This cottage has a horsey history. A farmer’s groom lived here in 1871, he was Joseph Mabbitt and his boss was Edward Gibbs of Chitterne Farm. Joseph lived in the cottage until he died in 1888 aged 58 years and his wife Elizabeth lived here until at least 1901.
By 1911 things had changed a little, Elizabeth Mabbitt had moved out to live with her niece a few doors away and Chitterne Farm had a new owner, but still with horses, racehorses.
Ronald Farquharson, bought the Chitterne Farm estate, which included Chitterne Lodge, from lord of the manor, Walter Hume Long in 1906. Farquharson, having made his fortune in rubber, now fancied a new career training and breeding racehorses. His plan was to breed horses at Tilshead Lodge, which he bought at the same time, and train them at Chitterne. His new estate in Chitterne included 19 Townsend, the groom’s cottage.
By 1911 Farquharson had installed (no pun intended!) nine of his workers at Chitterne Racing Stables in 19 Townsend. They were all young men and came from far and wide:
- John Henry Hemming aged 21, straper, from Leamington, Warwickshire
- James Walsh aged 19, stableman, birth place unknown
- William Every aged 18, stableman, from Chester
- Herman Trathen 21, jockey, from Yorkshire, birth place unknown
- L Clever aged 17, stable lad, from Birmingham
- John Gilly aged 28, stableman, from Bigbury
- Walter Winn aged 38, stableman, from Rochdale, Lancashire
- Robert Arnold aged 15, stable lad, from Earls Court, London
- Harry Bond aged 24, stableman, from Bath, Somerset
Farquharson’s enterprise lasted until 1937 when the War Department (MoD) bought the whole of his estate including 19 Townsend, bringing an end to the horse connection. Troops replaced the horses at the stables in the second World War, and widower Ernest Ayres and his six children replaced the stable workers at 19 Townsend, followed by Walter and Florrie Lacey a couple evacuated from Imber in 1943.
I wonder what happened to all those stable workers? And how on earth did they all fit into number 19?