St Mary’s Chancel is all that’s left of Chitterne’s two old 15th century parish churches, making it one of the oldest buildings in the village. The nave of St Mary’s Church was demolished about 1861, leaving the chancel for use as a mortuary chapel. Nowadays it’s just used for occasional church services.
Ivy covers the end wall in this photo dating from the early 1900s. Note the old thatched barn on the right where Birch Cottage is now. The barn belonged to the church when the vicar of St Marys parish received part of his pay from the tithes raised on the crops grown on church land. Typically a tenth of the value went to the vicar. ‘Glebe’ land was church land, so Glebe Farm was the church farm, and the barn stood in Glebe Farm’s stockyard.
In this photo taken a little later the ivy has been removed and the site of the old nave has started to be used for burials. Note behind the chancel, in both photos, the old cob wall that once formed the boundary of the graveyard. The wall was knocked down and replaced by a fence in 1928 when Ushers Brewery, owners of the King’s Head Inn, gave a part of the inn’s land to enlarge the graveyard.
Recently, when a house the other side of that fence was sold, it was unclear who was responsible for maintaining the fence. A trip to the History Centre in Chippenham to see the original 1928 deed provided the answer: the fence is the responsibility of the Parochial Church Council.
I admire the medieval builders of this church, they had the good sense to site it far enough away from the Chitterne Brook for the dead to be buried in dry ground.
Our local pub the Kings Head is to close at the end of this week. Like many local pubs its fortunes have been stormy since the clamp down on drinking and driving and the ban on smoking in public places, but it has survived until now. Who knows what the future holds. In the meantime I thought I would take a look at the pub’s past.
The first reference to an inn here comes from the 18th century when the inn was part of the Chitterne estate owned by a series of wealthy landowning families. The George Inn burnt down in Chitterne St Mary when Thomas Bennet was the tenant and the Paulet family were the owners. James Wheeler took on the tenancy in 1742 and presumably changed the inn’s name because the Wheeler family were still there in 1826 when another James Wheeler was the copyholder of the “King’s Head Inn, outbuildings, garden, yard etc.” which he held for the lives of Mary Huntley 62, Mary Wheeler 32, and William Huntley Wheeler 10 (mother-in-law, wife and son). By then the owners were the Methuen family who had bought the Chitterne estate from the Paulets in the 1770s. Wheeler and Huntley memorials are still visible on the outside walls of the chancel.
The Long family bought the Chitterne estate from the Methuens in 1830. The Wallis family of Chitterne St Mary Manor were their tenants and William Wallis’s mother-in-law Ann White was the innkeeper. The Wallis family continued to be associated with the inn until they gave up malting their own barley around 1910. In 1896 the Longs auctioned the estate and the inn sold for £1350 to ‘Marjant? Bladworth’ (pencilled none too clearly alongside the inn details on the auction catalogue) who could be agents for a brewer. Bartletts brewery in Warminster were supplying the inn with beer in the early 20thC before they went bust in 1920.
Landlords of the inn changed frequently after Ann White. Henry Hull 1841; John Whatley 1851; William Compton, saddler and innkeeper in 1861 and 1871. Then the 3 Bs: James Burr 1880-1887, William Beak 1888-1894, George Brown 1895-1897. By 1901 Sidney and Alice Daniels were landlords followed by another B, George Burgess during World War 1.
Ushers Brewery of Trowbridge acquired the inn after the demise of Bartletts brewery. Joseph and Kate Robberts ran the pub in 1925, George Turner in 1927 and Thomas Burbidge 1928-1932. William and Florence Jones in wartime and in 1945 Mick and Winifred Benson took over and stayed until 1954. Their daughter Jeanne married Ernie George, a Chitterne lad, and settled in Townsend. Ernie made a drawing of the pub yard as it looked in 1948.
Cecil and Doris Newton took over as innkeepers from the Bensons in 1954 and stayed until Cecil’s sudden death in 1980. The other pub in the village, the White Hart Inn closed permanently in the mid-1950s, so that gave Cecil and Doris a boost and they made the most of it. During their time the pub Cribbage team won the league in 1974 and the darts team played in the Till Darts League in 1977, winning against the Royal Oak at Shrewton, but then losing to the Catherine Wheel 10-9.
The Kings Head was still an Ushers pub in 1980, but before 1990 it was up for sale and brewers Gibbs Mew bought it.
After the Newtons 26 year tenure landlords came and went with alarming frequency, none staying more than four years despite the pub winning the Bulmers and Gibbs Mew competition for the best display of flowers in 1995. From 1980 to 2002 the pub had eleven different landlords and then changed owners once again.
Gibbs Mew sold the pub around 2002 to Enterprise Inns. The new owners revamped the bar area considerably, replacing the optics with shelves and updating the floor surface and eating area. The pub re-opened on the 29th November 2002, but despite these efforts the pub’s fortunes didn’t improve, the final straw was the closure of the road outside the pub for bridge works, which lasted several months in 2005.
