A very good new local history book was published recently about Sutton Veny, a village not too far from Chitterne, in the Wylye Valley. I have just finished reading it and it has some excellent chapters including some on the early history of the area, as well as useful maps of the village. I am envious of these. They were lacking in the Chitterne book!
The book is a joint effort by the members of the Sutton Veny History Group and is for sale on the village website. I found the link on the blog page. I recommend it if you enjoy reading local history, or if you have a friend who does, it would make a great present. It is already being reprinted. I had one of the last of the first imprint.
I’m sure there are many more connections with our village, but one I spotted straight away was Gay Donald, the racehorse who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1955. He was owned by a Sutton Veny farmer named Philip Burt and trained by Jim Ford, who in 1957 came to live and train horses in Chitterne, bringing Gay Donald with him.
Jeanne George told me that everyone loved Gay Donald, he was such a friendly horse. One of his huge iron shoes hung for many years outside the King’s Head, where Jeanne’s parents had been landlords.
Can you help pinpoint the year this aerial photo was taken? The pumping station is there and so is the old Village Hall, so sometime between 1988 and 1998. Glebe Farmhouse appears to be newly constructed, but I don’t know when that was built, and St Mary’s House doesn’t exist. Any ideas anyone?
One of our old time villagers, Raymond Poolman, sadly passed away today, the 19th November 2017, aged 84 years.
Ray had lived his whole life in Chitterne apart from a brief spell of National Service in Germany in the early 1950s. He was born at The Round House, the youngest son of William Poolman and Elsie, née Drewitt. Like his father he worked in farming at The Manor for the Wallis family, until he was made redundant, and then for the REME at Warminster.
Ray was a lifelong Baptist and met his wife Freda through Baptist connections in Dorset. They were married at Alderholt Congregational Church in 1962, and moved into their new bungalow, in Chitterne, next door to Ray’s parents, in January 1963.
Both Freda and Ray played the piano and organ. Ray had been taught to play the piano by Olive Burt née Polden, as a child. He played for Baptist services at the chapel in Bidden Lane and when that chapel closed he and Freda held Baptist services themselves at the Village Hall in Chitterne for many years. Ray represented the Baptist Church on the Village Hall Committee. Later, the couple attended and played for services in Tilshead until that chapel also closed.
Ray and Freda have been our neighbours for the last 41 years. In all that time their garden has never looked less than immaculate. They were both great gardeners and grew many vegetables and flowers. Freda does still. After he retired Ray took up gardening for other villagers, and was often to be seen mowing the grass at Chitterne House.
There have been Poolmans living in Chitterne since the 18th century, all descended from John Poolman who married Betty Eyles at Chitterne All Saints Church in 1757. Ray was one of the last descendants living here, but not quite the last.
Some time before World War II the Defence Land Commission of the War Department (WD) of the British government bought up a lot of land and properties in Chitterne including Chitterne Farm, the Racing Stables and Manor Farm. Manor Farm was run by a tenant farmer under WD ownership for about 60 years. In the 1980s the land and barns were amalgamated with Chitterne Farm and the farmhouse sold off. So today we have Chitterne Farm West, owned by the Ministry of Defence, and Manor Farmhouse privately owned.
By 1939 the Limbrick family ran Manor Farm and lived in the farmhouse. The tenant, William Isaac Hatherill Limbrick, was born in Gloucestershire, but he and his wife Emma Annie née Cave had spent several years farming in Canada before coming to Chitterne. Their children, Tom and May, were born and grew up in the wilds of Saskatchewan.
According to BL, who paid a visit to Chitterne a short while ago, his father Tom and aunt May were almost feral by the time they set out for England. But Tom ran the farm here and appears to have been well-liked in the village. He offered the re-formed Cricket Club a field to play on in February 1939, married Marguerite Willcox of Tytherington, Gloucestershire in 1941 and lived in Brookside (Brook Cottage) with her. Their three children were baptised in Chitterne Church. Tom joined Wiltshire Flying Club and gained his flying certificate in 1946. May married Ralph Carey of Potterne in 1942 at Chitterne Church.
The Limbrick family left Chitterne after the war in about 1948 and returned to their roots in Gloucestershire. William died in Sherborne, Gloucestershire in 1964, Tom died only 5 years later, aged 52 in Cheltenham.
On a hot Saturday in June this year our village dwellings were photographed from a helicopter flying at 800 feet. Last week, like many other villagers, I was offered a copy of the digital photograph of my house and garden. This is it.
The photographer had done his homework and spun a good yarn to effect a sale, but there was no need from my point of view, I was a willing customer. But some of his information was worth telling.
Do you know, he said, that in 1994 Chitterne and Shrewton were the last two villages in the UK to be photographed from the air using the wet film method? No, I didn’t. Do you have a copy of the photo taken then? Yes, I have, and showed it to him. Here it is.
A bit faded from sunlight after 23 years hanging opposite the front door, but now I know why. It was taken using film later developed in a dark room. Your two villages, he said, are quite famous in the aerial photography world.
Chitterne has one church but three churchyards. The present church, All Saints cum St Mary’s, was built in 1861-62 to replace the two old medieval churches of All Saints and St Mary’s. Lord Long gave a patch of land in the centre of the village for the new church. Unfortunately, the land he gave is too waterlogged to allow for burials. It’s ironic, to my mind, that the church builders of the 14th century had a better sense of local topography than the ground-breaking Victorians!
So, the new church has an empty churchyard, apart from the war memorial, and the two old churchyards on higher land are still used for burials. This often confuses visitors to the village searching for the graves of their ancestors. To solve the problem a Burial Guide was created 13 years ago and placed in the new church. The guide lists all the known graves with numbered plans, which had been created using GPS two years before, as none previously existed.
The guide and plans of the two graveyards have just been updated.
My mother, who was a Warminster girl, once told me of a couple of lads from Chitterne that she knew in her youth. She knew them as Pont and Pimp Bailey. Pont was short for Ponton and Pimp was short for Pimple. How word fashions change!
These lads were footballers, as were my mother’s brothers, so they came to Warminster to play football and that’s how my mother knew them. Reading between the lines I get the impression that she idolised these handsome Chitterne boys, because she also mentioned cycling over to the village with a friend. This was back in the 1920s, before television, when Chitterne Football Team had won the Warminster Hospital Cup three times in succession and were local football heroes.
Fast forward to today when I am looking at the Marriage Banns Register for Chitterne and come across the banns for a marriage in 1929 between Frank Bailey and Amy Gilbert. Frank was the youngest and smallest of the Bailey boys hence his nickname ‘Pimple’. Amy Gilbert was a Warminster girl, the same age as my mother and distantly related to her. I wonder if they were friends and rivals who went cycling together?
The Bailey boys were the sons of Tom and Amy Bailey, who lived at 2 Middle Barn Cottages. There were nine children in the family, two girls and seven boys. Sadly, Frank Bailey lost his life in the second World War and is remembered on our village War Memorial.