Fire at Chitterne St Mary 1831

An early 1900s view of the area of Chitterne St Mary affected by the fire. The Manor is top centre, Glebe House can just be seen far left centre. The church farm buildings are to the left of the King’s Head, fronted by a wall.

A newspaper report of a fire in a Chitterne St Mary farmyard describes in great detail just how easily fire can spread once it takes hold. The farmyard belonged to the lord of the manor and was leased from him by William Wallis, who lived at The Manor, while his widowed mother, Mary Buckeridge Wallis, lived in what is now Glebe House.  When the fire was first spotted it was no more than a small blaze in a rick. The date was 26th February 1831.

Report of the fire from the Evening Mail of 1st March 1831

Some explanations seem necessary. The ricks of wheat and barley were kept in an enclosed yard known as a rick-barton. The house and cottage that were burned on the other side of the road would have been in the vicinity of present day St Mary’s Lodge, number 104 and Glebe Farmhouse. The farm mentioned “to the leeward” of the fire was George Parham’s Clump Farm, a site now occupied by St Mary’s Close. Other farm buildings owned by the church stood on the site of present day Birch Cottage.

The “late disturbances” refer to the Swing Riots of 1830. When groups of farm workers worried for their livelihoods travelled around the neighbourhood wrecking the new threshing machines. There had been no wrecking in Chitterne, unlike in Heytesbury, Upton Lovell, Knook and Corton where several machines were wrecked and as a consequence 20 men transported to Australia for terms of seven years.

Thanks to the eagle eyed J & R for this, who spotted it when looking for something else!

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Fire at Chitterne St Mary 1831

Dates at the Manor 3

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.

manor 1615
A very worn, but still just about visible, date on the stone surround of the front door

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.

Paulet arms

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?

manor CW

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.

Dates at the Manor 3

John Grant and Chitterne Post Mill

post mill low tech magazine
Section through a post mill from Low Tech Magazine

Further research on the post mill at Chitterne has revealed more about tenants previous to  John Wallis Titt’s family (see blog dated 8 March 2016). In 1826 the post mill was leased from the Methuen family by John Grant 1743-1828 for the lives of John Grant aged 26, Elizabeth Grant aged 26 and James Grant aged 2 years.

Up until now we had not been able to link the two John Grants to each other, nor to trace the subsequent whereabouts of John the younger, Elizabeth and James. Now all is revealed, and a sad tale it is too, a tale of early death, manslaughter and abandonment. Too long to tell here. To read more click here: John Grant 1743 and Chitterne Post Mill

John Grant and Chitterne Post Mill