Arch Cottages

arch cotts (2) small
Recent photo of 20 and 22 Townsend, formerly 20, 21, 22 and 23 Arch Cottages

The Arch was the hump-backed bridge over the Cut (Chitterne Brook) in Townsend. Arch Cottages were the four terraced cottages numbered 20, 21, 22 and 23 alongside the Arch.

arch 2 small
The Arch bridge with the cottages far left in 2017

During the second World War the bridge was flattened and the narrow road widened either by Italian prisoners of war (Chitterne Chat May 1992) or by conscientious objectors (see blog: Who Lined The Cut? dated 23 Jan 2017). Unfortunately I have no photograph of the old bridge, but it looks, from this old map, as if the road at that time made a sharp bend where it crossed the bridge.

arch 1850
Map of about 1850 shows the Arch bridge passing over the Cut with Arch Cottages centre. Note the path in front of the cottages. Apologies for the photo, this is only a small part of a huge original map

The cottages appear on maps as far back as 1826. In 1882 the four cottages were owned by Joseph Dean of Chitterne Farm, but the gardens behind and alongside were part of the Chitterne estate owned by Walter Hume Long of Rood Ashton. According to a schedule of Corn Rents dated 1882 Joseph Dean was letting the cottages to shepherd Henry Farley, and others, but the schedule is probably out of date because Henry Farley had left Chitterne by 1881. The census that year has Thomas Coles, William Grant, Frederick Grant and John Furnell and families living there. Thomas and Frederick were shepherds, and William and John were agricultural labourers, most likely employed at Chitterne Farm.

The four cottages continued to be occupied by farm workers in 1891. By 1901 and 1911 one cottage was uninhabited. The vicar, Rev. John Canner, recorded Sidney and Ellen Parrett and Harry and Ellen Beaumont living in two of the cottages in 1925; and then we have no further information as the names of the occupants in the 1939 register are redacted. Presumably the cottages, as part of Chitterne Farm, were under War Department ownership by then.

20townsend 2012
20 Townsend in 2012

By the time George and Jessie Clarke came to live here in 1966 some of the cottages were condemned. The Clarks bought number 20 first and later the other three when they came up for sale. They made 20 and 21 into one dwelling for themselves, moving in 1971, and 22 and 23 into another to rent out. George Clark died in 1976 and Jessie in 2005. The two cottages, 20 and 22, remained in the same family until quite recently and have since been renovated again.

arch cottages
22 Townsend before recent renovations
Arch Cottages


Screen grab of Ordnance Survey map of Chitterne

“Gobbledygook appears on the Ordnance Survey map of Chitterne”, AF said to me recently. But why? Why indeed! I like to think that someone at the OS took a fancy to the name and added it to the map in a moment of devilry, because as far as I know it was the name of Dolly Daniels’ Woolaway bungalow at 8 Townsend.

Dolly was a bit of a character, the sort of person who might name their home Gobbledygook. She was born Ada White, married Lewis Daniels in 1930 and the pair lived at 4 Council Houses (Abdon Close) in 1939. Sadly Lewis died in 1954 but Dolly lived on well into her 90s. She often walked for miles over the Plain and loved animals.

8 Townsend

8 Townsend was definitely called Gobbledygook in the 1980s when I knew Dolly. Did she name it and when was it built? It was built on the site of two old thatched cottages with cob walls and earth floors numbered 7 and 8 Townsend. I have no photograph of these cottages but luckily dear old Ernie George made a sketch of them and gave me a copy. Incidentally, Ernie and his wife Jeanne called their cottage at 11 Townsend: Duckyernut!



7 and 8 Townsend by the late Ernie George

7 and 8 Townsend were owned by the Polden family. Their last tenants were Chirpy and Edith Grant at number 7, and Sid and Sophie Pearce at number 8. Widow Sophie Pearce died in 1959 and Chirpy Grant was living at Pitts Cottage by 1964, so this leads me to think that 7 and 8 may have been demolished in the late 1950s or early 1960s leaving the site clear for the erection of Gobbledygook. According to my neighbour FP, Gobbledygook was built after 1962 when her own Woolaway Bungalow was erected, and Dolly was the first person to live in it. So it must have been Dolly’s quirky imagination that came up with the name.

Since writing this blog more information has come to light. Apparently Dolly did come up with the name. In moment of frustration during the purchase of the land and the building of the bungalow she is said to have declared: “Its’s all a lot of gobbledygook!” and so the name was coined.

I am grateful to Dolly’s daughter for telling me the story behind Gobbleygook, and for pointing out that the picture I had thought was Dolly, which I have now removed from the blog, was in fact her sister Alice.


Jacob Smith – entrepreneur

Jacob Smith, centre, threshing with some of his sons in 1897, said to be at Glebe Farm. Arthur Smith extreme left, Jack Smith third from left with jacket and cap, Sidney Smith extreme right.

Jacob Smith, the man behind the shop at 17 Townsend, arrived in Chitterne with 16 shillings in his pocket, a basket of carpenter’s tools and an ambition to better himself. This is how he worked his way towards his goal.

He was born in 1837 at Bushton, north Wiltshire, and came to Chitterne sometime before 1860, because that’s when he married assistant school mistress Elizabeth Holloway at her home village of Erlestoke.

In 1861 Jacob and Elizabeth were living in Bidden Lane, Chitterne St Mary, next door to James Polden, a mason and the Parish Clerk. Jacob was working as a carpenter, so he may have been working with James Polden on the new church. We know that Jacob helped install the church clock in the tower. Elizabeth was a new mother to one-month-old baby Herbert at the time of the census.

