Clay Pit Hill

Clay Pit Hill is the highest hill in Chitterne parish at 178 metres. It lies south of the village between Chitterne and Codford and from the top you can see the hills beyond the Wylye Valley. The hill is named for the place where clay was dug in the 17th century and carted to Amesbury to be made into clay tobacco pipes. More about this here: Clay Pits

There are two public paths to reach Clay Pit Hill from the village: via a bridleway off Shrewton Hill and via the old Warminster to Sarum road at the top of Shrewton Hill. Both of these eventually join in with the old cart track between Maddington (Shrewton) and Codford that forms the southern part of the Chitterne Parish boundary.

clay pit hill harvest road path start
The finger post marking the start of the bridleway

The bridleway starts from the B390 to Shrewton, just outside the 30 mph limit, and cuts south across a field. Usually the path is cleared by the farmer if a crop is being grown, but when I walked it recently the path was unmarked.

clay pit hill view village
Looking to the right toward Chitterne from the bridleway

Set off across the field heading toward the left end of a line of trees and come to the first bend of the bridleway dog leg, a left then a right.

clay pit hill harvest road corner
This is where you meet the line of trees and the bridleway turns left. Sorry for the poor quality of the photo but the sun was directly ahead

At the line of trees the bridleway turns left and becomes a well-defined gravel track for some way before taking a right turn. Follow the bends of the track until you see a finger post on your left marking Codfod Drove.

clay pit hill harvest road meets codford drove
The junction of the bridleway with Codford Drove

The track bears right but in fact you are leaving the bridleway and joining Codford Drove.

clay pit hill from turning of harvest road
At the same junction looking right toward Clay Pit Hill Clump. The Clay Pit Hill trig point is just visible on the horizon to the left of the clump of trees

The Codford Drove marks the boundary between Codford Parish on your left and Chitterne Parish on your right. Before you get to Clay Pit Clump you will come across the trig point on the right of the track.

clay pit hill trig point
Clay Pit Hill trig point 178 metres

I carried on from the trig point toward Clay Pit Clump. This patch of trees covers the old clay pits and is private land. If you wish to see the clay pits you will need the permission of the farmer at East Farm, Codford.

clay pit hill clump
Finger post at Clay Pit Clump pointing the way to Codford

Turn left at Clay Pit Clump and you are entering Codford Parish. Straight on follows the parish boundary and takes you across fields in Codford parish to emerge eventually on the Codford Road. I turned around at this point and retraced my steps.

The other way to get to Clay Pit Hill starts at the top of Shrewton Hill almost opposite the water tower, where the old Warminster to Sarum road heads off toward Yarnbury Castle. Follow this track for several hundred metres until you reach a finger post on your right. This point is known as Oram’s Grave. It marks a junction of two parish boundaries, between Chitterne, Maddington and Codford. In the old days suicides were buried where the parish boundaries met in order to confuse the spirits of the dead. More about Oram here: Oram’s Grave

clay pit hill maddington to codford drove orams grave
Looking west along Codford Drove from the junction

If you head from here toward Clay Pit Hill on Codford Drove you will eventually come to the same junction with the bridleway that I mentioned earlier, and so to the top of Clay Pit Hill. This track is most probably the track taken by the carters who carted the clay from the clay pits to Amesbury.

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Clay Pit Hill

Townsend and Bidden Lane

More evidence about the Townsend question has turned up lately in the newly issued 1939 Register, made soon after the start of World War 2 on the 29th September 1939. Thanks are due to Holmes and Watson, who are already on the case and have acquired access to the pages concerning the inhabitants of Chitterne. The register gives householders names and addresses, and, once again Townsend includes only those houses numbered 1 to 25. I plead my case, please can we have the sign moved to where it should be?

Mount Pleasant, Bidden Lane
Mount Pleasant, Bidden Lane

While we’re at it, might we have Bidden Lane properly signed too? Although in this case the new register doesn’t support my plea, because in 1939 the lane was already being called Shrewton Road, practical but much less poetic. And, did you know that the last four houses at the top of the road were known as Mount Pleasant in 1939? Two of the four have since been demolished, as have twelve houses on the other side of the road. I suppose you could argue that Bidden Lane is no longer a lane, as it once was when the main road through Chitterne ran from Codford to Tilshead and the lane was just a little offshoot heading towards Maddington, sorry, I mean Shrewton!

Townsend and Bidden Lane