Chitterne Now and Then
Blog Archive - December 2008

Wednesday 31st December - Pub Closed

Difficult to believe after the vibrancy of the Mummers visit but it's happened again: our pub has closed after eight months of trading under the old team of Tim and Dan Johnson. It'll be a very sad day if we lose the pub permanently. Where will the Cricket Club hold their meetings and who will cook us fish and chips of a Friday?

Friday 26th December - Real Hounds at Chitterne

The Royal Artillery Hunt met at Chitterne today in the sportsfield. Lots of support from villagers but not me. I'd already set out for a walk up the Hollow, along the farm track, down the old Imber road and back through Garston (pictured right) and St Mary's Chancel, when I remembered that a meet was happening. As I dropped down over the old Imber road I could hear the sound of many hooves clip-clopping along the road through the village and a few minutes later saw the horses and hounds streaking away up the hill beside the pumping station. As an anti-foxhunting person I usually keep a low profile as my views are very much in the minority in the village, so I finished my walk hoping this was a drag-hunt and that they didn't encounter any foxes.

Wednesday 24th December - Hounds Reply

We've had a quick reply from TV Licensing Customer Relations at Bristol, with apologies! Well, this is better. They have amended their records to say that we do not receive a broadcast signal, which should stop further letters being sent "for an extended period. However, we will normally send a letter each year just to confirm that the situation remains the same." They are still pushing for a visit from a Visiting Officer and now say that a Visiting Officer can "authorise a stop of up to 4 years on further contact. If the situation is seen to remain the same after that, the stop on contact is extended by another 6 years. As long as there is no TV aerial connected to the DVD television this will show your intention. It may also be helpful to tape up any protruding aerial should there be one visible in the main living area." Good. There is no aerial attached to the DVD television set, and none in the main living area just one in the granny annexe, which is'nt attached to anything. So shall I let them in, or not?

Sunday 21st December - Mummers visit Chitterne

The Quidhampton Mummers visited the King's Head in Chitterne yesterday evening, as part of their pre-Christmas tour. The pub was packed with folks hoping their Christmas Draw tickets would prove to be winners, when the Mummers entered one by one and performed. Their play featured King George who rapidly defeats three opponents in turn by swordplay, and a doctor who revives the defeated with a dose of his "special medecine." The revived combatants then set about King George en masse and overwhelm him. Lastly the fool says his piece and all ends with singing, collecting for the charity of the day and downing a glass of ale.

The Quidhampton group of Mummers have existed for 34 years. About half of them were originals, but none of them were young, so how long the group will last is anybody's guess.

The origins of the Mummers Play are lost in the mists of time, but the tradition was revived in the 18th century and modern interpretations date from that era. A follower told me last night that the play was enacted at first by a group of manual workers who went around the local hostelries performing in disguise so they wouldn't be recognised by their employers. They performed to raise extra money for Christmas. Some groups of Mummers still wear all-enveloping costumes and paint their faces, but the Quidhampton group wear one or two costume items and use props to indicate their character.

Wednesday 17th December - Getting Feedback and Being Hounded

I was surprised yesterday, by an email from someone I'd helped a little years ago, who had remembered to fill me in on the results of his research despite the time lag.

He had been researching an ancestor who was Vicar of Chitterne from 1925 - 1954, Rev. Arthur Clifford Hawkes or ACH for short. ACH was an eccentric gentleman, a welcome change from the usual, who had enlivened the otherwise dour pages about old vicars in my Chitterne book. What with a cockerell in a cage on his desk, wellie-wearing at services and tying his dog-collar with a shoelace, I wasn't at all surpised to hear that ACH's nephew had been a lion trainer!!

Being hounded..

It seems that now this address no longer has a TV licence we are to be hounded again. The TV licensing people had left us alone since mother came to live with us in 1986, because she brought her TV, we had an aerial erected, she bought a licence and watched TV in her granny annexe. Now she is no longer with us we have had a letter reminding us to buy a licence. We have telephoned them to tell them that we don't have a TV set connected to an aerial and we don't watch TV. That is fine they said: "but we need to come and confirm that". OK I thought, but you'll have to get past my husband first. Husband was out at the time and I knew when I told him it would light his fuse. It did. He has written them yet another letter. He had written quite a few over the years before my mother moved in, the last on our daughter's behalf. She didn't watch TV either but kept being hounded, and we discovered that the longest you can keep them off your back is 3 months. Then you get another letter. Now the latest hounds have said they will leave us alone for 3 years if we agree to let them in, but why should we? Why can't they take our word for it that we have not watched TV on our own TV set since 1970? My husband has said as much in his letter, very politely, so we await developments. Watch this space.

Comment from MA, Essex: We too didnít have a TV for many years, & my husband had great fun also with the hounds! I guess they donít believe one, because unfortunately there are SO many cheats in the world!! Besides, WhoEVER could POSSIBLY survive without watching TV ????? You MUST be sneakily watching one SOMEWHERE!!!!!! (They reckon!!)
Keep it up!!! Iím hopelessly Ďhookedí on the box now. It was rather fun in the days before we had one!!

Tuesday 16th December - Chitterne - Cornwall Connection

An interesting enquiry concerning Samuel Michell with this photo attached popped up by email. The photo shows Samuel's memorial in St Tudy Church, Cornwall, which states that he was a Colonel in the Coldstream Guards and died aged 85 in 1786. The emailer, also a Coldstreamer, enquired whether Samuel was of Chitterne and did I know any more about him.

