hill

Imber Road starts from the Tilshead Road in the village, crosses Chitterne Brook, passes between Manor Farm and old All Saints churchyard, through Chitterne Farm West farm buildings and continues on up the hill. It is a hard surfaced road until the crest of the hill, where it suddenly stops as you reach the firing range danger area. At this point, looking ahead, you can see Breakheart Bottom, a dry valley within the danger area. (Incidentally, E M Forster mentions walking through Breakheart Bottom on page 171 of his book called “The Creator as Critic and other Writings”).

breakheart bottom
Looking towards Breakheart Bottom from the by-way

Before the land was taken for military training the road to Imber crossed the valley and passed the site of yet another Field Barn settlement called Penning Barn. A reminiscence of Penning Barn from a 1992 copy of Chitterne Chat, edited by Jeanne George says:

“A stable of 10 carthorses used to graze the large paddock on Penning bank behind the barn …and pigs, saddlebacks and large whites, were bred there and free-ranged in the paddock.”

breakheart byway (2)
The gravelled by-way on Breakheart Hill looking west. Breakheart bottom is to the right.

At the top of Imber Road a gravelled restricted by-way extends to the left and right, almost following the crest of Breakheart Hill. Turning left the by-way brings you eventually to the top of the Hollow and from it you can see for miles across the Imber Range in one direction and back towards the village in the other direction.

 

breakheart hollow (2)

The Hollow starts at the western end of the village in a part of Chitterne once known as Gunville. Although the by-way was originally the stone-paved coach road to Warminster it is now a muddy uneven track much loved by 4 x 4 drivers and trail bikers. It is now in such a poor state for walkers that it has almost lost its status as part of the Imber Range Perimeter path. Walkers following that route are warned and directed toward the easier path via Imber Road.

breakheart hollow (1)

However, if you brave the series of puddly dips and rises and climb up the western end of Breakheart Hill, at the top you will be rewarded with a view across the Wylye Valley towards the hills beyond. On the way up if you look carefully on your left you may even spot one of the original coach road milestones hiding in the bank behind a small tree: Warminster 8 Sarum 14.

It must have been a sight 250 years ago to see a laden coach and horses struggling up out of the village via this route, perhaps after a night spent at the White Hart Inn. No wonder it was known as Breakheart Hill.

 

 

 

 

 

Breakheart Hill

Breach Hill

Chitterne is surrounded by the gentle rolling hills of Salisbury Plain. To leave the village and strike out across the countryside you have to climb a hill, except if you take the road to Codford following the course of the Chitterne Brook.

breach hill
Breach Hill with Middle Barn on the right

Breach Hill is the hill you encounter if you leave the village via Townsend and head towards Tilshead. The road up the hill starts and ends with a set of double bends and, in the old days, with two field barn settlements, (outlying groups of farm buildings and dwellings for farm workers). The double bends mark the passage of the old London road at the bottom of the hill and the old Bath to Sarum road at the top. Middle Barn settlement at the bottom of the hill still exists but Breach Hill Farmstead is no longer at the top.

Strictly speaking Breach Hill Farmstead was just a few yards inside the Tilshead parish boundary, where it stood on the left of the road immediately after the second of the double bends at the top of the hill, but Chitterne was nearer than Tilshead.

breach hill farm 1921
Sketch by the late ErnieGeorge

In broad Wiltshire dialect the farmstead was pronounced ‘Braitchill’. It comprised a barn, cartshed, stable, and cottages. Frank Ashley and family lived in the cottages in 1915 when their four-year-old son Norman was lost on the downs overnight and died from exposure. The Ashley children all attended Chitterne School, but the only time Breach Hill cottage appears on any census for Chitterne All Saints is in 1881. That may have been a mistake or because the Ashleys were originally from Chitterne. By 1921 they had moved to 11 Townsend and Herbert Coleman and William Nash lived at Breach Hill.

breach hill famiy 1925
A family at Breach Hill farm in 1925, sadly I don’t know who they are.

The entire settlement was demolished sometime after 1937 and the War Department (MOD) erected Vedette Post number 4 in its place. This remained until the army’s Copehill Down training village and range road were constructed in 1988 and 2000, and the Vedette Post was moved a few hundred yards nearer to Tilshead.

 

Breach Hill

Walter Sweet’s WW1 Grave

As part of the World War 1 centenary the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) have been erecting new signs and replacing old WW1 headstones around the country as well as encouraging communities to write up the stories of their war dead.