Four more landlords came and went, the optics came back, and closures in 2008 and 2009 led to Enterprise Inns offering the pub for sale in September 2010. They were heading to auction in February 2011, but at the last moment agreed to sell to the current landlord. The pub opened as a Free House on 1st April 2011, and has been open now for eight and a half years, the longest serving landlord since the Newtons.
Now Saturday night will see the pub close once again. What will the future bring?
This is the last part of the 1896 Sale Brochure. Lots 10, Meadow Cottage, 11 the Malthouse, and 12 Well Cottage. Meadow Cottage at first appeared in error in the last part of this series, but is now in its correct place here.
Lot number 10: 99 Chitterne, Meadow Cottage
Three cottages stood on this site in 1826. Presumably two of them are the “building” mentioned in the particulars above, but no longer inhabited by 1896. This lot was withdrawn from the auction.
George and Elizabeth Poolman (nee Ashley) lived here in 1896. The same George Poolman who bought the Round House in 1917. Frederick and Doll White (nee Meaden) occupied Meadow Cottage in the 1930s, and Ernest and Leonettie Moores next until the early 1960s. They were followed by Stephen and Lilian Adkins. Lilian died in 1968 and Stephen married Hilda, they both died in the late 1970s.
Lot number 11: The Malthouse
This is a listed building, built in the 18th century. The house adjoining the malthouse has had several names over the years. In 1891 it was known as Chestnut Villa, from 1901 to 1925 it was Pine Cottage, and now as the Old Malthouse. The house and malthouse were withdrawn from sale at the auction, but at some stage the house was purchased by a Miss Woodley, who sold it for £900 to Robin and Julia Mount in 1938. I have not been able to discover who Miss Woodley was. The Mounts expanded the size of the house, planted the yew hedge in front, and in the 1960s, sold the house for £4000 to Francis and Hester Gyngell. I am not sure when the malthouse building was demolished, I am told a building once stood near the road, to the left of the present drive, but I am not sure if that was the malthouse, nor am I sure when the house became known as the Old Malthouse.
Looking back further into the history we see that in 1826 Charles Baker leased the malthouse, house and garden, and Hand’s Close (site of Inholmes next door) from the Methuen family. Later in the 1800s, under the Longs ownership, the Wallis family of The Manor leased the malthouse for many years when they were growing and malting their own barley, and running the King’s Head. This ceased when it became uneconomic in the early years of the 20th century, although Frederick Wallis still described himself as a maltster in 1911. In 1903 he had offered the malthouse to the Baptists for their meetings after their chapel was destroyed by fire.
So, back in 1896 the house (Chestnut Villa) was occupied by Mrs George (possibly Ann George nee Whittaker, widow of Thomas George), while Frederick Wallis kept the malthouse. By 1901 Mary Bartlett, a relative of Frederick’s wife Ann, lived in the house (Pine Cottage) with her nephew William Mark Wallis. In 1911 the house was unoccupied. Tom Wilkins lived there in 1925, perhaps he was the dairyman at Clump Farm who I have been told lived in the house in those days. There were still cattle-milking sheds behind the house in the 1970s. After purchasing the house in 1938 Robin and Julia Mount raised their two children there. Their son has written affectionately of his time growing up in Chitterne in his autobiographical book ‘Cold Cream’, which is well worth reading to get the feel of the village in those days.
Lot number 12: 94 Chitterne, Well Cottage
This is another ancient house, listed grade two, which may have its origins in the 16th century, although the listing details say late 18th century. It was purchased at the auction by Frank Polden for £38, when it was known as Clematis Cottages, so it may have housed more than one family. The Polden family and their descendants, the Downs, lived there until 1950. It was purchased by Mr Shippam, of Shippams paste fame, in the 1950s according to Bill Windsor, but Lily Poolman gave number 94 as her address on the Church Electoral Roll of 1955. Incidentally, Lily’s parents were Mark and Maltese Mary Poolman of Ivy Cottage in part 3. Under the ownership of Aubrey and Barbara Miller in the 1970s it was a single dwelling known as Well House. After the Millers died it was sold in 2002 and re-named Well Cottage. Sadly, I have no old photograph of this property.
The Edward Fry (see below for more on this) mentioned in the particulars above is a bit of a mystery. He may have been the son of a Martha Fry who was a schoolmistress in Chitterne in 1841, and he was probably only living in a part of the house in 1896, because according to the 1891 records it was Augustus Polden’s home. Augustus Polden was Frank Polden’s uncle, he was married to Ann, nee Lucas, and they appear to have lived at the cottage for many years, perhaps since they married in 1859. Both Augustus and Frank were masons/bricklayers and part of the Polden building family. Augustus and Ann’s eldest daughter, Frances married James Down, but was widowed early when James died of smallpox in 1894, consequently Augustus and Ann took in Frances’s three youngest sons, Leslie, Douglas and Bertie, which is why the Downs were still living at Clematis Cottage until 1950.
