Where was Oak Terrace?

Oak Terrace was the name given to a row of three cottages in Chitterne St Mary. They were simple dwellings with earth floors built to house farm workers from The Manor and their families. At first the three cottages were numbered 1, 2 and 3 Oak Terrace, later 101, 102 and 103 Oak Terrace.

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Oak Terrace then – the row of cottages on the left foreground

In recent years, as with other properties in Chitterne, the three cottages have been combined, enlarged and made-over to provide one house. This is a partial history of the creation of that house.


Nathaniel Gibbs, farm bailiff, brother of Edward Gibbs of Chitterne Farm, lived at 2 Oak Terrace in his retirement. In 1892 he commissioned the funeral bier that still resides in the church. He died in 1894, the same year that his neighbour Joseph Williams’ daughter Bertha married Leonard Searchfield, a painter and decorator from Heytesbury. Joseph Williams, who was  Farmer Wallis’ gardener, lived at number 1 Oak Terrace and the newlyweds moved into number 2.

Leonard Searchfield involved himself fully in the village during his long life. Besides painting and decorating he was also a well inspector, a general factotum, a churchwarden, and a member of the choir. He died aged 91 years whilst still living at Oak Terrace, probably in number 101, because in the early 1950s two of the cottages, 102 and 103, were knocked together for the newly married Laurence and Charlotte Wallis of The Manor.

Laurence and Charlotte moved in early in 1953 renaming their new abode St Mary’s Lodge. Laurence was the son of Victor Wallis who farmed The Manor. In 1962 number 101 became vacant and the Wallis’ added it to their two cottages. Laurence, Charlotte, and their daughter continued to live at St Mary’s Lodge for the next 5 or 6 years until they sold up and bought the redundant vicarage in 1967 or 1968.

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Oak Terrace is centre left. The triangular field between the two roads at the centre of the photo is now part of St Mary’s Lodge grounds

Subsequent owners have improved St Mary’s Lodge. The ash trees at the front of the house were felled, the floors replaced and the entrance gate with a ducks-head handle made by the local blacksmith was copied to make a matching garden gate. More recently the house has been extended, renovated and the garden enlarged by the acquisition of the old tithing field, which has provided space for a new entrance.

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Oak Terrace now – St Mary’s Lodge



Where was Oak Terrace?

Old Chitterne Names 16: Bidden Lane

Bidden Lane is the original name of the road that divides the two old Chitterne parishes of Chitterne All Saints and Chitterne St Mary. The civil parish of Chitterne did not exist until the two were united in 1907. Before that such was the fierce rivalry between the two that inhabitants of one parish referred to their near neighbours across the lane as ‘vurriners’*. Bidden Lane was the one and only ‘Lane’ to old Chitterne folk and for that reason some strongly objected to Back Road being changed to Back Lane a few years ago, but I digress.

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Photograph annotated by the late Ernie George 1921-2012. The Spratt boys were Bill 1903-1974 and Arthur 1907-1992.

Sadly the use of Bidden Lane as the name of the road has declined in the last 100 years. The less poetic Shrewton Road is more widely used now, but for this blog I have been looking into the origin of Bidden Lane.

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1822 map showing Betham Lane Field

An old map of both parishes dated 1822 names some of the fields. On this map a field on the St Mary side of the lane, lying between Chitterne Dairy road and Harvest Road, is called Betham Lane Field. Could Betham have become Bidden?

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Betham Lane Field from Chitterne Dairy road

In 1841 the lane is noted on the census of that year as Biden Lane. In 1871 it is Bidden, in 1881 Bitten and from 1891 to 1911 Bitton Lane. The census takers, who were not always locals, would have spelt the name used by the villagers phonetically, hence the different recorded spellings, and Wiltshire folk pronounce their Ts and Ds almost identically by swallowing the hard sound when it occurs in the middle of a word, hence Bidden or Bitten.

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Another early photograph annotated by Ernie George
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Another of Ernie’s photographs. The cottages on the left 83-87 were demolished for road-widening, number 56 on the right has gone, but 54 and 55 beyond remain.

By 1925 Rev. John Canner referred to the lane as Shrewton Road in his Church Visiting Book. Since then Bidden Lane has been gradually superceded by Shrewton Road, and yet Bidden Lane is named on up-to-date Ordnance Survey maps of the village.

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Old Chitterne Names 16: Bidden Lane

Old Chitterne Names 14: Gunville

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.

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This 1822 map shows the Gunville Cottages, plots 203, 205 and 206. The Vicarage, plot 208,  is not yet shown. Note the original H shape of The Manor, plot 220.

