Breakheart Hill

Breakheart Hill lies northwest of Chitterne and divides the village from the Imber Range live firing area. There are two public ways up the hill from the village. Via Imber Road or via The Hollow, otherwise known as the old Salisbury to Warminster coach road.

breakheart imber road (2)
The old road to Imber heading up Breakheart Hill

Imber Road starts from the Tilshead Road in the village, crosses Chitterne Brook, passes between Manor Farm and old All Saints churchyard, through Chitterne Farm West farm buildings and continues on up the hill. It is a hard surfaced road until the crest of the hill, where it suddenly stops as you reach the firing range danger area. At this point, looking ahead, you can see Breakheart Bottom, a dry valley within the danger area. (Incidentally, E M Forster mentions walking through Breakheart Bottom on page 171 of his book called “The Creator as Critic and other Writings”).

breakheart bottom
Looking towards Breakheart Bottom from the by-way

Before the land was taken for military training the road to Imber crossed the valley and passed the site of yet another Field Barn settlement called Penning Barn. A reminiscence of Penning Barn from a 1992 copy of Chitterne Chat, edited by Jeanne George says:

“A stable of 10 carthorses used to graze the large paddock on Penning bank behind the barn …and pigs, saddlebacks and large whites, were bred there and free-ranged in the paddock.”

breakheart byway (2)
The gravelled by-way on Breakheart Hill looking west. Breakheart bottom is to the right.

At the top of Imber Road a gravelled restricted by-way extends to the left and right, almost following the crest of Breakheart Hill. Turning left the by-way brings you eventually to the top of the Hollow and from it you can see for miles across the Imber Range in one direction and back towards the village in the other direction.

 

breakheart hollow (2)

The Hollow starts at the western end of the village in a part of Chitterne once known as Gunville. Although the by-way was originally the stone-paved coach road to Warminster it is now a muddy uneven track much loved by 4 x 4 drivers and trail bikers. It is now in such a poor state for walkers that it has almost lost its status as part of the Imber Range Perimeter path. Walkers following that route are warned and directed toward the easier path via Imber Road.

breakheart hollow (1)

However, if you brave the series of puddly dips and rises and climb up the western end of Breakheart Hill, at the top you will be rewarded with a view across the Wylye Valley towards the hills beyond. On the way up if you look carefully on your left you may even spot one of the original coach road milestones hiding in the bank behind a small tree: Warminster 8 Sarum 14.

It must have been a sight 250 years ago to see a laden coach and horses struggling up out of the village via this route, perhaps after a night spent at the White Hart Inn. No wonder it was known as Breakheart Hill.

 

 

 

 

 

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Breakheart Hill

Grandmother’s Necklace

sid fob

may ingram
May wearing the fob

This fob belonged to my grandmother May, she wore it after she was widowed in 1921. So I never knew my grandfather Sid. He died of kidney failure when he was only 34 years old. I never knew my grandmother either, she died aged 53, three years before I was born. I have just a few of their things, left me by my father, but no memories.

I can only imagine what they were like as people from looking at photographs and handling their possessions. I like to think we would have got along fine. They were both  small. According to his army records Sid was the same height as me and my father, 5 feet 3½ inches. May looks to be even smaller. We probably would have had interests in common and agreed on a lot of things. Both lived and worked in the gloving trade in Westbury. Sid was a glove cutter and May a glove machinist at home. Sid was a trade unionist who recruited members from other local glove factories.

sid&mayingram
Sidney Albert Nelson and Agnes May Ingram nee Papps
sidney ingram
Sid in army uniform WW1

My mother was convinced she had met Sid when he came recruiting to her glove factory in Warminster, but the numbers don’t add up. If my mother started work aged 14 in 1922 and Sid died in 1921, how could that have happened? Perhaps she started working earlier. I don’t think my mother would have joined a union anyway, coming from her conservative family.

 

That’s the other thing, Sid and May might have provided a counter-balance to my other stricter grandparents in Warminster. My grandmother Sarah was bedridden by the time I knew her, but ruled the house from her bed in the living room with a rod of iron. Or rather a walking stick which she whacked me across the back of my legs with, for what misdemeanour I fail to remember. No love lost there.

maypappsingram
May much later, still wearing the fob

No, Sid and May’s was a love match. May wore the photo of Sid on a chain around her neck because she loved and missed him. I just wish I could have known her.

 

Grandmother’s Necklace

Football Stars

My mother, who was a Warminster girl, once told me of a couple of lads from Chitterne  that she knew in her youth. She knew them as Pont and Pimp Bailey. Pont was short for Ponton and Pimp was short for Pimple. How word fashions change!

 

football 28-29
Chitterne Football Club 1928-29. Frank ‘Pimple’ Bailey is the short man standing at the back between goalkeeper Harry Sheppard and Jack Beaumont. Most of the middle row are unknown except for Eric Polden second from right. Second and third from the left in the front row are Bill Spratt and Ernie Polden.

These lads were footballers, as were my mother’s brothers, so they came to Warminster to play football and that’s how my mother knew them. Reading between the lines I get the impression that she idolised these handsome Chitterne boys, because she also mentioned cycling over to the village with a friend. This was back in the 1920s, before television, when Chitterne Football Team had won the Warminster Hospital Cup three times in succession and were local football heroes.

nora 1920s
My mother Nora in the 1920s

Fast forward to today when I am looking at the Marriage Banns Register for Chitterne and come across the banns for a marriage in 1929 between Frank Bailey and Amy Gilbert. Frank was the youngest and smallest of the Bailey boys hence his nickname ‘Pimple’. Amy Gilbert was a Warminster girl, the same age as my mother and distantly related to her. I wonder if they were friends and rivals who went cycling together?

The Bailey boys were the sons of Tom and Amy Bailey, who lived at 2 Middle Barn Cottages. There were nine children in the family, two girls and seven boys. Sadly, Frank Bailey lost his life in the second World War and is remembered on our village War Memorial.

Football Stars