Samuel was a member of the same family as the Chitterne Michells but he wasn't born in Chitterne. He was born in Hengar, on the Michell family's estate in Cornwall. The Cornwall estates they owned also included Hametethy and Penrose Burden. The property of Hametethy included land in the parish of St Tudy, hence the memorial in St Tudy church. These estates had passed to the Michell family through Samuel's mother, who went by the delightful maiden name of Loveday Billing. After Samuel died childless in 1786 the Cornish estates passed to the Chitterne Onslow family through Anne Michell who was married to Sir Richard Onslow. After Richard and Anne's time the Onslows lived in Cornwall and Hengar remained their property until it was sold in the 1950's. In 1904 the original house was destroyed in a disastrous fire when most of the family heirlooms were lost. The present house was built in 1906.

But, rambling aside, what my emailer was trying to discover was: Was Samuel Michell actually a Colonel in the Coldstream Guards? Because no evidence to support the statement on the memorial could be found. And it turns out that the statement is most probably false and that Samuel's rank at retirement in 1756 was that of Lieutenant Colonel in the First Guards. My emailer says:

"I can only assume that he died so long after leaving the Army that none of his relatives was quite sure which Guards regiment he had served in .... and so, showing impeccable good taste, they decided to make him a veteran of the Coldstream Guards!"

Comment from MA, Essex: I was fascinated to trip over your blog tonight!
I am researching the family of Samuel Michell of St Tudy, whom you mention. I am an indirect descendant. Lovedayís maiden name was Lower (to rhyme with flower). Her mother was a Billing (either through birth, or from a previous marriage, for she was also called Trelawney, dau of Maj-Gen Trelawney). I can trace her Lowers 4 generations back from her.
I have Lovedayís notebook, in which she writes quite a lot of her family tree, & a list of her jewellery & its value at the time! The spelling is fascinating! Some of her jewellery she says she made herself! She married twice. She was heart-broken when her husband, Samuel, died of small-pox. And also desolate again, both at the death of some of her children, & her second husband. Her second husband was a Maj-Gen Wheler (Wheeler?). She had six children, Richard & Col Samuel with Samuel, then Charles, Michell, Ann & Lower with Maj-Gen Wheler. Ann & Lower were twins. Ann died aged 7 weeks. She too got small-pox, & died of fits & convulsions. I think Lower may have died too, but she didnít mention that death. Charles d. in 1714, Michell, well she mentions she bought him, in 1720, an Ensigns Commission in the first Regt of Foot Guards. She paid a Mr Russell the sum of £525-0-0. It sounds a horrendous price for those days!!
The oddest co-incidence is that I found Lovedayís book among my Motherís family artefacts! They were fascinated in Genealogy, & crests &c, & there were some crests Loveday had drawn in the book! Obviously they had picked it up in a sale. I nearly gave the book away, then luckily discovered the connection to my Dadís family! (the Onslows) Yes, they were intermarried with the Michells, which is presumably why the Chitterne Estates were passed to them.

Monday 15th December - Small World

One of those surprising coincidences happened when I added some of D's ancestors to our genesreunited tree. His grandmother, Edith Wheeler, born 1893 in Great Cheverell, appeared in a tree belonging to a gentleman in Australia whose name rang a bell in my head. It turns out that not only had the gentleman left a message in our church visitor's book back in 2000 concerning his ancestors from Chitterne (the Potters and the Mabbetts), but he is also D's sixth cousin. Now we are wondering if D is related to families in Chitterne.

Friday 12th December - Tall and Short

One advantage in having a partner almost a foot taller than you as we get older: He can't see your double chin and you can't see his fledgling bald patch, most of the time. D tells me that his terrible eyesight is now a boon, and I could say the same thing about my deafness.

Thursday 11th December - Something Brewing at Bow House

JT is brewing beer in Chitterne and has applied to the local authority for a Premises Licence to sell alcohol from Bow House Brewery. Local ingenuity is taking off in surprising directions as I have heard a whisper that a vineyard may be the next venture in our village. That covers the beer and wines, anyone want to start a still?

Tuesday 9th December - The White Hart Inn

Recently I've been trying to uncover the facts surrounding a supposed fire in the 1950's at the White Hart. By chance I spotted a link to someone who might be able to help and emailed her.

CM, who was born in Chitterne at the White Hart in 1951, replied very quickly. Her grandparents Charlie and Florence Mould ran the pub from 1941 to 1955 "along clean lines, no gambling allowed, only shuv halfpenny", but CM knew nothing of a fire at the White Hart, which rules out half the decade. There was a fire at her grandmother's, but much later when she lived at Townsend after Charlie's early death. By then Florence had married again to Harold Down. The fire destroyed practically everything, but all the locals rallied round each giving an item of furniture to help the lady out. True neighbourliness. Charlie died at 40 in 1946 and Florence carried on as landlady until 1955.

CM said her brother and sister were born at the White Hart too, in the guest room, but that her family left the village about 1965/66.

That leaves another half of a decade to check for a major fire at the White Hart. John Withers owned the pub from 1955 to 1957 and then Card's of Devizes.

Saturday 6th December 2008 - Feltham's Visit

C and P Feltham paid a visit to the Round House to buy 4 more copies of my book for Christmas presents, having read their copy. oh joy! The Feltham clan really are a keen lot when it comes to family history. This gent is the fourth member who has looked me up, but the first whose distant relative moved away from Chitterne. CF's great-grandfather, Frank Feltham, moved to London between 1881 and 1889, we know not why. In fact we haven't been able to find out where he fits in yet as I hadn't come across this particular Frank before, unless he turns out to be the one who was born in Stockton in 1865/6. CF has agreed to send me a copy of his family history to add to the Chitterne People page when he has finished writing it. Excellent.

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