By the 1871 census Jacob and Elizabeth had moved to Flint House in Chitterne All Saints, and Jacob had taken over the carpenter and wheelwright’s business from the Abery family.¬† This business was later run by the family of Jacob’s daughter Alice’s husband, Frederick Carter, and then by Polden and Feltham. The Smiths established a grocer’s shop at Flint House and Elizabeth was listed as a shopkeeper. The couple had their four children and an apprentice carpenter living with them.

10 years later in 1881 the Smith family have moved up again and are living at number 17 Townsend with seven of their eight children. Jacob, 43, is a wheelwright and grocer, Elizabeth, 44, is a ‘grocer’s wife’ and their second son John, or H J Smith later known as Jack Smith, 17, is a baker. Jack Smith, as we saw in the last blog, went on to own the shop and bakehouse after his parents’ deaths. The two cottages next door, on the site of number 16 Townsend, are listed as uninhabited in 1881. The couple’s eldest son Herbert was apprenticed to a grocer at Maldon in Essex and later emigrated to British Columbia, Canada.

In the 1891 census Jacob is said to be a wheelwright, grocer, baker and farmer, so he has added yet another string to his bow, farming. He may have been leasing Glebe Farm from the church by this time, as we are told he did by the time our photo was taken in 1897, but he was still living at Townsend with Elizabeth in the Grocer’s Shop, though by this time his children were helping out. Two daughters, Jeanette and Margaret, were shop assistants and son Sidney was assistant¬† wheelwright, whereas son Jack had branched out on his own as a carrier and dealer.

Jacob seems to have been able to create businesses at the drop of a hat. He and Elizabeth bred a family of entrepreneurs, to start with anyway. Son Herbert became a grocer in a new land, daughter Alice married a wheelwright and was set up at Flint House, son Jack became a dealer, a carrier and later a farmer, and daughter Margaret married and ran a grocer’s shop in Tilshead. The only children who didn’t follow this trend were the youngest two unmarried sons, Sidney and Arthur, who were left running the shop and bakery business. According to Jacob’s great grandson PD, Sidney fell in with a bad crowd and lost the lot. Is this when Jack Smith stepped in, bought the business and paid off the mortgage? We may never know.


Jacob Smith – entrepreneur

16, 17 and 18 Townsend

These three Townsend properties were part of the same small estate in 1932 along with two bits of land on the opposite side of the road. They were owned by Francis George Perrett who ran a General Stores from number 17. Now, number 16 is owned separately and number 18 has become part of Number 17. How come?

Townsend early 1900s with Elizabeth Smith peering from the doorway of the Stores, William Bartlett standing outside number 16 opposite the bakehouse (with chimney) on the left

Jacob Smith, a carpenter and farmer, who came to Chitterne as a young man and married the school assistant Elizabeth Holloway, acquired 16 and 17 and the two bits of land opposite. By 1888 he had the General Stores built at number 17 and a bakehouse built on one of the bits of land over the road on the site of an old pigsty. Number 16 was used to store the shop goods. Elizabeth ran the shop and bakery with two of their sons, while Jacob worked with wood; he made the funeral bier commissioned by Nathaniel Gibbs, and farmed at Glebe Farm. Jacob died in 1899 and Elizabeth in 1917.

The property passed down to their children, and their second son Henry John Smith, a farmer like his father, bought out the lot in 1918 and leased out the stores. His tenant at the stores was Charles Frederick Farnden, shopkeeper. Meanwhile in 1905 a little cottage, number 18 alongside the stores, came up for sale and was purchased by Willie Chant, who was married to Margaret Smith, H J Smith’s sister.

The Stores at Townsend early 1930s with possibly Margaret Chant behind the counter

By all accounts the shop became run down in the early 1930s under the Farndens and Willie and Margaret Chant moved in and built up the trade again, using number 18 as their storage area. In 1932 Francis Perrett bought the shop, bakehouse and number 16 from H J Smith and also number 18 from Willie Chant. Willie and Margaret went on to run the stores in Tilshead High Street for many years.

Number 16 remained a part of the estate until 1967 when the owners Ernest John Brown & his wife Eileen sold the shop, but kept number 16 for themselves. John Brown was a carpenter and Eileen ran the shop from 1954 to 1967. John Brown made the church notice board and the model galleon sometimes used in Flower Festivals. They renovated number 16 for their retirement. The site of the bakehouse across the road had been sold off some time before, but the small piece of land opposite the shop remained a part of that property and is now used as private parking.

The Post Office Stores in 1988 incorporating previous number 18 in the foreground, with renovated number 16 beyond the shop

From about 1967 the shop became the post office after the earlier post office at 65 Bidden Lane closed. The Stevenson/Purle family ran the Post Office Stores at number 17 from 1974 to 2000 when it closed for the last time.

Grateful thanks to EE for the chance to look at the deeds relating to these properties.



16, 17 and 18 Townsend

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

Townsend or not Townsend?

Townsend proper

I know names change over time in our village, Back Road became Back Lane for instance, at the request of some of the residents, and that’s as it should be. But I don’t recall anyone requesting a change to Townsend, and yet when new street signs were erected some years ago Townsend had suddenly lengthened.

This annoyed me at the time but it was brought home to me again this week when number 29 was put up for sale, as the particulars describe it as 29 Townsend. To me, and according to the historical facts, 29 is not in Townsend.

50 years of Chitterne censuses from 1861  to 1911 all show Townsend as stretching from number 1 to number 25. Whereas, from Chitterne Lodge, the road is either named High Street, or left unnamed.

Not Townsend, number 29 on the right beyond the wall
Not Townsend, number 29 on the right beyond the wall

Are we to accept name changes in our village at the whim of an outsider? Rant over, just had to get this off my chest, but let me know what you think!

Townsend or not Townsend?