That concludes our look at the properties put up for sale in 1896 by Walter Hume Long. The sale started the final break-up of his estate and the the end of an era. This estate had been owned since the 17th century by a succession of wealthy and titled families, the Paulets, the Methuens and the Longs. By the beginning of the 20th century much had changed. There were no big estate owners in Chitterne St Mary, and soon the War Department would acquire the other large estate in Chitterne All saints.
Whizz researchers J & R have looked into Edward Fry and discovered that he was not the same person as I thought but somehow connected to Augustus Polden.The connection between Edward and Augustus is tentative. Edward (1832-1910) was a shepherd from Pitton, Wiltshire. Augustus’ father, James Polden (Parish Clerk), was the witness at the marriage of a William James Fry (1825-1881) and Ann Grant in Chitterne in 1852. We have yet to find a connection bewteen Edward and William James, but they both hailed from south Wiltshire. William James never lived in Chitterne but Edward Fry lived at Clematis Cottage from 1893 to 1900 and ended his days at a cottage in Pitt’s Lane, attached to Pitt’s House, where his daughter Ellen and her husband Frank Sheppard lived.
Over 400 years ago a date was chiselled into the stone surround of the front door of The Manor, which may mark the date the Manor was built.
The manor of Chitterne St Mary had been held by the Paulet family since 1547. After the dissolution of the monasteries King Edward VI granted the manor to William Paulet Lord St John, later created 1st Marquis of Winchester. If the date in the photograph refers to the building of the house, then it was built during the time of the 4th Marquis of Winchester, another William Paulet, who died in 1629.
William Paulet, 4th Marquis, Baron St John, lived at Basing, Hampshire where he entertained Queen Elizabeth I at Basing House. His shield of arms sported a trio of short swords or daggers beneath a coronet, indicating a member of the peerage.
You may see this distinctive shield if you ever visit the public house known as the Three Daggers at Edington, previously the Paulet Arms, but re-named by public preference.
Lastly, the Manor has a few more inscriptions on the outside. Most significant of these is this one, to be found on the extreme right at the front where a wing was demolished in the 1800s. C or G W was perhaps the author of the demolition? Could the W be for Wallis?
The last two marks, both to the left of the front door, are difficult to discern and even more difficult to explain, though the one on the right appears to be A I.
This concludes our look into inscriptions on buildings in Chitterne. Many of the inscriptions and dates on buildings chart the times when the Chitterne manors changed hands, The Manor representing the Paulets and Chitterne House the Michells. The Long family clearly had Chestnut Cottages and Pitts House built, and Richard Hayward Pitts Cottage, but what about the Methuen family and the Abbesses of Lacock Abbey? I suspect the Methuens were the builders of Clump House, and the nuns of the Great Manor (sportsfield site), the original Manor Farmhouse and the Gate House, but I wonder who had Chitterne Lodge built?
In an ideal world every house would have a datestone and at least the initials of the builder.
Following on from the last blog, and thanks to CL, I have taken some photographs of several engravings at The Manor in Chitterne. One of the two engraved window panes there revealed an unexpected find and a bit of a wow moment.
The Manor was owned and leased to tenants by a succession of Lords of the Manor, the Paulets, the Methuens and the Longs, until Frederick Buckeridge Wallis bought the buildings and land from the Long family at the end of WW1, as told to me by Lawrence Wallis. All I knew of the tenants of The Manor, before the Wallis family arrived there in about 1823, was gleaned from the recollections of William E Sanders, who says that the Sanders family leased The Manor up till c1800, when Christopher Fricker took it on. Christopher died in 1815 and is buried in St Mary’s graveyard.
Members of the Sanders family are buried in the same graveyard and remembered on memorial tablets on the quoins of St Mary’s Chancel. Their names also occur in the Parish Registers from the 1600s.
So the find on the window pane has slotted another piece into the jigsaw of The Manor.
The E. Morris engraved on the pane refers to Elizabeth Morris née Shurland who died on 21st December 1812 and was buried on the 28th under the floor of the Chancel. According to her tombstone Elizabeth was the widow of Jeremiah Morris of Mere, Wiltshire, who died in 1806, and the daughter of C. Shurland, a Senator of Barbados Island. Her son, Joseph Brown Morris, was curate of Imber, Wiltshire from 1808 to 1815. So perhaps Elizabeth moved to The Manor to be near her son, but that supposition begs a question: Did she live in Christopher Fricker’s house or take over the lease from him? Or, did Joseph take on the curacy of Imber to be near his mother? Joseph took on the lease of the Round House at some point around 1808, then sadly died young in 1815, whereupon his brother Charles Morris took on the lease and lived at the Round House until 1879. Hence my wow moment at seeing the engraving.
I have not discovered who Christopher Daniel was but there are other photographs from The Manor still to share, which will have to wait for another time.