GD has written up and spoken about our WW1 War Dead in Chitterne, including one, Walter Henry Sweet, who is not buried here in the village, nor on the battlefields abroad, he is buried in a Welsh village called Bryngwyn in Monmouthshire.

bryngwyn church
Bryngwyn St Peter church and graveyard

The Parish Council of Bryngwyn has also been trying to piece together Walter Sweet’s story. It has not proved to be an easy task for either our parish or theirs, as Walter is quite an elusive character. The entry in the Bryngwyn burial register states that he was a soldier who died ‘on the road’ and was buried on Sunday August 25th 1918.

Sweet, Walter Henry burial 1918

There are questions that immediately arise from this entry: What was Walter doing in Wales, how exactly did he die and why was his body not brought back to Chitterne?

Walter was a farrier by trade who worked shoeing horses at Chitterne Racing Stables in 1911, and in WW1 as a driver in the 2nd Reserve Horse Transport (RHT) section of the Army Service Corps based at Woolwich. Sadly his army records appear to have been lost, at least, they have not come to light, but presumably as a serving soldier he was in Wales on a mission. H of Bryngwyn PC has suggested that he was acquiring horses for the army, which sounds a reasonable assumption especially as he was staying at Little Cross Farm in Bryngwyn.

As to how he actually died, again H has asked around her community and says that:

CWGC could not help in the circumstances of his death but one of the Grand Dames of the village recalls from her youth (which would have been 20/30 years after his death) that he had been walking along the road and had been hit by a car which killed him (I knew there was a car accident but not how it caused his death).  I can only presume he was in the area on war business (obtaining horses).

The third question of why his body was not brought back is probably a question of economics and the time of year when his death occurred. He and his second wife Emma, whom he married in 1911, lived at 10 Townsend, with Emma’s two children, Harry and Gladys, by her first husband Henry Grant. Emma lived for another 20 years, she passed away in 1938. Walter was survived by his two sons John Harold and Walter Henry Sweet from his first marriage in 1899 to Alice Elizabeth Prince in Bromley, they remained in Kent. Walter’s local nickname was ‘Sugary’ for obvious reasons. It was the fashion in Chitterne in those days for the men of the village to be nicknamed, but that’s another story.

White, Edith; Smith, Elsie; Sweet, Emma; Smith, Isabel & Pearce, Sophia 1927
Emma Sweet, Walter’s widow is the woman in the centre of this photo taken in Townsend in 1927. The others are L to R: Edith White, Elsie Smith (on the horse), Emma Sweet, Isabel Smith and Sophia Pearce.

The good news is that CWGC are to replace Walter’s old headstone in Bryngwyn, which wrongly named him as W A Sweet, with a brand new one in the next 9 to 12 months.

 

 

 

Walter Sweet’s WW1 Grave

Grandmother’s Necklace

sid fob

may ingram
May wearing the fob

This fob belonged to my grandmother May, she wore it after she was widowed in 1921. So I never knew my grandfather Sid. He died of kidney failure when he was only 34 years old. I never knew my grandmother either, she died aged 53, three years before I was born. I have just a few of their things, left me by my father, but no memories.

I can only imagine what they were like as people from looking at photographs and handling their possessions. I like to think we would have got along fine. They were both  small. According to his army records Sid was the same height as me and my father, 5 feet 3½ inches. May looks to be even smaller. We probably would have had interests in common and agreed on a lot of things. Both lived and worked in the gloving trade in Westbury. Sid was a glove cutter and May a glove machinist at home. Sid was a trade unionist who recruited members from other local glove factories.

sid&mayingram
Sidney Albert Nelson and Agnes May Ingram nee Papps
sidney ingram
Sid in army uniform WW1

My mother was convinced she had met Sid when he came recruiting to her glove factory in Warminster, but the numbers don’t add up. If my mother started work aged 14 in 1922 and Sid died in 1921, how could that have happened? Perhaps she started working earlier. I don’t think my mother would have joined a union anyway, coming from her conservative family.

 

That’s the other thing, Sid and May might have provided a counter-balance to my other stricter grandparents in Warminster. My grandmother Sarah was bedridden by the time I knew her, but ruled the house from her bed in the living room with a rod of iron. Or rather a walking stick which she whacked me across the back of my legs with, for what misdemeanour I fail to remember. No love lost there.

maypappsingram
May much later, still wearing the fob

No, Sid and May’s was a love match. May wore the photo of Sid on a chain around her neck because she loved and missed him. I just wish I could have known her.

 

Grandmother’s Necklace