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.

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An 1842 map shows the Gunville Cottages numbered 21, 22 and 23. Also another small plot 24, and the Vicarage 26

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.

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The bottom of the Hollow was called Gunville when it was home to 3 cottages

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.

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Old Gunville looking towards the B390, where once stood 2 cottages on the left and possibly a third on the right
Old Chitterne Names 14: Gunville

Old Chitterne Names 12: Long Hedge Path Mead

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Chitterne Brook meandering through the Mead

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.

Map showing path in red and boundary stones, also footpath 12 from the road over footbridge FB

This path does not appear on the Rights of Way map but is still walked.

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The start of Long Hedge Path

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.

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The long hedge on the right curving its way towards Codford

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.

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Boundary stones between Chitterne and Codford with the stile beyond

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.

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Wooden bridge over Chitterne Brook on alternative footpath 12


Old Chitterne Names 12: Long Hedge Path Mead

Old Chitterne Names 5: St Mary’s Footpath and Garston

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.

st marys footpath-map

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.

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The old footbridge and kissing gate
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Two gates to enter Garston from Manor Farmhouse paddock
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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.

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Main drive to Great House which stood in the sportsfield in the distance

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.

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Great House drive looking away from house towards the old Warminster to Bath coach road

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.

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A flat area behind 6 St Mary’s Close garden marks the site of the Great Barn in Garston

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.

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Old postcard of Chitterne St Mary showing the Glebe Farm stockyard in the centre alongside the King’s Head, with the gate into the Tithing Field opposite

St Mary’s footpath joins Churches Path (see last blog) at the pair of gates to St Mary’s Chancel churchyard.



Old Chitterne Names 5: St Mary’s Footpath and Garston

Glebe House 2


Who remembers this photograph of Glebe House from my blog of 20 May 2013? A lot has changed since then. Glebe House now looks quite different and has new owners.

When meeting one of them today I remembered that somewhere I should have a copy of an extract from William Edgeworth Sanders Recollections, sent many years ago by one of his descendants, in which he referred to a visit he made to this house as a boy, about 1802. Amazingly, I found the copy straight away!

It appears that in those days the house was inhabited by the farm bailiff who ran the farm attached to The Manor next door. In 1800 a gentleman by the name of Christopher Fricker (1755-1815) lived at The Manor, which he leased from the Methuen family, lords of Chitterne St Mary. William Sanders tells us that his father’s cousin, Thomas Sanders (1769-1802), was the previous inhabitant of Glebe House or Holmcroft as it was then. It must have been about this time that the two black barns attached to The Manor were constructed. Farming business was booming and yet only a quarter century later the Methuens put the Chitterne St Mary estate up for sale.

I digress, what of William Sanders (1792-1880), his recollections and his visit to the house above? He says:

“When I was about eight or nine years old my dear father (Benjamin Sanders 1761-1836) took me riding with him on a horse, but with stirrups. Which I was not allowed to use until I was over twelve years of age. We went to Abbotts Ann where I slept at Aunts some ten miles distant from Bullington where my father farmed about 280 acres of his own land, and about 80 at (Barehill) Andover.

On my journey to Chiltern, (the village name was often spelt this way in those days) which was distant about 21 miles, I was not fatigued in the least, but much attracted to the new sights to me. Passing through Amesbury, I was much astonished with the large stones of Stonehenge, and about seven miles after Chiltern is reached, which was a large village. The house of Mr Frickers if I recollect right was the best house in the village.

My father having administered to estate of his cousin, Thomas Sanders. We went to his late residence, which was a small farm house. The Bailiff who managed the farm, put our horses into the stable. The winnowing of corn was going on in the barn. I was much struck. I can remember with the appearance of two young women with very large brimmed silk bonnets and low crowns, which had long since been out of fashion in Hants.

The Sanders family lived many years in Chiltern, Grandfather (William Sanders 1716-1791) had I believe two brothers living at Chiltern and one at Andover. Jordan Sanders (1729-) who kept the shop where Parker lived in my time and occupied by Dowling. John (1721-) I believe died unmarried. Thomas had one son to whose effects my father administered. His property fell to his mothers relatives.

My Grandfather rented land from the Marquis of Winchester at Amport, which he occupied many years until Mr Paulet came to the title and estate, and then much of the land was required for the Park. During his life he was very intimate with Grandfather, and told him there was a plate always laid on the table for him whenever he chose to dine with him.”

The Sanders family are remembered on several memorials on the walls of Chitterne St Mary Chancel.

Note: The Paulet family preceded the Methuens as lords of the manor at Chitterne St Mary.


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